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Leonard Taylor v. Thomas Dart

June 6, 2011

LEONARD TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS DART, SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; HOWARD DAVIS, JUDGE VIRGINIA M. KENDALL CORRECTIONS OFFICER,
IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; OTIS NICHOLS,
CORRECTIONS OFFICER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES;
AND COOK COUNTY, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge Northern District of Illinois

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Leonard Taylor ("Taylor") filed a Second Amended Complaint against Thomas Dart ("Dart"), Howard Davis ("Davis"), Otis Nichols ("Nichols"), and Cook County ("County") (together "Defendants") alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois state law.*fn1 Count I alleges that Davis and Nichols violated the Fourteenth Amendment in their individual capacities; Count II alleges that all Defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment in their official capacities; and Count III alleges that Davis and Nichols assaulted and battered Taylor in their individual capacities. Defendants move for partial dismissal: specifically, they seek to dismiss Dart and the County and to dismiss the official capacity charges against all Defendants. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants's Motion to Dismiss Count II: the Court dismisses all official capacity claims and Dart and the County are dismissed from the case. Counts I and III remain; Taylor may file an Amended Complaint stating an indemnification claim against the County within 14 days.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

The following facts are taken from Taylor's Second Complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this Motion to Dismiss. See Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995).

On September 7, 2007, Taylor, a pretrial detainee of the Cook County Jail ("CCJ"), was transferred from Division 10 of the CCJ to Division 9. (Second Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 12.) Taylor brought a bag of his belongings, including items he had recently purchased at the commissary. (Id.) Upon arriving at Division 9, Taylor and approximately ten other inmates were instructed to enter a temporary holding cell while their bags and belongings were searched. (Id. ¶ 13.) Taylor was released from the holding cell approximately two hours later and went to retrieve his belongings. (Id. ¶ 14.)

Taylor noticed that several of his belongings-including books, magazines, and purchases he made at the commissary-were missing. (Id. ¶ 15.) He asked about his missing belongings but received no response. (Id. ¶ 17.) He then collected what remained of his belongings and walked towards the North Tower, where Nichols, a corrections officer at the CCJ, was watching the line. (Id.)

Taylor continued to ask those around him about his missing belongings. (Id. ¶ 18.) Davis, a corrections officer at the CCJ, approached Taylor from behind and told Taylor to "shut the fuck up because you don't want any trouble with me." (Id.) Nichols also approached Taylor and told Taylor to "shut the fuck up." (Id. ¶ 19.)

Taylor "responded to these threats" and was then struck by both Davis and Nichols in rapid succession. (Id. ¶ 20.) Taylor was hit on both sides of his head and face and was then slammed on the ground. (Id.) Davis leapt on Taylor's back and forced him to lie on his chest. (Id.) Davis and Nichols continued to hit Taylor on his head and face. (Id. ¶ 22.) Other officers joined and continued to beat and kick Taylor. (Id. ¶ 23.) Taylor lost consciousness for several seconds when he was struck in the back of the head with a hard object. (Id.)

Taylor regained consciousness and realized that he was still pinned to the ground with Davis on top of him. (Id. ¶ 24.) Davis pulled Taylor to his feet by pulling up on Taylor's handcuffs. (Id.) Taylor was dragged and thrown into a bullpen. (Id.)

An hour later, Taylor was taken to Cermak Health Services of Cook County where he was treated for his injuries. (Id. ¶ 25.) As a result of the beatings, Taylor suffered physical injuries and severe pain including a black eye, two large knots in the back of his head, extensive brusing to his face and back, and severe pain in his back and left shoulder. (Id. ¶ 26.) Taylor underwent treatment and physical therapy for his injuries and has been prescribed pain medication. (Id.) Taylor continues to suffer pain in his left shoulder. (Id.)

Taylor initially filed suit, pro se, against Dart, Davis, and Nichols in their individual capacities on April 16, 2009. (Doc. 1.) Taylor's Complaint stated that Dart, Davis, and Nichols violated his constitutional rights and that Taylor was seeking compensatory damages against them individually. (Id.) The Court dismissed the charges against Dart on December 4, 2009 but kept Dart as a party to the case until Davis and Nichols were properly named and served. (Doc. 23.) Taylor filed a Motion to Amend his Complaint on March 18, 2010 stating explicitly that he was removing Dart from the Amended Complaint and that Dart was no longer a defendant in the case. (Doc. 37.) Taylor then filed his First Amended Complaint, pro se, on April 5, 2010. (Doc. 42.) Taylor's First Amended Complaint again stated that Davis and Nichols individually violated his constitutional rights and that Taylor was seeking compensatory damages against them individually. (Id.)

The Court appointed counsel to Taylor and Taylor filed a Second Amended Complaint, with the assistance of counsel, on March 3, 2011. Taylor's Second Amended Complaint made, for the first time, official capacity claims against Davis, Nichols, Dart, and the County. (Doc. 86.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Murphy, 51 F.3d at 717. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). "Detailed factual allegations" are not required, but the plaintiff must allege facts that, when "accepted as true . . . 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In analyzing whether a complaint has met this standard, the "reviewing court [must] draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court assumes their veracity and then determines if ...


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