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Cripe v. Glidden

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 18, 2017

TYLER D. CRIPE, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert, U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Tyler D. Cripe, presently detained at the Fayette County Jail, [1] brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 3). The constitutional violations allegedly occurred while Plaintiff was detained at the Fayette County Jail. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff names Brian Glidden (Fayette County Jail Administrator), Fayette County Jail, Dr. Fatoki, Dr. Elyea, and Megan Trone. (Doc. 3).[2] Fatoki, Elyea, and Trone are described as being the “acting physicians and nurse of the Fayette County Jail.” (Doc. 3, p. 2). Plaintiff requests monetary compensation. (Doc. 1, p. 5). In addition, he states he would “like for the procedures at the Fayette County Jail to be corrected and enforced so no other detainee has to go through this.” (Doc. 3, p. 6). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Amended Complaint (Doc. 3) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the Amended Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id.

         As a part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever unrelated claims against different defendants into separate lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). In George, the Seventh Circuit emphasized that the practice of severance is important, “not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. This practice is encouraged. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recently warned district courts not to allow inmates “to flout the rules for joining claims and defendants, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 18, 20, or to circumvent the Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee requirements by combining multiple lawsuits into a single complaint.” Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017). See also Wheeler v. Talbot, ___ F. App'x ___, 2017 WL 2417889 (7th Cir. 2017) (district court should have severed unrelated and improperly joined claims or dismissed one of them). Consistent with George, Owens, and Wheeler, improperly joined parties and/or claims will be severed into new cases, given new case numbers, and assessed separate filing fees.

         The Amended Complaint

         In the Amended Complaint (Doc. 3), Plaintiff makes the following allegations related to (1) failure to provide Plaintiff, who is Jewish, with a kosher diet; (2) deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs; and (3) law library access.

         A. Kosher Diet

         Plaintiff is Jewish. (Doc. 3, p. 5). Plaintiff requested a religious kosher diet, but his request was refused. Brian Glidden, the Fayette County Jail administrator, has indicated that Plaintiff's request is being denied because when Plaintiff was booked he was intoxicated and refused to answer questions. Id. Plaintiff also states that he spoke with Glidden and filled out a request slip directed to him, but nothing was done.

         B. Medical Treatment

         Plaintiff is a veteran who suffers from mental illness, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (Doc. 3, p. 5). Prior to being detained at Fayette County Jail, Plaintiff was taking certain prescription medications to treat his mental illness and PTSD. Plaintiff also suffers from asthma and uses an albuterol inhaler. Id. Plaintiff has used an albuterol inhaler “since birth.” Id.

         When Plaintiff was booked, he told officials the medications he was taking. Id. Plaintiff was not given any prescription medications and was told he would see a physician or a nurse in two weeks. Plaintiff has asked several times to be seen by a physician or a nurse but has not been seen. At some point, Plaintiff was given medication, but it does not help his mental illness and officials have not told Plaintiff what the medication or medications are for. Id. Officials have also refused to give Plaintiff an albuterol inhaler. Id. Without the inhaler, Plaintiff cannot exercise and sometimes has trouble breathing in the mornings. Id.

         C. Law Library

         Plaintiff claims detainees and/or inmates at the Jail have “no access” or “limited access” to the law library. (Doc. 3, p. 5). The material that is available is damaged (missing pages) and outdated. Id. It often takes days to obtain requested information. Id.

         On July 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding law library inadequacies. Id. Plaintiff was subsequently removed from his cell and placed in a small library. Id. After two hours, the Sheriff opened the locked door and asked Plaintiff if he had enough library time. Id. Plaintiff construes this as punishment for his grievance. Id.


         Dismissal of Certain Defendants

         Fayette County Jail

         Section 1983 imposes liability on “any person” who, under color of state law, deprives another of rights protected by the Constitution. In Monell, the Supreme Court held that Congress intended municipalities and other local government entities to be included among those persons to whom § 1983 applies. 436 U.S., at 690, 98 S.Ct., at 2035. However, unlike municipalities, a jail is not a legal entity that can be sued under § 1983. See Smith v. Knox County Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012) (Knox County Jail a “non-suable entity”); Powell v. Cook County Jail, 814 F.Supp. 757, 578 (N.D.Ill. 1993) (Cook County Jail is not an entity nor a “person” subject to suit under § 1983). Accordingly, Fayette County Jail shall be dismissed from this action with prejudice.

         Dr. Fatoki, Dr. Elyea, and Megan Trone - “Medical Defendants”

         Dr. Fatoki, Dr. Elyea, and Megan Trone are identified as defendants in Plaintiff's list of defendants (but not in the case caption). With the exception of their job descriptions (“acting physicians and nurse of Fayette County Jail”), no mention of these individuals is made in the body of the Amended Complaint.

         Plaintiff's failure to assert a specific act of wrongdoing as to these individuals does not suffice to meet the personal involvement requirement necessary for § 1983 liability. See Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995) (“to recover damages under § 1983, a plaintiff must establish that a defendant was personally responsible for the deprivation of a constitutional right.”). Therefore, Fatoki, Elyea, ...

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