Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 83 C 6289 - Bernard M. Decker, Judge.
Cummings, Chief Judge, Bauer and Posner, Circuit Judges.
Plaintiff Craig Strauss filed suit against the City of Chicago (the "City") and Chicago Police Officer John Doe under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 The district court granted the City's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, causing plaintiff to file a timely notice of appeal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and we affirm the judgment of the lower court for the reasons stated herein.
For purposes of this Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion, we take the factual allegations in plaintiff's complaint as true. Strauss' complaint arises out of an incident on March 14, 1983. On that date plaintiff was lawfully on the premises of 7400 North Western Avenue when Chicago Police Officer John Doe placed Strauss under arrest without probable cause, or a reasonable belief that a crime had been committed or that Strauss had himself committed a crime. Subsequent to this unlawful arrest, the unnamed police officer struck plaintiff in the fact.
Strauss alleged that policies of the City proximately caused this unlawful police conduct. Specifically, he claimed that the City
a. Had a custom and practice of hiring persons such as Defendant JOHN DOE, whose prior history of brutality should have rendered them unacceptable for hire.
b. Had a custom and practice of allowing Chicago Police Officers, such as Defendant JOHN DOE, to remain cloaked with legal authority and employed as Chicago Police Officers, even though their experience on the job showed them to be brutal in nature and frequent violators of civil rights of persons in custody.
c. Had a custom and practice of allowing those in custody to be silenced by causing them to be beaten and physically abused.
d. Had a custom and practice of conducting investigations against police officers, by which said officers would be exonerated of any fault as a result of the investigative procedures employed by the police department; and which would result in the continued employment and cloak of authority upon brutal officers such as Chicago Police Officer JOHN DOE.
Strauss pled no facts to support this charge, apart from those surrounding his own unlawful arrest and physical injury. He sought compensatory damages from the City for his injuries.*fn2
Our analysis begins with Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-691, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978). The Supreme Court held there that municipalities could be held liable under Section 1983 for constitutional violations caused by their official policies, including unwritten customs. At the same time the Court made very clear that the language and legislative history of Section 1983 compelled the conclusion that municipalities could not be held liable solely on a theory of respondeat superior. Id. at 691. Proximate causation between the municipality's policy or custom and the plaintiff's injury must be present. Congress believed that to do otherwise would impose a broad, general liability raising insurmountable constitutional difficulties. Id. at 693-694. "Instead, it is when execution of a government's policy or custom * * * by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983." Id. at 694. This emphasis on causality and on official policy supported our holding that the "allegation of a single incident of unconstitutional conduct by a municipal employee usually does not establish a sufficient basis for suing the municipality." Powe v. City of Chicago, 664 F.2d 639, 650 ...