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Russell v. Dart

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

May 10, 2017

Rickey Russell (#B-44957), Plaintiff,
Thomas Dart, et al., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Rickey Russell, currently an Illinois state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, officials at the Cook County Jail, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by subjecting him to “infectious, hazardous, and inhumane” conditions of confinement when he was incarcerated in the jail's Division 2 from November 2013 until approximately February 2014. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the building was overcrowded, that the drinking water was contaminated, that the facility was dirty, pest-infested, and lacked proper ventilation, that the bathrooms were in disrepair and inadequately equipped to handle the large inmate population, that mold and fungus grew on the walls, and that Plaintiff developed sinus problems on account of his environment. This matter is before the Court for ruling on Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons set forth in this order, the motion is granted.

         II. Standard

         Rule 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The distinction between a motion to dismiss and a motion for judgment on the pleadings is largely inconsequential for present purposes because both are evaluated under the same standard: the Court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Lodholtz v. York Risk Servs. Grp., Inc., 778 F.3d 635, 639 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Vesely v. Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664-65 (7th Cir. 2014)); Hayes v. City of Chicago, 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir. 2012). The same standards govern 12(b)(6) and 12(c) motions. Lodholtz, 778 F.3d at 639 (citing Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c). A motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted “only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief.” Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Northern Indiana Gun and Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998)).

         III. Background

         Plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings: Plaintiff was an inmate at the Cook County Jail at all times relevant to this action. Plaintiff was housed in the jail's Division 2, Dorm 4 “from Nov[ember] 2013 until approximately Feb[ruary] 2014.” (Complaint, p. 4.)

         According to Plaintiff, while incarcerated in Division 2, he endured “infectious, hazardous and inhumane living conditions.” The water was unfit for consumption. The facility had poor ventilation and was pest-infested. Over three hundred detainees had to share two working shower stalls. The plumbing frequently backed up. The ceiling leaked. Rust, mold and mildew were pervasive in the washroom and shower. The building seemed to be literally crumbling, with chips of paint falling from the ceiling, and floor tiles broken and missing.

         Plaintiff, who is asthmatic, developed a sinus infection while he was a pretrial detainee. Plaintiff believes that his “horrible living conditions” caused the sinus infection. (Id.)

         Because Plaintiff held many jobs at the jail, he complained about the conditions of his confinement to a number of correctional employees, including Defendant Hall, the Superintendent of Division 2. For about three months, correctional officials refused to transfer Plaintiff to another housing unit.

         Correctional officials “denied or disregarded” Plaintiff's grievances. (Id., p. 5.) In April 2015, after Plaintiff had apparently been moved to a more habitable housing division but while he was still incarcerated at the jail, he attempted to file a grievance concerning the conditions in Division 2. (Id.) However, the grievance was evidently lost or destroyed. In fact, “lots” of Plaintiff's grievances “mysteriously disappeared.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit in June 2016.

         IV. Discussion

         Even accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Defendants are entitled to judgment on the pleadings because the complaint is time-barred. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for Section 1983 actions is two years. See, e.g., Neita v. City of Chicago, 830 F.3d 494, 498 (7th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted); 735 ILCS § 5/13-202. Illinois law does not toll the statute of limitations for prisoners. Bryant v. City of Chicago, 746 F.3d 239, 242 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Wilson v. Giesen, 956 F.2d 738, 741 (7th Cir. 1992)). ...

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