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Nadzhafaliyev v. Hardy

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

August 29, 2019

ALI NADZHAFALIYEV, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
DANIEL HARDY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HON. JORGE ALONSO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendants move to dismiss this case on Younger abstention grounds, see Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs, Ali Nadzhafaliyev, Sean Gunderson, Paul Olsson, Abby Grason, James Baker, Mark Owens, and Daniel Padilla, have been involuntarily committed to the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services and confined at Elgin Mental Health Center (“EMHC”), after a state court found them either not guilty by reason of insanity (“NGRI”) or unfit to stand trial (“UST”) on criminal charges. Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of EMHC's “loss of privileges” (“LOP”) disciplinary policy, alleging that defendants, employees of EMHC, took advantage of the policy to violate plaintiffs' due process rights.

         Plaintiffs allege that, in an effort to “incorporate therapeutic methods, ” EMHC has adopted a “coercion-free environment, ” in which patients are governed not according to a system of rules and punishment but according to a set of “expectations.” (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 28, ECF No. 38.) The posted “Environmental Expectations” are as follow:

(a) We are expected to practice respect and dignity for other patients and staff- which include no violence or fighting and no foul language.
(b) We are expected to adhere to safety practices which maintain the safety of all patients and staff.
(c) We are expected to maintain and respect the environment which includes no destruction of [any] other's property and keeping our living spaces and working spaces clean.
(d) We are expected to take care of our own property and not to borrow, lend, share, or give things away-which includes any other personal items.
(e) We are expected to keep ourselves appropriately clean, groomed, and dressed both on and off the unit.

(Id. ¶ 29.) If an EMHC staff member “determines in his or her sole discretion” that a patient is not meeting the community's “expectations, ” the staff member can place the patient on LOP status. (Id. ¶ 32.) The consequences of being put on LOP status may include the following:

(a) No vending, pop time, or snack box.
(b) No order out the following ...

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