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Mahoney v. Monroe County

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 20, 2017

TONI MAHONEY, Personal Representative of the Estate of Devin C.M. York, Deceased, Plaintiff,



         Before the Court is defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 51). Plaintiff opposes (Doc. 53). Based on the following, the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 18, 2017, plaintiff Toni Mahoney (“plaintiff”) filed an eight-count Second Amended Complaint naming defendants Monroe County, Illinois, Sheriff Neal Rohlfing (“Sheriff Rohlfing”), and correctional officers Steven Muench (“CO Muench”), Ben Ettling (“CO Ettling”), and Justin Fruth (“CO Fruth”) (Doc. 45). Specifically, plaintiff alleged on December 12, 2015, Devin C.M. York (“Decedent”) was arrested by the Waterloo Police Department and was subsequently transported to Monroe County Jail (Doc. 45 at 3). During the intake process Decedent completed a medical questionnaire administrated by CO Fruth (Id.). In response Decedent advised the following: he recently attempted suicide; he was a daily user of heroin; he recently had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder; and, that he was currently under the influence of heroin while undergoing the jail intake process (Id. at 4).

         Plaintiff contended that although above listed declarations were made, CO Fruth's intake assessment of Decedent indicated the presence of no risk factors; and as a result, Decedent was assigned to a general population housing cell, instead of an insolation/observation safety cell (Id.). On the morning of December 14, CO Muench discovered Decedent hung himself in his cell with a bedsheet (Id. at 6). Decedent was then rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter (Id.).

         Expressly, plaintiff alleged all defendants are required to undergo Mental Health and Suicide Prevention training annually pursuant to Title 20, Section 701.90 of the Illinois Administrative Code (Id. at 5); and as a result, CO Fruth failed to properly screen, examine, assess and evaluate Decedent before placing him in general population; and, COs Muench and Ettling failed to refer Decedent to available psychological resources, as well as, identify Decedent's high risk factors (Id.).

         Plaintiff asserted claims of violation of the Fourth Amendment against all defendants; violation of the American Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and the Illinois Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act against Sheriff Rohlfing and Monroe County, Illinois; violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and respondeat superior claims against Sheriff Rohlfing; and wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy claims against all individual defendants (Id. at 6-20). For relief, plaintiff requested compensatory damages, and costs and fees (Id.).

         On July 24, 2017, defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (Doc. 51). Defendants argue plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts in order to articulate asserted claims; Monroe County is not liable for alleged actions of its defendant employees; and, Sheriff Rohlfing cannot be held liable for alleged misconduct of subordinate defendant correctional officers (Id.). As a result, defendants request dismissal of plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Id.).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Fed. R. Civ. P Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court explained in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), that Rule 12(6)(b) dismissal is warranted if the complaint fails to set forth “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Notice pleading remains all that is required in a complaint, even though federal pleading standards were overhauled by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). “A plaintiff still must provide only ‘enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and, through his allegations, show that it is plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is entitled to relief.' ” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).

         The Seventh Circuit offers further instruction on what a civil action must allege to endure 12(b)(6) dismissal. In Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 699 (7th Cir. 2008), the Court reiterated the standard: “surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion requires more than labels and conclusions”; the complaint's allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” A plaintiff's claim “must be plausible on its face, ” that is, “the complaint must establish a non-negligible probability that the claim is valid.” Smith v. Med. Benefit Adm'rs Grp., Inc., 639 F.3d 277, 281 (7th Cir. 2011).

         B. Fourth Amendment Violation under Section 1983

         In order to assert a section 1983 claim plaintiff must establish that individual defendants: “(1) acted under the color of state law; and (2) deprived [Decedent] of a constitutional right.” Estate of Perry v. Wenzel, 872 F.3d 439, 452 (7th Cir. 2017); see also Westfield Ins. Co. v. Nat'l Decorating Serv., Inc., 863 F.3d 690, 695 (7th Cir. 2017) (explaining all facts are construed in the light most favorable to non-moving party). It is undisputed named defendants were acting in official capacity as state actors during events at issue. E.g., Estate of Perry, 872 F.3d at 452. Further, the Fourth Amendment governs claims brought by pretrialdetainees who are challenging conditions of confinement, and who have yet beenafforded a probable cause hearing. See Currie v. Chhabra, 728 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2013). The “objectively ...

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