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Illinois: Prisoner Wins Settlement from Cook County Sheriff on Battery Claim

Illinois’ Cook County Jail is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous correctional facilities in the nation. An antiquated jail lacking many of the updated security features found in other jails, it is riddled with gangs and guards not always concerned about the welfare of their prisoners.

This was the situation prisoner Abayomi Adedeji found himself in on November 16, 2009, when, cuffed and shackled, he was assaulted by another prisoner in a "bullpen" cell who beat him severely with a pair of handcuffs that had been applied too loosely by a Cook County jail guard. After beating back a motion for summary judgment filed by the county, Adedeji won a settlement of $12,000.

Adedeji had sought damages under 18 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that "Defendants with conscious disregard, wanton cruelty and deliberate indifference inflicted severe punishment on plaintiff...while he was a pretrial detainee," and in his complaint exhaustively recited the long and tortured history of the jail, including the fact that it was currently being monitored by the federal district court in Chicago for various constitutional violations. The complaint cited "excessive lock-downs," poor recreational facilities, unsanitary conditions, poor ventilation, and a staff that failed to follow policies and procedures in their daily activities.

Most telling, however, was his recitation of all policies and procedures relating to the proper restraint of prisoners, including General Order 11-2-7-0, as well as general Orders 7(b) and 7(k)(c),and 7(k)(8), along with the allegations that defendants failed to follow these procedures in negligently cuffing the prisoner who assaulted him. As stated in his complaint, not following a policy "is the same as having no policy at all," citing Woodward v Correctional Medical Services, 368 F.3d 117 (7th Cir. 2004).

In denying the Sheriff's motion for summary judgment, the court noted that the evidence clearly showed that sheriff's personnel had failed to properly follow their own policies, permitting Adedeji's complaint to proceed. The case settled shortly thereafter. See: Adedji v. Gordinez, et al, 9-cv-6537, Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, March 7, 2013.

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Related legal case

Adedji v. Gordinez, et al.