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Hafley v. City of Spring Valley

September 24, 2007

LORI HAFLEY, AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT MCFADIN PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF SPRING VALLEY, OFFICER THOMAS QUARTUCCI, AND POLICE CHIEF DOUG BERNABEI DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDade United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 4] and accompanying Memorandum [Doc. 7]. Plaintiff has filed a Response to Defendants' Motion. [Doc. 9, Ex. 1.]

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. The Court orders briefing on an additional matter.

I. BACKGROUND

This lawsuit stems from the arrest and subsequent suicide of Robert McFadin on April 23, 2005 while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Spring Valley Police Department ("Spring Valley PD"). (Compl. ¶ 43.) Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. 1] alleges the following facts:

Mr. McFadin ("Decedent") was married to Randi McFadin and the couple had one child together. (Compl. ¶ 9.) The marriage appears to have been a turbulent one. So turbulant that Ms. McFadin obtained an Order of Protection against her husband. (Compl. ¶ 13.)

At some point prior to Decedent's suicide, Ms. McFadin took Decedent's Ford Explorer against his wishes. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Decedent responded by making a number of threatening telephone calls to his estranged wife. (Compl. ¶ 11.) On the morning of April 23, Decedent learned that Ms. McFadin was at a McDonald's restaurant in Spring Valley with his Ford Explorer. (Compl. ¶ 15-17.) He went to the McDonald's and was able to retake his Explorer from his estranged wife.

Decedent then called the Spring Valley PD and explained to Dispatcher Patricia Sment why he took back the vehicle. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Shortly after that, Ms. McFadin went to the police station herself and reported the Explorer missing. (Compl. ¶ 19.) Officer Thomas Quartucci then called Decedent and requested that he come down to the police station to give a statement regarding the vehicle. (Compl. ¶ 22.)

Around noon, Decedent voluntarily went to the police station and Officer Quartucci placed him under arrest for violating the Order of Protection. (Compl. ¶ 25.) Officer Quartucci escorted Decedent uncuffed from the dispatch room to Cell #1 while the department processed him for transport to the Bureau County Jail. (Compl. ¶ 26.)

While in the holding cell, Officer Quartucci checked on Decedent at 12:15 and 12:30. (Compl. ¶ 28.) Around 12:30 P.M., Ms. McFadin returned to the police station. (Compl. ¶ 31.) Officer Quartucci and Dispatcher Patricia Sment both noticed that Ms. McFadin's presence was causing the Decedent to act erratically. Furthermore, Officer Quartucci noticed a few drops of blood on Decedent's left wrist and believed the Decedent was attempting to harm himself by damaging his wrists. (Compl. ¶ 34-35.) After noticing that Decedent was attempting to harm himself, Officer Quartucci entered Decedent's cell to place him in handcuffs. (Compl. ¶ 36.) When Quartucci entered the cell, he entered with his firearm. (Compl. ¶ 30; Compl. ¶ 37-38.) This was a violation of Spring Valley PD's standard operating procedure.*fn1

Once inside the cell, a struggle erupted between Quartucci and Decedent. (Compl. ¶ 39.) During the struggle, Decedent was able to wrestle away Quartucci's firearm and escaped the holding cell. (Compl. ¶ 40.) Officer Quartucci, Dispatcher Sment and Ms. McFadin managed to flee the police department unharmed. (Compl. ¶ 41.) However, after they fled, Decedent took Quartucci's firearm, placed it under his chin, and committed suicide. (Compl. ¶ 43.)

Plaintiff is the mother of Decedent and she has brought suit against the City of Spring Valley ("Spring Valley"), Officer Quartucci, and Police Chief Doug Bernabei under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the Illinois Survival Act. Counts I, III, and V of her claim allege constitutional violations by Spring Valley, Officer Quartucci, and Police Chief Bernabei, respectively. Counts II, IV, and VI contain claims under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act against the same Defendants. Defendants now seek to have Plaintiff's claims dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

According to Defendants, Plaintiff has also filed a suit in state court under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Hafley v. City of Spring Valley, 2006 L 000013 D 001 (Bureau County, Ill. filed March 31, 2006). This Court has taken judicial notice of the state court record and notes that Defendants have also moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims in state court. In the state court proceeding, the ...


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