Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gaskins v. City of Rock Island

June 28, 2006

ELIZABETH L. GASKINS, PLAINTIFF PRO SE,
v.
THE CITY OF ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, OFFICER SISLER, J.M. HICKS, D.R. PERRY, D.J. DET. LEO HOOGERWERF, R.I.C.O. POLICE DEPARTMENT, TRINITY WEST MEDICAL CENTER EMPLOYEES,OFFICER RAYMOND GOOSSENS, OFFICER TODD WHITING, DR. KEITH BUTVILAS, STEPHANIE SUTTON, R.N., AND ET AL UNKNOWN NAMED LOCAL CITY AND STATE EMPLOYEES AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS INDIVIDUALLY WHILE ACTING IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITY EMPLOYED FOR CITY OF ROCK ISLAND, STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is the Rock Island Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [#16], the Trinity Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [#22], and the Trinity Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#26]. For the reasons set forth below, the Rock Island Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, the Trinity Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, and the Trinity Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

JURISDICTION

This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's § 1983 and § 1985 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

BACKGROUND

Although Plaintiff's complaint is somewhat difficult to understand, it appears that Plaintiff's claims arise from an incident at the Trinity West Medical Center in Rock Island, Illinois. The complaint alleges that on May 22, 2004, Plaintiff Elizabeth Gaskins ("Gaskins") transported her fiancé, Frank Alvarado, to Trinity West Medical Center for psychiatric treatment. Sometime after entering the facility, Gaskins became uncomfortable with her surroundings. While attempting to exit the building, Gaskins was confronted by Raymond Goossens ("Goossens"), a security guard employed by Trinity. Gaskins claims that Goossens informed her that he was a Henry County Sheriff's Deputy. An altercation ensued, during which Gaskins claims she was knocked to the floor and then forcibly restrained by Goosens and Dr. Keith Butvilas ("Butvilas"), a doctor at Trinity. Gaskins was detained until the arrival of the Rock Island Police Department. She was then placed under arrest and taken to jail. Gaskins claims she was "held without bond" for three days and not permitted to speak to a lawyer. She alleges that she was arrested because Goossens and Butvilas falsely stated to the Rock Island Police that Gaskins had attacked them.

Gaskins brings this lawsuit against two sets of defendants. The first group (the "Trinity Defendants") consists of employees of Trinity Medical Center including Goossens, Todd Whiting (security guard), Dr. Butvilas, and Stephanie Sutton (nurse). The second group (the "Rock Island Defendants") consists of individual officers of the Rock Island Police Department (Sisler, Hicks, Perry, and Hoogerwerf), the Rock Island Police Department, the City of Rock Island, and "unknown employees acting in their official capacity for the City of Rock Island."

Gaskins brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging due process violations, false arrest, equal protection violations, and state law claims of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress against both sets of Defendants. Gaskins also brings a claim against the Rock Island Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 for conspiracy to deprive her of equal protection of the laws. In addition Gaskins brings a state law claim of medical negligence against the Trinity Defendants.

DISCUSSION

A. Motions to Dismiss

In response to Gaskins's complaint, both the Trinity Defendants and Rock Island Defendants have filed separate motions pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss Gaskins's complaint for failure to state claim for which relief can be granted. Both sets of Defendants argue that Gaskins has failed to sufficiently plead her claims. Additionally, the Trinity Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on Gaskins's § 1983 claim, arguing that they are not liable under § 1983 because they are not state actors.

A complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears from the pleadings that the plaintiff could prove no set of facts in support of her claim which would entitle her to relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957); Gould v. Artisoft, Inc., 1 F.3d 544, 548 (7th Cir. 1993). Rather, a complaint should be construed broadly and liberally in conformity with the mandate in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(f).

For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff; its well-pleaded factual allegations are taken as true, and all reasonably-drawn inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69 (1984); Lanigan v. Village of East Hazel Crest, 110 F.3d 467 (7th Cir. 1997); M.C.M. Partners, Inc. v. Andrews-Bartlett & Assoc., Inc., 62 F.3d 967, 969 (7th Cir. 1995); Early v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 959 F.2d 75 (7th Cir. 1992).

This rule has particular force when considering the allegations of a pro se complaint, which are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Accordingly, pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton, Ind., 839 F.2d 375, 378 (7th Cir.1988). However, while it is often said that a claim may be dismissed only if, as a matter of law, "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations," Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989) (quotingHishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)), the Seventh Circuit has observed that this maxim "has never been taken literally." Kyle v. Morten High School, 144 F.3d 448, 455 (7th Cir.1998) (quotingSutliff, Inc. v. Donovan Companies, Inc., 727 F.2d 648, 654 (7th Cir.1984)). All plaintiffs, whether pro se or not, must include in the complaint allegations concerning all material elements necessary for recovery under the relevant legal theory. Chowla v. Klapper, 743 F.Supp. 1284, 1285 (N.D.Ill.1990).

1. Motion to Dismiss #16

The Rock Island Defendants argue that Gaskins has failed to sufficiently plead any of her claims. Specifically, they assert that Gaskins does not provide the necessary factual allegations that would support relief under § 1983 and § 1985, or under the legal standards for Defamation and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

a. Claims Arising Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Section 1983 imposes liability where a defendant acts under color of state law and the defendant's conduct violated the plaintiff's rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a cause of action under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege (1) that the defendant has deprived her of a federal right and; (2) that the defendant acted under color of state law. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). In reviewing the complaint on a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff is only required to set forth these elements in a short plain statement showing that she is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Alvarado v. Litscher, 267 F.3d 648, 651 (7th Cir. 2001).

Gaskins first asserts a Due Process violation against the Rock Island Defendants. The Rock Island Defendants were acting in their capacity as state actors and therefore the only issue is whether Gaskins has adequately pled a deprivation of a federal right. In order to establish that her Due Process rights were violated, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) that the interest lost was a protected right under the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) that the loss amounted to a deprivation of that right, and; (3) that the deprivation was without due process of law. Polenz v. Parrott, 883 F.2d 551, 555 (7th Cir. 1989).

Here, Gaskins alleges she was held in jail without bond for three days and not permitted to talk to a lawyer. With respect to her detention in the Rock Island Jail, it is not clear what conditions or terms Gaskins was held under. Without more facts, it cannot be determined what specific due process rights may have been violated. In addition, Gaskins has not specified when she asked for the presence of counsel, whom she asked, whether her request was actually denied, and who denied her request. Furthermore, Gaskins does not identify for what criminal act she was arrested and prosecuted. Given the dearth of facts, it cannot be determined at this point whether Gaskins suffered a constitutional deprivation of her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, Gaskins has 14 days to amend her complaint to include more factual allegations with respect to (1) her detention at the Rock Island jail, and; (2) the situation surrounding her request for counsel. If Gaskins fails to amend her claim to include these details, then this claim will be dismissed.

Gaskins also brings a Fourth Amendment claim against the Rock Island Defendants for false arrest. The Fourth Amendment prohibits arrests without probable cause. Jones by Jones v. Webb, 45 F.3d 178, 181 (7th Cir. 1995). A police officer has probable cause to make an arrest when the facts and circumstances within his knowledge and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient to warrant a prudent person in believing that the suspect had committed or was committing an offense. Lanigan v. Village of East Hazel Crest, 110 F.3d 467, 473 (7th Cir. 1997).

Gaskins alleges that the Trinity Defendants lied to the Rock Island Defendants by saying that Gaskins attacked them and that the Rock Island Defendants never questioned her about what happened. Accordingly, Gaskins alleges that her arrest was without probable cause. Under these facts, however, there is no lack of probable cause, and hence no constitutional violation. Probable cause exists when the police officer has reasonably trustworthy information indicating that the suspect has committed a crime. Lanigan, 110 F.3d at 473. The Rock Island Defendants took statements from the Trinity Defendants--a doctor, nurse, and two security guards--before arresting Gaskins. Even if the Trinity Defendants' statements were false, there was still probable cause absent any other facts. Gaskins does assert that the Rock Island Defendants did not question her before arresting her, but this is not a legal requirement. Again, all the officer needs is reasonably sufficient information to make the arrest. Id. Gaskins has not alleged ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.