The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marshall, District Judge.
Plaintiff Cheryl Means, as administratrix of the estate of
Gary Lee, has brought this civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 (1976) alleging that
defendants City of Chicago, Richard Brzeczek, Superintendent of
Police, Frank Nolan, Director of the Office of Professional
Standards, and six individual police officers,*fn1 deprived Gary
Lee of his life without due process of law in violation of the
fifth, eighth, thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the United
States Constitution. Defendant City of Chicago and the
individual defendants have presented separate motions to
dismiss all or various counts of the complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See
The complaint alleges that on January 14, 1981, defendant
police officers Morgan and Healy stopped and arrested Gary Lee
without probable cause or other justification and
subsequently, without provocation, shot him in the head and
killed him. Complaint ¶¶ 14, 15. Further, it alleges that
Morgan and Healy and four other named police officers
"improperly" delayed Lee's transportation for receipt of
medical attention, proximately causing his death, Complaint ¶¶
16, 19, and engaged in a conspiracy consisting of the false
arrest, unjustified shooting, failure to provide medical
attention and attempting to cover up the alleged events after
the fact. Complaint ¶¶ 21-24.
Plaintiff additionally alleges that the City of Chicago, its
police superintendent and director of professional standards,
by their written and de facto policies, regulations, practices
and customs of improperly hiring, screening and training
officers, by failing to discipline these officers for past
misconduct, and by encouraging officers to use deadly or
excessive force, proximately caused the death of Gary Lee.
Complaint ¶¶ 27, 29-31. Finally, plaintiff states three pendant
state claims for wrongful death against the individual police
officers, for respondeat superior liability against the City
and the supervisory defendants for that wrongful death, and
against the City directly for negligently entrusting and
retaining the individual officers. For each of these acts the
plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The City of Chicago moves to dismiss the § 1983 claims
against it on the grounds that the claims lack specificity and
fail to state a causal link between the alleged conduct of the
City and the decedent's death. It is well settled that a
complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim
"unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no
set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle
[her] to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78
S.Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957).
The starting point for judging potential liability of a
municipality under § 1983 is Monell v. Department of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978),
where the Supreme Court held that a city was a "person" for the
purpose of the statute but rejected traditional concepts of
vicarious liability based upon the tortious acts of an
employee. 436 U.S. at 690-94, 98 S.Ct. at 2035-37. The
liability of a city must rest on the city's conduct, i.e., an
official policy, custom or practice which is causally linked to
the conduct of the employee and the resulting injury to the
plaintiff. Id. See also Powe v. City of Chicago, 664 F.2d 639,
643 (7th Cir. 1981); Murray v. City of Chicago, 634 F.2d 365,
366-67 (7th Cir. 1980). Thus the theory of liability put
forward by the plaintiff must be based on the actions of the
City rather than the concept of respondeat superior. Monell,
436 U.S. at 690-91, 98 S.Ct. at 2035-36. See also Martinez v.
California, 444 U.S. 277, 100 S.Ct. 553, 62 L.Ed.2d 481 (1980);
Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 96 S.Ct. 598, 46 L.Ed.2d 561
In the instant case there is no question that plaintiff
alleges deprivation of Gary Lee's constitutionally protected
right to life. But the City argues that plaintiff does not
state with sufficient particularity any policy, practice or
custom of the City which was the proximate cause of that
deprivation. We disagree.
There are a number of cases which recognize that allegations
of a general failure to train, supervise and control law
enforcement officials are sufficient to state a claim against
a municipality and sustain a verdict if evidence is adduced
sufficient to prove the general failure and that it was a
proximate cause of the injury complained of. See Hays v.
Jefferson County, 668 F.2d 869 (6th Cir. 1982); Herrera v.
Valentine, 653 F.2d 1220, 1224-25 (8th Cir. 1981); Turpin v.
Mailet, 619 F.2d 196 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1016,
101 S.Ct. 577, 66 L.Ed.2d 475 (1980); McClelland v. Facteau,
610 F.2d 693 (10th Cir. 1979); Owens v. Haas, 601 F.2d 1242
(2d Cir.), cert. denied 444 U.S. 980, 100 S.Ct. 483, 62 L.Ed.2d
(1979); Sims v. Adams, 537 F.2d 829 (5th Cir. 1976); Smith v.
Hill, 510 F. Supp. 767 (D.Utah 1980); Edmonds v. Dillon,
485 F. Supp. 722 (N.D.Ohio 1980); Wilkenson v. Ellis, 484 F. Supp. 1072
(E.D.Pa. 1980); Popow v. City of Margate, 476 F. Supp. 1237
(D.N.J. 1979); Cook v. City of Miami, 464 F. Supp. 737
(S.D.Fla. 1979); Leite v. City of Providence, 463 F. Supp. 585
The City relies on a number of unpublished opinions in this
district asserting that allegations of a single
unconstitutional act are insufficient to state a claim against
a municipality.*fn2 There is substantial disagreement in this
district over what level of specificity in pleading is
required under § 1983. Compare Villa v. Franzen, 511 F. Supp. 231,
232, 235 (N.D.Ill. 1981) and Thompson v. Village of
Evergreen, 503 F. Supp. 251, 252 (N.D.Ill. 1980); with Williams
v. City of Chicago, 525 F. Supp. 85 (N.D.Ill. 1981) and Spriggs
v. City of Chicago, 523 F. Supp. 138 (N.D.Ill. 1981) and Hamrick
v. Lewis, 515 F. Supp. 983 (N.D.Ill. 1981). Certain of our
colleagues have held that allegations of an unconstitutional
policy on the part of a municipality are not adequate unless
they are supported by particular factual allegations which
demonstrate that the alleged conduct is more than an isolated
incident. See Williams, 525 F. Supp. at 90; Thedford v.
Joyce, No. 79 C 3061 (N.D.Ill. July 8, 1980). See also Smith v.
Ambrogio, 456 F. Supp. 1130 (D.Conn. 1978). But the teaching of
the Supreme Court in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S.Ct.
99, 2 L.Ed.2d 611 (1957) and the pleading concepts of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) are no less applicable to § 1983 actions than
to any other lawsuit. As the Court in Conley stated:
The respondents also argue that the complaint
failed to set forth specific facts to support its
general allegations of discrimination and that
its dismissal is therefore proper. The decisive
answer to this is that the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure do not require a claimant to set out in
detail the facts upon which he bases his claim.
To the contrary, all the Rules require is "a
short and plain statement of the claim" that will
give the defendant fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests. 355 U.S. at 45-46, 78 S.Ct. at 101-102.
It is true that the requirement of a policy on which to
predicate liability of a municipality under Monell can be
easily alleged by a plaintiff. But Rule 8(a) does not
distinguish between different types of claims. Cf. Rule 9(g).
We are in agreement with the comments of our colleague Judge
Shadur concerning the apparent distinction between the federal
rules and the strict pleading requirements imposed by some
opinions in § 1983 cases:
[S]uch judicial legislation [is] difficult to
reconcile with the mandates of Rule 8(a) and such
cases as Conley. When a requirement of specific
allegations is needed, the Rules know how to impose
it — see Rule 9(b), requiring particularity as to
the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake,
and Rule 9(g), requiring specific statements of
items of special damages. There is a necessary
negative implication from a failure to specify a
comparable requirement for Section ...