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Dennis v. Curran

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

January 20, 2017

LUTHER RAY DENNIS, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK C. CURRAN, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF; TED UCHIEK, DEPUTY CHIEF OF CORRECTIONS; LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES P. KOCORAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion to dismiss Plaintiff Luther Ray Dennis' (“Dennis”) amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by Defendants Marc Curran (“Curran”), Ted Uchiek (“Uchiek”), and Lake County, Illinois (“Lake County”) (collectively, “Defendants”). For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from Dennis' Amended Complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion to dismiss. See Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). The Court draws all reasonable inferences in favor of Dennis. See Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Before his detention in the Lake County Jail, Dennis suffered third degree burns that permanently damaged muscles and nerve endings in his legs, leaving him disabled. For mobility, Dennis requires the aid of a cane or wheelchair. Dennis has been incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at the Lake County Jail since December 30, 2015. On or around January 7, 2016 through June 1, 2016 Dennis was confined to non-handicap accessible floors within the Lake County Jail. Additionally, he alleges similar confinement from July 23, 2016 to August 9, 2016. Dennis claims that he made requests for wheelchair accessible showers and appropriate toilet facilities, but he was not given such accommodations. Dennis asserts that he was forced to shower while sitting on a “wheel in a toilet chair, ” “a day room chair” or his wheelchair, instead of a handicapped accessible chair and he was unable to clean his body. Dennis alleges that he fell on several occasions while trying to maneuver his body from the wheelchair to the non-handicap accessible shower. As a result, Dennis suffered injuries to his knee and hip. For a period of three to four months, Dennis claims that he also made several requests to Defendant Uchiek for a medical exam with regard to his hip and knee. According to the Amended Complaint, Uchiek ignored Dennis' requests for medical treatment. Dennis contends that he has exhausted the administrative remedies available to him. Accordingly, Dennis brings a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Ted Uchiek (Count I); a violation of Section 202 the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against each named Defendant (Count II); a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act against each named Defendant (Count III); a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Monell claim against Curran (Count IV); and a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Monell claim against Lake County, Illinois (Count V). Defendants now move to dismiss all counts.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case.” McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 694 F.3d 873, 878 (7th Cir. 2012). The allegations in a complaint must set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff need not provide detailed factual allegations, but must provide enough factual support to raise his right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atlantic. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A claim must be facially plausible, meaning that the pleadings must “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The claim must be described “in sufficient detail to give the defendant ‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Count I-42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against Ted Uchiek

         Currently, the Amended Complaint names Uchiek in his official capacity. Plaintiff states that the allegations should have been brought against Uchiek in his individual capacity. The Court construes Plaintiff's statement as a request for leave to amend the caption of the Amended Complaint. The Clerk is directed to amend the caption of the Amended Complaint, naming Uchiek in his individual capacity.

         To succeed on an individual capacity claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Dennis must show Uchiek, while acting under the color of state law, personally caused or participated in the alleged constitutional deprivation.” Hoskins v. Dart, No. 09 CV 5145, 2010 WL 4823065, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15, 2010). A plaintiff claiming a constitutional violation under § 1983 must meet both an objective and a subjective component. Id. Objectively, the plaintiff must show that the deprivation he suffered was “sufficiently serious; that is, it must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Walker v. Benjamin, 293 F.3d 1030, 1037 (7th Cir. 2002). Subjectively, an inmate must establish that prison officials acted with a “‘sufficiently culpable state of mind'” to support liability under § 1983. Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 114 (1994)). Although negligence or inadvertence will not support a deliberate indifference claim, an inmate need not establish that prison officials actually intended harm to befall him from the failure to provide adequate care. Walker, 293 F.3d at 1037. “[I]t is enough to show that the defendants knew of a substantial risk of harm to the inmate and disregarded the risk.” Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653.

         In the instant matter, Dennis claims Uchiek was personally aware of his disability and acted with deliberate indifference to deprive him of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, the Amended Complaint alleges that Uchiek failed to provide Dennis with: (i) accommodations for his disability including: (a) failing to provide wheelchair accessible showers, (b) appropriate toilet facilities, (c) access to religious services, (d) access to outdoor or indoor recreational services/facilities for wheelchair-bound persons, (ii) failing to provide Plaintiff with proper medical treatment, and (iii) failing to provide safe and sanitary living conditions for a disabled individual. With the exception of allegation (ii), we find Dennis has pleaded insufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that Uchiek acted with deliberate indifference toward him.

         The Amended Complaint only offers one sentence to allege that Uchiek acted with deliberate indifference by failing to accommodate Dennis' disability. Dennis alleges Uchiek “acting with deliberate indifference [] fail[ed] to provide [Dennis] with accommodations for his disability, including [] wheelchair accessible showers, appropriate toilet facilities, ” and wheelchair accessible religious services and recreational activities. To survive a motion to dismiss, Dennis must plead “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Without more factual support, this Court is unable to draw a reasonable inference that Uchiek is liable for the misconduct alleged. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Since the facts in the Amended Complaint do not support an allegation that Uchiek acted with deliberate indifference, allegations (i) and (iii) under Count One are dismissed.

         As to allegation (ii), Dennis has sufficiently alleged that Uchiek acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical need. In the medical care context, the objective element is satisfied when an inmate demonstrates that his medical need itself was sufficiently serious. Gutierrez v. Peters,111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th Cir.1997). A medical need is considered sufficiently serious if the inmate's condition “has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or [] is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention.” Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653. A medical condition can be found to be serious if it could ...


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