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Williams v. City of Chicago Police Officer Baeza

September 13, 2006

LAWANDA WILLIAMS, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF SHANNON BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER BAEZA, OFFICER JONES, OFFICER DAILY, OFFICER YOUNG, OFFICER PIETRO, OFFICER STASCH, OFFICER HEGER, OFFICER LONG, OFFICER O'DONNELL, UNKNOWN CITY OF CHICAGO POLICE OFFICERS AND THE CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The following matter is before the Court on the motion of Defendants, City of Chicago Police Officers Baeza, Jones, Pietro, Stasch, Heger, Long, O'Donnell, and Unknown City of Chicago Police Officers, as well as the City of Chicago (collectively referred to as "the Defendants") to dismiss Counts IV-VI, VII-XV, XXV, XXVII, XXIX, XXXVII, XL, VII, and LV of Plaintiff, Lawanda Williams' ("Williams"), First Amended Complaint, as well as the punitive damages request of Counts IV-VI, XXVIXXVIII, XXXVIII-XLVI and LXVI, and state law attorney's fees request of Counts XXVII, XXXVIII-XLVI, LVI-LXIV. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The relevant facts are gleaned from the allegations set forth in Williams' First Amended Complaint, which, for present purposes, we are obligated to accept as true.

On March 21, 2005, Shannon Brown ("Brown") was lawfully at an apartment located at 927 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, Illinois. Officers Baeza, Jones, and Daily arrived at and entered the apartment building. The Officers subsequently approached Brown and, although allegedly unprovoked, pepper sprayed and beat him. The Officers subsequently became aware that Brown swallowed a plastic bag containing narcotics. However, the Officers did not transport him to a medical facility for treatment. Instead, the Officers, along with Officer Young, transported Brown to the Town Hill Station lock-up. Thereafter, Brown became ill and was transported to Thorek Hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced dead on arrival. On April 13, 2005, the Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County ruled that Brown died from cocaine intoxication which resulted from the breaking of the plastic bag that contained narcotics in Brown's stomach.

On March 7, 2006, Williams filed suit against the Officers and the City of Chicago in her capacity as administrator of Brown's estate, and on March 20, 2006, she filed a sixty-six count First Amended Complaint. On August 4, 2006, the Police Officers filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. Subsequently, on August 22, 2006, Williams in her response motioned the Court to grant her leave to file a second amended complaint.

LEGAL STANDARDS

The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Triad Assocs., Inc. v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir.1989). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true. Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir.1993).

The allegations of a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim "unless it appears beyond a 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, 78 S.Ct. 99 (1957). Further, in order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege facts sufficiently setting forth the essential elements of the cause of action. Lucien v. Preiner, 967 F.2d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir.1992). With these principles in mind, we turn to the instant motion.

DISCUSSION

As an initial matter, it must be noted that Williams failed to respond to the Police Officers' Motion as it pertains to Williams' Negligence, Assault and Battery, Punitive Damages, or State Law Attorneys' Fees arguments. Although Williams does briefly request that she be granted leave to amend her First Amended Complaint, the present Motion is not the appropriate forum for her to make such a request. Therefore, our consideration of the Police Officers' Motion will be confined to the substantive arguments made by the parties and the allegations set forth in the complaint.

1. Williams' Negligence Claims

In Counts XXV, XXVII, XXIX through XXVII, and XLVII through LV, Williams alleges that each of the Defendants' negligent conduct caused Brown's death. Pursuant to the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act ("Tort Immunity Act"), a public employee "is not liable for his act or omission in the execution or enforcement of any law unless such act or omission constitutes willful and wanton conduct." 745 ILCS 10/2-202. Willful and wanton conduct constitutes an aggravated form of negligence and is defined as "a course of action which shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property." 745 ILCS 10/1-210.

Williams' First Amended Complaint clearly alleges that the Defendants acted negligently and without the due care and diligence which a prudent and reasonable individual would have displayed under the circumstances. However, after reviewing the disputed negligence counts in Williams' First Amended Complaint, it is clear the Williams only alleges mere negligence on the part of Defendants and fails to allege the necessary willful and wanton conduct in those Counts. Without such, Williams' Negligence Claims fail. ...


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