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Wallace v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 14, 2019

CORRIE WALLACE and RAFAEL E. SANTOS, JR., Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN BALDWIN, KIMBERLY BUTLER, JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, SALVADOR GODINEZ, ALEX JONES, JEFFERY HUTCHINSON, RICHARD HARRINGTON, and GLADYSE TAYLOR, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants John Baldwin, Kimberly Butler, Richard Harrington, Alex Jones, Jacqueline Lashbrook, and Gladyse Taylor (Doc. 71). Defendants Jeffery Hutchinson and Salvador Godinez later joined in the motion (Docs. 74, 78, 85, 86). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

         Background

         For purposes of Defendants' motion to dismiss, the following facts from Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 53) are presumed true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in Plaintiffs' favor.

         Plaintiffs Corrie Wallace and Rafael Santos, Jr. are inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of their constitutional rights at Menard Correctional Center (Docs. 1, 12). Shortly after the complaint was screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Plaintiffs secured their own counsel, and attorney Christian Montroy entered his appearance on their behalf (Docs. 12, 25). Counsel then filed a Second Amended Complaint, transforming this matter into a putative class action regarding the cell conditions in the North I and North II cell houses at Menard (Doc. 53).

         Plaintiffs allege the cells in the North I and North II cell houses are tiny-smaller than a parking space. Two inmates are housed in each cell, although they were originally designed to house only one inmate. Plaintiffs further allege that the ventilation system in the North I and North II cell houses is seriously dysfunctional, and the cells are sweltering in the summer time and frigid in the winter. According to Plaintiffs, double-celling inmates in such cramped quarters with poor ventilation is objectively unconstitutional and leads to an increased risk of inmate violence. It further causes a host of physical and psychological injuries that present an immediate and substantial threat of harm.

         At the time the Second Amended Complaint was filed, Jacqueline Lashbrook was the warden at Menard, and John Baldwin was the Director of the IDOC. They were named as Defendants, as were various former wardens (Alex Jones, Jeffery Hutchinson, Kimberly Butler, and Richard Harrington) and former Directors (Gladyse Taylor and Salvador Godinez). Plaintiffs allege that each Defendant knew about the unconstitutional conditions posed by the tiny cell size and poor ventilation because the conditions are obvious and readily apparent. Furthermore, many grievances and lawsuits have been filed regarding these conditions, and prisoner injuries caused by these conditions have been documented in the prison's “own internal system” and in publications from external agencies like the John Howard Association and local and national news sources. Plaintiffs further allege that each of the named Defendants had the power to prevent prisoners from being double-celled and to fix the ventilation system or provide other accommodations but failed to do so.

         The way the claims in the Second Amended Complaint are structured is confusing.[1] Based on the allegations, the Court understands Plaintiffs are suing all Defendants in their individual and official capacities, and, as a remedy, seek injunctive relief and monetary damages. The claims as stated in the Second Amended Complaint seem to be as follows:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement caused by double-celling inmates in the North I and North II cell houses against Defendants John Baldwin and Jacqueline Lashbrook, in their official capacities for injunctive relief.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement caused by the poor ventilation system in the North I and North II cell houses against Defendants John Baldwin and Jacqueline Lashbrook, in their official capacities for injunctive relief.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement caused by double-celling inmates and the poor ventilation system in the North I and North II cell houses against Defendants John Baldwin and Jacqueline Lashbrook, in their individual capacities for monetary damages.
Count 4: Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement caused by double-celling inmates and the poor ventilation system in the North I and North II cell houses against Defendants Kimberly Butler Salvador Godinez, Richard Harrington, Jeffery Hutchinson, Alex Jones, and Gladyse Taylor, in their individual and official capacities for monetary damages.

         In their motion to dismiss, Defendants make two arguments. The first argument is that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim because they did not provide fair notice of what the claim against each Defendant is and the grounds upon which it rests (Doc. 71). In other words, Plaintiffs did not specifically allege what acts or omissions each Defendant is accused of committing. The second argument is that the official capacity claims must be dismissed because the Eleventh Amendment bars official capacity claims for monetary damages, and the only officials who can be properly sued in their official capacity for injunctive relief are the current Warden of Menard Correctional Center and Director of Illinois Department of Corrections.

         Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss (Doc. 90). ...


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