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Hu v. City of Chicago

March 12, 2009

YAODI HU, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO AND MAYFLOWER FOOD, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Yaodi Hu has filed a pro se lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Mayflower Food. The case is before the Court on the City's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion in part and denies it in part.

Background

On August 3, 2008, Mr. Hu, who identifies himself as an Asian-American male, filed an eleven-count amended complaint against the City and Mayflower. The amended complaint was the first occasion on which he named Mayflower as a defendant. The complaint involves two distinct series of events. The first part deals with the City's revocation of a building permit on property owned by Mr. Hu. The second part concerns Mr. Hu's arrest by Chicago police at Mayflower's grocery store. Because the Court is considering a motion to dismiss, it takes as true the facts alleged in the amended complaint.

1. Permit Revocation

In May 2006, Mr. Hu obtained a permit from the City to repair his roof and siding. In July and August of 2006, the City issued stop work orders for Mr. Hu's property on the ground that he was converting the second floor attic into living quarters. Mr. Hu alleges that as a result, he was unable to complete the work and could not rent out the second floor.

Mr. Hu asserts seven claims against the City concerning these events. Counts 1, 3, and 4 are all section 1983 claims. In count 1, Mr. Hu alleges the City violated procedural due process by revoking his permit without a hearing. In count 3, Mr. Hu alleges the City has violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it singled him out based on his national origin. In count 4, he alleges the City violated substantive due process by revoking his permit and violating his claimed right to continue repairs on his property. In count 2, Mr. Hu alleges the City violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 because it has a custom and pattern of practice of targeting "minority communities" in issuing stop work orders. In counts 5 and 6, Mr. Hu alleges the City's stop work orders deprived him of all economically valuable use of his property, amounting to a regulatory taking without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment and the parallel provision of the Illinois Constitution. Finally, in count 7, Mr. Hu claims the City violated 42 U.S.C. § 1982 by issuing a discriminatory stop work order, preventing him from leasing his property.

2. Mayflower Arrest

In or about August 2004, Mr. Hu alleges, he went to the Mayflower store, where he had been a regular customer. He selected merchandise, including some fresh fish, and tendered his credit card to purchase the merchandise. The sales clerk asked Mr. Hu for identification, which, he says, had never occurred on his prior visits to the store. Because he did not have his identification, the store would not accept his credit card. Mr. Hu says that he attempted to "abandon" his purchase of the merchandise and leave the store, but because the fish had been cut, the store insisted that he remain there and have his wife come with cash to complete the purchase. As closing time approached, Mr. Hu says, the store called the Chicago police, locked the door, and prevented him from leaving until the police arrived. A police sergeant "insisted" that Mr. Hu pay cash, but he did not have cash, and the store continued to refuse to accept his credit card. Store personnel made a complaint of attempted theft, and the Chicago police arrested Mr. Hu. He was released from custody later that evening, and the charges eventually were dropped.

Mr. Hu asserts four claims arising from this incident. In count 8, he alleges that Mayflower violated section 1981; he contends that Mayflower refused to allow him to complete the purchase of the merchandise due to his national origin and thereby interfered with his attempt to make a contract. In count 9, Mr. Hu asserts an equal protection claim under section 1983 based on these same allegations. Count 10 is a section 1983 claim for false arrest and false imprisonment. Finally, in count 11, Mr. Hu alleges a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985, consisting of conspiracy between the City and Mayflower to deprive him of his rights under section 1981.

Discussion

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). To avoid dismissal, the allegations in the complaint need do no more than "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965). Pro se complaints are liberally construed and are held to a less stringent standard than complaints drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007).

1. Permit Revocation

a. Section 1983 ...


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