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.

Horstmann v. St. Clair County

August 29, 2007

BRUCE HORSTMANN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILLINOIS AND BRUCE HAIDA, ST. CLAIR COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 4), to which the plaintiff has responded (Doc. 14), and defendants replied (Doc. 17). For the following reasons, the Court will grant defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

Bruce Horstmann resigned from the Belleville, Illinois police department on April 5, 2005 after six years of service. Soon after his resignation, he started working for the Alorton, Illinois police department. When Bruce Haida, the St. Clair County State's Attorney, learned of this, he wrote a letter to Alorton's Chief of Police. In this letter, he wrote, "My office will not pursue the prosecution of any case which is based solely upon the testimony of Officer Bruce Horstmann or is otherwise based in substantial part on the testimony of Officer Horstmann." (Compl. at 2) Horstmann was promptly terminated.

In January 2007, Horstmann submitted an employment application to the East St. Louis police department. Upon learning of Horstmann's application, Haida wrote a letter to the Chief of Police in East St. Louis with the same warning he gave to the Alorton Chief. Horstmann did not get the job with the East St. Louis police department. Apparently, this sequence of events took place with respect to several other police departments in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Horstmann believes Haida's letters and other communications have prevented him from being hired as a police officer anywhere in the area.

Based on the foregoing, Horstmann asserts a right to relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His specific claim appears to be this: Haida, acting under color of law as an agent of St. Clair County, unlawfully interfered with his "real and legitimate property interest in obtaining and retaining employment as a police officer." (Compl. at 4).

Defendants provide a number of bases for granting the relief they request. First, Haida claims the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction as to him by virtue of the Eleventh Amendment. Second, Haida maintains he enjoys absolute prosecutorial immunity from Horstmann's claim. Defendants jointly contend no process was due Horstmann with respect to his property interest in obtaining and retaining employment. St. Clair County contends that it cannot be held liable in this case because the only basis for doing so would be under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which cannot serve as a basis for relief under § 1983.

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review

To state a claim under the federal rules, a plaintiff need only include a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This rule presents the pleader with two hurdles: "the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant 'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,'" and the allegations "must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., No. 06-3436, 2007 WL 2215764, at *2 (7 Cir. Aug. 3, 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 1973 n.14 (2007)).

When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court takes all well-pleaded facts as true and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Stachowski v. Town of Cicero, 425 F.3d 1075, 1078 (7th Cir. 2005). If, when viewing a complaint's allegations in the above manner, the complaint does not plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 2007 WL 2215764, at *2.

II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Haida claims that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over him because Horstmann has sued him in his official capacity, making his claim functionally against the State, and therefore barred by the Eleventh Amendment. This contention fails from the beginning. "[T]he Eleventh Amendment grants the State a legal power to assert a sovereign immunity defense should it choose to do so. The State can waive the defense." Wisc. Dep't of Corr. v. Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 389 (1998). "Since the immunity granted by the Eleventh Amendment may be waived and matters of subject matter jurisdiction may not, the Eleventh Amendment immunity is not jurisdictional." Kennedy v. Nat'l Juvenile Det. Ass'n, 187 F.3d 690, 696 (7th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1159 (2000); accord Higgins v. Mississippi, 217 F.3d 951, 953 (7th Cir. 2000).

Though Horstmann failed to designate the nature of his claim against Haida expressly, under the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that it is an individual capacity claim. In Kolar v. Sangamon County, Ill., 756 F.2d 564, 569 (7th Cir. 1985), the Seventh Circuit advised plaintiffs to state the capacity in which they sue a defendant expressly in the complaint. While Horstmann has failed to follow this advice, courts in this Circuit no longer entertain a presumption of an official capacity suit. Miller v. Smith, 220 F.3d 491, 494 (7th Cir. 2000); Hill v. Shelander, 924 F.2d 1370, 1373-74 (7th Cir. 2000). Today, "Where the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief from official policies or customs, the defendant has been sued in her ...


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.