United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JAMES B. ZAGEL, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Jermaine Brooks, presently a pre-trial detainee in custody at the Cook County Jail (hereinafter, "CCJ"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he has been subjected to deprivation of his procedural due process rights because his commissary purchases, telephone calls, and visitation are being restricted arbitrarily and without a hearing and deprivation of his right to equal protection. Plaintiff names as Defendants Superintendent Victor Thomas, CCJ Director Michael Miller, and Commander Frank Arce.
Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings [#29]. For the reasons contained in this opinion and order, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
I. Legal Standard
A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings permits a party to move for judgment after both the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's answer have been filed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); Moss v. Martin, 473 F.3d 694, 698 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court must "accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Forseth v. Vill. of Sussex, 199 F.3d 363, 364 (7th Cir. 2000). But the Court "need not ignore facts set forth in the complaint that undermine the plaintiff's claim or give weight to unsupported conclusions of law." Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009).
A court decides a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) based upon a review of the pleadings alone. N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc., 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998). The pleadings include the complaint, the answer, and any written instruments attached as exhibits, such as affidavits, letters, contracts, and loan documentation. Id. at 452-53; Additionally, "documents attached to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to his claim." Wright v. Assoc. Ins. Cos., Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th Cir. 1994). Courts also may take judicial notice of appropriate materials, such as "documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, " Geinosky v. City of Chi., 675 F.3d 743, 745 n.1 (7th Cir. 2012), and certain matters of public record. See, e.g., Pickett v. Sheridan Health Ctr., 664 F.3d 632, 638 (7th Cir. 2011). If a court considers any materials outside this narrow universe, the court must convert the motion for judgment on the pleadings into a motion for summary judgment and allow all parties a reasonable opportunity to present all the materials pertinent to such a motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see also Rutherford v. Judge & Dolph Ltd., 707 F.3d 710, 2013 U.S.App. LEXIS 2407, 2013 WL 411358, at *2 (7th Cir. Feb. 4, 2013).
As a general rule, "[a] complaint that invokes a recognized legal theory... and contains plausible allegations on the material issues... cannot be dismissed under Rule 12." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 638 (7th Cir. 2012) ( citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007)). But "a complaint that alleges an impenetrable defense to what would otherwise be a good claim should be dismissed (on proper motion) under Rule 12(c)." Id. at 637. In other words, dismissal under Rule 12(c) is proper when a plaintiff's allegations "show that there is an airtight defense [such that he] has pleaded himself out of court, " id., or, more generally, "if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief." Hayes v. City of Chi., 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir. 2012) ( quoting Thomas v. Guardsmark, Inc., 381 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Edgenet, Inc. v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 658 F.3d 662, 665 (7th Cir. 2011) ("When the complaint itself contains everything needed to show that the defendant must prevail on an affirmative defense, then the court can resolve the suit on the pleadings under Rule 12(c).").
Dismissal also is proper under Rule 12(c) when a movant has demonstrated that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(2)(B); Alioto v. Town of Lisbon, 651 F.3d 715, 718 (7th Cir. 2012). To make that assessment, the Court uses the more familiar Rule 12(b)(6) standard. See McMillan v. Collection Professionals, Inc., 455 F.3d 754, 757 n.1 (7th Cir. 2006). Thus, for a complaint to survive, its factual allegations must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the "speculative level, " assuming that all of the allegations in the complaint are true. E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ( quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Where the well-settled pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged but it has not show[n]' that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. For a claim to be plausible, the plaintiff must put forth enough "facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence" supporting the plaintiff's allegations. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009).
Although "[s]pecific facts are not necessary [-] the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, " Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (2007) ( citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (ellipsis in original) - "at some point the factual detail in a complaint may be so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8." Brooks, 578 F.3d at 581 ( quoting Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007)). The Court reads the complaint and assesses its plausibility as a whole. See Atkins v. City of Chi., 631 F.3d 823, 832 (7th Cir. 2011); cf. Scott v. City of Chi., 195 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 1999) ("Whether a complaint provides notice, however, is determined by looking at the complaint as a whole.").
Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his complaint and his response to Defendants' motion, which are accepted as true for purposes of the motion for judgment on the pleadings. Sometime at the end of January of 2013, Plaintiff was transferred into Division 9 at the CCJ. Division 9 is where detainees go when on administrative confinement which means that Plaintiff lived under heightened restrictions. Defendant Thomas was the superintendent of Division 9 and enforced the restrictions on Plaintiff. The restrictions Plaintiff complains of include limitation to one five minute phone call per week, limitation of purchases in the commissary to hygiene items and no food, and limitation of visits to immediate family, only.
Plaintiff contends that these limitations were placed on him without notice, an opportunity to be heard and call witnesses, and written findings. Plaintiff alleges that the restrictions placed on him constitute an atypical and significant hardship and that they violate his right to procedural due process. Plaintiff further alleges that the restrictions on him were not applied to other detainees at the CCJ in the same way they were applied to him. He alleges that he was treated differently than the other ten thousand detainees at the CCJ.
A. Plaintiff has No Liberty or Property Right to Unlimited Telephone Use or ...