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Bell v. Saddler

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

April 1, 2014

TIMOTHY BELL, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHELLE R. B. SADDLER, Defendant.

MERIT REVIEW OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Timothy Bell, proceeding pro se from his detention in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center ("Rushville"), seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis on his claims against Defendant Michelle R.B. Saddler, the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The "privilege to proceed without posting security for costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished litigants who, within the District Court's sound discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such privilege were not afforded to them." Brewster v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Cir. 1972). Additionally, a court must dismiss cases proceeding in forma pauperis "at any time" if the action is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, even if part of the filing fee has been paid. 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(d)(2). Accordingly, this Court grants leave to proceed in forma pauperis only if the complaint states a federal claim.

In reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation omitted).

Bell alleges that, after completing his prison sentence on March 6, 2006, he was detained as a sexually violent person by the Illinois Department of Human Services. On July 27, 2007, a jury found Bell to be a sexually violent person pursuant to Illinois law, and he was subsequently housed in Rushville.

Bell claims that, since being placed in Rushville, he has not received any treatment for his condition. Bell alleges that Defendant Michelle R.B. Saddler, who is the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, is the person responsible for ensuring that he receive treatment while in Rushville.

Bell has attempted to state a cause of action under the Eighth Amendment for deliberate indifference, but because Bell is a civil committee, his claim falls under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause because he is more akin to a pretrial detainee than a prisoner. Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 910 (7th Cir. 2005). The Seventh Circuit has stated that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections are "at least as great as the protections available to a convicted prisoner under the Eight Amendment.'" Tesch v. County of Green Lake, 157 F.3d 465, 473 (7th Cir. 1998)(quoting City of Revere v. Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983)). However, the Seventh Circuit has also stated that "there is little practical difference between the two standards." Mayoral v. Sheahan, 245 F.3d 934, 938 (7th Cir. 2001)(internal quotation omitted).

The Court finds that Bell's Complaint states a claim for violating his due process rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The United States Supreme Court has held that "due process requires that the conditions and duration of confinement under the Act bear some reasonable relation to the purpose for which persons are committed." Seling v. Young, 531 U.S. 250, 265 (2001). The Supreme Court has also opined that involuntarily committed mentally challenged persons have a substantive due process right to "conditions of reasonable care and safety, reasonably nonrestrictive confinement conditions, and such training as may be required by these conditions." Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 324 (1982).

And, the Seventh Circuit has extended and summarized Youngerberg to include those individuals committed because they are sexually violent: "(a) committed persons are entitled to some treatment, and (b) what that treatment entails must be decided by mental-health professionals." Lane v. Williams, 689 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir. 2012(internal quotation omitted). In other words, the Seventh Circuit has held that " Youngerberg holds that, under the due process clause, detainees are entitled to non-punitive programs designed using the exercise of professional judgment...." Id. at 883.

Here, Bell has alleged that he did not receive any treatment since being housed in Rushville. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that Bell receive some treatment. Therefore, Bell has stated a cause of action upon which relief can be granted.

According to Bell, Defendant Saddler is the person responsible for ensuring that he receive treatment. This allegation is sufficient to survive of this Merit Review.

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED:

1. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [2] is GRANTED. Based upon his inability to pay, no reduced filing fee will be assessed against Plaintiff.

2. Pursuant to a review of the Complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff states a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Defendant for failure to offer treatment during his confinement at Rushville. Any additional claim(s) shall not be included in the case except at the Court's discretion on motion ...


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