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Andrews v. Bond County

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 3, 2014

COREY ANDREWS, # B25116, Plaintiff,
v.
BOND COUNTY, ILLINOIS, JEFFREY J. BROWN, JAMES D. LEITSCHUH, JOHN M. GIBBONS, WILLIAM BARTH, BENJAMIN HABERER, and UNKNOWN OFFICERS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Corey Andrews, currently incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that, while he was a pretrial detainee in the Bond County Jail for four months, he was subjected to unsanitary and unhealthy conditions, including raw sewage, standing water and black mold, which made him ill. He also contends that the lack of formal grievance procedures at the Bond County Jail denied him due process.

Andrews' claims regarding the conditions of his confinement were initially presented in Andrews v. Illinois, 13-cv-00593-JPG (S.D. Ill. June 21, 2013), and severed, creating this action. However, those claims were dismissed without prejudice ( see Doc. 1). Plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 14) is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

The Amended Complaint

Between January and May, 2013, Plaintiff Andrews was a pretrial detainee housed in the Bond County Jail. The amended complaint describes unsanitary, unsafe conditions in the jail, including leaky toilets and sinks, raw sewage on the floor, standing water and black mold. These conditions are described as being plainly visible to anyone entering the "bullpen" where inmates were housed. Andrews attributes these conditions to the "policymakers, Sgts, chief deputy and C/O's" [sic] unwritten policy and tacit agreement to allow unsanitary, unsafe conditions of confinement. Bond County allegedly entered into a tacit agreement with the other defendants to deny inmates a clean, safe environment. Andrews characterizes the defendants as being deliberately indifferent and grossly negligent.

Plaintiff contends he was never given "adequate cleaning supplies" (Doc. 14, p. 8). More specifically, Sergeant John Gibbons and Officer William Barth were told about the leaks and mold for months, but they did nothing. Gibbons refused to give Plaintiff bleach or Comet cleanser because those substances were deemed a security risk. Sergeant Benjamin Haberer knew of the conditions, but only occasionally provided cleaning supplies. Sheriff Jeffrey J. Brown and Chief Deputy James D. Leitschuh allegedly had knowledge of the conditions, which evinces deliberate indifference.

Sergeant Gibbons and Sergeant Haberer were asked for grievance forms, but they informed Plaintiff that there was no grievance procedure at the Bond County Jail. Consequently, Plaintiff wrote letters in the form of grievances to Sheriff Brown, but the complaints were ignored ( see Doc. 14, pp. 17-21).

Based on the allegations in the amended complaint and attached documentation, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into three counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. These designations do not constitute an opinion as each claim's merit.

Count 1: Sheriff Brown, Chief Deputy Leitschuh, Sergeant Gibbons, Sergeant Haberer, Officer Barth and Unknown Officers subjected Plaintiff to unsanitary, unsafe conditions of ...

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