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Smith v. Dart

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 3, 2013

Donald A. Smith (#XXXX-XXXXXXX), Plaintiff,
v.
Tom Dart, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

Defendant's uncontested motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim [#12] is granted. The complaint is dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and 12(b)(6). Plaintiff is granted until January 3, 2014 to submit an amended complaint curing pleading deficiencies. The Clerk will provide Plaintiff with an amended civil rights complaint form and instructions along with a copy of this order. Failure to submit an amended complaint (and judge's copy) by January 3, 2014 will result in summary dismissal of this case in its entirety.

STATEMENT

Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, correctional officials, have violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by subjecting him to inhumane conditions of confinement. This matter is before the Court for ruling on Sheriff Thomas Dart's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Although granted the opportunity to file an opposing brief, see briefing schedule entered October 1, 2013, Plaintiff has not responded to the motion. For the reasons stated in this order, the uncontested motion is granted.

Standards on a Motion to Dismiss

It is well established that courts liberally construe pro se complaints. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). The courts hold pro se submissions to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., Inc., 536 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2008).

When considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court assumes all factual allegations in the complaint to be true, viewing all facts-as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom-in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)); Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 556.

Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 555. While a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The Court "need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). "The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Furthermore, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Whitlock v. Brown, 596 F.3d 406, 412 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted) ("A judicial admission trumps evidence. This is the basis of the principle that a plaintiff can plead himself out of court").

Facts

Plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss: Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail. Plaintiff is assigned to the jail's Division 5, a special unit that houses and provides jobs for inmates who are U.S. military veterans. Inmates' breakfasts typically consist of milk, cereal, and Kool-Aid. Lunches are often no more than peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, and Kool-Aid; the food is sometimes contaminated by bugs. The water is "filthy." The jail is infested with mice and cockroaches. There are no mirrors for shaving, and there is no outside recreation.[1]

Analysis

Even accepting Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, the Court finds that the complaint fails to give Defendants sufficient notice of the claims against them. Plaintiff must elaborate on his claims; the facts alleged are inadequate to satisfy even basic pleading requirements.

Certainly, incarcerated persons are entitled to confinement under humane conditions that satisfy "basic human needs." Rice ex rel. Rice v. Correctional Medical Services, 675 F.3d 650, 664 (7th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). The jail must house Plaintiff under "humane conditions." Sain v. Budz, No. 05 C 6394, 2006 WL 539351, *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 3, 2006) (Conlon, J.) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)); see also Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 844 (7th Cir. 1999).

There is no question that inmates have a constitutional right to an adequate diet. See, e.g., Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1432 (7th Cir. 1996). "The State must provide an inmate with a healthy, habitable environment.' This includes providing nutritionally adequate food that is prepared and served under conditions which do not present an immediate danger to the health and well being of ...


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