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Potts v. Village of Forest Park

September 7, 2007

JEAMS POTTS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF FOREST PARK, JASON KEELING AND NICK DEFORS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on the motion of Defendants Village of Forest Park, Jason Keeling, and Nick DeFors to dismiss Counts IV, V, and VI of the complaint of Plaintiff Jeams Potts pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

According to the allegations contained within the complaint, which we must take as true for purposes of this motion, on or about October 18, 2005, Potts was walking late at night in Forest Park with some of his friends. Keeling, a Forest Park police officer, arrested Potts and put him in handcuffs for no reason. DeFors then arrived on the scene and threatened Potts with a tazer. Keeling proceeded to hit Potts's head against the trunk of his police car several times and then threw him into the car and took him to the station.

When they arrived, Keeling dragged Potts out of the car by his shirt and threw him on the ground. Keeling kicked Potts in the head numerous times before hauling him into the police station, where he threw Potts into a file cabinet and against a wall. At some point Potts fell to the ground, whereupon Keeling kicked him again several times and stepped on his neck. Thereafter, Keeling picked Potts up by the handcuffs before putting him in a jail cell.

Keeling and DeFors subsequently charged Potts with resisting a peace officer and obstructing a peace officer. He was later acquitted of those charges.

On April 13, 2007, Potts filed suit in this court, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unreasonable seizure and excessive force by Keeling and DeFors as well as state law claims for malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress against them. The complaint also contains counts pertaining to the Village: a Monell claim, a claim of respondeat superior liability for the officers' actions underlying the state claims, and a claim for indemnification. Defendants now collectively move to dismiss three of the state law claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is used to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, construe allegations of a complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). To be cognizable, the factual allegations contained within a complaint must raise a claim for relief "above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, - U.S. -, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007). However, a pleading need only convey enough information to allow the defendant to understand the gravamen of the complaint. Payton v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Med. Ctr., 184 F.3d 623, 627 (7th Cir. 1999).

A complaint's legal sufficiency is not compromised simply because it does not anticipate or otherwise preemptively address potential defenses. Xechem, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 372 F.3d 899, 901 (7th Cir. 2004). If the complaint so unmistakably establishes the presence of a defense that the suit is rendered frivolous, the affected allegations can be dismissed before a responsive pleading is filed. Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1009-10 (7th Cir. 2002). Moreover, if a plaintiff alleges facts within a complaint that defeat an essential element of a claim, the complaint can be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). See Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 830 (7th Cir. 2007).

With these principles in mind, we consider the instant motion.

DISCUSSION

Defendants' motion seeks dismissal of three of the seven counts of the complaint. Count IV alleges that Keeling and DeFors maliciously prosecuted Potts by bringing the criminal charges of which he was eventually acquitted. Count V asserts that Keeling and DeFors intentionally inflicted emotional distress in Potts during the arrest. Count VI claims that the Village of Forest Park is ...


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