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Williams v. Carroll

February 17, 2009

SHAMMUA WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL A. CARROLL, JAMES J. OBALDO, ALFREDO Z. SILVA, LAURENCE T. STILES, DANIELLE N. PHILP, DAVID ADAMS, ADAM C. WOLBERS, AND CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's due process claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants deprived him of fair criminal proceedings by withholding exculpatory evidence, submitting false charges as contained in the criminal complaints, submitting false police reports, swearing to false statements, and otherwise acting to influence and persuade the State's Attorney to prosecute Plaintiff. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of a complaint, not the merits of a case. Autry v. Northwest Premium Servs., Inc., 144 F.3d 1037, 1039 (7th Cir. 1998). Defendants' motion to dismiss should be granted only if Plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Furthermore, I must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true, drawing all reasonable inferences from those facts in Plaintiff's favor. Cleveland v. Rotman, 297 F.3d 569, 571 (7th Cir. 2002). Stated another way, I should not grant Defendants' motion "unless no relief could be granted 'under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.'" Nance v. Vieregge, 147 F.3d 589, 590 (7th Cir. 1998) (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)). That said, Plaintiff's "obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement for relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).

III. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS

Plaintiff's complaint alleges the following facts. On July 23, 2006, Defendant Chicago Police Officers stopped Plaintiff's vehicle at gunpoint without reasonable suspicion, while he was lawfully in his vehicle. Defendants questioned Plaintiff, searched both him and his vehicle, and arrested him without a warrant, permission, or legal cause. Plaintiff was booked, charged with felony gun possession among other charges, and incarcerated. The police impounded Plaintiff's vehicle and its contents without legal cause, and Plaintiff's personal property was confiscated as evidence. Plaintiff lost his vehicle and its contents in an impoundment and forfeiture proceeding commenced by Defendants. At trial, Plaintiff was acquitted of all charges brought against him.

Plaintiff charges Defendants with federal claims of false arrest, unconstitutional search and seizure, and violation of due process. Plaintiff also makes supplemental state claims of malicious prosecution, malicious prosecution regarding a civil administrative proceeding, and conversion. Of the federal claims, Count III of Plaintiff's complaint alleges that Defendants deprived Plaintiff of fair criminal proceedings in violation of the due process protections of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by withholding known exculpatory evidence, submitting false charges as contained in the criminal complaints, submitting false police reports, swearing to false statements, and otherwise acting to influence and persuade the State's Attorney to prosecute Plaintiff and to deny Plaintiff fair legal proceedings.

IV. DISCUSSION

Defendants make several arguments in support of their motion to dismiss. First, Defendants claim that Count III fails to the extent that it relies on the Fifth Amendment because the Fifth Amendment applies only to federal officials. Second, Defendants argue that the allegations against them amount to a claim of malicious prosecution which is not cognizable under § 1983. Finally, Defendants claim that the allegation that they withheld exculpatory evidence is unavailing because Plaintiff was acquitted at trial.

A. Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment Claim

The court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss Count III to the extent that it relies on the Fifth Amendment. Fifth Amendment protections are available against federal, but not state action. LaBoy v. Zuley, 747 F. Supp. 1284, 1286 (N.D. Ill. 1990). Defendants are employees of the Chicago Police Department and not the federal government, and Plaintiff does not claim that the Defendants were acting under the color of federal law.

B. Plaintiff's Fourteenth ...


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