United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
February 5, 2004.
CHARLES PATTERSON, JR., Plaintiff,
CHRIS KOERNER, ERIK SHAY, and ILLINOIS STATE POLICE, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Charles Patterson, Jr., filed suit against Defendants,
Chris Koerner, Erik Shay, and the Illinois State Police, alleging
violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Presently pending before
the Court is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
A reading of the Second Amended Complaint supports the following
summary of the alleged operative conduct of the parties.
On April 17, 2001, Koerner, a State Trooper of the Illinois State
Police, stopped Patterson for allegedly speeding on Interstate 57.
Koerner contacted Shay, a canine officer with the Illinois State Police,
to request his assistance in the traffic stop. Shay informed Koerner that
it would take him forty-five minutes to an hour to arrive at Koerner's
position. Without waiting for Shay, Koerner issued a warning citation and
released Patterson from the traffic stop.
Approximately twenty minutes later, Shay stopped Patterson's vehicle
for alleged improper lane usage on Interstate 57. Shay issued a written
warning to Patterson for improper lane usage and a citation for failure
to wear a seat belt. Koerner then arrived at the second traffic stop.
Shay sought consent from Patterson to search Patterson's vehicle.
Patterson consented to a limited search of the passenger compartment of
the vehicle. Koerner and Shay conducted a search of the trunk and engine
compartment of the vehicle, which resulted in the discovery and seizure
of drugs, a gun, and ammunition. Koerner and Shay placed Patterson under
arrest. During interrogation at the State Police headquarters, Patterson
confessed to the possession of the drugs, gun and ammunition.
On June 5, 2001, Patterson filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence in state
court. On January 4, 2002, the state court granted Patterson's Motion to
Suppress Evidence and ordered the suppression of the drugs, gun,
ammunition and Patterson's confession, finding that the evidence and
confession had been obtained as a result of the contravention of
Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Patterson was released from jail after
spending nine months in custody.
In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court reviews all facts alleged
in the complaint and any reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate
Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000) (Marshall-Mosby). A
plaintiff is not required to plead the facts or the elements of a claim,
with the exceptions found in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9. See
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002) (Swierkiewicz); Walker
v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1007 (7th Cir. 2002). A filing under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure need not contain all the facts that will be
necessary to prevail. It should be "short and plain", and it suffices if
it notifies the defendant of the principal events. See Hoskins v.
Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761, 764 (7th Cir. 2003). Dismissal is warranted only
if "it appears beyond a 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 (1957). The simplified notice pleading
upon liberal discovery and summary judgment motions to define disputed
issues and facts and to dispose of unmeritorious claims. See
Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 513.
In Count I, Patterson alleges that the Defendants, in their official
capacities as Illinois State Police Troopers, violated his Fourth
Amendment rights by illegally stopping him without having specific and
articulable facts sufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that
Patterson committed a traffic violation. Patterson requests that this
Court enjoin the Illinois State Police from continuing the policies,
customs, and practices which enabled the deprivation of Patterson's
constitutional rights. In Count II, Patterson alleges that Shay and
Koerner, in their personal capacities, violated his Fourth Amendment
rights by searching his vehicle without a lawful basis. Patterson
requests that this Court award compensatory damages against Shay and
Koerner. In Count III, Patterson alleges that Defendants, in both their
official and personal capacities, violated his Fourth Amendment rights by
confining him without a lawful basis. Patterson requests that this Court
enjoin the Illinois State Police from continuing the policies, customs,
and practices which resulted in the deprivation of Patterson's
constitutional rights and that this Court award compensatory damages
against Defendants Shay and Koerner. In Count IV, Patterson alleges that
Defendants, in both their personal and official capacities, conspired to
violate his Fourth Amendment rights by initiating the traffic stop
without a legal basis. Patterson requests that this Court enjoin the
Illinois State Police from continuing the policies, customs, and
practices which resulted in the deprivation of his constitutional rights
and that this court award compensatory damages against Defendants Koerner
First, the Defendants argue that the Illinois State Police is immune
from suit and that the Eleventh Amendment bars official capacity claims
against the individual Defendants.
Generally, the Eleventh Amendment's sovereign immunity clause bars a
suit in federal court against a state or its agencies unless the state
consents to suit in federal court or Congress uses its powers under the
Fourteenth Amendment to abrogate the state's immunity. Pennhurst v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Section 1983 does not override a
state's Eleventh Amendment immunity, and a state is not a person within
the meaning of Section 1983. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S.332, 350 (1979);
Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 64 (1988).
In addition, a suit against a state official in his or her official
capacity is not a suit against the official; but, rather, it is deemed a
suit against the official's office and, thus, is no different from a suit
against the State itself. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985)
(Graham). However, suits against a state official are sometimes
permissible. Official capacity actions for prospective relief are not
treated as actions against the state; and, therefore, an action against a
state official in his official capacity, when sued for injunctive
relief, is allowed. Graham, 473 U.S. at 167 n.14. Finally, a suit against
a state official in his personal capacity is not barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. Graham, 473 U.S. at 165-67.
In the instant case, Plaintiff alleges claims against Defendants
Koerner and Shay in both their official capacities and their individual
capacities. Further, Plaintiff, in Counts I, III, and IV, seeks
injunctive relief against Shay and Koerner in their official capacity
and, in Counts II, III, and IV, compensatory and punitive damages against
the Defendants in their individual capacity. Accordingly, Plaintiff has
sufficiently pled causes of action against Shay and Koerner in their
official capacity; and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the official capacity
claims against the individual Defendants pursuant to the Eleventh
Amendment is denied.
However, the Illinois State Police are barred from suit pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment. Accordingly, Counts I, III, and IV are dismissed as
to the Illinois State Police.
Alternatively, Defendants argue Plaintiffs pleas for injunctive relief
must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because Plaintiff failed to
demonstrate that he is likely to suffer future injury from the alleged
A plaintiff must show that he "has sustained or is immediately in
danger of sustaining some direct injury." City of Los Angeles v. Lyon,
461 U.S. 95, 101 (1982) (Lyon). The injury or threat of injury must be
both "real and immediate", not merely "conjectural" or hypothetical".
Lyons, 461 U.S. at 101. Past encounters are not generally sufficient by
themselves to show a likelihood of reoccurrence. Lyons, 461 U.S. at
102-03. A plaintiff must demonstrate a "personal stake in the outcome in
order to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation
of issues necessary for the proper resolution of constitutional
questions" exists. Lyons, 461 U.S. at 101.
In Lyons, the plaintiff sought to enjoin the City of Los Angeles from
using a choke hold against suspects. Lyons, 461U. S. at 98. The Court
held that in order for Lyons to establish an actual controversy, he would
have had to allege not only that he would have another encounter with the
police but also that either all police officers in Los Angeles always
employ a choke hold or that the City ordered or authorized the police
officers to act in such a matter. Lyons, 461 U.S. at 106. The court held
that Lyons failed to show that he is realistically threatened by a
repetition of the events alleged in his complaint; and, therefore, he did
not meet the requirements for seeking an injunction in a federal court.
Lyons, 461 U.S. at 109. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals and held
that the trial court properly dismissed the claim for failure to allege a
case or controversy. Lyons, 461 U.S. at 110.
In the instant case, Patterson, an Arkansas resident, did not allege
that he anticipates travel in Illinois in the near future. It is not
until the Plaintiffs Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss that the Plaintiff alleges that he frequently travels through
Illinois on his way to visit relatives in Wisconsin. Plaintiff failed to
plead that he is in immediate danger of sustaining some direct injury.
Accordingly, Counts I, III, and IV requesting this Court to enjoin the
Illinois State Police from continuing policies, customs, and practices
are dismissed without prejudice. Furthermore, Plaintiffs official
capacity claims against Shay and Koerner seeking injunctive relief must
fail for the same reason. Accordingly, Plaintiffs official capacity
claims against Shay and Koerner are dismissed without prejudice.
Contrary to Defendants' argument, Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint
sufficiently pleads notice of unlawful confinement and is not barred by
the statute of limitations. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21
(1972) (pro se plaintiffs are held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers).
However, for the reason stated above, the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
is granted in part and denied in part. The Illinois State Police are
dismissed with prejudice from Counts I, III, and IV pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment. The official capacity claims of Counts I, III, and IV
against Koerner and Shay are dismissed without prejudice for lack of
jurisdiction. Plaintiff is given leave to file an amended complaint, if
any, consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, within fourteen
days of this Order.
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