United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
May 17, 1973
NORMAN BOYDEN, PLAINTIFF,
JAMES TROKEN ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This cause comes on the motion of defendant City of Chicago to
dismiss the complaint against it.
This is a civil rights action to redress an alleged deprivation
of the plaintiff's civil rights guaranteed by the Civil
Rights Act of 1870 and 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 1983, 1985 and
1986. Jurisdiction of this Court is allegedly based on
28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1343 and 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
The plaintiff, Norman Boyden, is a United States citizen and a
resident of Chicago, Illinois. The defendants are the City of
Chicago ("Chicago"), a municipal corporation created and
existing under the laws of the State of Illinois; Chicago
Police Officers James Troken, Joseph M. McMahon, H. Berge, and
various John Does whose names and identities are presently
unknown; and the Ascot Motel Lounge ("Ascot"), and its agent
In the complaint the plaintiff alleges, inter alia, the
1. The police officer defendants are employees of the City
of Chicago, who deprived the plaintiff of his civil rights
under the color of state law.
2. On or about August 10, 1970, at Chicago Police
Headquarters, 1121 S. State, the plaintiff, after having
been arrested, was struck, beaten, pushed, assaulted, and
battered by all police officer defendants.
3. This infliction of summary physical punishment deprived
the plaintiff of due process and caused him to suffer bodily
4. The plaintiff was denied full and equal protection of the
law. More specifically, plaintiff alleges that he was
arrested without just, probable or lawful cause; deprived of
his liberty until he could post bond; and was thereby
required to defend himself against such improper charges and
incur the expense of such a defense.
5. That certain unknown Chicago Police Officers referred to
as John Does knew of the above described wrongs but failed
to prevent or aid in the prevention of those wrongs.
6. On or about August 10, 1970 the defendant Ascot Motel
Lounge through its agent Jill Germaine did cause the
plaintiff to be wrongfully confined against his will, and
with no reasonable method of exit left open to him and
wrongfully caused charges to issue against the plaintiff,
Norman Boyden, for violation of the law, and thereby
required him to defend himself against such charges and
incur expenses for such defense.
7. Two or more of all the defendants conspired to deprive
the plaintiff, and did in fact deprive the plaintiff, of
privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution or
laws of the United States.
The plaintiff seeks to recover damages in the amount of forty
thousand dollars plus the cost of maintaining this action.
The defendant, Chicago, in support of its motion, contends that
plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted against it. The plaintiff, in opposition to the instant
motion, contends that he has sufficiently stated a claim
against the City of Chicago.
It is the opinion of this Court that the defendant Chicago's
motion is meritorious and that the plaintiff has failed to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted against the City
I. The plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action under
the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985 and 1986
against the City of Chicago.
It is well settled that the doctrine of respondeat superior
does not apply in civil rights cases brought under the Civil
Rights Act of 1871, Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167
, 81 S.Ct. 473,
5 L.Ed. 2d 492 (1961); Barrows v. Faulkner, et al., 327 F. Supp. 1190,
1191 (N.D.Okla. 1971); Sanberg v. Daley, 306 F. Supp. 277
(N.D.Ill. 1969). A municipality is not a "person" within the
meaning of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which provides a civil
remedy for deprivation of
rights. Monroe v. Pape, supra; Egan v. City of Aurora, et
al., 365 U.S. 514
, 81 S.Ct. 684, 5 L.Ed.2d 741; Ries v.
Lynskey, 452 F.2d 172
(7th Cir. 1971); Spampinato v. City of
New York, 311 F.2d 439
(7th Cir. 1962); cert. denied,
372 U.S. 980
, 83 S.Ct. 1115
, 10 L.Ed.2d 144 (1962); rehearing denied,
374 U.S. 818
, 83 S.Ct. 1699
, 10 L.Ed.2d 1042 (1963). Further,
the legislative history of Congress's response to a proposal to
make municipalities liable for certain actions brought within
the purview of the Civil Rights Act of April 20, 1871 was so
antagonistic that the term "persons" cannot be construed to
include municipalities. See Monroe v. Pape, supra; Ries v.
Lynskey, supra. It is clear that the plaintiff has thus
failed to state a cause of action against the City of Chicago,
a municipality, under the Civil Rights Act of 1871.
II. The plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action
under the Civil Rights Act of 1870, 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
Generally, civil rights statutes are aimed at individuals who
deprive others of their civil rights. Personal involvement by a
defendant is contemplated as an essential prerequisite to
liability. The civil rights statutes are not aimed at a city
which merely employs a "person" who may violate the statutes.
The plaintiff in the instant action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
seeks to hold the City of Chicago liable through the
City's mere act of employing individuals who allegedly violated
the plaintiff's civil rights. As pointed out above with regard
to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985 and
1986, the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in
civil rights actions and a municipality is not a "person" and
thus is not liable under the Civil Rights Acts. Further, it is
contrary to the intention of the Civil Rights Acts to hold a
municipality liable for acts which it did not authorize, in
some way participate, or direct. See Ashenhurst v. Carey,
351 F. Supp. 708 (N.D.Ill. 1972). Likewise, the Civil Rights Act of
1870, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 does not impose liability on a
municipality for the alleged misconduct of errant employees.
Thus, the plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action
against the City of Chicago pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981. See
Hampton v. City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, 339 F. Supp. 695
Accordingly, the defendant City of Chicago's motion to dismiss
the complaint against it is granted.
© 1992-2003 VersusLaw Inc.