United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 46) filed by Defendant Phillip
McLaurin is pending before the Court. For the reasons set
forth below, the motion is denied.
Tyrone Graham, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 on behalf of himself and “Block AA” inmates
housed at the St. Clair County Jail. (Doc. 1). Graham alleged
the inmates were subjected to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement starting in August 1, 2015, when they were moved
to the gym due to a broken light in their cellblock. (Doc.
1). After the Court issued a warning about the perils of
proceeding with a joint claim, all other Plaintiffs were
dismissed. (Docs. 24, 32). Graham was permitted to proceed on
an individual claim that he was subjected to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement for a three week period beginning
on August 19, 2015.
sole Defendant, Phillip McLaurin, who Graham identified as a
superintendent or major, now seeks dismissal based on
qualified immunity. McLaurin argues Graham has not set forth
any claim that he was personally involved in the
constitutional deprivations and that Graham's
“situation was temporary and localized.” (Doc.
46, p. 5). Graham did not respond to the motion to dismiss
within the 30 day time period set forth in Local Rule 7.1.
When Graham was given an additional opportunity to respond
and warned the failure to respond may result in dismissal, he
still did not file a response. (Doc. 48). Despite
Graham's failure, the Court declines to dismiss the case
because it finds McLaurin's motion is without merit.
third amended complaint consists of one paragraph in which he
states he was subjected to conditions that included being
housed in the gymnasium with “30 plus offenders,
” sleeping on a “boat, ” sharing one
toilet, and sharing “eating quarters on the gymnasium
floor.” (Doc. 35, p. 5). Graham does not name McLaurin
in the body of his complaint; rather, he is listed as
“Defendant #1.” There is no indication in the
third amended complaint of what role McLaurin played in the
conditions of Graham's confinement. As set forth in this
Court's previous Order, however, by designating McLaurin
as a high ranking official, a superintendent of the St. Clair
County Jail, Graham impliedly asserts that McLaurin directed
or condoned the unconstitutional conditions. (Doc. 38, pp.
presents his motion to dismiss as based on qualified
immunity. In Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 121
(2001), the Supreme Court set out a two-part test for
qualified immunity. Specifically, a court must decide whether
the facts, when viewed in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, indicate: (1) the officer's conduct violated
some constitutional right of the plaintiff; and (2) the
constitutional right violated was “clearly
established” at the time of the alleged violation.
Id. The Court notes that while McLaurin cites the
standard for qualified immunity, he fails to explain why
Graham's claims fail this test. (Doc. 46). Rather,
McLaurin's basic contention is that there is no
allegation that he was involved, personally or otherwise, in
the constitutional deprivation. Thus, the Court will proceed
on McLaurin's more general claim under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), rather than analyzing whether
McLaurin is entitled to qualified immunity.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
Dismissal of an action under this rule is warranted where a
plaintiff is unable to prove any set of facts that would
entitle them to relief. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease
Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must “state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). While a complaint need not include detailed factual
allegations, there must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level. Id. at 555. The
plaintiff must plead factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662 (2009)); McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch &
Co., 694 F.3d 873, 885 (7th Cir. 2012). When reviewing
the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must “accept
the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, but
‘need not accept as true legal conclusions, or
threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements.'” Alam
v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir.
2013) (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581
(7th Cir. 2009)). Further, allegations in a pro se
complaint are held to less stringent standards, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and are to be
liberally construed, Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton,
Ind., 839 F.2d 375, 378 (7th Cir. 1988).
when liberally construed, Graham has pled sufficient facts to
survive a motion to dismiss. McLaurin is correct that the
third amended complaint does not set forth any specific
allegation that McLaurin was personally involved in
Graham's housing situation-there is no statement that it
occurred at his direction or with his knowledge or consent.
(Doc. 35, p. 5). To recover damages under § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish the defendant was personally
responsible for deprivation of the constitutional right.
Sheik-Abdi v. McClellan, 37 F.3d 1240, 1248 (7th
Cir. 1994). An official satisfies the personal responsibility
requirement of § 1983, however, where the constitutional
deprivation occurs at the direction or with the knowledge and
consent of the official. Smith v. Rowe, 761 F.2d
360, 369 (7th Cir. 1985). Where an official knows of,
facilitates, approves, condones or turns a blind eye to
unconstitutional conduct, they can be held personally
responsible. Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985,
992 (7th Cir. 1988). As this Court previously found, by
designating McLaurin as a high ranking official, a
superintendent of the St. Clair County Jail, Graham impliedly
asserts that McLaurin directed or condoned the
unconstitutional conditions. (Doc. 38, pp. 3-4).
nonetheless argues that because Graham's situation was
“localized” and brief, it cannot be assumed
McLaurin was aware of the situation. (See Doc. 46,
p. 4). McLaurin relies on Steidl v. Gramley, to
argue this situation was an “isolated failure”
that does not create liability in an administrator.
Steidl v. Gramley, 151 F.3d 739, 741 (7th Cir.
1998). Steidl, however, involved a single incident
of assault between prisoners. Id. at 740. The
Seventh Circuit found that because wardens are not involved
in the day-to-day operations of the prison, the warden could
not be liable for a single isolated failure of subordinates
to protect a prisoner. Id. at 741. Conversely, here
the scope of the situation in Graham's case-30 or more
inmates being housed in the prison's gym for a three week
period-was sufficiently systematic to allow an inference that
the superintendent of the jail would be aware of, if not
directly responsible for, the situation. (Doc. 35, p. 5).
Thus, Graham's third amended complaint is sufficiently
pled to avoid dismissal.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), however, the Court
is ordering Graham to provide a more definite statement of
his claim. Graham vaguely asserts that he was subjected to
certain living conditions, housing in a gym, sleeping in a
boat (which the Court assumes is a cot), sharing a toilet,
and being compelled to “share eating quarters on the
gymnasium floor.” Each of these individual ...