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Bridewell v. Eberle

April 16, 2009

SARA BRIDEWELL, RANDY MANUEL, AND LISA RHODES, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KEVIN EBERLE AND BRIAN FORBERG, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is the Motion of Defendants Kevin Eberle and Brian Forberg to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiffs indicated in their opposition brief that they intend to dismiss voluntarily Counts III and V of the Complaint. Accordingly, Counts III and V are dismissed with prejudice. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion with respect to the remainder of the Complaint is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Patricia Bridewell ("Bridewell"), Randy Manuel ("Manuel") and Lisa Rhodes ("Rhodes")(collectively, the "Plaintiffs"), filed the instant action against Chicago Police Officers Eberle and Forberg (hereinafter, "Defendants") in connection with their detention and interrogation at a Chicago police station on September 3, 2006. Plaintiffs bring federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest, unlawful seizure, false imprisonment and coercive interrogation.

On September 3, 2006, Walter Chandler ("Chandler") died from a gunshot wound to his head while sitting in his car in an alley on Chicago's south side. Upon learning that Chandler had been involved in an automobile accident with Rhodes shortly before his death, Defendants caused Plaintiffs Rhodes, Bridewell and Manual to be taken, without their consent, to the Area 2 Police Station where each Plaintiff was confined to a separate room and interrogated.

The Complaint mentions a confrontation between Plaintiffs and Chandler at Chandler's car after the car accident and immediately before Chandler died. The Complaint does not specify how the confrontation came about, what exactly transpired, or when Defendants became aware of the confrontation. However, Defendants must have been aware of the confrontation at some point during Plaintiffs' interrogations because the Complaint alleges that both Rhodes and Anthony Watkins ("Watkins"), a non-party who was taken to the police station along with Plaintiffs, discussed the confrontation with Defendants during their interrogations. In the course of discussing the confrontation with Defendants, Rhodes made a statement inculpating Bridewell in Chandler's death, as discussed more fully below.

At the police station, Plaintiffs were confined to separate locked rooms and interrogated. The Complaint contains no detail regarding Defendants' interrogation of Bridewell but it states that Manuel refused to give any statements to Defendants. Forberg prepared an Arrest Warrant for Manuel but Manuel was released from the police station the following day, September 4, 2006.

Rhodes was more forthcoming during her interrogation. Rhodes told Defendants repeatedly that she did not possess a gun at the time of Chandler's death and that she never saw Bridewell or Manuel with a gun, that she did not shoot Chandler, and that after the confrontation she heard a shot coming from the direction of Chandler and thought Chandler was shooting at her. Ultimately, though, after 36 hours at the police station, Rhodes told Defendants that she had seen Bridewell shoot Chandler during the confrontation.

According to the Complaint, Rhodes' statement was false and she made it only because her will was overborne by various statements Defendants made to her during her interrogation. Defendants stated that they did not believe Rhodes when she said she did not know who shot Chandler. Defendants falsely told Rhodes that Chandler had three gunshot wounds to his head (he only had one) and that Rhodes had failed her polygraph exam (she had not). Defendants also implied that they believed Bridewell shot Chandler and that Bridewell was a "hot head." Defendants told Rhodes that if she did not cooperate she might go to jail.

Rhodes and Manuel were never charged with a crime in connection with Chandler's death. Bridewell currently is awaiting trial for the murder of Chandler.

II. DISCUSSION

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint as true, and views the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Bontkowski v. First Nat. Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir., 1993). "A complaint must always... allege 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' " Limestone Development Corp. v. Village of Lemont, Ill., 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir., 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). To avoid dismissal, the "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir., 2007) (citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. 544).

A. False Arrest, Unlawful Seizure and False Imprisonment on Behalf of All Plaintiffs

Plaintiffs bring claims under ยง 1983 for false arrest on behalf of Manuel, the only Plaintiff who formally was arrested, unlawful seizure on behalf of Bridewell and Rhodes who were detained and interrogated at the police station, and on behalf of all Plaintiffs for false imprisonment. Plaintiffs assert in their opposition brief that the Complaint contains state law claims for false arrest and false imprisonment on behalf of Manuel. Plaintiffs are wrong; the Complaint contains no state law claims and ...


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