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Kahlily v. Francis

December 16, 2008

BEHROUZ KAHLILY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEBORAH FRANCIS,*FN1 SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF RICHARD FRANCIS AND CITY OF CHICAGO, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), Defendant City of Chicago ("Chicago") moves this Court to dismiss Counts III, IV and VII of Plaintiff Behrouz Kahlily's ("Kahlily") Complaint. Additionally, Chicago has moved to dismiss all claims for punitive damages against deceased former Defendant Richard Francis ("Francis"). For the reasons stated, Chicago's Motion to Dismiss is granted with respect to Counts III and IV and denied with respect to Count VII. Additionally, Kahlily's demands for punitive damages are dismissed in the surviving counts.

PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Kahlily, a 59 year-old resident of Chicago, works as a self-employed taxi driver. (Compl. ¶ 1.) On April 11, 2007, Chicago Police Officer Francis pulled over Kahlily's taxi even though Kahlily had not committed a traffic offense or a crime. (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 7-8.) Kahlily recognized Francis as a police officer who had repeatedly harassed him by issuing traffic citations without probable cause. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Because Kahlily kept his driver's license inside of a handbag in the car's trunk, Kahlily stepped out of the taxi and walked with Francis towards the trunk. (Compl. ¶ 11.) On the way, Kahlily asked why he had been pulled over and why Francis always harassed him. (Id.) In response, Francis handcuffed Kahlily and placed him into the police car. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Francis did not permit Kahlily to retrieve his belongings from the taxi or secure the car. (Compl. ¶ 13.) As a result, Kahlily left the taxi unlocked and running in the middle of the street with his cell phone, keys and money inside. (Id.)

After Francis transported Kahlily to the Chicago Police Department's 19th District Station, he handcuffed Kahlily to a wall and issued citations for traffic violations. (Compl. ¶ 14.) After he was released from the police station, Kahlily returned to his taxi to discover that someone had stolen his money and his cell phone from the unsecured vehicle. (Compl. ¶ 17.)

On July 2, 2008, Francis was killed in the line of duty. His death was spread of record on July 9, 2008. (D.E. 13.)

Kahlily sued Francis for excessive force, false arrest, violation of property rights and violation of his equal protection rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He also brought supplemental state law claims against Francis for intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, and for willful and wanton conduct. In his prayers for relief for each count, Kahlily asked for punitive damages against Francis. He joined state law claims against Chicago for respondeat superior liability and indemnification. Chicago now moves to dismiss Kahlily's claims for violation of property rights (Count III), violation of his equal protection rights (Count IV) and for willful and wanton conduct (Count VII). Additionally, the City seeks to dismiss all claims for punitive damages against Francis.

STANDARD

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, 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). A plaintiff need not allege all facts involved in the claim. See Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994). However, in order to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the claim must be supported by facts that, if taken as true, at least plausibly suggest that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Such a set of facts must "raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence" of illegality. Id. at 1965.

DISCUSSION

I. Section 1983 Claims

A plaintiff may bring an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to redress constitutional violations committed under color of state law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a valid claim for relief under § 1983, plaintiffs must allege: 1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) that a person was acting under color of state law when he caused the deprivation. See McKinney v. Duplain, 463 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2006). The parties do not dispute that Francis acted under color of state law when he arrested the Plaintiff. Therefore, this Court begins its analysis by determining whether Kahlily has properly alleged that Francis violated his constitutional rights.

a. Count III - "Violation of Property Rights"

In Count III of his Complaint, Kahlily claims that Francis violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment property rights by causing "the loss or destruction of [his] property without just compensation." (Compl. ΒΆ 28.) To support this claim, Kahlily alleges that Francis either: 1) stole the money and cell phone from Kahlily's taxi; or 2) allowed someone else to ...


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