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Hargarten v. Sheahan

October 27, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer Sheriff


After being stopped by a Chicago police officer for traffic offenses on November 6, 2003, Plaintiff Allan Hargarten spent eight days in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC") on an outstanding DuPage County warrant that the police officer discovered during the course of the traffic stop. Plaintiff alleges he would have been able to post bond immediately after his arrest, were it not for the willful refusal of Chicago Police and Cook County Jail officers to verify the amount of the bond set for his release. The court dismissed Plaintiff's first two complaints with leave to amend. (See 3/30/06 Order; 12/21/05 Order.) In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants Michael Sheahan, Sheriff of Cook County, and Scott Kurtovich, Executive Director of the CCDOC in their official capacities,*fn1 and other unknown deputies, employees, and agents of the Cook County Sheriff's Department. Plaintiff joins the County of Cook as an indemnitor to the Cook County Defendants on all claims. In addition, Plaintiff has sued the Chicago Police Department and the City of Chicago, as well as three Chicago police officers-Jim Gianella, Robert Spiegel, and Kenneth Josephs---and other unknown police officers and agents of the Chicago Police Department in their official and individual capacities.

Plaintiff alleges, under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and1985(2), that all of the individual Defendants violated his rights by intentionally misrepresenting the amount of Plaintiff's bond under the DuPage County warrant and refusing to allow Plaintiff to post bond (Count I), and by failing promptly to notify DuPage County that Plaintiff was in custody pursuant to the DuPage County warrant (Count II). Plaintiff further sues all Defendants for illegal imprisonment under Illinois state law (Count III), and brings an additional claim under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(2) against "municipalities and their Departments," alleging a municipal policy and custom of ignoring requests to confirm bond amounts and failing to investigate and confirm bond amounts and the validity of warrants (Count IV).

Defendants Sheahan, Kurtovich, and Cook County now move to dismiss Counts I, II, and IV for failure to sufficiently allege a § 1983 claim against Defendants in their official capacities. Defendants also move to dismiss Count III for illegal imprisonment as untimely under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (the "Tort Immunity Act").*fn2 For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part. The court also dismisses, sua sponte, all of Plaintiff's § 1985(2) claims without prejudice.


On January 2, 1996, a police officer arrested Plaintiff in DuPage County for driving on a suspended license and "improper use of registration." (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff pleaded guilty to both charges in DuPage County Court. The court sentenced him to court supervision and assessed fines of $230. (Id. ¶ 38.) Plaintiff did not pay these fines, nor did he report to court for a scheduled status hearing. (Id. ¶ 39.) As a result, the DuPage County Court issued a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest with an applicable bail of $3000/10%. (Id.) In other words, if Plaintiff were arrested under this warrant, he would be required to post $300 cash to secure his freedom. (Id.)*fn3

More than seven years later, on November 6, 2003, Defendant Chicago Police Officer Jim Giannella pulled Plaintiff over in Cook County for failure to stop at a stop sign. (Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiff was charged with failure to stop, driving without proof of insurance, and driving on a suspended license. (Id. ¶ 43.) Gianella arrested Plaintiff on the outstanding DuPage County warrant, informing Plaintiff that he would have to post $3,000 in cash pursuant to that warrant in order to secure his release. (Id. ¶¶ 44-45, 47.)*fn4 In fact, the warrant called for release on payment of cash in the amount of just $300 (10% of the $3,000 bond); no outstanding warrant would have required Plaintiff to pay $3,000 bond for his release. (Id. ¶ 66.)

Plaintiff advised Giannella that the $3,000 bond amount was incorrect and asked him to confirm the amount, but Giannella refused to do so. (Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff was subsequently booked by Defendant Chicago Police Officer Kenneth Josephs and searched by Defendant Officer Robert Spiegel. (Id. ¶¶ 47-48.) Plaintiff told both Josephs and Spiegel that the bond amount of the DuPage County warrant was incorrect and requested that they confirm the amount, but Josephs and Spiegel refused to do so. (Id.)

On November 7, 2003, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the November 6, 2003 traffic violations before Judge Kevin Sheehan of the Cook County Criminal Court, who sentenced him to "time served." (Id. ¶¶ 49, 54.) While in court on November 7, 2003, Plaintiff advised the court and the courtroom deputy that the amount of the bond was incorrect, but the deputy took no action to investigate the matter. (Id. ¶¶ 51-52.) Judge Sheehan remanded Plaintiff to the custody of Defendant Sheahan, the Cook County Sheriff, pursuant to the DuPage County warrant. (Id. ¶ 54.) Plaintiff remained in CCDOC custody until he was transported to the DuPage County Jail on November 12, 2003. (Id. ¶ 56.) Throughout his time in custody, Plaintiff advised employees at the CCDOC that the amount of the bond was incorrect and requested that they confirm the amount, but the employees refused or ignored Plaintiff's requests. (Id. ¶¶ 55, 57-58.) Plaintiff had the means to post $300 to secure his freedom at any time during his custody. (Id. ¶ 61.) No one notified DuPage County that Plaintiff was in the custody of the CCDOC on the DuPage County warrant until November 12, 2003. (Id. ¶¶ 64-65.) Although the Complaint is not explicit, the court infers that Plaintiff was released on or about that date.


Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to give the defendant "fair notice of what the suit is about and the grounds on which it rests." Mosely v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 434 F.3d 527, 533 (7th Cir. 2006). When considering a motion to dismiss, this court accepts all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. McMillan v. Collection Prof'ls Inc., 455 F. 3d 754, 758 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). Dismissal is proper only if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Lee v. City of Chicago, 330 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and citation omitted).

A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claims

Defendants argue that Counts I, II, and IV must be dismissed because "Plaintiff fails to allege cognizable individual capacity or official capacity claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against defendants Sheahan and Kurtovich." (Defs.' Mot. at 1.) As the court has explained, Plaintiff has confirmed that he does not bring this suit against Sheahan and Kurtovich in their individual capacities. (See supra n. 1.) For the reasons explained here, the court concludes that Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against Sheahan and Kurtovich in their official capacities survive this motion.

Where, as here, an officer is sued in his official capacity, the suit is treated as one against the government entity for which the officer works. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165--66 (1985) (citations omitted). As a result, Plaintiff's action is treated as one against Cook County for the purpose of Defendants' motion to dismiss. To prevail on his official capacity claim under § 1983 against agents of Cook County, Plaintiff must show that his constitutional injury resulted from the execution of the County's policies or customs. Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs. of the City of New York, 436 ...

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