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EVAIN v. CONLISK

July 13, 1973

WANDA JEAN EVAIN, BY HER GRANDFATHER AND NEXT FRIEND, CLAYTON WEBB, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES CONLISK, SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marovitz, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Motion To Dismiss

The plaintiff, Wanda Jean Evain, by her grandfather and next friend brings this cause of action seeking damages pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1343 alleging a deprivation of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 and a denial of her equal protection and 14th amendment rights and a denial of rights, privileges and immunities as a citizen of the United States and the State of Illinois.

Plaintiff alleges that on April 6, 1968 at 6437 South Halsted Street in the City of Chicago, one or more of the individually named Police Officers shot and killed her father, Clayton Webb, Jr. Plaintiff contends that as a result of this death she has suffered a deprivation of her civil rights and equal protection of the laws e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of love, care, affection and financial support. To redress this alleged wrong, plaintiff seeks damages from defendants individually and in their official capacity totaling $1,200,000.

The defendants, by way of a Motion To Dismiss, have taken the position that the plaintiff does not have standing to bring this cause of action, since the only enforceable claim available to plaintiff would be under the provisions of the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute. Defendants contend that under these provisions, plaintiff has failed to qualify as an executor of the estate of the deceased and has failed to comply with the two year filing condition of liability, this suit having been brought almost five years after the occurrence of the death.

In addition, defendants assert that the damages sought by plaintiff are not recoverable in a wrongful death action, that Superintendent Conlisk can not be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 under the doctrine of respondeat superior and that the City of Chicago is not a "person" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The plaintiff in answer to the defendants Motion To Dismiss, argues that her cause of action is not brought under the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute but is an independently cognizable action for the deprivation of her civil rights. The plaintiff further answers that since the cause of action is brought in her own right a five year statute of limitations applies and the damages sought may be recovered.

Defendants have filed a second reply to plaintiffs Answer to the Motion To Dismiss and now contend that even if the plaintiff's cause of action is not brought as a Wrongful Death Action, the cause must still be dismissed since the plaintiff can not show any deprivation of her rights. Assuming the death of her father was as a result of a deprivation of his civil rights, the defendants contend plaintiff can not show any illegal action as to her and as a consequence her cause of action must fail.

Taking the plaintiff's allegations as true for purposes of defendant's Motion To Dismiss, the Court must decide if as a result of the alleged illegal and willful killing of plaintiff's father, she has been deprived of her civil rights. Before reaching this issue, however, it is necessary to consider who can claim official immunity and who are the proper parties in this case.

The plaintiffs have brought suit against the City of Chicago, a Municipal Corporation, James Conlisk, Superintendent of Police and Police Officers Clement Skalski, Roman Kugelman, Joseph Cipich, Michael O'Clock, John Doe and Richard Roe, individually and in their official capacity. On the Court's own motion, defendant, City of Chicago, has been dismissed under the considerations of municipal immunity. In addition, we find it necessary to dismiss defendant Conlisk absent a showing of his personal involvement in the alleged injury suffered by the plaintiff.

This Court has recently considered the doctrine of municipal immunity and the immunity of supervisory personnel in Boyd v. Adams, No. 73 C 403, 364 F. Supp. 1180, decided on June 29, 1973. In an extensive opinion, we commented upon the most recent Supreme Court decisions and found:

  The United States Supreme Court, therefore, has
  interpreted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 in terms of
  municipal liability to prevent suits against such
  political subdivisions whether for damages or
  equitable relief in all cases, thereby granting
  full immunity under these sections. Boyd v. Adams,
  No. 73 C 403, Memorandum Opinion, p. 1184.
  (N.D.Ill. June 29, 1973)

In addition, we found:

  Thus, without direct action causing injury to the
  plaintiff supported by allegations of the same,
  defendant Conlisk can not be sued as a proper
  defendant under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981 et seq. Boyd v.
  Adams, No. 73 C ...

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