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Round v. Brandell

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

August 3, 2015

DANNY ROUND, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER BRANDELL, in his individual capacity; COMMANDER ARCE, in his individual capacity; SUPERINTENDENT
v.
THOMAS; in his individual capacity; COOK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Danny Round instituted this action against Officer Brandell, Commander Arce, Superintendent V. Thomas, and the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC") (collectively the "Defendants") for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 stemming from injuries he received from another inmate while Round was in the Defendants' custody at the Cook County Jail. Specifically, Round was assaulted by another inmate and suffered a broken nose and a concussion and required multiple surgeries to correct the damage. Round contends that the Defendants failed to protect him and were deliberately indifferent to a serious risk of injury in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. Defendants Arce and Thomas move to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), arguing that Round failed to allege the requisite knowledge and culpability to state a claim of deliberate indifference. The CCDOC also moves to dismiss, contending it is a non-suable entity and that, even if it were properly named in the Amended Complaint, respondeat superior liability does not affix in Section 1983 cases. For the following reasons, the Court grants the Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 34). Counts II, III, and IV of the Amended Complaint are dismissed without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from Round's First Amended Complaint and are taken as true for purposes of this motion to dismiss. See Thulin v. Shopko Stores Operating Co., LLC, 771 F.3d 994, 997 (7th Cir. 2014).

Round was a detainee of Division IX of the CCDOC in Chicago, Illinois. (Dkt. No. 16, ¶

3). After being threatened by other detainees, Round was placed, upon his own request, in Division IX's Protective Custody Unit ("PCU") on November 30, 2012. ( Id. at ¶ 16). The PCU contains individual cells and a common area called a "day room." ( Id. at ¶ 11). Pursuant to CCDOC policies, officers assigned to the PCU must "maintain continuous visual contact with inmates out in the day room" and may not enter the PCU "without proper back-up." ( Id. at ¶¶ 14, 15). Brandon Griffin, another inmate at the CCDOC, was a member of the Insane Gangster Disciples and had at least five documented incidents of violence toward other inmates as a detainee in Division IX. ( Id. at ¶¶ 10, 17). The CCDOC placed Griffin in the PCU after Round was relocated there. ( Id. at ¶ 18). After being placed in the PCU, Griffin threatened Round with physical harm. ( Id. at ¶ 19).

On April 30, 2013, Round informed Brandell that Griffin threatened to harm him and requested to not enter the day room with Griffin. ( Id. at ¶ 20). Brandell ignored Round's request and forced him into the day room. ( Id. at ¶ 21). Brandell did not maintain continuous visual contact with Griffin and the other inmates after ordering Round into the day room. ( Id. ). Brandell was the only officer on duty and did not have backup in the event of an incident. ( Id. at ¶ 22). Griffin proceeded to physically assault Round, without intervention by Brandell or the CCDOC, by striking him in the face, kicking him, and stomping on his head until Round was unconscious. ( Id. at ¶ 23). As a result of the attack, Round sustained a fractured nose and a concussion that required hospitalization and multiple surgeries. ( Id. at ¶ 24). On May 1, 2013, the CCDOC transferred Griffin to Division IX's Special Incarceration Wing for his history of violence. ( Id. at ¶ 25).

According to Round, Brandell violated CCDOC policy by both failing to monitor Griffin in the day room and failing to have backup on hand. ( Id. at ¶¶ 32-34). Round further alleges that Arce and Thomas were responsible for supervising officers of the PCU (including Brandell), were aware of the PCU policies, and knew of the substantial threat that Griffin posed to Round based on Griffin's disciplinary history. ( Id. at ¶¶ 41-43, 52-54). Round claims that Arce violated policy by failing to ensure Brandell had proper backup prior to the assault. ( Id. at ¶ 44). Round also claims that Thomas violated policy by failing to provide sufficient staff to monitor the PCU and prevent attacks by detainees. ( Id. at ¶ 55).

Round initially filed a pro se complaint on September 12, 2014 against Arce, Thomas, Brandell, and two other individuals employed by the CCDOC at the time of the assault. (Dkt. 1). The Court recruited counsel for Round on October 28, 2014. (Dkt. 10). Round's counsel filed his Amended Complaint on January 12, 2015. (Dkt. No. 16). Arce and Thomas now move to dismiss the counts against them for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, contending that Round's allegations, taken as true, fail to demonstrate that either party knew of the risk Griffin posed to Round. The CCDOC moves to dismiss the count against it, arguing that it is not a suable entity and that, even if it were, theories of respondeat superior do not apply to Section 1983 suits.

LEGAL STANDARD

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Bibbs v. Sheriff of Cook County, No. 13-3355, 2015 WL 4036291, at *2 (7th Cir. July 2, 2015). To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "Detailed factual allegations" are not required, but the plaintiff must allege facts that, when "accepted as true... state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In analyzing whether a complaint has met this standard, the "reviewing court [must] draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663-64. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court assumes their veracity and then determines if they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. See id. at 677-78.

DISCUSSION

A. Counts II and III against Arce and Thomas Fail to State a Claim of Deliberate Indifference

Round brings forth nearly identical Eighth Amendment failure to protect claims against Arce ( see Dkt. No. 16, ¶¶ 37-47) and Thomas ( see Dkt. No. 16, ¶¶ 48-57) in Counts II and III of his Amended Complaint. As set forth in both Counts, Round alleges that Arce and Thomas detained Round under dangerous conditions, (¶¶ 40, 51), "knew that Griffin was dangerous and posed a substantial threat of harm [to Round], " (¶¶ 41, 54), and failed to ensure that the CCDOC's policies were properly implemented to protect Round. (¶¶ 44, 55). ...


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