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Sanders v. Sheehan

August 12, 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"), police officers Sheehan, Newman, Walker, and Wilson, and four additional, unknown City police officers. The court previously granted in part and denied in remaining part the City's motion to dismiss Sanders' allegations regarding municipal liability. (See Doc. 46.) Presently before the court are the City's, Newman's, Walker's, and Wilson's motion to dismiss (Doc. 21) and Sheehan's motion to dismiss (Doc. 37).

I. BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, on April 18, 2008, Raphael Sanders was driving his automobile in Markham when he was pulled over by defendant Officer Sheehan. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 17-19.) Sanders was unable to produce a valid driver's license, but instead produced his State of Illinois Identification Card. (Id. ¶¶ 20-23.) Sheehan ordered Sanders to follow him to the police station. (Id. ¶¶ 30-34.)

Sanders waited outside the police station for some time, then asked Sheehan and Officer Newman if he could have his citation for driving without a license, along with his proof of insurance and identification card. (Id. ¶ 39.) Sheehan told Sanders that he would get his tickets when Sheehan was ready. (Id. ¶¶ 40-42.) Unsatisfied, Sanders turned to enter the police station to find Sheehan's supervisor. (Id. ¶ 43.) However, Newman stopped Sanders and pressed him against the station wall. (Id. ¶¶ 46.) Sheehan sprayed pepper spray into Sanders's eyes (id. ¶ 53), and both officers attacked Sanders by hitting him with their police batons, choking him, kneeing him in the face, and pulling his hair (id. ¶¶ 54-75). Sanders, in extreme pain, begged for mercy, but the beating continued. (Id.) During the beating, Sanders was handcuffed. (Id. ¶¶ 73, 75.)

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)). 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 enough factual matter "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. While the plausibility standard requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully," it does not rise to the level of a probability requirement. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

III. ANALYSIS

The City, Newman, Walker, and Wilson move to dismiss Counts II, III, IV, and VII, as well as all allegations against the individual defendants in their official capacities. Sheehan joins in the other defendants' motion, and advances an additional argument for the dismissal of Count II. Sanders has no objection to the dismissal of Counts III and IV, which are accordingly dismissed. The court addresses each remaining count in turn.

A. Count II

In Count II, Sanders brings a claim pursuant to § 1983 for false arrest. Sheehan argues that Sanders's initial allegations of false arrest, which pertain to Sanders's traffic stop by Sheehan, fail to state a claim; all individual defendants maintain that Sanders's allegations of arrest once he arrived at the police station are insufficient.

1. Sheehan

Sheehan argues that Sanders has pled himself out of court by alleging that he did not have his driver's license when Sheehan stopped him. Sheehan is correct that Illinois law requires that a licensee have his license in his possession when driving a motor vehicle and display the license upon demand by a police officer. 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-112. Sheehan is also correct that "[p]robable cause to arrest is an absolute defense to any claim under Section 1983 against police officers for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, or malicious ...


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