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Williams v. Southern Illinois Riverboat/Casino Cruises

November 5, 2007

KENNETH WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS RIVERBOAT/CASINO CRUISES, INC., D/B/A HARRAH'S METROPOLIS CASINO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on defendant Anton Eberhart's ("Eberhart") motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 36). Plaintiff Kenneth Williams ("Williams") has responded to the motion (Doc. 39). The Court also considers Williams's motion for an extension of time to file a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 49), to which some defendants have responded (Docs. 51 & 56).

I. Standard for Dismissal

When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), the Supreme Court held that this requirement is satisfied if the complaint (1) "describe[s] the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant 'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,' Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)," E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964), and (2) "plausibly suggest[s] that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 776 (quoting Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1965).

In Bell Atlantic, the Supreme Court rejected Conley v. Gibson's more expansive interpretation of Rule 8(a)(2) that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief" Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1968; Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777. Now "it is not enough for a complaint to avoid foreclosing possible bases for relief; it must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief . . . by providing allegations that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777 (quoting Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1965).

Nevertheless, Bell Atlantic did not do away with the liberal federal notice pleading standard. Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007); see, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam). A complaint still need not contain detailed factual allegations, Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964, and it remains true that "[a]ny district judge (for that matter, any defendant) tempted to write 'this complaint is deficient because it does not contain . . .' should stop and think: What rule of law requires a complaint to contain that allegation?" Doe v. Smith, 429 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original). Nevertheless, a complaint must contain "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964. If the factual detail of a complaint is "so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8," it is subject to dismissal. Airborne Beepers, 499 F.3d at 667.

II. Alleged Facts

Taking all allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in Williams's favor, the Amended Complaint establishes the following facts relevant to this motion.

On August 27, 2005, Williams and his wife patronized the casino in Metropolis, Illinois, owned by defendant Southern Illinois Riverboat/Casino Cruises, Inc. Williams and his wife are black. While at the casino, Williams attempted to use a complimentary card allowing him access to the Diamond Lounge, a special section of the casino, and other services simply by displaying the card. Williams and his wife enjoyed their Diamond Lounge privileges during the afternoon of August 27, where they were the only black patrons.

At 7 p.m., Williams missed the bus that was supposed to take him back to his home in Nashville, Tennessee. Williams found two alternate ways home, but both were to leave early the next morning. Unable to get a hotel room at the casino for the night, Williams returned to the Diamond Lounge to wait.

A casino employee refused to admit Williams to the Diamond Lounge, asserting that he was not a member, and instead called security. Williams believes he was not allowed in because of his race because "[t]he only distinguishing feature that might have made [him] look like he was not a member was the color of his skin." Am. Compl. ¶ 39. The casino employee and casino security guards called Defendant Eberhart, an agent of the Illinois Gaming Board who was on duty at the casino and supervised all security matters, to tell him about the situation and to "get his approval."

While Williams was waiting calmly outside the Diamond Lounge, five casino security guards surrounded him and prevented him from reentering the Diamond Lounge. The casino employee continued to assert that Williams was not a Diamond Lounge member despite his complimentary membership card and directed the security guards to remove him from the premises. Williams calmly and voluntarily left the casino accompanied by the security guards.

Several officers from the Metropolis Police Department met Williams in the casino parking lot. After speaking with the security guards, one of the officers arrested Williams for criminal trespass to property. Eberhart was present during the arrest and was listed on the arrest report as a participating officer.

The following day, casino employees filed a Patron Incident Report and a police report, both alleging belligerent and disorderly conduct by Williams the previous night. The reports led to a disorderly conduct charge against Williams and to a ban on Williams's ever returning to the casino. After ten months and after review of electronic surveillance tapes showed that statements in the police report were untrue, all charges against Williams were ...


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