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Dill v. Village of Cahokia

February 27, 2007

FRANK DILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF CAHOKIA, SEAN ADAMS AND LARRY FLINN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS POLICE OFFICERS FOR THE VILLAGE OF CAHOKIA, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, this case comes before the Court on Defendant's, Village of Cahokia's ("Village"), motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the motion.

I. Introduction

In December, 2004, Police Officer Sean Adams ("Adams") arrested Frank Dill for Domestic Battery. Dill alleges that Adams physically assaulted him and repeatedly beat and tased him about his face, head and body. Dill claims that when Police Sergeant Larry Flinn ("Flinn") arrived, he, too, beat and tased Dill about his face, head and body. Dill alleges that Adams' and Flinn's actions were taken under color of state law and violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As to the Village, Dill asserts that it, knowingly and recklessly, failed to take adequate precautions to prevent physical abuse by its police officers, in that it, inter alia, failed adequately to screen or train its officers and failed to supervise, control and discipline them. The Village's motion is fully briefed, and analysis begins with the standard governing dismissal motions.

II. Applicable Legal Standard

Cahokia moves for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs dismissal for failure to state a claim. In assessing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must take as true all factual allegations and construe in plaintiff's favor all reasonable inferences. Massey v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 464 F.3d 642, 656 (7th Cir. 2006); Albany Bank & Trust Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 310 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2002).

A complaint should be dismissed only "if there is no set of facts, even hypothesized, that could entitle a plaintiff to relief." Massey, 464 F.3d at 656. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit explained:

"We construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, taking as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from those allegations in his or her favor." Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005).... 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.'" Id.

McCready v. EBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 887 (7th Cir. 2006).

Indeed, the law of this Circuit recognizes that, generally, "a party need not plead much to survive a motion to dismiss" - not specific facts, not legal theories, and not anything in anticipation of a possible defense. Massey, 464 F.3d at 650 (citing Xechem, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 372 F.3d 899, 901-02 (7th Cir. 2004)).The gist of this Court's inquiry is "whether the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of what the suit is about and the grounds on which it rests." Mosely v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, 434 F.3d 527, 533 (7th Cir. 2006).See also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 (2002) (complaints need not allege facts; they need only present a claim for relief).

III. Analysis

Stated simply, a § 1983 claim requires the plaintiff to allege that a state actor deprived him of a federally-secured right. Mosely, 434 F.3d at 533; see also Neuman v. McCoy, -- F.3d --, 2006 WL 3804383 (7th Cir. 2006) (Section 1983 requires that the defendant's action, or inaction, deprived the plaintiff of a right secured by federal laws or the federal constitution.).

In the case at bar, the Village moves the Court to dismiss it from this action on the grounds that Dill has failed adequately to plead an established official policy to which Defendants acted in conformance and has failed to allege any official policies, customs, practices or usages, which would form a pattern of persistent practices, that deprived Dill of a constitutional right.

Dill responds that the Village's motion should be denied because questions of fact exist and because it is premature. Dill asserts that the manner and extent of his beating leads to the conclusion that the Village encourages, condones or allows brutal conduct by its officers. He states that there has been no discovery of how Village police officers are trained, and ...


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