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LOVEDAY v. VILLAGE OF VILLA PARK

July 31, 2003

JOSEPH J. LOVEDAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JUDGE RONALD GUZMAN VILLAGE OF VILLA PARK, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, JAMES CIHAK, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND ARTHUR STILLWELL, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald Guzman, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Joseph Loveday has sued the Village of Villa Park, James Cihak, and Arthur Stillwell pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983") for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights. Before the Court is defendant Village of Villa Park's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

FACTS

The following facts, taken from Loveday's complaint, are assumed to be true for purposes of defendants' motion to dismiss. Loveday resided at 409 North Beverly, Villa Park, Illinois, with his wife, Lynne Loveday, and their children. (Compl. ¶ 7.) On September 15, 2000, after Loveday attended the Oktoberfest in Villa Park, Loveday and his son, Trevor, were driven home from the Oktoberfest by Mark Baader. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) When Loveday ===and Trevor returned home, Loveday was intoxicated. (Id. ¶ 10.) Lynne Loveday left the residence with Tara, Jenna, and Dayton, and went to her parents' home approximately two blocks away. (Id. ¶ [ Page 2]

11.) At her parents home, she telephoned the Villa Park police department and asked them if they would help her get her child, Trevor, from her husband. (Id. ¶ 112.) She informed them that she had a rule that her children were not to be with her husband when he was intoxicated. (Id. ¶ 12,) The Villa Park police department dispatched officers to the Loveday residence to retrieve Trevor. (Id. ¶ 13.) Defendant Cihak, a Village of Villa Park police officer, was the first officer to arrive at the Loveday residence. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 14.) When Cihak arrived at the Loveday residence, Loveday instructed Cihak to get off of the property because he did not know that his wife had called the police. (Id. ¶ 15.) Instead of responding to Loveday's request to get off the property, Cihak responded by shoving Loveday. (Id. ¶ 16.) In self-defense, Loveday pushed Cihak back. (Id. ¶ 17.) Cihak went to grab Loveday, who pushed back again in self-defense, (Id. ¶ 18.) Cihak grabbed the arm of Loveday, who escaped from Cihak's grip and ran into his residence, told Cihak that he was in trouble, and intended to telephone Cihak's supervisor. (Id. ¶ 19.) Then Loveday, who was chased by Cihak into his home, tripped on some blankets in his house, and was later jumped on by Cihak. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 21.) At that point, Cihak said to Loveday, "Give me your hands," which Loveday was unable to do because of Cihak's weight on Loveday's back. (Id. ¶ 22.) Cihak then sprayed Loveday with pepper spray on the side of Loveday's face and in his eyes and ear. (Id. ¶ 23.) Shortly thereafter, Stillwell, another Villa Park police officer, arrived and entered the Loveday residence. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 24,) After Stillwell arrived, he jumped on the lower left side of Loveday's back, knocking Cihak off of Loveday. (Id. ¶ 25.) Then Loveday was handcuffed and taken into custody. (Id. ¶ 26.)

DISCUSSION

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of [ Page 3]

the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case. Gibson v. Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990), On a motion to dismiss, the court construes the complaint's allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and all well-pleaded facts and allegation in the plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true. Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993). The allegations of a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim "unless it appears beyond doubt mat 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 (1957),

In a section 1983 action against a municipality, the conventional system of notice pleading applies and there is no heightened pleading standard in these cases. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcoties Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 165 (1993). To state a claim for municipal liability under 42 U.S.C, § 1983, the plaintiff must establish that the alleged constitutional deprivation was pursuant to an official policy, practice, or custom of the municipality. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 689 (1978), In addition, the Supreme Court has held that inadequate police training may support a section 1983 claim against a governmental entity. City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989). The circumstances under which municipal liability will attach to a failure to train case are in instances where "the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of persons with whom the police come into contact," Id. This standard may be met if "in light of the duties assigned to specific officers or employees the need for more or different training is so obvious, and the inadequacy so likely to result in the violation of constitutional rights, that the policymakers . . . can reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent to the need." Id. at 390.

Defendant Villa Park argues in its motion to dismiss that plaintiff fails to allege that [ Page 4]

defendants had notice of any constitutional violations due to inadequate training of its officers to show that the municipal was deliberately indifferent. Defendant also argues that plaintiff fails to allege any constitutional violation resulting from Villa Park's purported inadequate training of its officers.

In City of Canton v. Harris, the Supreme Court noted that in certain cases based on the officers' duties, the need for more training is so obvious that inadequacy would likely result in the violation of constitutional rights, and policymakers can reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent. Id. at 390. In the instant case, taking plaintiff's allegations as true, the officers used excessive force in arresting plaintiff because, even after he had been subdued, an officer sprayed pepper spray at him and another officer jumped on his back. The need to train officers with regard to such a routine situation to avoid any constitutional violations is such that Villa Park's failure to train its officers might, depending on the particular circumstances, constitute a deliberate indifference to the deprivation of the protections of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right "to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable seizures."

Villa Park argues that there was no notice because allegations that arise out of a single incident are insufficient to show deliberate indifference by the Village of Villa Park to potential constitutional violations in the absence of any allegations of previous such incidents, citing Cornfield v. Consolidated School District No. 230., 991 F.2d 1316, 1327 (7th Cir. 1993), and Robles v. City of Fort Wayne, 113 F.3d 732, 737 (7th Cir. 1997). However, the Cornfield and Robles courts relied in part on City of Oklahoma v. Tuttle, a case in which the Supreme Court held that to survive a summary judgment motion, evidence of more than a single incident is required before municipal liability may be found under section 1983. 471 U.S. 808, 824 (1985). [ Page 5]

In contrast to the procedural posture in Cornfield, Robles, and Tuttte, which were before the Court on review of rulings at the summary judgment stage, the instant case is merely at the pleading stage. A complaint may survive a motion to dismiss through the use of conclusory allegations as long as they provide notice of what customs or policies are at issue. This the plaintiff has done. See McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). The test is not whether the plaintiff has pleaded factual instances demonstrating that an unconstitutional ...


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