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MANOS v. CAIRA
March 30, 2001
JOHN MANOS, A.K.A. JOHN MANOLATOS, PLAINTIFF,
ANTHONY CAIRA, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POLICE COMMANDER FOR THE VILLAGE OF ELMWOOD PARK; TOM BAGLIA, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF OF POLICE FOR THE VILLAGE OF ELMWOOD PARK; GEORGE BERTUCCI, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE FOR THE VILLAGE OF ELMWOOD PARK; FRANK FAGIANO, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POLICE DETECTIVE FOR THE VILLAGE OF ELMWOOD PARK; ELMWOOD PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT; VILLAGE OF ELMWOOD PARK; STEVEN KRUEGER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT ILLINOIS STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR THE COUNTY OF COOK; RUSSELL BAKER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT ILLINOIS STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR THE COUNTY OF COOK, RICHARD DEVINE, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ILLINOIS STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR THE COUNTY OF COOK, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Guzman, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
John Manos ("Manos"), also known as John Manolatos, has sued
Anthony Caira, Police Commander for the Village of Elmwood Park;
Tom Braglia,*fn1 Chief of Police for the Village of Elmwood
Park; George Bertucci, Deputy Chief of Police for the Village of
Elmwood Park; Frank Fagiano, Police Detective for the Village of
Elmwood Park, in their individual and official capacity; Elmwood
Park Police Department; Village of Elmwood Park; Steven Krueger
and Russell Baker individually and in their official capacity as
Cook County Assistant State's Attorneys; and Richard Devine in
his official capacity as Cook County State's Attorney, under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983") for alleged deprivation of his
rights under the Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution. Defendants have moved to dismiss the
complaint pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
("Rule") 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below,
grants in part and denies in part defendants' motions.
On October 23, 1997, Peter Skoufis ("Skoufis") burglarized
Manos' residence and stole eleven firearms that Manos lawfully
owned and possessed and registered with the Illinois State
Police. (Compl. ¶¶ 13, 15.) On October 24, 1997, the Elmwood Park
Police Department recovered the firearms and confiscated them for
evidentiary purposes to be used in the prosecution's case against
Skoufis. (Id. ¶ 14.) Manos was the complaining witness in
Illinois v. Peter Skoufis heard in the Fourth Municipal
District of Cook County. (Id. ¶ 1.) On July 14, 1998, Skoufis
pled guilty to theft. (Id. Count IV ¶ 5.)
After the conclusion of the criminal proceedings against
Skoufis, Manos appeared in court in the Fourth Municipal Judicial
District of Cook County numerous times on a motion for the return
of his firearms. On September 17, 1998 and December 3, 1998,
Judge Prendergast denied Manos' motion for the return of his
firearms because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
("ATF") traces on the firearms had not been completed due to a
delay caused in part by Manos' changing his name from Manolatos
to Manos. (Id. Count I ¶¶ 31, 44; Count III ¶ 2.) On November
16, 1998, Judge Golniewicz denied Manos' motion for the return of
his property because the ATF traces were still incomplete. On
January 27, 1999, Judge Prendergast again denied Manos' motion
for the return of his firearms because the ATF traces were not
complete. (Id. Count I ¶¶ 9-10; Count III ¶ 2.)
In Counts I and II, Manos alleges that Krueger, Baker, Caira,
Braglia, Bertucci, Fagiano, Elmwood Park Police Department, and
the Village of Elmwood Park violated his rights as guaranteed
under the Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S.
Constitution when they unlawfully retained his firearms after the
proceedings concerning Skoufis had come to a close and when they
engaged in a conspiracy to do so.
In Count III, Manos alleges that Assistant State's Attorneys
Krueger and Baker, in their individual and official capacity,
violated his rights as guaranteed under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments when they made false representations to the court
regarding: (1) the progress of the ATF traces (id. Count III ¶
2); (2) seizure by Elmwood Park or the federal government (id.
¶ 3); (3) that the firearms were assault rifles (id. ¶ 7); (4)
that the ATF delay was due to Manos' change in name (id. ¶¶
8-9); and (5) that Illinois law prohibits "a lawful firearms
owner to reside with convicted felons [and] that Manos resided at
the time with two convicted felons" depriving him from the right
of return of the firearms (id. ¶¶ 5-6). Manos alleges that
Krueger and Baker acted with "a reckless disregard" and
"indifference" towards his rights by not reasonably investigating
the alleged unreasonable delay in the completion of the ATF
traces and by making representations without knowledge as to the
truth or falsity of such representations resulting in the
deprivation of his lawfully owned property. (Id. ¶¶ 10-16.).
In Count IV, Manos alleges that his right to due process rights
was violated by Richard Devine in his official capacity as Cook
County State's Attorney and requests injunctive relief. (Id.
Count IV ¶¶ 1-2, 10.) Manos alleges that Devine deprived him of
his property when he, through Krueger and Baker, opposed and
objected to the return of his property. (Id.) Against Devine,
Manos seeks an injunction for the return of his firearms.
The Cook County State's Attorney has moved to dismiss the
complaint for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that the
Rooker-Feldman and Younger abstention doctrines apply.
Abstention doctrines are jurisdictional in nature. See Hanover
Group Inc. v. Manufactured Home Communities Inc., No.
IP00-0739-C-T/G, 2000 WL 1124877, at *2 (S.D.Ind. July 12, 2000).
A Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss requires a court to dismiss any
action for which it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.
R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Rule 12(b)(1) motions are based on either
facial or factual attacks on jurisdiction. Villasenor v.
Industrial Wire & Cable, Inc., 929 F. Supp. 310, 311 (N.D.Ill.
1996). If the defendant factually attacks the plaintiff's
assertion of subject matter jurisdiction, the court may look
beyond the jurisdictional allegations in the complaint and "view
whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine
whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists." Capitol
Leasing Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993); see
also Barnhart v. United States, 884 F.2d 295, 296 (7th Cir.
1989). To withstand defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the
plaintiff must competently prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists. NLFC, Inc. v.
Devcom Mid-America, Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 237 (7th Cir. 1995); see
also Gould v. Artisoft, Inc., 1 F.3d 544, 547 (7th Cir. 1993);
McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. of Inc.,
298 U.S. 178, 189, 56 S.Ct. 780, 80 L.Ed. 1135 (1936).
The Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine prevents the federal
district court's exercise of jurisdiction over the review of
decisions of state courts. District of Columbia Court of Appeals
v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206
(1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415, 44
S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923). If the state court judgment
caused plaintiff's alleged injury, then the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine precludes the federal court's exercise of jurisdiction.
Remer v. Burlington Area Sch. Dist., 205 F.3d 990, 996 (7th
Cir. 2000). However, if the plaintiff alleges "that people
involved in the decision violated some independent right of his,
. . . then he can, without being blocked by the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, sue to vindicate that right and show as part of his
claim for damages that the violation caused the decision to be
adverse to him and thus did him harm." Nesses v. Shepard,
68 F.3d 1003, 1005 (7th Cir. 1995). "Otherwise there would be no
federal remedy for a violation of federal rights whenever the
violator so far succeeded in corrupting the state judicial
process as to obtain a favorable judgment. . . ." Id. "This
result would be inconsistent with cases in which, for example,
police officers are sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for having
fabricated evidence that resulted in the plaintiff's being
convicted in a state court." Id.
Next, the Cook County State's Attorney argues that this Court
should abstain from exercising jurisdiction in this case pursuant
to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669
(1971). The Younger abstention doctrine requires "federal
courts to abstain from enjoining ongoing state proceedings that
are (1) judicial in nature, (2) implicate important state
interests, and (3) offer an adequate opportunity for review of
constitutional claims, (4) so long as no extraordinary
circumstances — like bias or harassment — exist which auger
against abstention." Majors v. Engelbrecht, 149 F.3d 709, 711
(7th Cir. 1998).
The problem, as discussed above, is that Manos has alleged
throughout the Complaint that defendants have acted in bad faith
and have conspired to harass him with vindictive bias. Having
been provided no evidence to cast doubt on the Manos' version of
events as described in the Complaint, the Court cannot find that
it is required to abstain under Younger.
The last jurisdictional consideration involves the Eleventh
Amendment*fn2 and surprisingly was not addressed by the Cook
County State's Attorney or the Assistant State's Attorneys. In
Count III, Manos has sued Krueger and Baker in their official
capacity as Assistant State's Attorneys and seeks compensatory
and punitive damages.
A suit against Assistant State's Attorneys in their official
capacity is a suit against the Cook County State's Attorney. See
Taylor v. Partee, No. 90 C 1134, 1991 WL 136015, at *2 (N.D.Ill.
July 17, 1991). "[T]he Eleventh Amendment prohibits suits against
the state, its agencies, and its officials acting in their
official capacities." Id. "Illinois has made its state's
attorneys `state officials' and liability under Section 1983 does
not extend either to suits against the state itself or to
official capacity lawsuits against state officials." Id.
(discussing Ingemunson v. Hedges, 133 Ill.2d 364, 367, 140
Ill.Dec. 397, 549 N.E.2d 1269 (Ill. 1990), and Houston v. Cook
County, 758 F. Supp. 1225, 1227 (N.D.Ill. 1990)).
Manos' suing Baker and Krueger in their official capacity as
Assistant State's Attorneys in Count III is the same as his suing
the Cook County State's Attorney himself. Because the Cook County
State's Attorney is a "state official," Manos' claim for damages
against the Assistants State's Attorneys in their official
capacity is jurisdictionally barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts the "well-pleaded allegations in
the complaint as true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff." Hentosh v. Herman M. Finch Univ. of
Health Scis./The Chicago Med. Sch., 167 F.3d 1170, 1173 (7th
Cir. 1999). Dismissal is proper where "it appears beyond doubt
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his
claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). However, if the
complaint fails to allege ...