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Dewayne Howard v. County of Cook

December 14, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George W. Lindberg



Plaintiff, DeWayne Howard, an inmate presently in state custody at Centralia Correctional Center, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants, County of Cook, City of Chicago, and City of Chicago Police Officers Kurtovic, Tanovic, Purlo, and John Doe (hereinafter, "Defendants"), violated his constitutional rights by subjecting him to false arrest and false imprisonment.

Plaintiff alleges that on February 12, 2008 and thereafter, Defendants held him without a valid finding of probable cause following his warrantless arrest. Although Plaintiff phrases his claims as false arrest and false imprisonment, his real contention is that the criminal complaints used at his Gerstein*fn1 hearing were insufficient and/or fraudulent, leading to an improper finding of probable cause. He further alleges that the City of Chicago is liable for failure to train police officers how to complete a criminal complaint.

On initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court determined that Plaintiff had stated a claim under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to the City of Chicago, and Officers Kurtovic, Tanovic, and Purlo. Although Plaintiff has tentatively identified the John Doe Defendant as a Chicago Police Officer named Daniel Smith, see Plaintiff's complaint ¶ 6, he has made no attempt to amend his complaint to name him and have him served.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim. They further allege that, with respect to Plaintiff's Monell claim against the City of Chicago, because Plaintiff's false arrest and due process claims are barred by Heck, there can be no claim against the City. Finally, Defendants argue the Plaintiff's claims are barred under the doctrine of collateral estoppel. For the reasons stated in this order, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000). Fact pleading is not necessary to state a claim for relief. Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 970-71 (7th Cir. 2004). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to " 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.' " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, (1957)).

The allegations "must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1084 (quotation omitted). In making this determination, the complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true the well-pleaded allegations, and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081. However, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Kolupa v. Roselle Park Dist., 438 F.3d 713, 715 (7th Cir. 2006).


Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his second amended complaint, which are accepted as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. On February 12, 2008, Plaintiff was arrested by Defendant Police Officers without a warrant. Plaintiff states that the complaints sworn out against him were forged and failed to properly charge him with a violation. He further alleges that while he had a Gerstein hearing on February 13, 2008, the probable cause finding was invalid because the complaints against him were improperly sworn.

Plaintiff was charged with two criminal complaints of home invasion. With respect to one of the complaints, he alleges that it was improperly sworn because it was signed by a police officer and initialed indicating that it was signed on the Complainant's behalf. He further alleges that because the first one is invalid, the other complaint, signed by the complaining witness, is invalid as well. He also alleges, regarding the complaints, that they alleged no criminal offense under Illinois law.

Plaintiff alleges that the City of Chicago, pursuant to Monell v. Dep't. of Soc. Serv. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), failed to train the Defendant Police Officers how to effect an arrest and how to properly prepare criminal complaints. Plaintiff sues the Defendant Police Officers in both their individual and official capacities.


A. Plaintiff Pleads himself out of Court on any Violation of the ...

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