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FORD v. DAVIS

March 7, 1995

DARRYL A. FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
JON DAVIS and JEFFREY CHAPMAN, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 I. BACKGROUND1

 This matter arises from a confrontation between Plaintiff Darryl A. Ford ("Ford") and the two Defendant police officers, Jon Davis and Jeffrey Chapman (collectively "Defendants"), which eventually led to Ford's arrest. Ford brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ford alleges that on or about March 15, 1993, Defendants searched him for drugs, illegal weapons, and other contraband, but found nothing on his person. However, Chapman eventually did find a bag containing an illegal substance in a nearby field and charged Ford with the unlawful possession of that substance. Ford claims that Defendants physically abused him for a three to five minute period using their fists, feet, and flashlights and then arrested him in violation of his constitutional rights. Furthermore, Ford claims that Defendants then transported him to the station, charged him with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, and denied him medical treatment.

 The next day, March 16, 1993, pursuant to Ford's request, unknown police officers transported Ford to the hospital where he was examined, prescribed pain medication, and released back to police custody. Ford was transported to the Cook County Jail where he was imprisoned. Once the Cook County Jail obtained custody of Ford, he was admitted to the Cermak Hospital for further examination and treatment for injuries which Ford alleges resulted from Defendants' abuse.

 Ford alleged federal claims in Counts I and II, and a state pendant state law claim in Count III. In Count I, Ford asserts two distinct violations of his civil rights: first, a false arrest predicated on a lack of evidence probable cause; and, second, excessive use of force. In Count II, Ford alleges that Defendants denied him necessary medical care. In Count III, Ford contends that Defendants' unlawful use of force amounted to an intentional battery under Illinois tort law. Ford seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory damages in the amount of $ 500,000, and an unspecified punitive damages sum.

 II. DISCUSSION

 In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, as well as the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from those allegations. Mid America Title Co. v. Kirk, 991 F.2d 417, 419 (7th Cir. 1993). The complaint need not specify the correct legal theory nor point to the correct statute. Bartholet v. Reishauer A.G., 953 F.2d 1073, 1078 (7th Cir. 1992). Because federal courts simply require "notice pleading," this court must construe pleadings liberally. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517, 113 S. Ct. 1160, 1163 (1993). In construing reasonable inferences, however, the court need not stretch allegations beyond their sensible and reasonable implications. Chan v. City of Chicago, 777 F. Supp. 1437, 1440 (N.D. Ill. 1991). Furthermore, pro se complaints are to be construed more liberally than others. Chenh v. Logan, 42 F.3d 1391, 1391 (7th Cir. 1994). The liberal construction relates to both the pro se indigent plaintiff's factual allegations and their legal theories. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330-31 n.5, 104 L. Ed. 2d 338, 109 S. Ct. 1827 (1989). Pro se civil rights complaints may be dismissed only "if it is beyond doubt that there is no set of facts under which the plaintiff could obtain relief." Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton, 839 F.2d 375, 378 (7th Cir. 1988).

 A. BATTERY CLAIM

 The court first addresses whether Ford's battery claim should be dismissed due to the Illinois' statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a civil suit in federal court is controlled by the relevant state statute of limitations. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 279, 85 L. Ed. 2d 254, 105 S. Ct. 1938 (1985). The Illinois Local Government Tort Immunity Act provides as follows: "No civil action may be commenced in any court against a local entity or its employees for any injury unless it is commenced within one year from the date that the injury was received or the cause of action accrued." 745 ILCS 10/8-101 (1992). In this case, Ford alleges that his civil rights were violated on March 15 and 16, 1993. Therefore, any pendant state law claim should have been made prior to March 17, 1994. Id. Although Ford filed the original complaint should within one year after he sustained the alleged injuries, he did not allege a state law battery claim until October 22, 1994, when Ford filed the Second Amended complaint. *fn2" Thus, Defendants argue, the battery claim should be dismissed as time-barred. The court disagrees.

 Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was amended to provide for broad 'relation back' of pleadings. Worthington v. Wilson, 8 F.3d 1253, 1255 (7th Cir. 1993). Rule 15(c) provides, in pertinent part:

 
An amendment of a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when . . . (2) the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading . . . [and when the defendant] (3) (A) has received such notice of the institution of the action that the party will not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense of the merits . . . .

 Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c). "A plaintiff may amend his complaint under Rule 15(c) to change the theory or statute under which recovery is ...


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