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Kirkendall v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 20, 2015

BRANDON KIRKENDALL and RESHON FARMER, Plaintiff,
v.
RICK WATSON, JACK DINGES, OFFICER NICHOLS, LEVI BRIDGES, and CAMERON REID, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

STEPHEN C. WILLIAMS, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This case is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for more definite statement (Doc. 40). The matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams by United States District Judge J. Phil Gilbert pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B) and (c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and Local Rule 72.1(a). It is RECOMMENDED that the District Court ADOPT the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, and GRANTS IN PART Defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for more definite statement.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On July 8, 2014, five individual inmates at Saint Clair County Jail filed this complaint regarding the conditions of confinement at the jail. Although the complaint was signed by five individuals, only Plaintiff Brandon Kirkendall sought IFP status. Given the Court's concern regarding proceeding with a group prisoner case, the Court requested that the non-lead Plaintiffs provide the Court with specific indication as to whether or not they wanted to proceed in the group case, given the risks and concerns associated with such litigation (Doc. 6). Two of the Plaintiffs were later dismissed from the case for failing to respond to the motion and one Plaintiff asked to be severed from the case, leaving only Brandon Kirkendall and Rashon Farmer as plaintiffs in the present case (Doc. 13). Plaintiffs' complaint alleged that Defendants operated the jail in a poor and life threatening manner including living conditions that were overcrowded, infested with insects and mice, had foul odors, small portions of food, inadequate access to the law library, and peeling paint throughout the jail. They also alleged that they were not provided enough cleaning materials for the bathroom (Doc. 22). On October 28, 2014, the Court reviewed Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and found that Plaintiffs stated a claim for conditions of confinement (Count 1) and a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for denying Plaintiffs adequate physical exercise (Count 2), but dismissed Plaintiffs' claims regarding small portions of food and inadequate access to the law library (Id. ). At the time of the Court's review, the Court reminded Plaintiffs of their continuing obligation to the keep the clerk and opposing parties informed of any change in address by the Plaintiffs (Doc. 22).

In response to Plaintiffs' complaint, Defendants have filed the instant motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for more definite statement (Doc. 40). Defendants argue that the complaint alleges that Plaintiffs were subjected to improper conditions of confinement, but the complaint does not disclose the dates of that confinement. Defendants point out that in Plaintiffs' motion to amend complaint (Doc. 2), in which Plaintiffs sought to amend their pleadings to allege exhaustion of administrative remedies, Plaintiffs indicated that they provided grievances to the guards at Saint Clair County on June 22, 2011, June 24, 2011, and July 3, 2011. As those are the only dates that Plaintiffs allege regarding their conditions, Defendants argue that the statute of limitations has now run as to Plaintiffs' claims as the limitations period for incidents which occurred in 2011 would have run in 2013, long before Plaintiffs filed their complaint in 2014. In the alternative, Defendants seek a more definite statement as the complaint is vague and ambiguous as to when Plaintiffs were subjected to these conditions at Saint Clair County. Plaintiffs have not responded to Defendants' motion.

The undersigned notes that after Defendants' filed their motion, the Court received notice from Menard Correctional Center, indicating that Brandon Kirkendall was previously housed at Menard Correctional Center but that he was released from IDOC custody on February 11, 2015 (Doc. 43). Kirkendall has not informed the Court of his current address.

ANALYSIS

A. Failure to Prosecute

FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 41(b) provides that "[i]f the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it." Further, the Local Rules provide, and Plaintiff was informed in this Court's threshold Order, that he is "under a continuing obligation to keep the Clerk of Court and each opposing party informed of any change in his... location." See LOCAL RULE 3.1(b).

At the time that Plaintiffs filed the complaint in this case, Brandon Kirkendall was an inmate at Menard Correctional Center. The Court received notice from Menard Correctional Center that Kirkendall was released from custody on February 11, 2015 (Doc. 43). He has not informed the Court of his current address since leaving prison. Nor has he filed a response to Defendants' pending motion to dismiss. The Court has no way of knowing Plaintiff's current address and informed the Plaintiff previously that it would not independently investigate a plaintiff's whereabouts. As Plaintiff Kirkendall was under a continuing obligation to inform the Court of his change of address and has failed to do so, and as he has not participated in this case since his release from prison, the undersigned finds that it appears Plaintiff Kirkendall does not wish to continue participating in this case since his release. As such, it is RECOMMENDED that the Court DISMISS with prejudice Plaintiff Kirkendall's claims for want of prosecution.

B. Motion to Dismiss

As it is recommended that Kirkendall's claims be dismissed for want of prosecution, the undersigned will only discuss Defendants' motion to dismiss as it relates to Defendant Farmer.

The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to decide the adequacy of the complaint, not the merits of the case. See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In assessing a complaint or count under Rule 12(b)(6), the District Court accepts as true all well-pled factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Tricontinental Indus., Ltd. v. PriceWaterhouseCooper, LLP, 475 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2007); Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 969 (7th Cir. 2006); Corcoran v. Chicago Park Dist., 875 F.2d 609, 611 (7th Cir. 1989). Courts must determine whether the factual allegations in a complaint plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief. Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009)). Dismissal is warranted "only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief." Hayes v. City of Chicago, 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Thomas v. Guardsmark, Inc., 381 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 2004)). For purposes of a Rule ...


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