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McLAUGHLIN v. CITY OF CHICAGO

May 5, 2005.

BRIDGET McLAUGHLIN individually and on behalf of her minor son STEPHEN McLAUGHLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DETECTIVE MILTON OWENS, DETECTIVE D. GILBERT, SERGEANT DENNIS P. WALSH, WATCH COMMANDER WALTER GREEN, LT. JANET ROCHE, and COMMANDER JAMES JACKSON, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' partial motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, we grant in part and deny in part the partial motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff Bridget McLaughlin ("McLaughlin") alleges in her amended complaint that on August 5, 2003, a 14 year old boy shot and killed his father in Chicago, Illinois. McLaughlin alleges that at that time she was a police officer for the Chicago Police Department and that her family was close friends with the members of the family involved in the August 5, 2003, shooting. According to McLaughlin, on the day of the shooting, police officers came to her house and asked to speak to her son Stephen ("Stephen"), who was friends with the alleged shooter. McLaughlin alleges that later that evening at approximately 8:30 p.m. she voluntarily took Stephen to the police station to give a statement. McLaughlin claims that as the witness interview progressed the police officers began to accuse her son of being involved in the shooting. McLaughlin claims that she told the officers that she wanted to leave with her son, but that the officers refused to let her go. McLaughlin also contends that during the questioning she asked to speak to a Sergeant Green ("Green"), and told him that she wanted to leave the police station. Plaintiffs claim that Green first gave her a direct order not to leave the station, apparently in his capacity as McLaughlin's supervisor. However, according to Plaintiffs after McLaughlin explained that she and her son were tired and had gone through a personal crisis, Green made a gesture towards the door and Plaintiffs understood that the gesture meant that they could leave. Plaintiffs allege that when they attempted to leave the police station, Defendant Detective Milton Owens ("Owens") stepped in between McLaughlin and her son and told McLaughlin that she would have to leave her son at the station. McLaughlin alleges that when she reached for her son's arm she was placed under arrest. McLaughlin claims that as she was arrested an officer stated that he was glad she was under arrest because the officers would be able to interrogate her son outside of her presence.

  McLaughlin claims that after the arrest she was relieved of her police powers, ordered to undergo psychological and physical testing, and was reassigned to another division. McLaughlin alleges that the police officers involved in her arrest falsified police reports and fabricated evidence to support the prosecution of the charges against McLaughlin. According to McLaughlin, the charges against her were dismissed. In McLaughlin's amended complaint, she includes a claim alleging a denial of her Fourth Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 ("Section 1983") (Count I), a Section 1983 claim alleging a denial of her First Amendment rights (Count II), a Section 1983 claim based upon a failure by other officers to intervene (Count III), a malicious prosecution claim (Count IV), a false imprisonment claim (Count V), and an intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") claim (Count VI). McLaughlin also asserts the applicability of respondeat superior (Count VII) and indemnification (Count VIII) in her complaint.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Thompson v. Illinois Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). The allegations of a complaint should not be dismissed for a failure to state a claim "unless it appears beyond 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); See also Baker v. Kingsley, 387 F.3d 649, 664 (7th Cir. 2004) (stating that although the "plaintiffs' allegations provide[d] little detail . . . [the court could not] say at [that] early stage in the litigation that plaintiffs [could] prove no set of facts in support of their claim that would entitle them to relief."). Nonetheless, in order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege the "operative facts" upon which each claim is based. Kyle v. Morton High School, 144 F.3d 448, 445-55 (7th Cir. 1998); Lucien v. Preiner, 967 F.2d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 1992). Under current notice pleading standard in federal courts a plaintiff need not "plead facts that, if true, establish each element of a `cause of action. . . .'" See Sanjuan v. American Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994) (stating that a "[a]t this stage the plaintiff receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint" and that "[m]atching facts against legal elements comes later."). The plaintiff need not allege all of the facts involved in the claim and can plead conclusions. Higgs v. Carter, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002); Kyle, 144 F.3d at 455. However, any conclusions pled must "provide the defendant with at least minimal notice of the claim," Id., and the plaintiff cannot satisfy federal pleading requirements merely "by attaching bare legal conclusions to narrated facts which fail to outline the bases of [his] claim." Perkins, 939 F.2d at 466-67. The Seventh Circuit has explained that "[o]ne pleads a `claim for relief' by briefly describing the events." Sanjuan, 40 F.3d at 251.

  DISCUSSION

  I. Fourth Amendment Unlawful Detention Claims (Count I)

  Defendants move to dismiss the Section 1983 claim that is based upon an alleged denial of Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights (Count I). Plaintiffs allege that they were both unlawfully detained without probable cause in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. (A Compl. Par. 32). Defendants only seek a dismissal of the unlawful detention claim brought by Stephen and Defendants indicate that they will not seek the disposition of the unlawful detention claim brought by McLaughlin until the summary judgment stage.

  Plaintiffs contend that Stephen was unlawfully detained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiffs acknowledge in the complaint that they went to the police station voluntarily. (A Compl. Par. 9). Plaintiffs acknowledge that they were not under arrest until Owens allegedly "insert[ed] himself between" the two Plaintiffs, stood in the doorway and stretched out his arms. (A Compl. Par. 23). Whether or not Owens' conduct constituted a detention and whether or not it violated the Fourth Amendment requires a factual inquiry beyond that which is permitted when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Defendants' arguments are thus premature. For the purposes of ruling on a motion to dismiss, such conduct alleged by Plaintiffs could constitute a violation of Stephen's Fourth Amendment rights. See Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46 (stating that a court may not dismiss a claim "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.").

  Defendants also argue that they had reason to detain Stephen because of the information that they learned from Stephen about his contact with the alleged shooter. (A. Compl. Par. 12). However, such information referred to by Defendants is beyond the scope of the complaint. The complaint states merely that the police asked Stephen about previous contact with the alleged shooter. Defendants' arguments which refer to evidence supporting their contention that Defendants had probable cause to detain Stephen, and the information that Defendants learned from Stephen during his questioning cannot be considered for the purposes of their motion to dismiss.

  The Seventh Circuit has indicated that "[p]re-trial detention of a juvenile does not violate the due process clause provided that: 1) the state does not subject a juvenile to restrictions and conditions of confinement amounting to punishment and 2) the period of detention is not excessive in relation to the state's interest in protecting both the community and the juvenile from the consequences of future criminal conduct." Bergren v. City of Milwaukee, 811 F.2d 1139, 1143 (7th Cir. 1987). In the instant action, an evaluation of the above analysis would require a factual inquiry beyond the inquiry that is permitted when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs allege that Stephen was questioned. Plaintiffs claim that they eventually decided to leave the police station because they did not like the tone of the questions and they were tired. Plaintiffs allege that they were prevented from leaving the police station without sufficient justification by Defendants. Whether or not the confinement of Stephen constituted a punishment and whether or not the ...


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