United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
May 12, 2005.
FLOYD WILSON, ROSA LOPEZ, STANLEY WILSON, MARIA ZENDEJAS, individually and on behalf of their minor child, JACQUELINE WILSON, and MARIA ZENDEJAS, as mother of her minor child, JUAN ZENDEJAS, Plaintiffs,
WILLIAM PESLAK, JOSEPH DEKIEL, SGT. JAMES DISANTIS, and TOWN OF CICERO, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Floyd Wilson, Rosa Lopez, Stanley Wilson, Maria
Zendejas, Jacqueline Wilson and Juan Zendejas have sued defendant
police officers, William Peslak, Joseph Dekiel, and James
Disantis and the Town of Cicero under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section
1983") for violating their Fourth Amendment rights to be free
from illegal search and seizure. Floyd and Stanley Wilson also
sue under state law for malicious prosecution. This case is
before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss*fn1 for
misjoinder, or in the alternative, to sever the lawsuit as to
plaintiffs Stanley Wilson, Maria Zendejas, Jacqueline Wilson and
Juan Zendejas and create a separate and distinct action under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 21. For the reasons
provided in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court denies
defendants' motions. FACTS
On August 10, 2003, Floyd Wilson ("Floyd") and Rosa Lopez drove
home near the 5100 block of West 29th Place in Cicero, Illinois.
(Compl. ¶ 5.) Officers Peslak and Dekiel stopped them allegedly
under the false pretense that Floyd and another passenger,
Wilfredo Rivera, threw beer cans out of the car window. (Id. ¶
6.) Peslak and Dekiel arrested Floyd and Rosa without
justification, and then Peslak allegedly broke the key to their
car in the car's ignition, removed wires from the engine, and
scratched the vehicle. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 13.)
During this incident, Floyd's brother, Stanley Wilson
("Stanley"), came out of his nearby residence to ask Officer
Peslak why Floyd and Rosa were being detained. (Id. ¶ 8.) When
Floyd took his hands off the vehicle to see what was happening
with Officer Peslak and Stanley, Officer Dekiel grabbed Floyd's
hair and slammed his face into the car and broke his nose. (Id.
Officer Peslak then entered the home of Stanley, Maria
Zendejas, Jacqueline Wilson, and Juan Zendejas. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Officer Peslak allegedly choked Stanley and forcefully squeezed
and bruised the arm of Maria Zendejas. (Id. ¶ 14.) Officers
Peslak and Dekiel arrested Stanley and charged him with assault
and obstructing and resisting arrest, which are misdemeanors.
(Id. ¶ 11.) While no charges were brought against Rosa Lopez,
Officers Peslak and Dekiel and Sergeant Disantis arrested her and
detained her at Cicero Police Department. (Id. ¶ 10.)
While at the police station, plaintiffs allege that Peslak,
Dekiel and Disantis beat Floyd about the head and body. (Id. ¶
15.) They allege that Disantis hit Floyd on the top of his head
with the butt of a gun, which required him to receive treatment
at a hospital that included five staples to the top of his head.
Floyd and Stanley were prosecuted. (Id. ¶ 18.) They allege
all defendants conspired to create false police reports and
testify falsely with regard to the prosecution. (Id.) DISCUSSION
Defendants contend that joinder of Floyd and Rosa ("Floyd
Plaintiffs") and Stanley, Maria Zendejas, Jacqueline Wilson, and
Juan Zendejas ("Stanley Plaintiffs") is improper and ask this
Court to dismiss this case, or alternatively, to sever the
lawsuit. Rule 21 states that "[misjoinder] of parties is not a
ground for dismissal of an action." FED. R. CIV. P. 21.
Consequently, defendants' motion to dismiss on this ground is
However, Rule 21 authorizes the court to sever any misjoined
party or claim at any stage of a lawsuit. Hawkins v. Groot
Indus., Inc., 210 F.R.D. 226, 229 (N.D.Ill. 2002). The district
court has wide discretion concerning the joinder of parties.
Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 632 (7th Cir. 2001);
Intercon Research Assocs. v. Dresser Indus., Inc., 696 F.2d 53,
56 (7th Cir. 1982). Because Rule 21 does not include standards
for proper joinder, courts use the permissive joinder standards
contained in Rule 20(a). Bailey v. N. Trust Co.,
196 F.R.D. 513, 515 (N.D. Ill. 2000); Hawkins, 210 F.R.D. at 229-30.
With respect to Rule 20(a), the Supreme Court has held that
"joinder of claims, parties and remedies is strongly encouraged."
United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724 (1966).
The Seventh Circuit has noted that the purpose of a liberal Rule
20(a) joinder requirement "is to enable economies in litigation."
Elmore v. Henderson, 227 F.3d 1009, 1012 (7th Cir. 2000); see
Bailey, 196 F.R.D. at 515 (stating purpose of Rule 20 is "to
promote trial convenience and expedite the final determination of
disputes, thereby preventing multiple lawsuits").
Rule 20(a) allows permissive joinder of plaintiffs if: (1) they
assert claims "arising out of the same transaction, occurrence,
or series of transactions or occurrences"; and (2) "if any
question of law or fact common to all those persons will arise in
the action." FED. R. CIV. P. 20(a); see Intercon,
696 F.2d at 57; Hawkins, 210 F.R.D. at 230; Ahern v. Bd. of Educ. of
Chi., 92 C 4074, 1992 WL 297414, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 9, 1992).
With regard to the first requirement, courts generally take a case-by-case approach in ascertaining whether a
particular factual situation constitutes a single transaction or
occurrence for purposes of Rule 20. Bailey, 196 F.R.D. at 515;
see Mosley v. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1333 (8th Cir.
1974). Factors to consider include whether the alleged conduct
occurred during the same general time period, involved the same
people and similar conduct, and implicated a "system of
decision-making" or "widely-held policy of discrimination."
Hawkins, 210 F.R.D. at 230; see Bailey, 196 F.R.D. at 516;
Byers v. Ill. State Police, 99 C 8105, 2000 WL 1808558, at *3
(N.D. Ill. Dec. 6, 2000).
In this case, all of plaintiffs' claims arise out of the same
transaction or series of transactions. Defendants contend that
the Floyd Plaintiffs' and Stanley Plaintiffs' claims are in no
way logically connected. This argument is untenable. The sole
reason why the Stanley Plaintiffs ever came in contact with
defendants is because Stanley Wilson reacted to the Floyd
Plaintiffs' detention. This encounter triggered a series of
transactions, including the breaking of Floyd Wilson's nose, the
officer's entrance into the Stanley Plaintiffs' home, and the
prosecution of Floyd and Stanley Wilson, which form the bases of
the plaintiffs' multiple causes of action. The conduct alleged in
the Second Amended Complaint occurred during the same narrow time
period, involved the same defendants, and implicated an alleged
general policy of police misconduct, which are all factors that
Moreover, there are issues of law and fact common to all
plaintiffs in this case, although Rule 20 only requires common
issues of either law or fact for proper joinder. See
Intercon, 696 F.2d at 57. First, plaintiffs will present the
same facts concerning both their and the officer defendants'
interrelated conduct that occurred during the same short period
of time both inside and outside the Stanley Plaintiffs' residence
to support their claims. Second, plaintiffs' causes of action
also share common questions of law. All plaintiffs have sued the
Town of Cicero under section 1983. In Monell v. Department of
Social Services of City of New York, the Supreme Court held that a municipality may be sued directly under section 1983
when the alleged constitutional violations stemmed from a "policy
statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted
and promulgated by that body's officers." 436 U.S. 658, 690
(1978). Here, all plaintiffs make a Monell claim against the
Town of Cicero for illegal search and seizure.
In addition, the Floyd Plaintiffs and Stanley Plaintiffs'
claims share other common issues of law. Floyd and Stanley both
allege the officer defendants maliciously prosecuted them. Floyd,
Stanley and Rosa Lopez claim the officers falsely arrested them.
Further, Floyd, Stanley and Maria Zendejas allege the defendant
officers subjected them to excessive force. Finally, all
plaintiffs claim the officers conducted an illegal search and
seizure. The Court holds that this case presents sufficient
commonality of law or fact for proper joinder under Rule 20.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies Defendants Peslak,
Dekiel, and Disantis' motion to dismiss [doc. 38-1] and motion to
sever [doc. no. 38-2].