The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Gettleman United States District Judge
Judge Robert W. Gettleman
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Lanell Craft, Curtis Flowers, Joe Gant, Sharon Wilkins, individually and on behalf of Rashi Gant, Marcus Jordan, David Stewart, Larry Wilkins, Mary Wilkins, Sharon Gant, Joseph Wilkins, and Henry-Ella Williams have brought a twelve count fourth amended complaint against defendants Corey Flagg, Eural Black, Darek Haynes, Broderick Jones ("Defendant Officers #1"), Sgt. Robert O'Neil, Officer William Mullen, Officer Shannon, Officer Hein, Officer Waszak, Officer Wojtan, Officer Sanello ("Defendant Officers #2") and the City of Chicago. Count I, brought by all plaintiffs against Defendant Officers #1, alleges a claim under the Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). Count II, brought by all plaintiffs against Defendant Officers #1, alleges a conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count III, brought on behalf of all plaintiffs except Larry Wilkins against all defendants except the City, alleges a claim for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Count IV, brought by all plaintiffs against Defendant Officers #1, purports to be a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for a violation of substantive due process. Count V, brought by all plaintiffs against Defendant Officers #1, is a claim for excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Count VI is a Monell claim against the City of Chicago. Count VII is brought by Larry Wilkins against all defendants (except the City) alleging false arrest and Count VIII, brought by Larry Wilkins against all defendants, alleges a conspiracy to commit the false arrest. Count IX, brought by Larry Wilkins against all defendants except the City, alleges a deprivation of due process. Count X is a claim against the City for indemnity under 745 ILCS 10/9-102. Counts XI and XII are brought by Larry Wilkins (XI) and all plaintiffs (XII) alleging a § 1983 equal protection class of one claim. Defendants Officers #2 as defined in the complaint have moved to dismiss Count III, VIII, IX, XI and XII for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The City has moved to dismiss the Monell claim brought in Count VI. For the reasons discussed below, the Defendant Officers #2's motion is granted in part and denied in part. The City's motion to dismiss Count VI is denied.
According to the complaint, Defendant Officers #1 "formed a cell of individuals who, while working for the City of Chicago, used the power of their office to generate revenue and acquire controlled substances." The officers would lure unsuspecting drug dealers to participate in the transactions and then steal their money and drugs in a phoney sting. Defendant Officers #1 also would utilize false arrest, excessive force and extortion to cause innocent civilians to believe they were going to be charged with crimes if they did not pay the officers money. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant Officers #1, particular defendant Flagg, attempted to extort substantial sums of money from plaintiffs. According to plaintiffs, Flagg would enter their homes, handcuff innocent family members, throw them on the ground and coerce money from them with the threat of arrest and charges if they did not pay.
The complaint alleges that Defendant Officers #2 were "involved" with defendant Flagg in an August 6, 2004, seizure and detention of plaintiff Larry Wilkins, knowing that there was no probable cause to arrest Wilkins and that Flagg had planted cocaine and guns on Wilkins. Since the filing of the instant action, each of Defendant Officers #1 have either pled guilty or been found guilty of federal charges for activities similar to what plaintiffs have alleged in the amended complaint.
Defendant Officers #2's Motion to Dismiss
Defendant Officers #2 have moved to dismiss all counts brought against them. In Count III, all plaintiffs except Larry Wilkins allege that Defendant Officers #2 "caused the arrest and/or seizures of the plaintiffs without probable cause to believe that the plaintiff had committed a crime." Defendant Officers #2 have moved to dismiss Count III, arguing that the complaint fails to comply with the pleading requirements as recently stated by the Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007).
The purpose of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). Federal notice pleading "requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Erickson v. Pardus, __ U.S. __, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citing Bell Atlantic). Specific facts are not necessary and the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds on which it rests. Id. The factual allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising the possibility above the speculative level. Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1965.*fn1
In the instant case, the fourth amended complaint alleges that: (1) Defendant Officers #2 "were involved, with [defendant Flagg], in an August 6, 2004, seizure and retention of plaintiff Larry Wilkins; (2) that Defendant Officers #2 knew there was no probable cause to arrest Wilkins because Wilkins did not possess contraband on that date; (3) Defendant Officers #2 were aware that contraband in the form of cocaine and guns were planted on plaintiff Wilkins by defendant Flagg; and (4) that during the arrest of Wilkins, Defendant Officers #2 seized and detained plaintiffs without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Although certainly not a model of clear pleading, the count informs defendants of the claim brought against them-- unlawful detention and seizure on August 6, 2004, during the Larry Wilkins' arrest -- and raises the possibility of success above the speculative level. Accordingly, Defendant Officers #2's motion to dismiss Count III is denied.
In Count VII plaintiffs charge that Defendant Officers #2 collaborated in a conspiracy with each other and defendant Flagg to arrest Wilkins on August 6, 2004, resulting in Wilkins having been unlawfully incarcerated for eight months.*fn2 Defendants argue that aside from the general legal conclusion that defendants conspired, the count contains no facts to distinguish it from Count III.
Under notice pleading a claim of conspiracy must "indicate the parties, the general purpose, and approximate date of the agreement to form a conspiracy so that the defendant has notice of the charges against him." Estate of Sims v. County of Bureau, 506 F.3d 509, 517 (7th Cir. 2007). The instant complaint alleges that Defendant Officers #2 conspired with each other and Flagg to ensure that Larry Wilkins was arrested and criminally charged with possession of cocaine and guns. The specific agreement was allegedly reached on August 6, 2004. No more detail is necessary to state a claim under Estate of Sims. Accordingly, Defendant Officers #2's motion to dismiss Count VIII is denied.
In Count IX plaintiff Larry Wilkins repeats the allegations of Count VIII and asserts a claim for violation of his "substantive due process rights" under the Fourteenth Amendment. Count IX is "nothing more than a recast of his Fourth Amendment false arrest claim . . . in the guise of a substantive due process violation." McCann v. Mangialardi, 337 F.3d 782, 786 (7th Cir. 2003). A substantive due process claim cannot be maintained when a specific ...