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Turner v. Gammett

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 24, 2014



J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Turner initiated this civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was an inmate housed at Robinson Correctional Center. He has recently been paroled and his address of record is in Hazelcrest, Illinois.

Turner contends that his constitutional rights were violated when he was issued a "parole violation warrant" regarding his failure to secure a host cite where he could reside upon release on parole, and his preliminary hearing was not held for approximately 47 days. Turner brings suit against Salvadore A. Godinez, Director the Illinois Department of Corrections, and Jason Gamett, Chief of Parole Operations for the Department. He seeks only compensatory damages.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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. As pleaded, the complaint fails to state claim upon which relief can be granted.


Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus, "to be liable under [Section] 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation." Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). Monetary damages are an available remedy for individual capacity claims. See, e.g., Burd v. Sessler, 702 F.3d 429, 432 (7th Cir. 2012). Defendants Godinez and Gamett are named in the caption of the complaint, but the narrative portion of the complaint makes no mention of either defendant. Merely naming a defendant in the caption is insufficient to state a claim. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998).

The doctrine of respondeat superior -supervisor liability-is not applicable to Section 1983 actions. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001)). Thus, the mere fact that each defendant occupies a supervisory position is insufficient for liability to attach. Allegations that senior officials were personally responsible for creating the policies, practices and customs that caused a constitutional deprivation can, however, suffice to demonstrate personal involvement for purposes of Section 1983 liability. See Doyle v. Camelot Care Centers, Inc., 305 F.3d 603, 615 (7th Cir. 2002). However, no practice or policy is alleged that could link Defendants to the failure to timely afford Plaintiff a hearing. Attached to the complaint is what appears to be a consent decree or settlement agreement affording those taken into custody and housed at the Cook County Jail a preliminary hearing within ten days after arrest on a parole violation warrant ( see Doc.1, pp. 13-16). That decree or agreement has no apparent bearing on Plaintiff' situation at Robinson Correctional Center, nor does it reflect a practice or policy attributable to Defendants.

No individual capacity claim has been sufficiently pleaded, and any official capacity claim fails because the only remedy sought is monetary damages. Official capacity suits are a way of suing the governmental entity of which the defendant official is an agent. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). Liability stems from the execution of an official policy, practice or custom by a government official. See, e.g., Sow v. Fortville Police Dep't, 636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir.2011) (citing Graham, 473 U.S. at 165-66). However, the Eleventh Amendment precludes an award of monetary damages in an official capacity suit, including ...

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