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MAGAYANES v. CITY OF CHICAGO

September 4, 1980

RAMON S. MAGAYANES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants City of Chicago (the "City"), Richard Brzeczek ("Brzeczek"), M. Michel-borough ("Michelborough") and J. Baldridge ("Baldridge") have moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (the "Complaint") of plaintiff Ramon Magayanes ("Magayanes"). For the reasons stated in this opinion and order, the motions of the City and Brzeczek are granted and the motion of defendants Michelborough and Baldridge is denied.

Facts

Magayanes alleges that on November 13, 1979 he was arrested and beaten by Terrance and Sullivan, both Chicago police officers, solely because of their belief that he was Iranian. Michelborough and Baldridge, also Chicago police officers, drove the squadrol in which Magayanes was transported to jail following his arrest. Their alleged liability is predicated on Magayanes' assertion that he was injured during the drive to jail. Magayanes claims that injury was due to all four officers' "failure to prevent plaintiff from being injured" because of their belief he was Iranian (Complaint ¶ 32-33).

Brzeczek and the City are alleged to have "knowingly, intentionally, maliciously with deliberate indifference and gross negligence" (Complaint ¶ 24, 40, 52) "failed in their duty to control, supervise, and in any way train their agents in dealing with anti-Iranian sentiments by their agents or the public" (Complaint ¶ 10, 27, 46), thereby directly and proximately causing Magayanes' injuries.

Magayanes claims various constitutional violations, and entitlement to relief against all defendants under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985.

Dismissal of the City

In its motion to dismiss, the City relies chiefly on Magayanes' alleged failure to plead actions by the City sufficient to meet the standard established in Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). In Monell a class of female employees sued under Section 1983, alleging that New York's Board of Education and Department of Social Services had, as a matter of official policy, compelled pregnant employees to take unpaid leaves of absence before such leaves were medically necessary. Overruling Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1961), the Court held that a municipality was a "person" subject to liability under Section 1983 for unconstitutional action that (436 U.S. at 690-91, 98 S.Ct. at 2035-36):

  implements or executes a policy statement,
  ordinance, regulation, or decision officially
  adopted and promulgated by that body's officers
  [or that constitutes a] governmental "custom"
  even though such a custom has not received formal
  approval through the body's official
  decision-making channels. . . .*fn1
  It is difficult to perceive how the actions allegedly giving rise to the City's liability in this instance (failure to control, supervise or train the City's agents to deal with anti-Iranian sentiment) could be construed to constitute an "officially adopted policy" or "governmental custom" thereby satisfying the Monell requirement. Magayanes alleges a single instance of individual officers' misconduct that, however reprehensible if true, does not indicate systematic, city-supported abuses of the nature to which Monell makes reference.

Magayanes' principal arguments in opposition to the City's motion are two-fold:

First, Magayanes contends that some language in Owen v. City of Independence, 445 U.S. 622, 100 S.Ct. 1398, 63 L.Ed.2d 673 (1980), dictates that municipal liability is proper here (Plaintiff's Brief at 2-3). However, Owen, which involved direct actions by a City Council and a City Manager pursuant to the Council's orders, did not suggest a modification of the Monell standard. In fact, Owen expressly recognized the respondeat superior limitation suggested by Monell; 100 S.Ct. at 1418 n. 39.

Second, Magayanes claims that the Complaint's allegations against the City reflect sufficient specificity and probability of success that, under the general principles governing the disposition of motions to dismiss, Magayanes is entitled to "his day in court" (Plaintiff's Brief 3-4). This Court concurs in the views expressed by Judge Grady in Thedford v. Joyce, supra, dealing with circumstances quite similar to those in this case. Judge Grady recognized that the principle "that an action should not be dismissed on the pleadings unless it appears that plaintiffs can `prove no set of facts in support of their claim'" applies in the Section 1983 context. Nonetheless he held that allegations against a municipality will not suffice if they are so conclusory as not to support "any possible Monell-type claim against the City or the head of the Police Department." Specifically, he noted that plaintiffs must "explain the ...


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