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Bryce R. Scott v. the City of Peoria

February 17, 2011

BRYCE R. SCOTT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF PEORIA, OFFICER GERALD W. SUELTER, OFFICER TIMOTHY L.
WIGHT, OFFICER JEREMY J. LAYMAN, OFFICER JAMES A. KRIDER, OFFICER ) ANDREW SMITH, OFFICER CONOR WOWRA, AS WELL AS OTHER UNKNOWN
CITY OF PEORIA EMPLOYEES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge

E-FILED

Thursday, 17 February, 2011 02:30:15 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion to Dismiss Fourth Amended Complaint (#42) filed by Defendants, Gerald W. Suelter, Timothy L. Wight, Jeremy J. Layman, James A. Krider, Andrew Smith, and Conor Wowra (individual defendants), and the Motion to Dismiss Fourth Amended Complaint (#44) filed by Defendant City of Peoria (City). Following this court's careful and thorough consideration of the arguments of the parties, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (#42, #44) are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND

On May 27, 2009, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal (#1) and removed this case which had been filed by Plaintiff, Bryce R. Scott, in the circuit court of Peoria County. Plaintiff had alleged only state law causes of action in his initial complaint and first and second amended complaints. In his Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff also alleged federal claims, leading to the removal of the case to federal court. Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint was 48 pages long and included 14 separate counts. The case was originally assigned to United States District JudgeMichael M. Mihm.

On May 28, 2009, the City filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts I and VIII of the Third Amended Complaint (#3). On June 18, 2009, the individual defendants also filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts I and VIII of the Third Amended Complaint (#6). On July 30, 2009, the individual defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (#16) seeking dismissal of the entire Third Amended Complaint.

On July 23, 2009, Judge Mihm recused himself from the case and it was assigned to United States District Judge Joe Billy McDade. On August 25, 2009, the individual defendants filed a Motion to Stay Civil Proceedings (#22). The individual defendants stated that Plaintiff's complaint alleged that the defendants used excessive force during a May 3, 2008, traffic stop. They further stated that Defendants Suelter, Smith and Layman were indicted on criminal charges arising out of the May 3, 2008 incident complained of by Plaintiff. The individual defendants asked that the civil case be stayed pending the resolution of the criminal matter. On September 22, 2009, Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman granted the Motion to Stay.

On November 2, 2009, Plaintiff's counsel filed a Motion to Withdraw as Attorney (#23). On November 19, 2009, Attorneys Aaron S. Mandel, Arthur Loevy, Jonathan I. Loevy and Russell R. Ainsworth, all of the law firm of Loevy and Loevy, entered their appearances (#25, #26, #27, #29) on behalf of Plaintiff. On November 24, 2009, Judge Gorman granted Plaintiff's original counsel's Motion to Withdraw. On December 15, 2009, Attorney Michael Kanovitz of the law firm of Loevy and Loevy entered his appearance (#31) on behalf of Plaintiff.

On May 27, 2010, Judge McDade recused himself from this case and the case was assigned to this court. On October 15, 2010, Judge Gorman held a status conference. At the status conference, Judge Gorman was informed that the criminal trial would be held in November. JudgeGorman ordered the case to remain stayed. On December 13, 2010, Judge Gorman held a status conference and ordered the stay lifted.

On December 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Renewed Motion for Leave to File Fourth Amended Complaint (#38).*fn1 Plaintiff stated that the proposed Fourth Amended Complaint added no new parties, but did add a claim under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, as well as setting forth in greater detail the basis for Plaintiff's Monell claim and state-law claims. Plaintiff also stated that the amendment clarified Plaintiff's claims, which would lead to more efficient briefing and discovery by the parties and resolution by the court. On January 4, 2011, this court entered an Order (#39) and granted Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Fourth Amended Complaint. This court therefore found that Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (#3, #6, #16) were MOOT. This court allowed Defendants 14 days to refile the motions or file new motions to dismiss directly attacking the Fourth Amended Complaint.

Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint (#40) was filed on January 4, 2011. The Fourth Amended Complaint is six pages long and does not include separate counts. In the Complaint, Plaintiff stated that the action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to redress the deprivation under color of law of Plaintiff's rights as secured by the United States Constitution and under Illinois state law. Plaintiff alleged that, "[s]pecifically, Defendant Officers viciously beat Plaintiff, without justification, and while using racial epithets, all of which was caught on videotape." Plaintiff alleged that, on May 3, 2008, the Defendant Officers initiated a traffic stop of his automobile in Peoria, Illinois. Plaintiff alleged that, although he complied with the Officers' commands, Wight sprayed his face with pepper spray, Wight and Suelter applied three taser shocks to his back and legs, Wightstruck him in the face with a fist, and Smith repeatedly stomped and kicked Plaintiff. Plaintiff further alleged that Layman, Krider and Wowra watched Suelter, Wight and Smith pepper spray, punch, stomp, kick and taser Plaintiff and did nothing to intervene or stop the conduct, despite having an opportunity to do so.

Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, causing him damage, and violated Plaintiff's rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff alleged that the misconduct was "objectively unreasonable, and undertaken with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference to the rights of others." Plaintiff further alleged that the misconduct "was motivated by racial animus and constituted purposeful discrimination." Plaintiff then provided allegations against the City. Plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the City proximately caused the violation of his ...


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