United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
S. Shah United States District Judge.
motion to dismiss, , is granted. The amended complaint is
dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff will be given one more
opportunity to replead his claims. Any amended complaint must
be filed by May 8, 2017. If no amended complaint is filed,
this dismissal will automatically convert to a dismissal with
prejudice and the case will be terminated.
the Sheriff of Cook County, Cook County, and unknown
sheriff's employees move to dismiss plaintiff Kenyatta
Bridges's amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). . Bridges's original complaint
against these defendants was dismissed without prejudice
because he failed to state a claim and because his claim
against unknown employees was time-barred. .
was allowed to replead. His amended complaint alleges that
while detained at the Cook County Jail, Bridges notified
personnel that he needed to sleep in a lower bunk but was
denied a lower bunk. After his warnings, he was injured in
April 2014 after falling off an upper bunk. Bridges alleges
that his injury was a product of a widespread practice at the
jail of ignoring detainees' requests for a lower bunk.
 ¶ 16. He cites to five lawsuits brought by other
Cook County Jail detainees who alleged they had prescriptions
for a lower bunk that went unfilled during various instances
from 2005 to 2012. Bridges also alleges that he was not
regularly provided with his prescribed medication while at
the jail, and that this resulted from the county and the
Sheriff's widespread practice of failing to provide
detainees with their prescribed medication on a timely basis.
He does not allege when he was prescribed medications, for
what condition, when the medications were denied or delayed,
or what injury he suffered as a result.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain factual
allegations that plausibly suggest a right to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The
court must construe all factual allegations as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor, but
the court need not accept legal conclusions or conclusory
allegations. Id. at 678-79. Defendants move to
dismiss Bridges's amended complaint, arguing that he has
failed to state a Monell claim against a widespread
practice of denying detainees a lower bunk and that his new
Monell claim about medication is
Monell claim requires showing that a government
policy or custom was the “moving force” behind
the constitutional deprivation. Teesdale v. City of
Chicago, 690 F.3d 829, 833 (7th Cir. 2012). A plaintiff
can establish a “policy or custom” by showing:
(1) an express policy; (2) a widespread practice that is so
permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or
usage; or (3) that the constitutional injury was caused by a
person with final policymaking authority. Id. at
834. Bridges pursues the “widespread practice”
theory and therefore “must allege facts that permit the
reasonable inference that the practice is so widespread so as
to constitute a governmental custom.” Gill v. City
of Milwaukee, 850 F.3d 335, 344 (7th Cir. 2017).
“[I]solated acts of misconduct will not suffice; a
series of violations must be presented to lay the premise of
deliberate indifference.” Palmer v. Marion
Cty., 327 F.3d 588, 596 (7th Cir. 2003). The alleged
practice, although not authorized by written law or express
municipal policy, must be “so permanent and well
settled as to constitute a ‘custom or usage' with
the force of law.” City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 127 (1988).
to Johnson v. Sheriff of Cook County, No. 15 C 741,
2015 WL 1942724 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 24, 2015), defendants contend
that a widespread practice cannot be alleged by referring to
other cases alleging similar treatment by the same
institutional defendant. Defendants argue that it would be
improper to rely on the other cases cited by Bridges because
they involved unsubstantiated allegations and ultimately
ended up being dismissed or settled.
however, merely held that a cursory reference to a widespread
practice as alleged in another case was insufficient to state
a Monell claim above a speculative level when the
complaint lacked an explanation of that widespread practice
or specific factual allegations against the sheriff's
office. 2015 WL 1942724 at *2. Here, Bridges has alleged
other instances of low bunk denials to show the jail's
practice through a series of violations.
unsubstantiated nature of the allegations in these other
lawsuits is not a reason to discount them. At the motion to
dismiss stage, most (if not all) allegations are
unsubstantiated-their veracity is determined at a later stage
in litigation. In widespread practice cases, “[i]f the
same problem has arisen many times and the municipality has
acquiesced in the outcome, it is possible (though not
necessary) to infer that there is a policy at work, not the
kind of isolated incident that [the Supreme Court] held
cannot support municipal liability.” Calhoun v.
Ramsey, 408 F.3d 375, 380 (7th Cir. 2005). Bridges's
allegations that several other detainees' were prescribed
lower bunks, but denied them may be sufficient to allow the
plausible inference that there was a widespread practice at
the jail to deny lower bunk access to detainees despite
prescriptions or orders for such bunks.
problem for Bridges is that he has alleged a different
practice-his allegation is that his request for a lower bunk
was denied. Although he uses the word
“prescriptions” in reference to his own requests,
 ¶ 6, he does not allege that he was actually
prescribed a lower bunk by a medical professional. His claim
that there was a policy of flouting requests by detainees is
belied by his allegations that other detainees received
prescriptions. In other words, it is apparent from the
complaint that some detainees' requests were not flouted,
but received attention in the form of medical prescriptions
for lower bunks. This internal inconsistency in the complaint
makes Bridges's Monell claim implausible.
Moreover, any practice of not fulfilling medically prescribed
lower bunks was not at issue for Bridges, because he alleges
no such prescription in his amended complaint. Without an
allegation that Bridges had a prescription for a lower bunk,
it is not reasonable to infer that a practice of not honoring
prescriptions was a cause of Bridges's injury.
Bridges's Monell claim as it relates to his fall
lower-bunk claim alleges that he fell out of his bunk and was
injured in April 2014. Under the two-year statute of
limitations for § 1983 deliberate indifference claims in
Illinois, the statute of limitations on his lowerbunk claim
passed in April 2016. As explained in the earlier dismissal
of Bridges's original complaint, an amendment after April
2016 to identify unnamed sheriff's employees who denied
him a lower bunk would be untimely.  at 2. But
Bridges's Monell claim based on the denial of medication
is a different claim-the statute of limitations accrual is
tied to the injury sustained from the denial of medication,
not to the April 2014 fall from an upper bunk. The amended
complaint, however, is silent on when Bridges was denied
medication. (The complaint also does not allege the length of
his detention at the jail.) Bridges's medication claim
may very well be untimely, because it does not relate back to
Bridges's original complaint. An amendment relates back
if it asserts a claim that arose out of the conduct,
transaction, or occurrence set out in the original pleading.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c). Bridges's medication claim arises out
of a new set of alleged facts and conduct not alleged in his
original complaint, which was limited to denial of a lower
medication claim accrued before January 18, 2015, and no
tolling applies, it is too late to pursue. But the
untimeliness of this new claim is not apparent on the face of
the complaint and therefore dismissal on that basis is not
appropriate at this time. A complaint will be dismissed for
failure to comply with the statute of limitations only where
the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything
necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense. Chicago Bldg.
Design, P.C. v. Mongolian House, Inc., 770 F.3d 610, 613-14
(7th Cir. 2014).
failure to allege what his medications-denial claim entails
(when it occurred, what medications were at issue, and how
the denial or delay of medications affected him) makes it too
vague to be discernible. Although defendants have not raised
this challenge to the adequacy of the pleading, the defects
are evident from the complaint and suitable for a sua sponte
dismissal. See Diedrich v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 839
F.3d 583, 588 n.3 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing Ledford v.
Sullivan, 105 F.3d 354, 356 (7th Cir. 1997)). Complaints need
not plead evidence and need only make allegations sufficient
to state a plausible claim for relief, but Bridges's
statement that he did not consistently receive unidentified
medications for an unidentified ...