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Carrillo v. City of Chicago

October 13, 2009

OMAR CARRILLO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, BRIAN SWIATKOWSKI, AND LAURA KUC, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Omar Carrillo has sued the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers Brian Swiatkowski and Laura Kuc for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois common law. Carrillo alleges that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they arrested him after a traffic stop. The defendants have moved to dismiss Carrillo's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court denies defendants' motion.

Background

The Court takes the facts as they are alleged in Carrillo's complaint.

On December 9, 2008, officers Swiatkowski and Kuc stopped Carrillo while he was driving on South Damen Avenue in Chicago. When they asked for his license, Carrillo informed the officers that he was "driving on a ticket" and presented the ticket and his state-issued identification card.

The officers checked Carrillo's name and found a possible arrest warrant for Omar Bucio. The officers told Carrillo about the warrant. Carrillo explained that he was not Omar Bucio and had been arrested mistakenly on a warrant for Bucio before. He handed the officers a May 2007 court order from a DuPage County circuit judge stating that he was not to be arrested on the Bucio warrant. Carrillo alleges that officer Swiatkowski took the court order away from him and ripped it apart. The officer then placed Carrillo under arrest.

Carrillo was processed into the Cook County Jail and missed work because of his detention. He was released on December 10, 2008 after posting a $500 bond. Carrillo then appeared in court in DuPage County on the warrant, and a judge entered a new order again stating that he was not to be arrested on the Bucio warrant.

In count one of his complaint, Carrillo alleges that Swiatkowski and Kuc arrested him in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. In count two, Carrillo alleges that his arrest was caused by the City's policy or custom of failing to implement adequate procedures to verify the identity of persons arrested on warrants and failing to train police officers regarding making arrests based on warrants. Counts three and four are state law claims against the officers for false arrest and imprisonment and willful and wanton conduct. Count five is a respondeat superior claim against the City based on the officers' conduct. Count six is a claim against the City for indemnification of the officers pursuant to 745 ILCS 10/9-102.

Defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). They argue that Carrillo has failed to allege a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights because probable cause existed as a matter of law. Defendants Swiatkowski and Kuc argue in the alternative that they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit with regard to count one. (The City, a municipality, cannot assert a defense of qualified immunity. See Owen v. City of Independence, 445 U.S. 622, 638 (1980); Armstrong v. Squadrito, 152 F.3d 564, 582 (7th Cir. 1998).) The defendants also argue that the existence of probable cause defeats each of Carrillo's state law claims.

Discussion

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint, the Court accepts the facts stated in the complaint as true and draws reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must include enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009); Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., No. 08-3504, 2009 WL 2902076, at *2 (7th Cir. Sept. 11, 2009). A claim is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "This said, in examining the facts and matching them up with the stated legal claims, [a court] give[s] 'the plaintiff the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint.'" Bissessur, 2009 WL 2902076, at *2 (quoting Sanjuan v. Amer. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)).

1. Failure to Present a Valid License

Defendants contend that Carrillo suffered no violation of his Fourth Amendment rights because the officers had probable cause to arrest him based on his failure to present a driver's license after they stopped him. Carrillo contends that he presented officers with a ticket showing that he had a valid license and a state-issued identification card and that this made an arrest on this basis improper.

This case involves the local practice of "driving on a ticket." When a driver is cited for a moving violation in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois, the officer issuing the citation typically takes the driver's license as bond. The officer then gives the driver a citation which the driver uses in lieu of her license until the citation is paid or ...


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