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Gray v. Stallworth

August 20, 2009

DERRICK GRAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARCHIE STALLWORTH, STAR NO. 351, DETECTIVE SNEED, STAR NO. 925, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES P. KOCORAS, District Judge

This matter comes before the court on the motion of Defendants Archie Stallworth and Detective Sneed ("Defendants") to dismiss Counts III and IV of Plaintiff Derrick Gray ("Gray")'s complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

According to the allegations contained in the complaint, the Defendants arrested Gray on two separate occasions based on false criminal charges. On June 17, 2007, it appears that the Defendants obtained a warrant based on evidence he claims was fabricated in the form of an incriminating video tape, witnesses, and contraband to support their authority to search his residence. After Gray was arrested and detained, he was released. On July 12, under a similar set of circumstances, Gray was arrested, detained, and served four months in jail before being released.

Gray filed the instant four-count complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Count I, he alleges that his Fourth Amendment rights were abridged by the Defendants' actions on June 17. Count II alleges unlawful seizure for the July 12 arrest. Count III asserts a violation of his due process rights and Count IV avers that the Defendants engaged in a conspiracy to violate Gray's constitutional rights.

The Defendants responded by moving to dismiss Counts III and IV on the basis that Count III fails to state a cognizable due process violation and that Count IV is duplicative and unnecessary.

LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is used to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, construe allegations of a complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). To state a claim on which relief can be granted, a plaintiff must satisfy two conditions: first, the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests; and second, its allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a speculative level. EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, - U.S. -, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007). However, a pleading need only convey enough information to allow the defendant to understand the gravamen of the complaint. Payton v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Med. Ctr., 184 F.3d 623, 627 (7th Cir. 1999).

With these principles in mind, we turn to the instant motion.

DISCUSSION

I. Due Process Claim

In Count III, Gray alleges that the Defendants violated his due process rights in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194 (1963) when they represented an incriminating video exists, an informant exists, and offered other allegedly false evidence against him. It appears that this evidence was used to substantiate the Defendants warrant to arrest Gray and detain him. The complaint includes allegations sounding in both substantive and procedural due process violations.

Defendants first argue that Gray cannot maintain a substantive due process violation because, at the core, it is a state law malicious prosecution claim cloaked as a substantive due process claim. They rely upon the proposition that a constitutional claim for malicious prosecution cannot be sustained when a state law offers the same remedy. Newsome v. McCabe, 256 F.3d 747, 750-51 (7th Cir. 2001). Their next assertion is that Gray's procedural due process claim fails because falsified reports ...


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