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COOPER v. SMITH

August 27, 1996

KEVIN COOPER, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD SMITH, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 Before the court are two motions to dismiss plaintiff Kevin Cooper's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which the court can grant relief. One is brought by defendant Man Rodriguez; the other by defendants Ronald Smith, Marsha R. Askew, Darlene D. Wicht, Gregory Williamson, Joseph Lux, Robert Loughran, Bernard Pistello, and Debra Mzorek (collectively, "defendants"). For the reasons that follow, the court grants the motions to dismiss.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Officer Smith forced his way into Cooper's house, and Pruitt got her child. The police arrested Cooper and searched his house over Cooper's objection and while Cooper was in handcuffs. Though Cooper's complaint does not state so, Cooper eventually was convicted of child battery charges stemming from the February 12, 1994, incident. He is now in prison serving a 30-year sentence based on those convictions.

 Cooper brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that based on the February 12, 1994, incident, he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and an illegal search and seizure in violation of his constitutional rights.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard for deciding a motion to dismiss

 When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Ellsworth v. City of Racine, 774 F.2d 182, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1047, 106 S. Ct. 1265, 89 L. Ed. 2d 574 (1986). If, when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must dismiss the case. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). However, the court may dismiss the complaint only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims that would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957).

 B. Cooper's claims against defendant Matt Rodriguez

 Defendant Matt Rodriguez contends that because Cooper's claims are against Rodriguez in his official capacity, they are really against the City of Chicago. *fn1" Rodriguez argues that a claim against the city must allege that an official policy or custom of the city was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's alleged constitutional deprivation. According to Rodriguez, Cooper's complaint fails to do so, and should be dismissed. The court agrees.

 Official capacity lawsuits are, in effect, lawsuits against the government entity for which the official works. Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 2035 n.55, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978); Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66, 105 S. Ct. 3099, 3105, 87 L. Ed. 2d 114 (1985). A section 1983 plaintiff suing a government official in his official capacity and therefore seeking to hold the government entity liable must show that the government entity was a "moving force" behind the deprivation. Graham, 473 U.S. at 166, 105 S. Ct. at 3105 (quoting Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326, 102 S. Ct. 445, 454, 70 L. Ed. 2d 509 (1981) (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 694, 98 S. Ct. at 2037)). Thus, to maintain an official capacity claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that a policy, custom, or practice of the government entity deprived the plaintiff of a constitutionally protected interest. MMonell, 436 U.S. at 690-91, 98 S. Ct. at 2035-36; McTigue v. City of Chicago, 60 F.3d 381, 382 (7th Cir. 1995).

 Cooper fails to allege that any official policies, customs, or practices of the police department or city deprived him of his constitutional rights. Moreover, Cooper's allegations preclude his claim against Rodriguez in his official capacity. Cooper alleges essentially that the police department has policies and customs that officers must comply with, but that the defendants in this case violated those policies and customs. Consequently, it was not the police department's policies, customs, or ...


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