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Sanders v. Sheehan

July 26, 2010

RAFAEL SANDERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER P. SHEEHAN #456, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, OFFICER NEWMAN #541, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, OFFICER D. WALKER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, SGT. WILSON #404, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, UNKNOWN MARKHAM POLICE OFFICERS 1 THROUGH 4 IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AND CITY OF MARKHAM, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joan B. Gottschall

Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Rafael Sanders brought this ten-count action pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983 and state tort theories against the City of Markham (the "City") and individual City police officers. The City moves to dismiss Counts VIII, IX, and X of the Complaint. Count VIII alleges municipal liability based on the claim that the police officers' misconduct was undertaken pursuant to the City's official policy and practice. See Monell v. N.Y. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Count IX seeks to hold the City liable under a theory of indemnification, and Count X alleges municipal liability based on respondeat superior. Sanders does not object to the dismissal of Counts IX and X. (Pl.'s Resp. 1.) Accordingly, Counts IX and X of Sanders's Complaint are dismissed.

However, Sanders opposes to the City's Motion to Dismiss with respect to Count VIII (Monell) of the Complaint. The City contends that Count VIII should be dismissed because Sanders has failed to allege adequately facts supporting his Monell claim.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, on April 18, 2008, Raphael Sanders was driving his vehicle in Markham when he was pulled over by defendant Officer Sheehan. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 17-19.) At Sheehan's request, Sanders produced his insurance card and what he believed was his driver's license, but what was actually a State of Illinois Identification Card. (Id. ¶¶ 20-23.) Officer Sheehan did not issue Sanders a ticket at the site of the traffic stop; instead, Sheehan ordered Sanders to follow him to the police station. (Id. ¶¶ 30-34.)

After waiting in his vehicle at the police station, Sanders approached Officer Sheehan, who was having a conversation with Officer Newman near the entrance of the police station. (Id. ¶ 39.) Sanders addressed Officer Sheehan and "asked if he could have his tickets, insurance card and identification card so he could be on his way." (Id. ¶ 39.) Officer Sheehan initially ignored Sanders, but after Sanders repeated his question, Sheehan responded, "You'll get your tickets when I'm ready." (Id. ¶¶ 40-42.) Sanders then stated to Sheehan, "That's fine, I'll go get a supervisor to see if this is procedure because this is harassment." (Id. ¶ 43.)

As Sanders turned to walk toward the police station, Officer Newman "grabbed [Sanders] by his shoulder, shoved him into the outside wall of the Markham Police Department and shouted, 'Where the hell are you going?'" (Id. ¶ 46.) After a brief exchange between Officer Newman and Sanders, Officer Sheehan "approached Sanders from the side and sprayed pepper-spray directly into [Sanders's] eyes." (Id. ¶ 53) Officers Newman and Sheehan then proceeded to attack Sanders by hitting him with their police batons, choking him, kneeing him in the face, pulling his hair, and using a taser on his torso, thigh and calf. (Id. ¶¶ 54-75.) During the assault, Sanders experienced intense pain, bled profusely, and suffered broken bones and dislodged teeth. (Id.) Sanders begged for mercy, but the Officers continued to beat him. (Id.)

After the assault, Sanders was escorted into the police station, where he was allowed to post bond and call his mother. (Id. ¶¶ 76-80.) Sanders's mother first drove him to the orthodontist, and then to the emergency room where his "right leg was put into [a] cast . . . and stitches were used to repair [his] lip." (Id. ¶¶ 81-86.) Sanders's injuries required one more trip to the emergency room, and several more visits to different doctors. (Id. ¶ 99.)

Following these events, Sanders was charged with two misdemeanors arising from the altercation with Sheehan and Newman, and was issued two traffic citations arising from the initial traffic stop. (Id. ¶ 100.) All of the charges were later dismissed. (Id. ¶ 105.)

On December 11, 2009, Sanders brought this suit. The Complaint directs several claims against the individual defendants, including: Excessive Force (Count I); False Arrest (Count II); Battery (Count III); Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count IV); Failure to Intervene (Count V); Denial of Due Process (Count VI); and Conspiracy (Count VII). The Complaint also sets forth Counts VIII through X against the City; those counts are the subject of the City's instant motion.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In considering a motion to dismiss, "the court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true the well-pleaded allegations and drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor." Ellis v. City of Chicago, No. 09 CV 2889, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4704, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 20, 2010) (citing Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008)). Under the federal notice pleading standard, "all the rules require is 'a short and plain statement of the claim' that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics & Intelligence Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).*fn1 Although a complaint does not require detailed factual allegations, it must contain "more than labels and conclusions," and "a formulaic recitation of the elements of actions will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must contain ...


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