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Cornelius v. Union County Illinois Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 7, 2019



          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Esley Dee Cornelius, III, a pretrial detainee at Jackson County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants failed to protect him from, and were objectively unreasonable in treating, injuries he sustained in a car wreck while being transported to Jackson County Jail. He asserts claims against the defendants under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations: On April 16, 2019 while being transported from Union County Illinois Sheriff's Department to Jackson County Jail, John Doe #1, an officer with the Union County Sheriff's Department, and Plaintiff were involved in a car wreck with a deer. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff was in the backseat of the police cruiser and suffered injuries to his lower back and left shoulder as well as cuts to his fingers. (Id.). After the accident, Plaintiff informed John Doe #1 that his shoulder and back hurt and his finger stung from where the glass cut it.

         John Doe #1 radioed for help and John Doe #2 arrived at the scene. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff asked John Doe #2 to take him to the hospital and John Doe #2 told him no that he was being transported to jail. (Id.). John Doe #1 and Plaintiff left John Doe #2 with the wrecked police cruiser and continued driving to Jackson County Jail. (Id. at pp. 7-8). Upon arriving at the jail, Plaintiff was treated for his injuries by a jail deputy who took pictures of his shoulder and provided him with a bandage and ointment. (Id. at p. 8). The deputy told Plaintiff that he would be seen by a nurse the following day (Id.).

         The next day, April 17, 2019, Plaintiff pressed the emergency call button on his cellblock. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He spoke with a number of deputies, including Sergeant Straton, Deputy Harju, Deputy Partridge, Deputy Seifert, and Deputy Backman, about his injuries and they told him to fill out a sick call request. (Id. at pp. 8-9). Plaintiff put in a sick call request using the jail kiosk and asked to be seen by a doctor and receive x-rays. (Id. at p. 9). Plaintiff was seen by the jail nurse G. Gladson but it was a couple of weeks before he saw the doctor. He continued to see the doctor for his injuries for two to three months. The doctor placed him on medication for his back pain, but Plaintiff complained that the medication did not help his pain. Prior to filing his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that his pain medication was increased but the doctor never diagnosed him nor has the doctor determined if he has any broken bones or internal injuries. (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges that John Doe #1 failed to protect Plaintiff from the injuries he received as John Doe #1 failed to strap Plaintiff into a seat belt before leaving the Union County Sheriff's Department. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff was not able to strap his seat belt due to being handcuffed. (Id.). He further alleges that Scott Harvell, the Sheriff of Union County, failed to train John Doe #1 in securing individuals in his custody. (Id. at p. 10).

         Preliminary Dismissals

         Plaintiff refers to various officers as well as nurse G. Gladson and the jail doctor in the body of his Complaint but does not list them in the caption. Thus, they will not be treated as defendants in this case, and any claims against them should be considered DISMISSED without prejudice. See Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (defendants must be “specif[ied] in the caption”).

         Further, Plaintiff has identified groups of individuals as defendants, including medical staff and Union County, Illinois officials, which is improper. To state a Section 1983 claim against an individual or entity, Plaintiff must specifically identify them, by name or Doe designation. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).[1] All claims against “medical staff” and “Union County, Illinois officials” shall be DISMISSED without prejudice.

         Finally, Plaintiff identifies Union County, Illinois and Union County Illinois Sheriff's Department as Defendants. Plaintiff's Complaint, however, includes only conclusory allegations that these entities violated his constitutional rights. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). These allegations do not state a claim and both of these defendants are, accordingly, DISMISSED without prejudice.


         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the prose action ...

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