Belbachir v. McHenry Cnty., IL, No. 13-1002 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Belbachir, an Algerian citizen, 27 years old, entered the U.S. as a visitor in 2004. She overstayed and, in 2005, flew from Chicago to England, where immigration authorities returned her to Chicago. She was placed in the McHenry County Jail, which has a contract with the federal government to house detainees. She planned to seek asylum on the ground that she had a well‐founded fear of being persecuted if returned to Algeria. She committed suicide by strangling herself with her socks about eight days after arriving at the jail. Her estate sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that defendants had deprived Belbachir of her life without due process of law, and under Illinois tort law. The district judge granted summary judgment in favor of defendants with respect to the section 1983 claims. The plaintiff appealed only with respect to McHenry County; the county sheriff and the director of the jail; and three employees of Centegra, a private firm, hired to provide medical services at the jail. The Seventh Circuit reversed with respect to one Centegra employee, who was aware of Belbachir’s suicidal thoughts and depressed condition, but failed to take action. The court otherwise affirmed.