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Harrison v. City of Chicago

December 22, 2005

DANIEL J. HARRISON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, ROBERT FLYNN, EDWARD LERACZ, AND UNKNOWN OFFICERS AND AGENTS OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Daniel J. Harrison ("Harrison") filed a three-count complaint against defendants the City of Chicago ("Chicago" or the "City"), the City of Chicago Police Department ("CPD"), Robert Flynn ("Flynn"), Edward Leracz ("Leracz") and unknown officers and agents of the CPD. Defendants Flynn and Leracz have moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order dismissing all of plaintiff's claims against them. Defendants CPD and Chicago have moved to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims against CPD and most of plaintiff's claims against Chicago. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part defendants' motions.

I. Background

For purposes of these motions to dismiss, the Court takes as true the allegations in the complaint. The relevant alleged facts are as follows.

From October 27, 2003 until January 27, 2004, plaintiff Harrison was employed by the Chicago Police Department as a probationary police officer. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants terminated his employment due to his race and national origin.

Plaintiff also alleges that defendants terminated his employment because he allegedly provided false information on his employment application. Although the complaint does not state what information was allegedly falsified or how defendants learned it was falsified, the complaint suggests that the information on which the defendants based their decision to terminate plaintiff's employment was unlawfully obtained, perhaps via a unit of the Chicago Police Department. Plaintiff alleges that the CPD operates a special unit called the Chicago Anti-Gun Enforcement (C.A.G.E.) unit. The C.A.G.E. unit is alleged to be responsible for coordinating with state and federal agencies to enforce gun control legislation. Plaintiff alleges that the C.A.G.E. unit routinely obtained information from the Illinois State Police's Firearms Transfer Inquiry Program ("F-TIP"). The F-TIP system allows firearms dealers to determine whether would-be gun purchasers can lawfully obtain a firearm. According to the complaint, the F-TIP system could be used lawfully only by retail firearms sellers who needed to use the system to conduct "instant checks" before transferring a firearm.

Based on these allegations, the plaintiff brings three claims. In Count I, plaintiff asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleges that the defendants conspired to obtain his confidential information and terminate his employment in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In Count II, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by harassing him and terminating his employment on the basis of his race and/or national origin. In Count III, plaintiff asserts that defendants invaded his privacy.

Defendant the Chicago Police Department moves to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims against it. The City of Chicago moves to dismiss Counts I and III against it and to strike from Count II plaintiff's demand for punitive damages. The individual named defendants, Leracz and Flynn, move to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims against them.

II. Standard on a Motion to Dismiss

The Court may dismiss claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where the plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. McCullah v. Gadert, 344 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2003). On a motion to dismiss, the "issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Cole v. U.S. Capital, Inc., 389 F.3d 719, 724 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

A claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a municipality is not subject to more stringent pleading requirements under Rules 8 and 9 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure than are other claims in federal court. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics Intell. & Coord. Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168-169 (1993). A plaintiff "need not plead facts; he can plead conclusions." Jackson v. Marion Cty., 66 F.3d 151, 153 (7th Cir. 1995); see also McCormick v. City of Chi., 230 F.3d 319, 324 (7th Cir. 2000) ("The smattering of phrases like 'highest policymaking officers' and 'widespread custom' throughout [plaintiff's] complaint is a common practice designed to ensure that the complaint will withstand scrutiny under liberal notice pleading. Some would assert that the inclusion of this language should be 'enough.' Others suggest that more is needed; that the facts included in the complaint must lead to the legal conclusions drawn. We believe that it is the former view, and not the latter, that Leatherman and its progeny support.").

III. Discussion

A. Chicago Police ...


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