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JONES v. VILLAGE OF VILLA PARK

January 24, 1992

HOUSTON JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF VILLA PARK, a municipal corporation, et al., Defendants.


HART


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM T. HART

Plaintiff Houston Jones alleges that, on November 6, 1990, he was arrested by defendants John Heidelmeier, Tyson Johnson, G. Esposito, Robert Deevey, John Payne, and Stuart Lucado. These defendants are alleged to be members of the police department of defendant Village of Villa Park. It is alleged that plaintiff, a diabetic, was suffering an insulin attack at the time of his arrest. It is further alleged that the police officers handcuffed him and continually beat him with clubs and their fists. It is also alleged that plaintiff was tried on the charges filed against him and was found not guilty. Presently pending is defendants' motion to dismiss three of the ten counts contained in plaintiff's complaint. On such a motion, all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint are assumed to be true and all inferences are drawn in plaintiff's favor. Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Education, 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987).

 As a general matter, defendants complain that the individual defendants need not be named in their official capacities since the Village is expressly named as a defendant. Plaintiff disclaims any intention of suing the police officers other than in their individual capacity. Paragraph 4 of the complaint, however, could be construed as alleging official capacity claims. To clarify matters, any official capacity claims against the individual police officers will be dismissed.

 Count I is labeled as a "civil rights violation" against the police officers. It is apparently an excessive force and false arrest claim. Defendants do not argue that Count I fails to adequately allege a claim. Count II is the same claim, except that it is against the Village. It contains additional allegations that the Village knew of the police officers' propensity to use excessive force, but nevertheless failed to properly train, supervise, regulate, or discipline them. It is also alleged that no guidelines for the use of force existed and that the Village condoned the use of force. Plaintiff, however, does not allege any specific instances of the use of excessive force by these or any other Villa Park police officers other than the one incident involving plaintiff.

 Plaintiff does not dispute that the general allegations are insufficient to support a municipal liability claim unless he can allege more than one instance of police misconduct. See Strauss v. City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765, 767-69 (7th Cir. 1985); Vukadinovich v. McCarthy, 901 F.2d 1439, 1444 (7th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 112 L. Ed. 2d 780, 111 S. Ct. 761 (1991); Hossman v. Blunk, 784 F.2d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 1986). Citing Kibbe v. City of Springfield, 777 F.2d 801, 805-06 (1st Cir. 1985), cert. dismissed, 480 U.S. 257, 107 S. Ct. 1114, 94 L. Ed. 2d 293 (1987), plaintiff argues that alleging the involvement of multiple officers is equivalent to alleging more than one instance of misconduct. No Seventh Circuit precedent has been found to support this contention and this interpretation is inconsistent with the Seventh Circuit's pleading requirements. By alleging a series or pattern of misconduct, it is possible to infer that the municipality was aware of a problem but acted with deliberate indifference by ignoring it. It is also possible to infer that the municipality has tacitly authorized the pattern or custom shown as its policy. See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1515 (7th Cir. 1990). Where, however, there is only a single incident, even one involving six officers, there is no pattern for the municipality to become aware of so that it can be found to have tacitly authorized the continued practice of the pattern, nor can the municipality be found to be acting in a deliberately indifferent manner in permitting the continuance of the practice. Plaintiff has failed to allege a sufficient basis for holding the Village liable on the federal claim. Count II will be dismissed. *fn1"

 Count IV is a negligence claim against the Village and police officers. *fn2" Defendants contend they are immune from this claim in that Illinois precludes liability for a public employee's acts or omissions in the "execution or enforcement of any law" unless the employee's conduct is willful and wanton. Ill. Rev. stat. ch. 85, para. 2-202. Plaintiff argues that he does not necessarily allege that the officers were executing or enforcing a law.

 Plaintiff alleges that defendants were arresting him when they caused him injury. Specifically, plaintiff alleges:

 Defendants committed one or more of the following negligent acts:

 (a) Carelessly and negligently used excessive force in placing the Plaintiff under arrest;

 (b) Carelessly and negligently failed to verbally notify the Plaintiff that he was under arrest;

 (c) Carelessly and negligently physically restrained the Plaintiff when physical restraint was not necessary to accomplish his arrest;

 (d) Carelessly and negligently placed the Plaintiff in handcuffs;

 (e) Carelessly and negligently failed to follow proper police procedure in placing the ...


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