United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge.
proceeds pro se from his detention in the Ford County Jail.
His Complaint is before the Court for a merit review pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This section requires the Court to
identify cognizable claims stated by the Complaint or dismiss
claims that are not cognizable. In reviewing the complaint, the
Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally
construing them in Plaintiff's favor and taking
Plaintiff's pro se status into account. Turley v.
Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013).
However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient.
Enough facts must be provided to "'state a claim for
relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th
Cir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted).
from the complaint and its attachments, Plaintiff alleges
that he is being detained in the Ford County Jail on a felony
charge of intimidation based on a Facebook post. He asserts
that he did not make the post and that the post did not
mention the alleged victim's name. He seems to allege
that he was arrested without probable cause and that a police
officer offered a false affidavit to secure a search warrant
for the home of Plaintiff's brother and perhaps
Plaintiff's home as well. Neither search turned up
evidence to support the charge. Plaintiff is being detained
in the Jail on a one million dollar bond.
alleges that he entered the Jail with two recently broken
teeth which “were shoved into his skull” along
with three abscessed teeth. Both a dentist and an oral
surgeon have allegedly recommended that Plaintiff have the
five teeth promptly removed. The dentist allegedly told
Plaintiff that Plaintiff's vision could be permanently
lost if the teeth are not removed. The oral surgery was not
scheduled because Plaintiff's Medicare would not cover
the surgery. Thus, Plaintiff remains in Jail with the
abscessed teeth and is no longer being provided antibiotics.
Plaintiff appears to allege that he is being denied necessary
treatment because the Jail will not cover the costs.
Plaintiff alleges that he has been denied necessary mental
health treatment for a mental health breakdown because of the
Jail's policy of employing only one mental health
professional for four hours per week. Plaintiff also alleges
that newspapers and magazines mailed to him are kept from him
because of a Jail policy and that he cannot send out legal
mail unless he has money in his account.
cannot challenge what is happening in his ongoing criminal
proceedings in this case to the extent he is trying to do so.
The place to make that challenge is in Plaintiff's
criminal case. Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d 134, 137
(7th Cir. 1995)(“In Younger, the Supreme Court
held that absent extraordinary circumstances federal courts
should abstain from enjoining ongoing state criminal
proceedings.”) Additionally, prosecutors are absolutely
immune from civil liability for pursuing criminal charges in
court, and judges are absolutely immune from civil liability
for their decisions in court. Imbler v. Pachtman,
424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976)("in initiating a prosecution
and in presenting the State's case, the prosecutor is
immune from a civil suit for damages under section
1983."); Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 838 (7th
Cir. 2011)(“A judge has absolute immunity for any
judicial actions unless the judge acted in the absence of all
Plaintiff is pursuing a claim for arrest without probable
cause, that claim might be able to proceed in a civil action
while the criminal case is pending, but Plaintiff does not
offer enough facts to determine whether he states a claim for
false arrest. “Probable cause to make an arrest exists
when a reasonable person confronted with the sum total of the
facts known to the officer at the time of the arrest would
conclude that the person arrested has committed, is
committing, or is about to commit a crime.” Venson
v. Altamirano, 749 F.3d 641, 649 (7th Cir.2014). For
example, Plaintiff does not state whether an arrest warrant
had issued, whether the victim had complained to police, what
the Facebook post stated, whether the post was on
Plaintiff's Facebook page, and whether the post appeared
to be authored by Plaintiff. Similarly, if Plaintiff is
contending that the search warrant that issued for his home
was based on false statements by police, he does not explain
what statements were made in the affidavit for the search
warrant that were false.
event, claims arising from Plaintiff's arrest and the
search of his home would not be properly joined with his
claims regarding the incidents at the Jail because the
occurrences are unrelated and against different Defendants.
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
2007)(“Unrelated claims against different defendants
belong in different suits . . .”). Plaintiff's
claims regarding his arrest and the search will be dismissed
without prejudice to refiling as a separate action and paying
a separate filing fee. In order to avoid a strike under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g), Plaintiff should carefully consider,
before filing a separate action, whether he can allege facts
to plausibly state a federal claim based on the arrest and
search. Plaintiff clearly states a claim for deliberate
indifference to his serious dental, medical, and mental
health needs at the Jail. However, he names 16 defendants on
these claims. Only the individuals who are personally
responsible for denying Plaintiff care can be liable.
Personally responsible means that an individual knows about
the problem and has the authority to do something to fix the
problem. The correctional officers named as Defendants would
not have control over what treatment services the Jail
provides, but the administrators arguably would. These claims
will proceed against Sheriff Doran and Jail Administrator
Stacy Bruens at this point. Similarly, Plaintiff's claims
about his legal mail, newspapers, and magazines are systemic
challenges to Jail policy and will proceed against Sheriff
Doran and Jail Administrator Stacy Bruens at this point. Ford
County will be added for purposes of indemnification and to
cover the possibility that the alleged policies are
attributable to the County.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states the
following claims against Defendants Doran (in his official
and individual capacities) and Defendant Bruens: (1)
Fourteenth Amendment due process claim for deliberate
indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical, dental, and
mental health needs; and, (2) First Amendment claim based on
the Jail's policies regarding newspapers, magazines, and
legal mail. This case proceeds solely on the claims
identified in this paragraph. Any additional claims shall not
be included in the case, except at the Court's discretion
on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.
Plaintiff's claims arising from his arrest and the search
of his home are dismissed, without prejudice, for failure to
state a claim and as improperly joined with the claims
proceeding in this case.
case is now in the process of service. Plaintiff is advised
to wait until counsel has appeared for Defendants before
filing any motions, in order to give Defendants notice and an
opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before
Defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will
generally be denied as premature. Plaintiff ...