United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Phil Gilbert, United States District Judge.
Joseph Laur, a detainee at Jefferson County Justice Center
(“Jail”) located in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, brings
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff complains of unsanitary living conditions at the
Jail. (Doc. 1). For forty-five days in 2017, Plaintiff was
housed in segregation beside a seriously mentally ill inmate
who defecated and urinated on the floor of his cell. (Doc. 1,
pp. 1-4). Plaintiff repeatedly requested clean-up of the mess
or cleaning supplies to use for this purpose, but the staff
disregarded his complaints. (Id.). He seeks money
damages for the resulting deprivation of his constitutional
rights. (Id. at p. 1).
Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to
screen prisoner Complaints and filter out non-meritorious
claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the
Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an
immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations are
liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
on the allegations summarized above, the Court finds it
convenient to designate a single Count in the pro se
Count 1: Defendants subjected Plaintiff to
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Jefferson
County Justice Center for forty-five days in 2017 by forcing
him to live near an inmate who urinated and defecated on the
floor and by disregarding Plaintiff's requests to clean
the area or provide him with supplies for this purpose.
other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not
addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice as
inadequately pled under
Complaint does not survive preliminary review under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Plaintiff names the Jefferson County Justice
Center (“Jail”) as the only defendant. However,
he does not mention the defendant in the statement of his
claim, and the Jail is not a “person” subject to
suit under Section 1983. Smith v. Knox Cnty. Jail,
666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012); Powell v. Cook Cnty.
Jail, 814 F.Supp. 757, 758 (N.D. Ill. 1993). It is not
even a legal entity.
defendant must have the legal capacity to be sued.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b). When determining whether
an entity has this capacity, federal courts look to state
law. Magnuson v. Cassarella, 812 F.Supp. 824, 827
(N.D. Ill. 1992). Under Illinois law, a county jail is not
considered a suable entity. Isaacs v. St. Clair Cnty.
Jail, No. 08-0417-DRH, 2009 WL 211158, at *3-4 (S.D.
Ill. Jan. 29, 2009); Hedger v. Wexford, No.
18-cv-2081-JPG, 2019 WL 117986, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 7,
2019). Jefferson County Justice Center shall thus be
dismissed with prejudice.
Plaintiff intended to name Jefferson County instead, the
Complaint would still fail to state a claim for relief.
Governmental entities can only be held liable for the
unconstitutional acts of employees that are carried out
pursuant to an official policy or custom. Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694
(1978). The Complaint mentions no policy or custom that
resulted in the constitutional deprivation at issue. See
id.; Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21
(1972); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Any claims against Jefferson
County should be considered dismissed without prejudice.
Plaintiff refers to certain individuals in the statement of
his claim or exhibits, he chose not to name them as
defendants in the case caption of the Complaint. When parties
are not listed in the case caption, this Court will not treat
them as defendants. Any claims against them should be
considered dismissed without prejudice. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 10(a) (noting that the title of the complaint
“must name all the parties”); Myles v. United
States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (defendant
must be “specif[ied] in the caption”).
1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability
and predicated upon fault; thus, “to be liable under
[Section] 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or
participated in a constitutional deprivation.”
Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810
(7th Cir. 2005). In other words, to survive screening,
Plaintiff must identify particular defendants who acted or
failed to act in a way that caused a deprivation of his
constitutional rights. Having failed to do so, the Complaint
shall be dismissed.
will have an opportunity to re-plead his claim, if he wishes
to proceed with this action. When preparing his First Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff should identify each defendant in the
case caption and set forth sufficient allegations to describe
what each defendant did, or failed to do, to violate his
constitutional rights. To avoid dismissal of this action with
prejudice, he must also follow the instructions and deadline
in the below disposition. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41.