Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.



May 25, 1995

CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation, Chicago Police Officer TOM ROLON, Star #8341, RAFAEL LOPEZ, Star #15827, and A. BRZOZA, Star #2325, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN E. ASPEN


 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 Plaintiff Ercilio Gonzalez brings this three-count first amended complaint against the City of Chicago ("City") and certain members of its police force. Defendant City has moved to dismiss Counts I and II, or in the alternative, to strike portions of Count II. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 I. Background1

 Gonzalez alleges that individual defendants Rolon, Lopez and Brzoza, officers of the Chicago Police Department, engaged in a scheme to retaliate against him and his family because of their complaints of excessive force and unlawful arrest. Plaintiff asserts that his family complained to the City's Office of Professional Standards ("OPS") that defendants unlawfully entered their home, beat plaintiff and his father, and arrested plaintiff for the possession of two guns that were actually found at a different location. Plaintiff maintains that although these charges were deemed meritorious by OPS, the City failed to discipline the individual defendants or evaluate their propensity for committing unlawful arrests and using excessive force. Instead, Gonzalez alleges, the City maintained a policy or custom of condoning retaliatory actions against complaining citizens.

 Gonzales contends that this policy encouraged the individual defendants to concoct false drug possession charges against him and to arrest him on May 23, 1994. These charges against Gonzalez were eventually dismissed on December 19, 1994, on the State's own motion. In the interim, however, plaintiff claims that he spent thirty days in Cook County Jail, expended family funds to meet bail and obtain legal representation, and suffered damage to his reputation and mental health. Plaintiff then brought the instant action, alleging in Counts I and II that the individual defendants and the City violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and in Count III asserting a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendant City now moves under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss Count II, or to strike certain portions of this count as irrelevant under Rule 12(f).

 II. Discussion

 We first address defendant City's contention that Count II should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) should not be granted "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957); Chaney v. Suburban Bus Division of the Regional Transp. Auth., 52 F.3d 623, 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 7687, No. 94-1762, slip op. at 4 (7th Cir. April 6, 1995). At this stage in the litigation we take as true all factual allegations made in the complaint, and construe all reasonable inferences therefrom in plaintiff's favor. Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, slip op. at 4 (7th Cir. 1995).

 In essence, Counts I and II of plaintiff's complaint allege that defendants are guilty of malicious prosecution and false arrest, and plaintiff argues that such claims are cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We begin our analysis plaintiff's Section 1983 claim by identifying the specific constitutional provisions at issue. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394, 104 L. Ed. 2d 443, 109 S. Ct. 1865 (1989). Defendant correctly points out that plaintiff's claim of a "pretrial deprivation of liberty" may only be brought under the Fourth Amendment, and not under the rubric of substantive due process. Albright v. Oliver, 127 L. Ed. 2d 114, 114 S. Ct. 807, 813-814 (1994) (plurality opinion). The City then argues that under Seventh Circuit law, no claim for unlawful detention may lie under the Fourth Amendment once the detainee is provided with a Gerstein2 hearing. See Garcia v. City of Chicago, 24 F.3d 966, 970-71 n.6 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 131 L. Ed. 2d 194, 115 S. Ct. 1313 (1995); Villanova v. Abrams, 972 F.2d 792, 797 (7th Cir. 1992); Wilkins v. May, 872 F.2d 190, 192-95 (7th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1026, 110 S. Ct. 733, 107 L. Ed. 2d 752 (1990). *fn3" The City goes on to introduce evidence of plaintiff's bail hearing on March 25, 1994, and hypothesizes that "a decision with regard to probable cause to detain would certainly have been made" at that time. Def's Memorandum in Support, at 4 n. 1. However, defendant fails to introduce any evidence that a probable cause hearing was actually held, nor can we presume at this stage that plaintiff was provided with a such a hearing. Rather, because he has not suggested in his complaint that he received a Gerstein hearing, we must permit his claim to go forward and leave for a later date the question of whether the existence of such a hearing wipes out any constitutional claim he might have asserted.

 Defendant next moves to dismiss that portion of plaintiff's complaint seeking relief under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Complaint, P 17. The City correctly argues that the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause only applies to actions taken under color of federal law. See Peoria School of Business, Inc. v. Accrediting Council for Continuing Educ. and Training, 805 F. Supp. 579, 581 (N.D. Ill. 1992). Plaintiff concedes that the Fifth Amendment is inapplicable to his case, but asserts that this is of no import: because the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause provides a remedy for his claim of unlawful detention. However, in support of this assertion plaintiff cites Lile v. Tippecanoe County Jail, 844 F. Supp. 1301 (N.D. Ind. 1992), a case dealing solely with the issue of whether the conditions of a pre-trial detainee's confinement violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff fails to cite any support for his contention that unlawful detention claims are cognizable under the Fourteenth Amendment, nor does he venture an explanation as to how his claim avoids the holding in Albright. See, 114 S. Ct. at 813-14. Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim is granted.

 Defendant City next attacks Count II of the complaint, arguing that plaintiff's allegation of "gross negligence" in the supervision of police officers is insufficient to establish municipal liability. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978). Although defendant is correct that an allegation of gross negligence will not support a § 1983 claim, we disagree with its reading of plaintiff's complaint. Indeed, Count II specifically alleges that "the Chicago Police Department was intentionally indifferent to, or grossly negligent in permitting, the [complained of] conduct." Complaint, P 33. In other words, plaintiff contends (in part) that defendant City acted with deliberate indifference to the rights of its citizens, and § 1983 liability may be imposed on a municipal defendant possessing such a state of mind. See City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 392, 103 L. Ed. 2d 412, 109 S. Ct. 1197 (1989); Hirsch v. Burke, 40 F.3d 900, 904 (7th Cir. 1994). While it is true that the very next paragraph of the complaint only refers to the City's gross negligence, we believe that a fair reading of Count II fully incorporates the allegation of deliberate indifference into this section of the complaint as well. Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss Count II is denied.

 Finally, defendant moves to strike the portions of Count II referring to the sanctioning by defendant of "violent" activities and acts of "excessive force" by its officers. Defendant contends that even if such policies exist, they did not cause plaintiff's complained of injury (ie., unlawful detention and malicious prosecution) and therefore are irrelevant to plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff responds that such allegations bolster his contention that the City actually had a policy of not interfering with the unlawful arrests performed by the individual defendants.

 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) authorizes us to strike from the pleadings "any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." However, such motions are not favored, and will only be granted if "the language of the pleading has no possible relation to the controversy and is clearly prejudicial." Simmons v. John F. Kennedy Medical Ctr., 727 F. Supp. 440, 442 (N.D. Ill. 1989) (quoting Garza v. Chicago Health Clubs, Inc., 347 F. Supp. 955, 962 (N.D. Ill. 1972)). While the language in question is not directly related to any policy which could have caused plaintiff's complained of injury, it is consistent with Gonzalez's allegation that the City failed to properly screen and supervise its police officers. As this language arguably bears some relation to plaintiff's claim, we decline to strike it from the complaint.

 III. Conclusion

 For the reasons set forth above, defendant City's motion is granted in part and denied in part. It is so ordered.


 United States District Judge

 Dated 5/25/95

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.