T. S. v. County of Cook, No. 21-3303 (7th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Fox TV obtained permission from Superintendent Dixon to film scenes for the television series, Empire, at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Fox used the Center’s outdoor yard, visitation room, medical office, and certain living spaces for five days and returned to film retakes on seven additional days. During filming, several housing pods housed more detainees than the Center’s policy suggested; some detainees exercised indoors instead of in the outdoor yard; some classes were moved; and the Center postponed or canceled some extra‐curricular activities and held visitation hours in a smaller room.
Three detainees filed a proposed class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted Dixon partial summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds because the plaintiffs had not shown “a clearly established right to be free of the arguably modest disruptions” but did not dismiss state law claims. The court reasoned that Dixon acted as the detainees’ guardian and had a fiduciary duty to “protect [them] from harm.” Under the holding, Dixon would only be entitled to sovereign immunity on the state law breach of fiduciary duty claim if he proved that he did not violate the detainees’ constitutional rights. On interlocutory appeal, the Seventh Circuit held that Dixon is immune from suit under the Illinois State Lawsuit Immunity Act. The alleged wrongful conduct arose from decisions Dixon made within the scope of his authority.