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Dabbs v. Tazewell County

March 20, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge


Before the Court are Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint [Doc. # 95]; Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. # 94]; Camelot Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Doc. # 101]; Defendant Tazewell County's Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Strike [Doc. # 106]; Motion to Dismiss by Defendants' Flannigan, Stewart, Seward, Showalter and Reeves [Doc. # 109]; the Guardian Ad Litem's Report to the Court [Doc. # 125]; Plaintiffs N.D.'s and Z.D.'s Motion to Dismiss [Doc. # 122]; and Motion to Dismiss on Behalf of Kati Dabbs, Plaintiff [Doc. # 130].


The following allegations are taken from the Amended Complaint. On February 17, 2003, an altercation occurred between Plaintiffs Kati and Gregory Dabbs. After this altercation, "Kati Dabbs was held against her will at the Washington, Illinois police department by Officer Steven Parkhurst for 5 1/2 hours and she was forced to write a statement for Parkhurst before he would allow her to leave her detainment." Parkhurst then called the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) "hotline" with allegations of abuse and neglect. "[T]he 'hotline' report was 'indicated' and signed off on by [Defendant DCFS Social Worker Supervisor] Christina Showalter or the DCFS Pekin Field Office."

The next day, Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umhotz caused to be filed a "Shelter Care Petition" regarding Plaintiff N.D. This petition, which was written by Defendant DCFS Social Worker Richard Stewart, alleged that Gregory and Kati had a "physical fight," that during that fight Gregory was "highly intoxicated," and that N.D. was an abused or neglected minor. The petition was "rife with allegations, innuendo, and allusions but nothing in it shows evidence of any abuse nor neglect of N.D." N.D. was taken into protective custody on February 18, 2003.

Before taking N.D. into protective custody, Stewart or Showalter never checked into Parkhurst's allegations or contacted Gregory or Kati Dabbs. At the February 18th shelter care hearing, Plaintiffs Gregory, Kati and N.D., were not represented by counsel. Further, it is "a blanket policy or custom" in Tazewell County that "minors automatically go into 'shelter care' . . . with the parents unrepresented."

An "Answer" hearing was held on March 7, 2003, at which time Kati and Gregory learned that N.D. had been placed with Defendant DCFS Social Worker Nancy Reeves by Camelot Community Care, Inc., ("Camelot"). The case was continued until March 17, 2003 without resolution. In the meantime, Gregory Dabbs was charged with misdemeanor criminal charges "based upon Parkhurst's lies and allegations." State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz and his employees repeatedly used the shelter care case to accomplish things they could not legally do in Gregory Dabb's misdemeanor case. For example, Assistant States Attorney Anna Peters would elicited testimony from N.D. in the shelter care case and then she transcribed the testimony and introduced it in Gregory Dabb's misdemeanor case.

Between February 2003 and July 2003, "Peters repeatedly pressured Mr. Dabbs to cop a plea bargain and pressured Mrs. Dabbs to change her story regarding Parkhurst locking her up for 5 1/2 hours and forcing her to write a statement in order to leave." Further, the shelter care "adjudication hearing" was repeatedly continued; a "service plan" was not filed with the state court "for almost half a year"; when the service plan was filed it was not signed and the court did not review it; and the shelter care "dispositional hearing" was not held until more than 30 days after the adjudication hearing.

On July 31, 2003, Peters told Mr. Dabbs if he stipulated to the shelter care petition N.D. would immediately be returned home. This never happened. Instead, Peters attempted to incorporate the "fraudulent stipulation" into Gregory's misdemeanor case. Also, in an attempt to pressure Kati Dabbs to testify "as they wanted [her] to testify," employees of Defendant Tazewell County told Defendant Shelly Huseman to file false "State Central Register" reports on December 3, 2003 and February 9, 2004. In these reports, Huseman lied to the "call taker" by telling them that Kati had a service plan for abuse and neglect. DCFS Defendants Patrick Flannigan, Jennifer Seward, and Christina Showalter "also participated in filing these false State Central Register reports containing false allegations and innuendo in order to pressure the Plaintiffs to 'cop a plea bargain'." On December 18, 2003, an emergency hearing was held in the shelter care case at which Gregory Dabb's visitation with Nicholas was stopped for almost six months.

The Amended Complaint alleges that after February 2004, Defendants conspired to delay the resolution of the shelter care case by (1) not filing the service plan on time; (2) intentionally not providing services; (3) abusing N.D.'s visitation time by discussing the shelter care case, telling N.D. what he could or could not discuss with his parents, and never increasing the time to promote family unity; and (4) creating new and unnecessary services.

The Amended Complaint also alleges that Defendants conspired to keep the shelter case open and to pressure Mr. Dabbs into pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges. For example, the Amended Complaint alleges that on one occasion visitation was used to "manufacture" another charge against Mr. Dabbs for "feeding N.D. ice cream." Also, in August 2004, Defendant Camelot Social Worker Carla Warnke-Kuntz accused Gregory Dabbs in open court of "attempted murder, child torture and kidnaping." In December 2004, Defendant Nancy Reeves and "Camelot" accused Gregory Dabbs of burning cats with gasoline, child molestation, and "various other things."

Plaintiffs claim their constitutional rights were violated when Defendants (1) unjustifiably used "illegal and unconstitutional means" to remove the minor Plaintiffs from their parents (Count I), (2) conspired to "illegally detain" and "artificially" keep the minor Plaintiffs out of their parents custody (Count II); (3) conspired to "string their contracts through various means" to procure Federal Government funding (Count III); (4) conspired to "abuse" Plaintiffs Kati Dabbs and Z.D. by filing false State Central Registry reports (Count IV); (5) conspired to "illegally detain or take" N.D. and Z.D. from their parents (Count V); (6) violated federal and state law by deliberately delaying the shelter care proceedings (Count VI); (7) abused Plaintiffs' civil rights and abused process by prosecuting the shelter care petition and misdemeanor case with an ulterior purpose (Count VII); (8) delayed services and created new services in the shelter care case (Count VIII); (9) withheld visitation with N.D. when Gregory Dabbs refused to plead guilty to the misdemeanor case (Count IX); and (10) failed to meet deadlines prescribed by state law in the shelter care case, and repeatedly slandered, libeled, and defamed Plaintiffs in the shelter care case (Count X). Plaintiffs further claim that (1) Defendants' employers are liable on a respondeat superior basis (Count XI); (2) that the individual Defendants have no immunity under state law (Count XII); and (3) that Defendants' employers have a duty to indemnify the individual Defendants that were acting within the scope of their employment. Plaintiffs claim all of these violations where undertaken pursuant to Defendant Tazewell County's "policy and practice," by Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office employees and the various social worker Defendants "in their official and individual capacities." Plaintiffs have also filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction seeking an order forbidding contact between Plaintiffs and Defendants.


When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must view the Complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff and the Complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations must be accepted as true. Williams v. Ramos, 71 F.3d 1246, 1250 (7th Cir. 1995). Therefore, a complaint can only be dismissed if a plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts upon which relief can be granted. Travel All Over the World, Inc. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 73 F.3d 1423, 1429-30 (7th Cir. 1996). However, the ...

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