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Clair v. Cook County

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

April 13, 2017

THOMAS CLAIR, on behalf of himself and as Administrator of the Estate of JACLYN CLAIR, Plaintiff,
v.
COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, COOK COUNTY SHERIFF, SHEILA TAYLOR, GAIL MALONE, MICHELLE BROWN, JIMMY MCMILLIAN, PAULINA UDE, CONCETTA MENNELLA, TAMEIKA THOMAS, WALTRAUD CRUZ, PAMELA MOORE, SGT. DEANES, HOPE MCGEE, KAREN PURCELL, MARIE LANE, DRUCILLA KILGORE, REBECCA MASI, GLEN TRAMMEL, NONGRAM SARIKA, CHINEDU AKOMA, DIANE LAVENDER, JANICE BARNES, PETER OBAZUAYE, SHEEBA MAMMEN, TIFFANY SCHAEFER, PAMELA HUMPHRIES, PATTY WASHINGTON, and HILDA PRETTY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Gary Feinerman Judge

         Thomas Clair (“Clair”), on behalf of himself and as the administrator of the estate of his daughter, Jaclyn Clair (“Jaclyn”), brought this suit alleging federal and state law claims arising from Jaclyn's suicide while she was a pretrial detainee at Cook County Jail. Docs. 1, 38. Defendants have moved to dismiss Clair's state law claims (but not his federal claims) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Docs. 59, 83, 95, 107. The motion is denied.

         Background

         In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set forth in Clair's brief opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013). The facts are set forth as favorably to Clair as those materials allow. See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc., 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir. 2016). In setting forth those facts at the pleading stage, the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Jaclyn was arrested for retail theft on January 26, 2015, and placed in pretrial detention at Cook County Jail. Doc. 38 at ¶¶ 10-11. During her detention, Jaclyn experienced obvious and severe symptoms of heroin withdrawal, but her repeated pleas for medical treatment were ignored. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 17, 19-25. On February 5, 2015, shortly after her final request for help, Jaclyn committed suicide by hanging herself in her cell. Id. at ¶¶ 23-26.

         On January 27, 2016, Clair brought this suit against Cook County, County employees Ude and Mennella, the Cook County Sheriff, Sheriff employees Taylor, Malone, Brown, and McMillian, and “unknown” Cook County and Sheriff employees. Doc. 1 at 1. On September 21, 2016, Clair filed an amended complaint, which named the previously unknown defendants. Doc. 38. The amended complaint asserts claims against Cook County, Cook County employees Ude, Mennella, Kilgore, Masi, Trammel, Sarika, Akoma, Lavender, Barnes, Obazuaye, Mammen, Schaeffer, Humphries, Washington, and Pretty, the Cook County Sheriff, and Sheriff employees Taylor, Malone, Brown, McMillian, Thomas, Cruz, Moore, Deanes, McGee, Purcell, and Lane. Ibid. The suit asserts federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims for wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and willful and wanton negligence. Ibid.

         Discussion

         Cook County, Ude, Mennella, Masi, Pretty, and Trammel moved to dismiss the state law claims against them, Doc. 59, and the remaining defendants later joined the motion, Docs. 83, 95, 107. The motion asserts two grounds for dismissal. First, Defendants contend that §§ 6-105 and 6-106(a) of the Illinois Tort Immunity Act (“TIA”), 745 ILCS 10/6-105, 106(a), shield them from liability on the state law claims. Doc. 59 at 3-5. Second, they argue that the claims against the defendants not named until the amended complaint are barred by the one-year statute of limitations set forth in 745 ILCS 10/8-101(a). Id. at 5-7.

         I. Immunity

         Immunity under the TIA operates as an affirmative defense, so Defendants “bear the burden of properly raising and proving their immunity under the Act.” Salvi v. Vill. of Lake Zurich, 66 N.E.3d 894, 908 ( Ill. App. 2016). Section 6-105 of the TIA states:

Neither a local public entity nor a public employee acting within the scope of his employment is liable for injury caused by the failure to make a physical or mental examination, or to make an adequate physical or mental examination of any person for the purpose of determining whether such person has a disease or physical or mental condition that would constitute a hazard to the health or safety of himself or others.

745 ILCS 10/6-105. Section 6-106(a) states:

Neither a local public entity nor a public employee acting within the scope of his employment is liable for injury resulting from diagnosing or failing to diagnose that a person is afflicted with mental or physical illness or addiction or from failing to prescribe for mental or physical illness or addiction.

745 ILCS 10/6-106(a). In Defendants' view, those provisions immunize them because the gravamen of Clair's state law claims is that they negligently examined or misdiagnosed Jaclyn ...


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