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Hill v. City of Chicago

May 10, 2007

HAROLD HILL AND L.C. YOUNG, AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF DAN YOUNG, JR., DECEASED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Harold Hill and L.C. Young, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Dan Young, Jr., deceased, seek redress under 42 U.S.C. §§1983 and 1985 for alleged violations of their constitutional rights stemming from Hill's and Dan Young's wrongful convictions. Before the Court is Defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss Hill's Amended Complaint and Young's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn1 Defendants also seek a more definite statement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e). For the following reasons the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion to dismiss and denies Defendants' motion for a more definite statement.

LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Notice Pleading Standard

Under the federal notice pleading standards, a complaint need only include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 507, 122 S.Ct. 992, 995, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). "This simplified notice pleading standard relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.

II. Motion to Dismiss Standard

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint, not the factual sufficiency. Szabo v. Bridgeport Mach., Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 675-76 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Cler v. Illinois Educ. Ass'n, 423 F.3d 726, 729 (7th Cir. 2005). The Court will only grant a motion to dismiss 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." Centers v. Mortgage, Inc., 398 F.3d 930, 933 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46). In making its determination, the Court must assume the truth of the facts alleged in the pleadings, construe the allegations liberally, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Centers, 398 F.3d at 333.

Although "complaints do not have to anticipate affirmative defenses to survive a motion to dismiss [an] exception occurs where ... the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense, such as when a complaint plainly reveals that an action is untimely under the governing statute of limitations." United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005); but see Reiser v. Residential Funding Corp., 380 F.3d 1027, 1030 (7th Cir. 2004) ("because the period of limitations is an affirmative defense it is rarely a good reason to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)."); United States v. Northern Trust Co., 372 F.3d 886, 888 (7th Cir. 2004) (it is "irregular" to dismiss a claim as untimely under Rule 12(b)(6)).

BACKGROUND*fn2

In the early 1990s, Chicago Police Officers arrested both Young and Hill for the rape and murder of Kathy Morgan. (R. 50-1, Hill's Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10; R. 56-3, Young's Compl. ¶¶ 1, 12.) Over a decade after they were convicted and imprisoned for Morgan's murder, DNA evidence exonerated both Young and Hill. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2; Compl. ¶ 2.) Having conclusively established their innocence, their wrongful convictions were vacated in January 2005 by agreement with the Cook County State's Attorneys' Office. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2; Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs allege that the wrongful convictions were a direct result of police misconduct, including false confessions secured by means of improper coercion during police interrogations. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3; Compl. ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs bring this action against the City of Chicago and present and former Chicago Police Officers in the Violent Crimes Division at Area 3, including Kenneth Boudreau, John Halloran, James O'Brien, Jon Burge, Andrew Christopherson, Daniel McWeeny, Michael Kill, and William Paladino, as well as unknown Chicago Police Officers. (Am. Compl. ¶ 52; Compl. ¶ 76.) Plaintiffs also bring this lawsuit against Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, Mike Rogers.

ANALYSIS

I. Defendants' Statute of Limitations Defense

Defendants first contend that Plaintiffs' federal claims of false imprisonment (Count II), coerced confession (Counts III and IV), equal protection (Count VI), conspiracy to violate equal protection (Count VII), conspiracy in violation of Section 1983 (Count VIII), failure to intervene (Count X), and condition of confinement (Count XI) are time-barred.

In Section 1983 actions, federal courts sitting in Illinois borrow Illinois' two-year statute of limitations for personal injury violations. Jogi v. Voges, 480 F.3d 822, 836 (7th Cir. 2007); Evans v. City of Chicago, 434 F.3d 916, 934 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing 735 ILCS 5/13-202). The accrual date of a Section 1983 claim, however, is a question of federal law under which accrual occurs when a plaintiff has a "complete and present cause of action," namely, when a plaintiff "can file a suit and obtain relief." Wallace v. Kato, ___ U.S. __, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 1095, ___ L.Ed.2d ___ (2007) (quoting Bay Area Laundry & Dry Cleaning Pension Trust Fund v. Ferbar Corp. of Cal., 522 U.S. 192, 201, 118 S.Ct. 542, 139 L.Ed.2d 553 (1997)); Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 672 (7th Cir. 2006).

In general, claims under Section 1983 accrue when a "plaintiff knows or should know that his or her constitutional rights have been violated." Savory, 469 F.3d at 672 (citation omitted). The Seventh Circuit has set forth a two-part inquiry to determine the accrual of Section 1983 claims (1) the court must first identify the injury, then (2) the court determines "the date on which the plaintiff could have sued for that injury." Id. (citation omitted). In determining when a Section 1983 plaintiff can sue for an injury, the Court must consider the Supreme Court's holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994). "In Heck, the Court held that a constitutional claim that would undermine a criminal conviction if vindicated cannot be brought until the defendant's conviction is nullified." Wallace v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2006); see also Ienco v. Angarone, 429 F.3d 680, 685 (7th Cir. 2005) ("constitutional claim cannot be filed until an underlying criminal conviction is nullified where the constitutional claim, if vindicated, would undermine the conviction.").

In a recent Supreme Court decision, the Court re-examined the accrual of Fourth Amendment false arrest and false imprisonment claims. See Wallace, 127 S.Ct. at 1095 ("the tort of false imprisonment is detention without legal process") (emphasis in original). In doing so, the Supreme Court stated that the "running of the statute of limitations on false imprisonment is subject to a distinctive rule," namely, "[l]imitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends." Id. at 1095-96. The Wallace Court further explained: "Reflective of the fact that false imprisonment consists of detention without legal process, a false imprisonment ends once the victim becomes held pursuant to such process -- when, for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges." Id. at 1096 (emphasis in original). The Wallace Court limited its holding to Fourth Amendment claims: "We hold that the statute of limitations ...


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