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Linda L. Shelton v. Rachel Wright

March 9, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge


Before the Court are Defendant Cook County's motion to dismiss [7] Count VI of Plaintiff Linda Shelton's complaint and Defendants Wright and Allen's motion to dismiss [9] Counts III, IV, and V of Plaintiff's complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants both motions to dismiss [7, 9].

I. Background*fn1

Plaintiff Linda Shelton ("Plaintiff") alleges that on October 10, 2007, she went to the Circuit Court of Cook County to obtain a document from the clerk's office. Plaintiff carried with her a bag containing equipment and medication for treatment of her asthma, along with a judicial order granting her permission to bring the equipment and medications into the courthouse. Plaintiff placed her bag in the security scanner machine and walked through the security gate. Plaintiff alleges that neither she nor the bag triggered the security alarm device, known as a "magnetometer." However, an officer extracted the cords for Plaintiff's medical equipment from her bag for inspection. Defendant Allen, an employee of the Cook County Sheriff's Division of Courtroom Services who was standing near the security scanner dressed in plainclothes, informed Plaintiff that the cords for Plaintiff's equipment were not permitted in the courthouse. Plaintiff, "[t]hinking Defendant Allen was some kind of nut, interfering with the security officer's duties," countered that she had permission to bring the equipment into the courthouse and began to walk away from the security area. [1, at ¶ 12.] She was stopped by Defendant Allen and other officers, who told her that she had breached security. Defendant Wright, another Courtroom Services Division employee, then approached Plaintiff and told her that she had failed to comply with security procedures by refusing to pass back through the scanning device. Defendant Wright instructed Plaintiff to leave the building because she was resisting security procedures. Plaintiff did not leave, and Defendants arrested her for trespass to State-supported land.

At the time of her arrest on October 10, 2007, Plaintiff was on bail awaiting sentencing on a conviction for battery to a correctional officer. On October 12, the Cook County Circuit Court judge revoked Plaintiff's bail on the battery conviction as a result of the trespass arrest.

Plaintiff contends that she did not receive due process in her bail revocation hearing. Plaintiff alleges that the judge at the bail revocation hearing refused to consider the surveillance tape of the security incident that Plaintiff offered as evidence. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Wright falsely testified at the hearing that Plaintiff had hidden the electrical cords, triggered the magnetometer, and refused to go back through the security gate. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Wright stated at the hearing that "Plaintiff had become hysterical [during the October 10 incident] and claimed she had been raped by officers." [1, at ¶ 27.] Plaintiff alleges (presumably in explanation of the assertion of hysteria) that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of an altercation that she had with a Cook County Jail officer (which formed the basis of the battery conviction) and experienced flashbacks during the October 10 incident.

During the trespass prosecution, Plaintiff filed a "motion to quash for lack of probable cause and insufficient complaint." [1, at ¶ 31.] The Government filed a motion for a nolle prosequi order. On December 17, 2007, the Cook County Circuit Court judge entered a nolle prosequi order and deemed Plaintiff's motions moot. Plaintiff alleges that she made a demand for a speedy trial during the proceeding at which the court nol-prossed the case.

On October 3, 2009, Plaintiff filed the complaint in this case, asserting a § 1983 claim for unlawful arrest, seizure, and imprisonment against Defendants Wright, Allen, and Does (collectively, "the individual Defendants") (Count I); a § 1983 claim for due process violation against the individual Defendants (Count II); a state law malicious prosecution claim against the individual Defendants (Count III); a state law intentional and negligent defamation claim against the individual Defendants (Count IV); a state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the individual Defendants (Count V); and a Monell claim against Defendant Cook County ("Cook County") (Count VI). Plaintiff alleges that after her bail was revoked following the October 10 arrest, she was placed in segregation in jail and was denied access to the law library. As a result, she was unable to access legal materials that she sought to use to file post-trial motions, an appeal, and post-conviction petitions in her battery case. Plaintiff also alleges that she was denied her medications and food that was appropriate to her (unidentified) medical conditions while incarcerated. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that she and her family suffered emotional distress as a result of the arrest.

II. Legal Standard on a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case. See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 (2007). The factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the "speculative level," assuming that all of the allegations in the complaint are true. E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 569 n.14). In other words, the pleading must allege facts that plausibly suggest the claim asserted. Twombly, 550 570. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). However, "[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (omission in original). The Court accepts as true all of the well-pleaded facts alleged by the plaintiff and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. See Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005).

III. Analysis

A. Count III

Count III of Plaintiff's complaint asserts a state law claim of malicious prosecution against Defendants Wright, Allen, and Does. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim is beyond the statute of limitations and therefore must be dismissed as time-barred.

The Illinois Tort Immunity Act establishes a one-year statute of limitations for civil actions against employees of a local entity for any injury. See 745 ILCS 10/8-101. A malicious prosecution claim accrues on the date that the case was terminated in the plaintiff's favor. See Ferguson v. City of Chicago, 820 N.E.2d 455, 459 (Ill. 2004).Here, the trespass charge against Plaintiff was dismissed on December 17, 2007, by an order of nolle prosequi. Entry of a nolle prosequi order dismisses the charges and terminates further prosecution; it thus is similar to a grant of a motion to dismiss. See People v. Douglas, 839 N.E.2d 1039, 1045 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2005); see also Ferguson, 820 N.E.2d at 460 (holding that "a nolle prosequi order terminates the charge and requires the institution of a new and separate proceeding to prosecute the defendant"). Defendants argue that the case against Plaintiff was terminated on December 17, 2007 (or, alternatively, on ...

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