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BRADSHAW v. MAZURSKI

January 13, 2004.

JAMES BRADSHAW, Plaintiff;
v.
Chicago Police Officer THOMAS MAZURSKI, Chicago Police Officer CHARLES DALY; the CITY OF CHICAGO; United States Customs Agent CENTRACCHIO; and the UNITED STATES CUSTOMS SERVICE; United States Postal Service Inspector BENEDICT R. RADON, and the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT GETTLEMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff James Bradshaw filed a first amended complaint against Chicago Police Officers Thomas Mazurski and Charles Daly, the City of Chicago, Customs Inspector Lawrence Centracchio, United States Postal Service Inspector Benedict Radon, the United States Postal Service and the United States Customs Service, arising from defendants' application for and execution of a warrant to search plaintiff and his residence. Specifically, plaintiff asserts a claim of unlawful search and seizure in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States (Count I), false arrest and detention in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments (Count II), and malicious prosecution under Illinois law (Count III). The federal defendants and the City of Chicago have moved separately to dismiss plaintiffs claims against Page 2 them.*fn1 For the reasons stated below, the City of Chicago's motion is granted, and the federal defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

FACTS

  According to plaintiffs complaint, on March 21, 2001, Centracchio, acting under his authority as an agent for the U.S. Customs Service, opened an international package addressed to plaintiff. The package contained two bottles of nail enamel remover, and Centracchio contacted Postal Inspector Radon and Chicago Police Officer Mazurski of the Chicago Police Department's Postal Interdiction Team to tell them what he discovered.

  On March 22, 2001, Mazurski applied for and was issued a search warrant to execute a controlled delivery and to search "Jim Bradshaw or anyone taking control of the U.S.P.S. Priority Mail Parcel" at the address listed on the package. Plaintiff alleges that the search warrant was invalid, however, because it was based on Mazurski's false testimony that the liquid contained in the two bottles in the package had been field tested for the presence of gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB), a controlled substance, with positive results. According to plaintiff, no field test of the liquid had been conducted, and at the time he filed the application for the search warrant, Mazurski allegedly did not have any documentation of the field-test that was allegedly performed or the results of that testing. Plaintiff alleges that the Chicago Police Department has no policy or procedure in place requiring that its officers have copies of reports regarding the results of field testing performed outside their presence when they apply for a search warrant on the basis of that field testing. Page 3

  Plaintiff alleges that Radon and Centracchio acted in concert with the Chicago Police Department and the defendant officers to further investigate the package and its intended recipient. According to the first amended complaint, Radon, "acting pursuant to the invalid search warrant," prepared the package for a controlled delivery, which was then executed by Radon, Mazurski, and other police officers. Plaintiff alleges that Radon did so with "apparent knowledge" that no testing had been done on the substance contained in the package.

  Several items were seized from plaintiff's residence during the execution of the search warrant, and he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401). According to the first amended complaint, prosecution of plaintiff ensued, and a disposition of nolle prosequi was entered in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, on April 25, 2002.

  In Count I, plaintiff seeks damages under. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising from defendants' "intrusion . . . into the security of plaintiff's person and residence" in violation of plaintiff's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Count II asserts a false arrest claim under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments for which plaintiff seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Count III, plaintiff asserts a claim of malicious prosecution under Illinois law. In support of that claim, plaintiff states first that Daly's false statement to the grand jury that the liquid in the package had been field tested was the basis for the grand jury's charges against him, and, second, that:

  Mazurski's false sworn statement that a field test had been performed on the material discovered in the package was the. basis on which the Court issued the original search warrant, which in turn was the basis for the unlawful discovery of the material on which Bradshaw's prosecution was based. Therefore, the entire Page 4 prosecution was based on the false information provided by defendants to the prosecution.

  Plaintiff further alleges that defendants Radon and Centracchio were acting under color of federal law at all times mentioned in the amended complaint.*fn2

  DISCUSSION

  In considering a Rule I2(b)(6) motion, the court is obligated to accept all well-pleaded facts in plaintiffs amended complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Northern Trust Co. v. Peters. 69 F.3d 123, 129 (7th Cir. 1995). The consideration of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is generally restricted to the pleadings, which include the complaint, any exhibits attached thereto, and supporting briefs. Thompson v. Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002).

 
1. Count I: Unlawful Search and Seizure (against Radon, Centracchio, and the United States Postal Service)*fn3
  The federal defendants have moved to dismiss Count I on the following grounds: (1) plaintiff has not adequately alleged that Centracchio and Radon were acting under color of state law, and (2) plaintiff may not sue the United States Postal Service for damages. For the reasons stated below, the federal defendants' motion to dismiss Count I is granted with respect to Centracchio and the United States Postal Service and is denied with respect to Radon. Page 5

  There are two circumstances in which a defendant may be found to act under color of state law for purposes of § 1983: (1) when the state has cloaked the defendant in some degree of authority — normally through employment or some other agency relationship; or (2) when the defendant has conspired or acted in concert with state officials to deny constitutional rights. Case v. Milewski, 327 F.3d 564, 567 (7th Cir. 2003): Moore v. Marketplace Restaurant, Inc., 754 F.2d 1336, 1352 (7th Cir. 1985). Plaintiff acknowledges in his first amended complaint that Radon and Centracchio ...


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