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Lyttle v. Killackey

November 20, 2007

BRADFORD LYTTLE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOHN KILLACKEY, OFFICER JONES (#4079), OFFICER E. SHIELDS (10169), UNKNOWN POLICE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, AND THE CITY OF CHICAGO DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Bradford Lyttle ("Lyttle") filed suit against Defendants John Killackey, Officer Jones, Officer E. Shields, Unknown Police Officers and Employees of the City of Chicago (collectively, "Officers"), and the City of Chicago ("the City"). The City filed a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, the City's Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part. Counts I and IV are dismissed with prejudice and Count III is dismissed without prejudice. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Counts II, V, VI, and VII are denied. Counts VIII and IX stand.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Bradford Lyttle ("Lyttle") is a 79 year-old resident of Chicago, Illinois. Compl. ¶ 3. Lyttle has a history of involvement in public rallies, marches, and other activities concerning civil rights and political issues. Id. For the last four years, Lyttle has been involved in activities to protest the United States' war in Iraq. Id. On March 20, 2003, the night after the United States' invasion of Iraq, Lyttle was part of an anti-war demonstration in Chicago that led to the mass detention of approximately 800 citizens, and the arrest of 500 of those citizens by the Chicago Police Department. Id. at ¶ 4. None of these individuals were ultimately convicted, and the arrests are currently a subject of a class action lawsuit against the City now pending in the Northern District of Illinois. Id.

Prior to the second anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq, anti-war activists applied for a permit to conduct a march in Chicago, Illinois on Michigan Avenue. Id. at ¶ 5. The purpose of the march was to protest the war in Iraq and the alleged erosion of civil liberties in the United States. Id. The City rejected the permit application. Id. After the rejection, anti-war activists scheduled a press conference to take place at noon on March 19, 2005 on the sidewalk at the plaza at the Southwest corner of Oak Street and Michigan Avenue. Id. at ¶ 6. The denied permit application requested this corner as the start of the march. Id. According to Lyttle, press conferences are commonly held on sidewalks and in other public places in the City of Chicago. Id. at ¶ 7. A permit is not required to hold press conferences. Id.

Lyttle and other protestors scheduled the press conference because they believed that the City wanted to prevent any peaceful assembly to protest the Iraq war. Id. at ¶ 6. In addition, Lyttle claims that the City of Chicago attempted to deny him and others their First Amendment rights based on the content of their speech when the city rejected the permit for the protest. Id. On March 17, 2005, a Chicago police officer assigned to the City Hall Task Force informed Alderman Joe Moore, one of the scheduled speakers for the press conference, that he and others would be arrested if they attempted to hold the press conference. Id. at ¶ 8. Alderman Moore decided not to speak at the press conference. Id.

On March 19, 2005, Lyttle arrived at the Southwest corner of Oak Street and Michigan Avenue for the scheduled press conference. Id. at ¶ 9. There were approximately two hundred officers at the site of the press conference, clothed in either uniforms or riot gear with batons. Id. The number of officers outnumbered the attendees. Id. Several speakers attended the press conference and began addressing the attendees, including media representatives, at noon. Id. The speakers included Chris Geovanis, a member of the media and an anti-war activist, the Reverend Paul Jakes, a civil rights and police accountability activist, and Bill Massey, a Korean War veteran and member of the ANSWER Coalition. Id. at ¶ 10. During his speech, Massey stated that those holding the press conference had been threatened with arrest. Id.

John Killackey, then Deputy Chief of the City of Chicago Police Department, was also present at the Southwest corner of Oak and Michigan on March 19, 2005. Id. at ¶ 11. He read a statement over a megaphone at 11:55 a.m, 11:58 a.m, and 12:02 p.m. Id. On at least two occasions, Killackey testified under oath that the statements he made were not orders to disperse. Id. at ¶ 12. However, Killackey also testified that before 12:05 p.m., he ordered Lyttle arrested for committing disorderly conduct by knowingly failing to obey an order to disperse. Id. at ¶ 13.Officer Jones and Officer Shields detained and arrested Lyttle under Chicago Municipal Code, MCC8-4-010(d) ("Subsection (d)"). Id. at ¶ 16. Subsection (d) is the disorderly conduct ordinance in Chicago. Id. Lyttle was imprisoned for eight hours. Id. at ¶ 14. Lyttle claims that he was not given an order to disperse by Killackey or by any other police officer. Id. at ¶ 15.

On December 12, 2006, the City tried Lyttle on the disorderly conduct charge for which he was arrested before the Circuit Court of Cook County, Municipal Division. Compl. ¶ 17. The court issued a directed finding of not guilty. Compl. ¶ 17.

On March 13, 2007, Lyttle filed a Complaint against the City in the Northern District of Illinois pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. DK # 1. Lyttle alleged nine separate counts in his Complaint. Compl. ¶¶ 18-51.

Count I alleges that the City of Chicago's disorderly conduct ordinance is unconstitutional, and that Lyttle's arrest under the ordinance violated his civil rights under color of state law because the ordinance violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and Sections 2, 4, and 5 of the Illinois Constitution. Compl. ¶ 18-21. Lyttle requests the Court to declare Subsection (d) unconstitutional, and further requests preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting its enforcement. Compl. ¶ 22. Count II alleges First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. ¶¶ 24-27. Count III alleges that Defendants John Killackey, Officer Jones, Officer Shields, and other unknown police department and City of Chicago officials were engaged in a conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. ¶¶ 30-34. Count IV alleges a violation of due process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. ¶ 36. Count V alleges a claim for false detention, arrest, and imprisonment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. ¶ 39. Count VI alleges a Monell claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. ¶ 42. Count VII alleges Lyttle's charge and arrest constituted the tort of malicious prosecution under the laws of the State of Illinois. Compl. ¶ 45. Count VIII alleges that the City is responsible for the alleged violations against Lyttle under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Count IX alleges that the City is strictly liable and required to indemnify its employees in any tort judgment for compensatory damages for which their employees acted within the scope of their employment activities. Compl. ¶ 50.

Lyttle requests the Court to award him attorneys' fees and costs, as well as any other such relief as the court deems appropriate, for each Count in the Complaint. Compl. ¶¶ 22, 28, 34, 37, 40, 43, 45, 48, 51. On June 1, 2007, the City moved to dismiss Lyttle's Complaint. DK # 27.

STANDARD

Motions to Dismiss are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. McCready v. eBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 888 (7th Cir. 2006). The court must take as true "all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from those allegations in" the plaintiff's favor. Id. (citation omitted). In order to state a claim, a plaintiff must allege facts that plausibly suggest he is entitled to relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 2007 WL 1461066, *8 (May 21, 2007). To allege plausible grounds for relief, the complaint must allow a "reasonable expectation" that discovery will reveal evidence of illegality. Id. at 1965.

DISCUSSION

I. COUNTS I & IV ARE BARRED BY THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA

Lyttle claims that Subsection (d) is unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Compl. ¶¶ 18-22, 35-37. The City asserts that these claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, because Lyttle already litigated these claims in Illinois State Court. Def.'s Mem., 1-3. This Court finds that the doctrine of res judicata prevents Lyttle from bringing these claims in federal court, and also finds that collateral estoppel requires dismissal of Counts I & IV.

A. Legal Standard

State-court judgments have claim preclusive effect in § 1983 suits. Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 465 U.S. 75, 84 (1984). In addition, the Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738, requires federal courts to "give state court judgments the same preclusive effect they would have in state court." Licari v. City of Chicago, 298 F.3d 664, 666 (7th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). Illinois law states that: the doctrine of res judicata provides that a final judgment rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction on the merits is conclusive as to the rights of the parties and their privies, and as to them constitutes an absolute bar to a subsequent action involving the same claim, demand or cause of action.

Id. Res judicata applies where (1) a court of competent jurisdiction renders a final judgment on the merits; (2) the causes of action are identical; (3) there is an identity of parties or their privies. Id. (citation omitted). The doctrine of res judicata applies to issues actually litigated in a previous action, "as well as those that could have been but were not litigated in the state court proceedings." Id. at 667 (citations omitted).

B. The Causes of Action are Identical and there is an Identity of Parties or their Privies

The causes of action in both cases are identical. Lyttle was arrested for violating Subsection (d), and in both cases Lyttle claims that Subsection (d) is unconstitutional. Compl. ¶¶ 19, 36-37; Def.'s Mem., Ex. F. The parties in both cases are in privity with one another. Lyttle brought claims in state and federal court against the City of Chicago. Compl. P.1; Def.'s Mem., Ex. F. Under Illinois law "a government and its officers are in privity for purposes of res judicata," so the claims against the officers also fall under privity when assessing the two suits. Licari, 298 F.3d at 667. This leaves the question of whether the claims brought by Lyttle in state-court satisfy factor one.

C. A Court of Competent Jurisdiction Rendered a Final Judgment on the Merits

After Lyttle's arrest, he brought a motion to dismiss on the basis that Subsection (d) was unconstitutional. Def.'s Mem., Ex. F, 1. The Circuit Court of Cook County consolidated Lyttle's claims with that of Andy Thatcher, and denied the motion to dismiss, finding Subsection (d) constitutional. At the end of the trial, the state-court issued a directed verdict of not guilty for Lyttle.

Id. at Ex. F, 2. The City claims that the acquittal constitutes a final judgment on the merits. Id. at Ex. F, 2. Lyttle claims that his acquittal prevented him from appealing the denial of his Motion to Dismiss, thereby denying him the opportunity to receive a final judgment on the merits. Pl.'s Opp'n, 2. Res judicata, however, does not require that a claim be fully litigated and decided for it to apply. "A plaintiff is afforded a full and fair opportunity to litigate his claims so long as the state court proceedings complied ...


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