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Gilbert v. Massac County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 26, 2019

DONALD RAY GILBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
MASSAC COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, JOHN COLEMAN, and PATRICK MCCOY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Donald Gilbert, who is currently being held at the Massac County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         The 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Plaintiff was arrested for failing to appear in court. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Upon arrest, the officers twisted his left arm behind his back so hard that his arm was torn out of socket. Id. He did not receive any medical treatment for the injury. Later he was transported to Jackson County Jail by corrections officer Patrick McCoy and left there. Id. at pp. 2, 6. The Jackson County Jail refused to take him because of his injuries, and he was forced to walk back over seventy miles. Id. at p. 6.

         Discussion

          Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following three Counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by this Court:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of excessive force used during Plaintiff’s arrest that resulted in injury to his arm.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs for failing to treat Plaintiff’s injured arm.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim of cruel and unusual punishment for leaving Plaintiff injured at the Jackson County Jail and forcing him to walk back.

         Any claims that are not identified above should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under Twombly. [1]

         For the following reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s Complaint, as currently drafted, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         First, it is not entirely clear if Plaintiff is bringing claims against the Massac County Sheriff’s Department or the Massac County Jail or both.[2] To the extent Plaintiff is bringing allegations against the Massac County Jail, a jail is not a “person” subject to suit under Section 1983. Smith v. Knox Cty. Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012); Powell v. Cook Cty. Jail, 814 F.Supp. 757, 758 (N.D. Ill. 1993). It is not even a legal entity. A 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 Cty. 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).

         To the extent Plaintiff is alleging claims against the Massac County Sheriff’s Department these claims also fail. Not only is the Sheriff’s Department not mentioned in the statement of claim, but “a local government may not be sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents.” Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Rather, in order to obtain relief against a municipality, a plaintiff must allege that the deprivations of his rights were the result of an official policy, custom, or practice of the ...


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