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Presley v. Cook County Jail

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

April 19, 2018

Milton Presley (#2017-0423168), Plaintiff,
Cook County Jail, et al., Defendants.


          Charles R. Norgle Judge.

         Plaintiffs application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [3] is granted. The Court orders the trust fund officer at Plaintiffs place of incarceration to deduct $24.07 from Plaintiffs account for payment to the Clerk of Court as an initial partial payment of the filing fee and to continue making monthly deductions in accordance with this order. The Court directs the Clerk of Court to electronically send a copy of this order to the Supervisor of the Inmate Trust Fund Accounts at the Cook County Jail. Summonses shall not, however issue at this time. Plaintiffs complaint [1] is dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff must 5-31-18, 2018, submit: (1) an amended complaint that rectifies the deficiencies explained below; and (2) a completed USM-285 (Marshals Service) form for each Defendant named in the amended complaint. Plaintiffs failure to comply with this order by that date will result in dismissal of this case. The Clerk of Court is directed to send Plaintiff a civil rights amended complaint form and one USM-285 (Marshals Service) form, along with a copy of this order. Plaintiffs motion for attorney representation [4] is denied without prejudice to later renewal if this case progresses.


         Plaintiff Milton Presley, a Cook County Jail detainee, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Cook County Jail and Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, regarding several incidents that have occurred during his detention. Before the Court are Plaintiffs application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, complaint for initial review, and motion for attorney representation.

         Plaintiff's Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff has demonstrated that he cannot prepay the filing fee, and thus, his application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), (2), the Court orders: (1) Plaintiff to immediately pay (and the facility having custody of him to automatically remit) $24.07 to the Clerk of Court for payment of the initial partial filing fee and (2) Plaintiff to pay (and the facility having custody of him to automatically remit) to the Clerk of Court twenty percent of the money he receives for each calendar month during which he receives $10.00 or more, until the $350 filing fee is paid in full. Plaintiff must pay twenty percent of his covered monthly income toward each filing fee he has incurred. See Bruce v. Samuels, 136 S.Ct. 627, 632 (2016) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)). As this is Plaintiffs second case in this district in which leave to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted, see Presley v. Chicago Police Dep't, 18 C 0145 (Dkt. 8), 40% of his monthly income must be devoted toward his filing fees, where that income meets the requirements of the PLRA. The Court directs the Clerk to ensure that a copy of this order is mailed to each facility where Plaintiff is housed until the filing fee has been paid in full. All payments shall be sent to the Clerk of Court, United States District Court, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, attn: Cashier's Desk, 20th Floor, and should clearly identify Plaintiffs name and the case number assigned to this case.

         Initial Review of Plaintiff's Complaint

         The Court next considers Plaintiffs complaint. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoners' complaints and dismiss the complaint, or any claims therein, if the Court determines that the complaint or claim is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 214 (2007); Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). Courts screen prisoners' complaints in the same manner they review motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011).

         A complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twomhly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). The statement also must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " which means that the pleaded facts must show there is "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). When screening a pro se plaintiffs complaint, courts construe the plaintiffs allegations liberally. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). Courts also must "accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw reasonable inference in the plaintiffs favor." Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016).

         In performing its review of an inmate's complaint, the Court must "be alert to th[e] problem" of litigants pursuing a "scattershot strategy" of "toss[ing] into a single complaint a mishmash of unrelated allegations against unrelated defendants." Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017). In George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007), the Seventh Circuit explained:

A party asserting a claim to relief... may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party. Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits ....

507 F.3d at 607. Here, Plaintiff attempts to assert claims arising from no fewer than six issues that have arisen during his detention, which appear to be separate and attributable to different potential Defendants: (1) Plaintiff allegedly should be, but is not, apparently due to a decision by a medical screener at intake, housed in "a medical housing unit" due to a seizure condition; (2) Plaintiff had a seizure when a correctional officer sprayed him with mace, and the officer then wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket; (3) Plaintiff had an infected tooth that he believes was not treated appropriately by medical personnel at the jail; (4) correctional officials shackled Plaintiff hand and foot by while he was undergoing an oral surgery; (5) Plaintiff "had an altercation with another detainee, " who bit him, and Plaintiff "wasn't given proper medical treatment" or the chance to press charges; and (6) he has submitted grievances because medical personnel generally "are not very good at their job."

         Plaintiff attempts to raise these issues in a single lawsuit, presumably under a theory that Sheriff Thomas Dart-the only individual defendant to this action[1]-is vicariously liable for the complained-of conduct. Supervisors, however, are not liable merely because they oversee others who allegedly violate an inmate's rights. See Kinslow v. Pullara, 538 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2008). Instead, to be held liable under section 1983, an individual must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation. Kuhn v. Goodlow, 678 F.3d 552, 556 (7th Cir. 2012); Pepper v. Vill. of Oak Park 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005). Accordingly, supervisors can only be held responsible for the constitutional violations of their subordinates only if the violation occurred at the supervisor's direction or with his or her knowledge and consent. See Hildebrandt v. Ill. Dep't of Nat. Res., 347 F.3d 1014, 1039 (7th Cir. 2003). Thus, for example, Sheriff Dart cannot be held liable under section 1983 merely because he oversees jail operations, as Plaintiff appears to seek to do; there is no suggestion (and it does not appear at all likely) that Dart was personally involved in each incident Plaintiff mentions.

         The allegations of the complaint also do not permit an inference that any single individual is responsible for all events Plaintiff listed. On the contrary, those events appear not to be related in a legal sense insofar as they involve distinct and separate conduct performed by different individuals or categories of individuals. For example, the individuals responsible for medical care are different from the individuals responsible for dental care, spraying Plaintiff with a chemical agent, shackling Plaintiff during dental treatment, or determining his housing placement. It is also often the case that an inmate sees different medical personnel on different dates or for different ailments, so it is not even proper in all instances, under George, to include all medical treatment issues, which might otherwise seem to be "related, " within in the same case. Applying the rationale of George, any claim Plaintiff has against the individuals responsible for medical care for a particular issue may not be pursued in the same lawsuit as any claim he has against different individuals responsible for treating a different medical issue, providing dental care, spraying Plaintiff with a chemical agent, shackling Plaintiff, or determining his housing placement. SeeGeorge, 507 F.3d at 607; Wheeler v. Talbot,695 Fed.Appx. 151, 152 (7th Cir. 2017) (explaining that unrelated claims should not be joined in same lawsuit); Vermillion v. Levenhagen, No. 14-2327, 2015 WL 927356, at *4 (7th Cir. Mar. 5, 2015) (discussing analysis concerning joinder of parties and claims and also explaining that district court has discretion to sever any "discrete and ...

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