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Newsome v. Madison County

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 3, 2018

TILIA NEWSOME, as Administrator of the Estate of JOHN NEWSOME SR, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
MADISON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a civil rights case stemming from an incident at the Madison County Jail against twenty defendants. It now comes before the Court on the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 61.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         One day in July 2016, an officer arrested John Newsome and transported him to the Madison County jail. Officials at the jail then placed Mr. Newsome in the day room: a space open to a number of detainees and inmates during specific times of the day. One of these other detainees was Terrence E. Lee, a man with an extensive criminal record-including first-degree murder. According to the plaintiff, Lee had been involved in a number of fights at the jail. He injured other detainees (including sending two to the hospital) and threatened numerous jail personnel. But the jail officials only segregated Lee from the general population one time, never designated him as a special management or high security prisoner, and continued to allow him unsupervised use of the day room around other detainees. (Compl. 4-5, ECF No. 58.)

         The plaintiff alleges that when John Newsome attempted to use the television in the day room, Lee became outraged. Mr. Newsome attempted to flag the attention of the guards, but the guards failed to act. Lee then began to punch and kick Mr. Newsome, which was captured on the jail's security cameras. At some point, Lee left the day room, but returned to attack Mr. Newsome a second time. Following this second attack, Lee succumbed to his injuries and died in the day room. (Compl. 5-7, ECF No. 58.)

         Now, Mr. Newsome's daughter and the administrator of his estate-Tilia Newsome- brings this action against twenty defendants, including Madison County, Sheriff John Lakin, 17 employees of the Madison County Sheriff's Office, and an unknown number of John Doe defendants. The suit alleges a number of constitutional and state-law claims arising from Mr. Newsome's death at the jail.

         II.LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss

         When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This requirement is satisfied if the complaint: (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 556). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will...be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         B.18 U.S.C. § 1983

         In order to prove a § 1983 claim against a police officer, a plaintiff must show that the officer (1) deprived the plaintiff of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the defendant was acting under color of state law. Ienco v. City of Chicago, 286 F.3d 994, 997-98 (7th Cir. 2002); see Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); McKinney v. Duplain, 463 F.3d 679, 683 -84 (7th Cir. 2006); Brokaw v. Mercer Co., 235 F.3d 1000, 1009 (7th Cir. 2000). A plaintiff can also bring a § 1983 claim against a private party if the plaintiff shows that the private party “conspired or acted in concert with state officials to deprive [the plaintiff] of his civil rights.” Case v. Milewski, 327 F.3d 564, 567 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress and Company, 398 U.S. 144, 152 (1970)).

         Additionally, a municipality can be liable under § 1983 if (1) the municipality had an express policy calling for constitutional violations; (2) it had a widespread practice of constitutional violations that was so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law; or (3) if a person with final policymaking authority for the county caused the constitutional violation. Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 324 (7th Cir. 2000). A municipality is liable only when its “policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, ” is the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 694.

         III.ANALYSIS

         The complaint in this case is extensive. The second-amended complaint contained 100 counts, but Newsome has since consolidated it into a third-amended complaint to ...


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