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WISEMAN v. SCHULTZ

January 8, 2004.

PHILLIP WISEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
JEROME SCHULTZ, individually and in his official capacity as Chief of Police of the Willow Springs Police Department, the VILLAGE OF WILLOW SPRINGS, a municipal corporation, STEVEN MUSCOLINO individually and in his official capacity as Trustee for the Village of Willow Springs, JOHN LYNN, individually and in his official capacity as Lieutenant of the Willow Springs Police Department, CHRISTOPHER LIMAS, individually and in his official capacity as Village Administrator of the Village of Willow Springs, TERRANCE CARR, individually and in his official capacity as President of the Village of Willow Springs, Defendants



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 denied. Page 2

I. Background

  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. Page 3

  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 fingerprinted.

  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)

 II. Analysis

  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 Page 4 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 must ...


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