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Wiley v. Cronic

February 15, 2008


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


This matter comes before the Court on the motion of defendants Steve Cronic ("Cronic") and Ricky Fagge ("Fagge") to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction (Doc. 17). Plaintiff Steven Wiley has responded to the motion (Doc. 27), and defendants Cronic and Fagge have replied to that response (Doc. 28).

I. Standard for Dismissal

Challenges to personal jurisdiction are brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). Under Rule 12(b)(2), if there are material facts in dispute regarding the Court's jurisdiction over a defendant's person, the Court must hold an evidentiary hearing. Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002). At the hearing, the party invoking federal court jurisdiction bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence facts sufficient to support personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003); Hyatt, 302 F.3d at 713. Where the court rules on a Rule 12(b)(2) motion based solely on the written materials on file, the Court will construe all factual disputes in the plaintiff's favor, and the plaintiff need only make a prima facie case showing that the Court has personal jurisdiction. Purdue Research, 338 F.3d at 782; Hyatt, 302 F.3d at 713.

II. Facts

Viewing all uncontroverted allegations in the complaint as true and viewing all controverted facts in Wiley's favor, the Court finds the following facts for the purpose of this motion.

Wiley's current troubles began on August 6, 2005, when he sought help from the police department of Jerseyville, Illinois. When Wiley gave his social security number, Jerseyville Police Department personnel learned that there was an outstanding 1990 warrant from the Circuit Court of Hall County, Georgia, for his arrest for failing to appear. The warrant was based on Wiley's failure to report to the Probation Office and failure to pay a court-ordered fine following a criminal conviction in Georgia in 1989. Wiley had, in fact, paid the required fine but the warrant remained outstanding.

On August 9, 2005, the Jerseyville Police Department contacted the Sheriff's Office of Hall County, Georgia, to confirm the existence of the warrant. Cronic was the Hall County Sheriff and Fagge was the Sheriff's Office Warrant Officer. An employee of the Hall County Sheriff's Office responded shortly thereafter confirming the existence of the warrant and asking the Jerseyville Police Department to hold Wiley and let the Hall County Sheriff's Office know when he was ready to be picked up. Jerseyville police then arrested Wiley, and the following day, he waived extradition.

On August 11, 2005, the Hall County Sheriff's Office faxed a "prisoner move order" from Fagge to defendant Mid-Florida Extraditions, Inc., ("Mid-Florida") asking it to pick up Wiley in Jerseyville and transport him to the Hall County Sheriff's Office. Mid-Florida was a private prisoner transport company regulated under the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 13726 et seq.; it was not affiliated with or controlled by Hall County or the Hall County Sheriff's Office. It supplied its own vehicles and equipment to transport detainees and charged the Hall County Sheriff's Office a fee of 75 cents per mile per individual transported.

The following day, August 12, 2005, Mid-Florida picked Wiley up from Jerseyville and began on a horrendous eight-day journey to Georgia. Wiley was in uncomfortable conditions and was not given his prescribed medications during the journey. The van driver's irresponsible driving style caused injury to Wiley, who at times was stranded with as many as ten other detainees in the unair-conditioned vehicle while it was broken down or while waiting for other detainees to be picked up or dropped off. He was not allowed to shower or change clothes for most of the trip and was not allowed proper sleeping accommodations. On August 20, 2005, Mid-Florida dropped Wiley off at the Hall County Detention Center.

While Wiley was in transit, on August 17, 2005, at the request of the District Attorney, the case against Wiley had been the subject of a nolle prosequi on the basis that it had been placed on the "dead docket" in 1992 and prosecution was no longer feasible. As a consequence, on August 19, 2005, the Hall County court dismissed the warrant for Wiley's arrest. The Hall County Sheriff's Office was notified of the dismissal of the warrant that day, and when Wiley arrived on August 20, 2005, he was immediately released.

As a consequence of the foregoing events, Wiley suffers from a knee injury and has incurred medical and travel expenses.

Wiley filed this lawsuit against Cronic, Wiley and Mid-Florida in July 2007 alleging Illinois state law causes of action for false imprisonment and negligence and federal causes of action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for violations of various constitutional rights. Cronic and Wiley now ask the Court to ...

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