United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW ORDER
BILLY MCDADE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeding pro se, pursues a § 1983 claim
against Mason County Sheriff Paul Gann and Jail Officer
Angela Spring. The case is before the Court for a merit
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing the
Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true,
liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor.
Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649-51 (7th Cir.
2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are
insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a
claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th
Cir. 2013)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
While the pleading standard does not require “detailed
factual allegations”, it requires “more than an
accusation.” Wilson v. Ryker, 451 Fed.Appx.
588, 589 (7th Cir. 2011) quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
October 4, 2018, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee in the
custody of the Mason County Jail (“Jail”). On the
day in question, Plaintiff was in a Jail transport van being
taken to the OSF Medical Center for an appointment. Plaintiff
claims that the sole transport officer, Defendant Spring,
failed to secure him with a seatbelt. Plaintiff indicates
that during the ride, Defendant Spring had to slam on the
brakes to avoid an accident. Plaintiff was thrust forward,
hitting his head on the cage of the vehicle. Plaintiff claims
that he suffered an injury to his back and neck with residual
headaches, dizziness, and neck and back pain.
Plaintiff has filed his complaint under § 1983, he does
not allege that Defendant Spring acted with deliberate
indifference. Rather, he claims that Defendant Spring
breached the applicable duty of care when she negligently
failed to secure him with a seatbelt. As to Defendant Sheriff
Gann, Plaintiff names him in the caption, but plead no
allegations against him in the body of the complaint.
Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee, his claim arises under the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than
the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth
Amendment. Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17 (2nd Cir.
2017). A different standard applies as, while convicted
prisoners may be subjected to punishment short of cruel and
unusual, pretrial detainees may not be punished at all.
Miranda v. County of Lake, 900 F.3d 335, 2018 WL
3796482, at *9 (7th Cir. 2018). Under the Fourteenth
Amendment standard, a detainee need only establish that
defendant's conduct was objectively unreasonable, that
Defendants “knew, or should have known, that the
condition posed an excessive risk to health or safety”
and “failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate the
risk.” Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 35
(2nd Cir. 2017). This standard is higher than that required
to prove negligence, or even gross negligence and is
“akin to reckless disregard.” Miranda,
2018 WL 3796482 at *12.
noted, Plaintiff alleges only a negligence claim against
Defendant Spring, that she breached the applicable duty of
care when she failed to secure him with a seatbelt. Mere
negligence in the treatment of a detainee, however, is not
sufficient to sustain a constitutional violation.
Id. at *12. In addition, it has been recognized that
prisoners do not have “a constitutional right to being
secured while in transit.” Fluker v. County of
Kankakee, 945 F.Supp.2d 972, 988 (C.D. Ill. 2013),
aff'd, 741 F.3d 787 (7th Cir. 2013) (denying
claim by unrestrained detainee injured during transport).
See also, Dale v. Agresta, 771 Fed.Appx. 659, 661
(7th Cir. 2019), reh'g denied (Aug. 21, 2019).
“Neither the Supreme Court nor this court has ruled
that transporting an inmate without a seatbelt creates an
intolerable risk of harm...”
result, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable constitutional
claim against Defendant Spring. Plaintiff is advised,
however, that he is not precluded from asserting a negligence
claim in a state court proceeding, should he wish.
noted, Plaintiff has also named Sheriff Gann but pleads no
claims against him. Section 1983 liability is predicated on
fault and a defendant will not be held liable unless he was
“personally responsible for the deprivation of a
constitutional right.” Sanville v. McCaughtry,
266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir.2001) (quoting Chavez v. Ill.
State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001)). While
a supervisor may be liable for the actions of subordinates,
this is only if he knew of the unconstitutional conduct and
“facilitate[d] it, approve[d] it, condone[d] it, or
turn[ed] a blind eye for fear of what [he] might see.”
T.E. v. Grindle, 599 F.3d 583, 588 (7th Cir.2010)
(quoting Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985, 992
(7th Cir.1988)). Plaintiff offers no such evidence here.
Plaintiff might otherwise be allowed to replead to allege
personal participation by Defendant Gann, this would provide
Plaintiff no relief. This is so as, even if Plaintiff alleged
Defendant Gann's personal participation in the alleged
conduct, the conduct fails to rise to the level of a
constitutional violation. Fluker, 945 F.Supp.2d at
988; Dale, 771 Fed.Appx. at 661.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice for
failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Any amendment to the complaint
would be futile because the complained-of conduct, as
alleged, does not violate the Constitution. This case is
therefore closed, and all pending matters are VACATED. The
clerk is directed to enter a judgment pursuant to
Plaintiff is required to pay the full docketing fee even
though his case has been dismissed. Plaintiff is not
currently proceeding in forma pauperis, as his
petition was denied by the Court for his failure to fully
disclose his income. Plaintiff subsequently filed a response
, offering to pay fifty dollars per month until the $400
filing fee is paid in full. The Court believes, however, that
with $1, 795.00 income in the past six months, Plaintiff has
the resources to make a monthly payment of $100. The agency
having custody of Plaintiff is hereby ordered to debit
Plaintiff's account $100 per month for his monthly
payments toward the $400 fee. The Clerk is directed to mail a
copy of this order to Plaintiff's place of confinement,
to the attention of the Trust Fund Office.
Plaintiff wishes to appeal this dismissal, he must file a
notice of appeal with this Court within 30 days of the entry
of judgment. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a). A motion for leave to
appeal in forma pauperis should set forth the issues
Plaintiff plans to present on appeal. See Fed. R. App. P.
24(a)(1)(C). If Plaintiff does choose to appeal, ...