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Richard Montalvo v. John A. Adreani

August 19, 2011

RICHARD MONTALVO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN A. ADREANI, P.O. STAR #6185; ANGELO TRAVLOS, P.O. STAR #16236; DAVID N. PEREZ, P.O. STAR #15791; LUIS A. MARIN, P.O. STAR #19521; ANGEL A. COLINDRES, P.O. STAR #19764; GREGORY G. ZULLO P.O. STAR # 6727; JUAN H. MARTINEZ P.O. STAR #7952; DAVID E. OLIVARES P.O. STAR # 15135; ROBERT LOPEZ, P.O. STAR #5256; SEAN M. RONAN, P.O. STAR #2040; SEAN R. LOUGHRAN, LIEUTENANT (SUPERVISOR ) STAR # 540; NOEL C. LIBOY, P.O. STAR # 13447; HENRY B. VIA, P.O. STAR #12218, ALL IN THEIR OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; AND THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Richard Montalvo filed a two-count first amended complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that thirteen Chicago police officers falsely arrested him based on an invalid search warrant (Count I), and that the City of Chicago developed and maintained unconstitutional polices, customs, and/or practices, and failed to train, supervise, and discipline its police officers, in violation of Monell v. New York Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978) (Count II). Twelve of the thirteen individual defendants-all except for John Adreani-have filed the instant motion to dismiss the claim against them in Count I, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, that motion is granted.

FACTS*fn1

Based on information provided by an unidentified informant, defendant Adreani obtained a search warrant for the third floor and attic of an apartment building located at 1642 West LeMoyne Street in Chicago, Illinois. Plaintiff and his young daughter lived on the second floor of that building. On November 3, 2008, defendants Angelo Travlos, Noel Liboy, David Perez, Luis Marin, Angel Colindres, Gregory Zullo, Juan Martinez, David Olivares, Robert Lopez, and Sean Ronan (the "executing officer defendants") executed the search warrant. They searched the second floor, third floor, and attic. Defendant Sean Loughran was the supervising lieutenant in charge of the execution of the search warrant, and defendant Henry Via was the evidence supervisor for evidence seized in the execution of the warrant.

After finding "random ammunition" in the attic, the executing officer defendants handcuffed plaintiff and arrested him in front of his daughter. Plaintiff was taken to the Cook County Jail and charged with unlawful possession of ammunition. He was later transferred to the Stateville Correctional Facility as a pretrial detainee. On October 21, 2009, the charges against plaintiff were dismissed, and he was released, after 282 days' incarceration.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court thus accepts the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007) (citations omitted). To provide the defendant with "fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests," id. at 555, 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). In addition, its allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief and raise that possibility above the "speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1953 (2009) (explaining that Twombly's pleading principles apply in all civil actions).

II. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

The moving defendants contend that the complaint fails to state a claim against them because it makes no specific allegations of their personal involvement. They are correct. A plaintiff bringing a § 1983 claim must allege that the defendant was personally involved in depriving the plaintiff of his constitutional rights. E.g., Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995). Here, plaintiff's complaint includes a number of allegations describing defendant Adreani's individual involvement in obtaining a search warrant. Plaintiff, however, fails to include any specific, individualized allegations for the moving defendants. The lone allegations against them are:

The Chicago Police Officers' conduct in obtaining the unlawful warrant and incident to the unlawful warrant violated [plaintiff's] constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

and

As a result of the Chicago Police Officers' actions, [plaintiff] was wrongfully arrested, incarcerated for 282 days, and suffered various injuries.

These are skeletal legal conclusions (which the court is not instructed to accept as true) and "formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action" that do not suffice after Twombly. They are not the type of factual allegations of individualized involvement that are required to state a ยง1983 claim. Absent specific allegations of these defendants' personal involvement-for example, specifying what the individual officers' "conduct . . . incident to the unlawful warrant" was and what ...


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