730 F.Supp. 1449 (C.D.Ill. 1990), 88-3221, McQueen v. Shelby County

Docket Nº:88-3221.
Citation:730 F.Supp. 1449
Party Name:Trenna McQUEEN, as Administrator of the Estate of Dennis D. McQueen, Deceased, Plaintiff, v. SHELBY COUNTY, Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Lloyd Spencer, Junior Beck, Doug Storm, Dean Blackerby, Defendants. SHELBY COUNTY, Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Lloyd Spencer, Junior Beck, Doug Storm, Dean Blackerby--Third-Party Plaintiffs, v. COLE
Case Date:February 13, 1990
Court:United States District Courts, 7th Circuit, Central District of Illinois
 
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Page 1449

730 F.Supp. 1449 (C.D.Ill. 1990)

Trenna McQUEEN, as Administrator of the Estate of Dennis D. McQueen, Deceased, Plaintiff,

v.

SHELBY COUNTY, Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Lloyd Spencer, Junior Beck, Doug Storm, Dean Blackerby, Defendants.

SHELBY COUNTY, Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Lloyd Spencer, Junior Beck, Doug Storm, Dean Blackerby--Third-Party Plaintiffs,

v.

COLES COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER, Susan Anderson, Third-Party Defendants.

No. 88-3221.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois.

Feb. 13, 1990

Page 1450

Michael K. Radloff, Mattoon, Ill., for plaintiff.

Charles E. Hervas, Itasca, Ill., for defendants and third-party plaintiffs.

Robert E. Gillespie and Susan Hickman, Springfield, Ill., for third-party defendants.

Page 1451

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, District Judge:

A suicide in the Shelby County Jail.

Who may not be held liable?

I--Facts

On August 19, 1988, Trenna McQueen, as Administrator of the estate of Dennis McQueen, filed suit against Shelby County, the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, the Shelby County Sheriff, and three deputy sheriffs alleging violation of Dennis McQueen's constitutional rights and common law negligence.

Plaintiff alleges that Dennis McQueen was arrested by Shelby County deputies and admitted as an inmate at the Shelby County Jail. The Defendants allege in their third party complaint that Dennis McQueen was counseled by a Shelby County Mental Health worker, upon whose advice he was transferred to the Coles County Jail for further psychological evaluation. McQueen was counseled, evaluated, and screened by Coles County Mental Health Center (CCMHC) through its agent, Susan Anderson. Anderson noted that McQueen had no indication of suicidal intent and recommended that he be returned to the general jail population of the Shelby County Jail.

Upon his return to the Shelby County Jail, Dennis McQueen committed suicide by hanging himself.

Following the filing of the complaint by Trenna McQueen against the Shelby County Defendants, the Defendants filed a third party complaint pursuant to the Illinois Contribution Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 70, ¶ 302, against CCMHC and Anderson (Coles County Defendants). The Shelby County Defendants allege that CCMHC and Anderson are liable for Plaintiff's decedent's suicide by virtue of negligently and carelessly failing to diagnose the continued suicidal intent of McQueen and negligently recommending his return to the general jail population. The Coles County Defendants have moved to dismiss the third party complaint, or in the alternative for summary judgment, on various grounds.

When the parties submit materials outside of a motion to dismiss, the Court has discretion to treat the motion as one for summary judgment. Milwaukee Typographical Union No. 23 v. Newspapers, Inc., 639 F.2d 386 (7th Cir.1981). Generally, the Court must give notice to the parties that it intends to treat the motion as one for summary judgment and allow them to submit additional materials. In the case at bar the Coles County Defendants have specifically styled their motion as a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment and have submitted materials outside their motion. The response of the Shelby County Defendants to the motion indicates that they were aware that the motion was to dismiss or for summary judgment. Therefore, to allow us to consider materials outside the motion, and because the questions raised by the parties are primarily ones of law, we will treat the motion as one for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

II--Summary Judgment Standard

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), summary judgment should be entered "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Unquestionably, in determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence is to be taken in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608-09, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Nevertheless, the rule is also well established that the mere existence of some factual dispute will not frustrate an otherwise proper summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Thus, the "preliminary question for the judge [is] not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it upon whom the onus of proof is imposed." Id. at 251, 106 S.Ct. at 2511 (quoting Improvement Co. v. Munson, 14 Wall. 442, 448, 20 L.Ed. 867 (1872) );

Page 1452

see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Applying this standard, the Court now turns to the case at bar.

III--Analysis

The Coles County Defendants raise three arguments in support of their motion for summary judgment. First, they argue that they are immune from suit by virtue of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 85, ¶ 1-101 et seq. As a corollary to this argument, they also argue that the Shelby County Defendants are immune from suit by virtue of this same act. Second, the Coles County Defendants argue that to the extent that the Shelby County Defendants are found liable to Plaintiff for any intentional or wilful and wanton conduct, Illinois law does not allow such tortfeasors to maintain an action for contribution. Third, the Coles County...

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