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Fonza v. Will County Jail

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

January 2, 2018

DAVID M. FONZA, Plaintiff,
WILL COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.


          Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge

         Plaintiff David Fonza (“Plaintiff”) brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Will County, Illinois (the “County”) and the Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley (“Kelley”) (together, the “Defendants”), as well as other defendants who are not involved in the present motion, for alleged violations to his civil rights arising out of his detention at the Will County Adult Detention Facility (“WCADF”) in 2014. Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Counts IV and V of Plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim [36]. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion [36] is granted in part and denied in part. Count V of the complaint, a Monell claim against the County, is dismissed without prejudice. This matter is set for status on January 24, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.

         I. Background[1]

         On November 24, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested and taken to the WCADF. During the booking process, several WCADF officers allegedly beat Plaintiff, while other officers looked on and failed to intervene. The WCADF's staff nurse then allegedly failed to provide Plaintiff with adequate medical care for the injuries that he sustained as a result of the beating.

         Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against the “Will County Jail, ” individual WCADF officers, the staff nurse, and Doe defendants on November 7, 2016. See [1] at 1. The complaint alleges that WCADF officers beat and injured Plaintiff during the booking process on November 24, 2014, and that he was not given immediate doctor's care. The complaint also alleged that when Plaintiff was arrested later and spent more than a year in the Will County Jail, he was harassed, he saw “other inmates being verbally & physically abused, ” and he and the other inmates were exposed to unsanitary and unsafe conditions. The complaint asserted that “I do not believe that because someone cannot bond out of jail and is being held before they are found guilty or plead guilty, that they should be treated in the manners others and I were treated.” Id. The complaint also “reserve[d] [Plaintiff's] right for other un-named Plaintiffs to be included in a possible Class Act lawsuit in relationship with all the above.” Id.

         The Court conducted an initial screen of Plaintiff's pro se complaint. See [10]. The Court “conclude[d], without prejudice to any arguments that the defendants may make in a motion to dismiss, that Plaintiff may be able to state an excessive force claim against Correctional Officers Brewer, Prokop, Day, Deane, Outlaw, and Filus, ” but that his “allegations as currently pled are insufficient to state a claim against Nursing Staff member Corrigan for deliberate indifference or against the Will County Jail for unconstitutional conditions of confinement.” Id. at 3. Summons were issued for service of the complaint on the individual correctional officers. The Court also appointed counsel to represent Plaintiff, explaining that it “believe[d] that Plaintiff would benefit greatly from counsel's assistance to tie Plaintiff's factual allegations to the appropriate legal theories, draft an amended complaint, identify the proper defendants, and conduct additional discovery.” Id. at 5. The Court also set the case for a status hearing, at which it would set deadlines for Plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

         Plaintiff's recruited counsel filed an amended complaint on April 12, 2017, within the time authorized by the Court. See [20], [24]. The amended complaint alleges claims for excessive force (Count I) and failure to intervene (Count II) against the individual correctional officers; a claim for denial of adequate medical care against the WCADF's staff nurse and medical provider (Count III); a claim for excessive force against Sheriff Kelley based on a supervisor liability theory (Count IV); a Monell claim against the County based on its alleged “widespread practice of bringing arrestees to Cell No. 1 at the WCADF and using excessive force on those arrestees” and failure to “correct this custom or policy” and to “properly screen, train, and supervise WCADF employees, ” [26] at 14 (Count V); a Monell claim against the WCADF's medical provider (Count VI); and an indemnification claim against the County (Count VII).

         Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Counts V and VI of the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         II. Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the legal sufficiency of the complaint. For purposes of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “the court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and construes all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.” Mutter, 17 F.Supp.3d at 756. To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff's complaint must allege facts which, when taken as true, “‘plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a speculative level.'” Cochran v. Illinois State Toll Highway Auth., 828 F.3d 597, 599 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007)). The Court reads the complaint and assesses its plausibility as a whole. See Atkins v. City of Chicago, 631 F.3d 823, 832 (7th Cir. 2011). In addition, “a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Beal v. Beller, 847 F.3d 897, 902 (7th Cir. 2017). “[A] pro se litigant is not required to explicitly refer to the proper statute or legal theory in order to state a cause of action as long as relief is possible under that statute or theory consistent with the facts pled.” Williams v. County of Cook, 969 F.Supp.2d 1068, 1084 n.6 (N.D. Ill. 2013).

         III. Analysis

         A. Statute of Limitations

         “Claims brought under § 1983 are governed by the statute of limitations for personal-injury claims in the state where the plaintiff's injury occurred, ” which in Illinois is two years. Neita v. City of Chicago, 830 F.3d 494, 498 (7th Cir. 2016). There is no dispute that Plaintiff filed his original complaint within two years of the events on which the complaint was based. However, more than two years elapsed between those events and Plaintiff's filing of the amended complaint, which added the County and Sheriff Kelley as parties. The question before the Court, therefore, is whether the new claims “relate back” to the date that Plaintiff originally filed his complaint.

         Plaintiff argues that the new claims “relate back” under both Rule 15(c)(1)(A) and Rule 15(c)(1)(C). Defendants address only the latter rule, effectively conceding that the new claims relate back under Rule 15(c)(1)(A). Under Rule 15(c)(1)(A), “[a]n amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when . . . the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(A). Here, the statute of ...

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