Vinegar v. Schwarz et al
ORDER: Defendants' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum 85 is granted. It is so ordered. Signed by the Honorable Charles P. Kocoras on 10/3/2017. Mailed notice(vcf, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
DAMIAN BRAGGS, et al.,
15 C 10625
Judge Charles P. Kocoras
Before the Court is Defendants Randfy Pfister (“Pfister”) and John Baldwin’s
(“Baldwin”) (collectively, “Defendants”) Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss (the
“Motion”) Plaintiff Cornell Vinegar’s (“Vinegar”) third amended complaint (the
“TAC”). For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion.
Pfister is the warden of the Northern Reception and Classification Center1 at
Stateville (“NRC”) and Baldwin is the director of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”). On or about March 23, 2014, Vinegar was temporarily housed
at the NRC in Joliet, Illinois. At about 9:35 am, Correctional Officer Holyfield
(“Holyfield”) shackled and escorted Vinegar down a flight of stairs to transport him
from his cell to the yard. While being escorted down the stairs, Vinegar claims that
The Northern Reception and Classification Center is a detention facility managed under the policies promulgated
Holyfield negligently released him which caused him to fall. As a result of his fall,
Vinegar suffered multiple injuries and requested medical assistance. According to
Vinegar, both Holyfield and Correctional Officer Braggs (“Braggs”) denied his
request for medical attention and placed him back in his cell for three days.
In the TAC, Vinegar alleges that Holyfield and Braggs, in their individual
capacities, were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs (Count I). Furthermore,
Vinegar contends Holyfield was negligent in the care he exercised while transporting
Vinegar from his cell (Count III). Vinegar also seeks prospective injunctive relief
against Pfister and Baldwin, in their official capacities, under § 1983 for failure to
ensure adequate care for elderly or shackled inmates in transit (Count II). Defendants
seek to dismiss all three counts of the TAC.
A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “tests the
complaint’s sufficiency, and not the case’s merits.” Gibson v. City of Chicago, 919
F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must
“contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). “[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be
supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 (2007). A plaintiff
does not need to provide detailed factual allegations, but must present enough factual
support to raise his right to relief above a “speculative level.” Id. at 555. A claim
must be facially plausible, meaning that “the pleaded content allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court construes all facts and all
inferences in the light most favorable to Vinegar. Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll.
Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011).
Counts I and III
Defendants have moved to dismiss the entire TAC. However, Counts I and III
are not against Defendants. Thus, this Court does not need to consider Defendants’
arguments on these Counts. Accordingly, the Court will only consider the Motion as
it relates to Count II.
Under Count II, Vinegar seeks prospective injunctive relief against Defendants
because he argues it is likely he will be transferred back to the NRC, and because
“those in a policy making position within IDOC and the NRC at Stateville had actual
and/or constructive knowledge that special care is not given to elderly inmates, like
[Vinegar], who are shackled as they are being escorted throughout the correctional
facilities.” In rebuttal, Defendants raises two arguments. First, Defendants argue that
since Vinegar is no longer incarcerated at the NRC his claim for prospective
injunctive relief is moot. Second, Defendants contend that even if Vinegar was likely
to be transferred back to the NRC, Vinegar “nevertheless fails to demonstrate that
failing to provide ‘special care’ to elderly inmates constitutes a federal or
constitutional right.” We discuss each below.
If a prisoner is transferred to another prison, “his request for injunctive relief
against officials of the first prison is moot unless ‘he can demonstrate that he is likely
to be retransferred.’” Higgason v Farley, 83 F.3d 807, 811 (7th Cir. 1996) citing
Moore v. Thieret, 862 F.2d 148, 150 (7th Cir. 1988). Allegations of a likely retransfer
“may not be based on mere speculation.” Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 403
(1975). Furthermore, “the capable-of-repetition doctrine applies only in exceptional
situations, and generally only where the named plaintiff can make a reasonable
showing that he will again be subjected to the alleged illegality.” City of Los Angeles
v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 109 (1983). Vinegar contends in his response that a likelihood
of retransfer is “greatly increase[d]” because NRC acts as a major processing unit for
Illinois and he currently has two pending cases in the Northern District of Illinois.
Despite these assertions, we are not persuaded that a retransfer is “virtual[ly]
certain.” Higgason, 83 F.3d 807 at 811. Therefore, we agree with Defendants that
Vinegar’s claim for prospective injunctive relief is moot. Nevertheless, even if we
were to determine that a retransfer is certain, Vinegar has failed to show that the
retransfer will lead to violation of his rights.
Here, Vinegar has not presented a “real and immediate threat of future harm”
that would afford him standing to sue for prospective injunctive relief. City of Los
Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 105 (1983). Instead, Vinegar has put forth a purely
speculative argument that fails to demonstrate any alleged violation of constitutional
or federal law. Vinegar claims that under the Eighth Amendment, “elderly inmates”
must be escorted with “special care.” However, Vinegar offers this Court no case law
to assist his argument. More importantly, Vinegar has not pled any facts to support
his conclusion that there is a widespread practice or custom of elderly inmates being
mistreated while they are shackled and escorted at the NRC. To have a cognizable
claim, Vinegar must offer facts from which this Court can logically infer that he
belongs to a protected class, and that the Defendants violated his protected rights.
Vinegar has not sufficiently alleged either. Accordingly, Defendant’s Motion is
For the aforementioned reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss. It is so ordered.
Charles P. Kocoras
United States District Judge
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