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Jones v. Dart

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 4, 2015

JOHN E. JONES, (#XXXX-XXXXXXX), Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS DART, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

RONALD A. GUZMN, District Judge.

For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss [#14].

STATEMENT

Pro se Plaintiff John E. Jones, a Cook County Jail pretrial detainee, brought a civil rights action against Cook County Jail administration, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, challenging the conditions of his confinement. Plaintiff alleged that his constitutional rights were violated when he was confined for 34 days to a cell that had a sink without running water. He claims that the lack of running water in his sink prevented him from washing his hands before eating and that this led to illness. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Although Plaintiff was permitted to do so, he did not file a response. Plaintiff was advised that if he failed to respond, the Court would decide the motion without benefit of his response. For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss [#14].

FACTS

The facts, as pleaded in the complaint, are set forth below.

On January 13, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred from Division 1 to Division 9, Tier 2-E, cell #2007 (hereinafter "cell #2007") at Cook County Jail. Immediately upon entering cell #2007, he informed Correctional Officer Rosales that his sink was not working. (Compl. at 4.) At that time, Correctional Officer Rosales informed Plaintiff that a work order had already been placed to repair the sink in his cell. ( Id. )

Plaintiff filed a grievance on February 4, 2014 in which he complained that "[he] ha[d] no sink water." (Compl., Ex. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that he told "every" correctional officer who worked on Tier 2-E that the sink in his cell did not work, but nothing was done. ( Id. )

Plaintiff alleges that Division 9-2-E is a disciplinary tier and inmates are in their cells 21 hours a day, but that, on occasion, when a lock-down is in place, inmates may be in their cells for 24 hours a day. (Compl. at 5.) Plaintiff claims that "[he] was left in... unsanitary conditions for 34 days" and that "[he] became nauseated, stomach pains, headaches, dizzy spells, and for several weeks... was having problem with [his] digestive system." ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that he was unable to maintain a "clean environment" in cell #2007 due to the lack of running water in his sink. ( Id. ) He alleges that his "health problem occurred because [he] was forced to eat with soiled hands. Which could cause food poisoning or hepatitis." (Compl. at 5-6.)

Throughout February and March 2014, Plaintiff filed additional grievances, requesting that the water in his cell be fixed or that he be moved to another cell. Plaintiff claims that a plumber came to fix the sink on February 26, 2014, but that the sink did not work again within several hours. ( Id., Ex. 9.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory relief in the amount of $10, 200.00. ( Id. at 6.)

Defendants move to dismiss the complaint on the basis that: (1) Plaintiff has failed to allege a sufficiently serious injury; and (2) Plaintiff has not met the objective and subjective standards for an Eighth Amendment claim. (Defs.' Mot. at 6-13.)

DISCUSSION

It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); see McCormick v. City of Chi., 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000). Fact pleading is not necessary to state a claim for relief. Thomson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 970-71 (7th Cir. 2004). Rule 8(a)(2) 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). The allegations "must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008) (quotation omitted). In making this determination, the complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true the well-pleaded allegations, and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Id. at 1081.

Plaintiff claims that his 34-day confinement in cell #2007 without running water in his sink violated his constitutional rights. The Constitution requires that inmates be detained in humane conditions. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). In Farmer, the analysis concerning the humane treatment of convicted prisoners falls under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment." U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Pre-trial detainees like Plaintiff, by contrast, are guaranteed humane treatment by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the analyses are "frequently consider[ed] [] to be analagous." ...


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