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Huerta v. Village of Carol Stream

August 27, 2009

ALFREDO HUERTA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF CAROL STREAM, OFFICER CAMILLO INCROCCI, OFFICER PETER SPIZZIRI, OFFICER BRIAN COOPER, VILLAGE OF GLENDALE HEIGHTS, UNKNOWN GLENDALE HEIGHTS POLICE OFFICER, 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 Defendant Village of Carol Stream ("Carol Stream") to dismiss Plaintiff Alfredo Huerta ("Huerta")'s complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In addition, Defendants Village of Glendale Heights ("Glendale Heights") and Unknown Glendale Heights Police Officer ("Officer") move to dismiss the counts against them under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, Carol Stream's motion to dismiss is granted and Glendale Heights's motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

According to the allegations contained in the complaint, which we must accept as true for purposes of these motions, Huerta was at his home on March 10, 2008, when Carol Stream police officers and an unnamed Officer from Glendale Heights arrived to investigate a domestic disturbance call. The officers entered Huerta's home without a warrant and searched it. Huerta further claims that the officers threw him to the ground, stomped on his neck, and arrested him without cause. During the course of his arrest, the officers allegedly used vulgar language and the Officer from Glendale Heights referred to Huerta as a "coke head" in front of his friends and family.

Huerta filed this nine-count complaint against Carol Stream and its officers Camillo Incrocci, Peter Spizziri, and Brian Cooper. He also sued Glendale Heights and the unknown Officer. The complaint alleges false arrest and excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, state law claims of defamation per se, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, respondeat superior, and indemnification.

Carol Stream filed the instant motion to dismiss Counts I and II that arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on the basis that Huerta has improperly pled respondeat superior for these alleged constitutional violations. Glendale Heights moves to dismiss Counts I (false arrest), III (defamation per se), V (intentional infliction of emotional distress), VII (respondeat superior), and IX (indemnification) for failure to state a claim.

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 motions.

DISCUSSION

The parties submitting motions to dismiss have asked for varying forms of relief and we will address each request in turn. First, we will review Carol Stream's motion to dismiss Counts I and II of Huerta's complaint. Next, we examine whether Huerta has stated cognizable claims against Glendale Heights and the Officer.

I. Carol Stream's Motion to Dismiss

Carol Stream moves to dismiss Counts I and II of Huerta's complaint on the basis that there is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983 for claims against a municipality. A local government may not be sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents. Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2037 (1978). Carol Stream asserts Huerta's allegations under § 1983 for false arrest and excessive force should be dismissed because it is not liable for the actions of its employees under respondeat superior. Huerta does not resist this argument; instead, he contends that the respondeat superior claims against Carol Stream arise under state law and are not pled against them for the § 1983 claims. ...


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