The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOAN GOTTSCHALL, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
As a result of events leading to his termination, Phillip Wiseman
sued Willow Springs and various public officials both individually and in
their official capacities, including Police Chief Jerome Schultz, Village
Trustee Steven Muscolino, Lieutenant John Lynn, Village Administrator
Christopher Limas, and Village President Terrance Carr (collectively
"defendants"). Wiseman alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
retaliation based on the exercise of his First Amendment rights.
Defendants move to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff
countered with a motion for sanctions, claiming defendants filed their
motion in bad faith. For the reasons that follow, both motions are
Wiseman was employed as a police officer for the Village of Willow
Springs from June 1995 until he was terminated in November 2002. He
alleges the following incidents led to his termination.
In 1998, Wiseman was working on a criminal matter in which drugs and
money were seized and inventoried by the police department. Defendant
Schultz took custody of the evidence and allegedly discarded it. During
the trial, when the State's Attorney requested the evidence, Defendant
Schultz allegedly told Wiseman to use substitute evidence. Wiseman
refused to do so.
In November 2001, in his capacity as Union Steward, Wiseman assisted a
fellow officer in making a report to the Cook County State's Attorney's
Office. The officer had been threatened with discipline for not signing a
complaint against a citizen. Wiseman cooperated with the State's Attorney
by giving a statement "regarding what he believed to be corruption and
misconduct" in the police department. (Compl. ¶ 17) Defendant Lynn
later asked Wiseman what he told the State's Attorney and allegedly
threatened Wiseman when he refused to divulge any information. Wiseman
alleges he was subject to unwarranted discipline and was refused backup
on numerous calls after this incident.
In May 2002, Wiseman learned that a fellow officer had tested positive
for drug use. Following an informal meeting of several officers, Wiseman
assisted in preparing a memorandum expressing concern over working with
an officer who had tested positive for drug use. The memorandum was
signed by ten officers and forwarded to the Police Chief, the Village
Administrator and the Village President. Defendants Schultz and Lynn
approached each officer and requested that he remove his name from the
memo. All but four complied.
A few days later, an anonymous flyer was distributed throughout the
Village of Willow Springs reporting the officer's drug use and
criticizing the department's handling of the situation. Defendants began
investigating who distributed the flyer. Defendant Muscolino reportedly
stated that those who made false accusations against the Village need to
be punished. Wiseman was questioned regarding dissemination of the flyer.
Sometime thereafter, Wiseman gave a statement to the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission regarding an officer's discrimination claim.
In October 2002, Defendant Schultz ordered Wiseman to impound a
vehicle. Wiseman refused because he believed the order was unlawful.
Shortly thereafter, Wiseman was interrogated a second time concerning
distribution of the flyer as well as his knowledge of drug sales by
members of the department. As part of the investigation, Wiseman was
In November 2002, Wiseman was terminated for his alleged "`involvement'
or `dissemination' of letters critical of the Village of Willow Springs,
the Police Department, and another officer for his alleged drug use;" for
failing to obey an order to impound a vehicle, and for conduct relating
to other arrests. (Compl. ¶ 39)
In considering a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), "a
court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be
granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the
allegations." Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73
(1984) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). The
complaint need only set out "a short and plain statement showing the
plaintiff is entitled to relief, the purpose of which is to give the
defendant notice of the claims and the grounds they rest upon."
Thompson v. Illinois Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750,
753 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics
Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163 (1993)). The court