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Whitney v. Champaign County Jail & Managers

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

September 29, 2016

JUSTIN ANDREW WHITNEY, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY JAIL & MANAGERS, et al., Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW ORDER

          JOE BILLY MCDADE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Justin Andrew Whitney's claims.

         I.

         MERIT REVIEW UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, the Court is required to carefully screen a complaint filed by a plaintiff who seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or a portion thereof, if the plaintiff has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief if the complaint does not allege “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); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

         In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). Conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8; Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)(holding that, in order to determine if a complaint states a plausible claim, the court must take non-conclusory, non-speculative facts as true, draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor, and isolate and ignore statements that simply rehash claim elements or offer only legal labels and conclusions). Instead, sufficient facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation omitted).

         II.

         ANALYSIS

         Whitney is a pretrial detainee who is currently being held at the Champaign County Jail. Whitney alleges that managers at the Champaign County Jail allowed trash bags to be hung from the top of a steel stairway at the Jail. Although he does not allege how, Whitney claims that the placement of the trash bags caused him to fall and to injure himself. Whitney claims that he was denied medical treatment for thirteen days after sustaining injuries from the fall. After he finally received medical attention from medical professionals at Carle Hospital in Champaign, Whitney claims that Defendants Dr. Shaw and Dr. Futake ignored the care instructions that were provided by the medical professionals at Carle Hospital after he returned to the Jail. Finally, Whitney alleges that Defendants Worley and Richards tampered with his medical files in order to hide the denial of his medical treatment.

         Whitney's Complaint state a claim against Dr. Shaw, Dr. Futake, Worley, and Richards for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015); Gilbert v. Rohana, 2015 WL 6442289, * 4 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 23, 2015)(finding that “Kinglsey did not alter the legal standard for denial of medical treatment claims brought by pretrial detainees like Plaintiff.”).

         Whitney's Complaint does not state a claim against Captain Voges and Nancy Griffin. According to Whitney, these two placed false information into a freedom of information act file. Whitney alleges that they did so in order to hide the lack of concern for his health. However, Whitney does not explain who relied upon this alleged false information and how these documents led to the violation of his constitutional rights. Accordingly, Whitney's Complaint fails to state a claim against Captain Vogues and Nancy Griffin.

         Whitney's Complaint also fails to state a claim against the Champaign County Jail, the Jail's managers, Corrections Care Solutions, and its managers. As for the Champaign County Jail, it is a building, not a person who can be sued under § 1983. Smith v. Knox County Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012).

         As for the Champaign County Jail managers, Correction Care Solutions, and its managers, Whitney is improperly attempting to hold it and them liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. “[I]ndividual liability under § 1983 requires ‘personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation.'” Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2010)(quoting Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2003)). Indeed, the Seventh Circuit has explained that the doctrine of respondeat superior (a doctrine whereby a supervisor may be held liable for an employee's actions) has no application to § 1983 actions. Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 622 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Instead, in order for a supervisor to be held liable under § 1983 for the actions of his subordinates, the supervisor must “approve[] of the conduct and the basis for it.” Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001); Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995)(“An official satisfies the personal responsibility requirement of section 1983 . . . if the conduct causing the constitutional deprivation occurs at [his] direction or with [his] knowledge and consent.”)(internal quotation omitted). “[S]upervisors must know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of what they might see. They must in other words act either knowingly or with deliberate, reckless indifference.” Backes v. Village of Peoria Heights, Illinois, 662 F.3d 866, 870 (7th Cir. ...


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