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Mosley v. City of Chicago

September 4, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge David H. Coar


Before this Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) . For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Facts

On March 6, 2000, Plaintiff was picked up by Area 2 police for interrogation regarding the murder of Howard Thomas. Plaintiff claims that he was chained to a wall in an interrogation room for over twenty-four hours, without food or drink, without sleep, without a phone call, without a bathroom break, and without Miranda warnings. In the end, Plaintiff agreed to make a written statement, confessing that he had struck Thomas two times. Plaintiff was indicted for the murder of Howard Thomas, and spent five years and ten months in county lock-up awaiting trial. Plaintiff was acquitted at trial.

Plaintiff now brings a civil suit, alleging that Defendants removed and destroyed the General Progress Reports, documenting his interrogation, and that Defendants removed and destroyed the line-up report, in which Plaintiff was identified as being present, but not a participant in, the attack of Thomas. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants fabricated a false lineup report. Specifically, Plaintiff claims (1) Due Process violations for withholding of exculpatory evidence and fabricating false reports; (2) False Imprisonment ; (3) Violation of Equal Protection; (4) Conspiracy to Deprive Constitutional rights; (5) Malicious Prosecution; (6) Civil Conspiracy; (7) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (8) Respondeat Superior; (9) Indemnification. Defendants bring the instant motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

II. Legal Standard

On a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6). The purpose of a 12(b)(6) motion is to decide the adequacy of the complaint, not to determine the merits of the case. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). A complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond all 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, 2 L.Ed. 2d 80 (1957).

A complaint that complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure cannot be dismissed because it fails to allege facts. The Rules require simply that the complaint state a claim; they do not require the complaint to plead facts that would establish the validity of that claim. Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002). "All that need be specified are the bare minimum facts necessary to put the defendant on notice of the claim so that he can file an answer." Id.

(citing Beanstalk Group, Inc. v. AM Gen. Corp., 283 F.3d 856, 863 (7th Cir. 2002)). The Seventh Circuit has held that stating a claim in a complaint in federal court requires only "a short statement, in plain (that is, non-legalistic) English, of the legal claim." Kirksey v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 1039, 1041 (7th Cir. 1999). Plaintiffs "don't have to file long complaints, don't have to plead facts, don't have to plead legal theories." Id.

III. Analysis

A. Count I: Due Process

Defendants move for dismissal of Count I on the grounds that Plaintiff's allegations fail as a matter of law. Plaintiff claims in Count I that his due process rights were violated when Defendants deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence and fabricated false reports. Defendants assert that this claim fails as a matter of law because (1) an acquittal renders the allegation immaterial and negates the alleged Brady violation, and (2) a claim of wrongful or malicious prosecution does not state a constitutionally cognizable cause of action.

The district courts in the Northern District of Illinois are split on whether an acquittal precludes a Brady violation claim. In Gregory v. Oliver, Judge Shadur held that since Gregory with acquitted, failure to turn over exculpatory evidence was immaterial. That is, because the outcome was in the defendant's favor, there was no reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different if the exculpatory evidence had been disclosed. Gregory v. Oliver, 226 F. Supp. 2d 943, 953 (D. Ill. 2002). However, in Carroccia v. Anderson, Judge Kennelly warns against using a retrospective approach to determining materiality, reasoning that, A trial is not rendered fair simply because it ultimately results in an acquittal. As the Court stated in Brady, "our system of the administration of justice suffers when any accused is treated unfairly . . . . A prosecutor that withholds evidence on demand of an accused which, if made available, would tend to exculpate him or reduce the penalty helps shape a trial that bears heavily on the defendant." Brady, 373 U.S. at 87-88.

Brady and its progeny impose a duty on prosecutors and police officers to produce evidence favorable to the accused where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment. Brady, 373 U.S. at 87. To discharge this duty, law enforcement officials must make prospective judgments regarding the materiality of exculpatory evidence that comes to their attention. They must decide in advance of trial, and without knowing how the trial will come out, whether evidence favorable to the accused has a "reasonable probability" of affecting the outcome of the case. If courts prohibit a criminal defendant from making a civil claim for concealment of material exculpatory evidence simply because his trial resulted in an acquittal, we tolerate law ...

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