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Joel B. Prate v. the Village of Downers Grove

November 7, 2011

JOEL B. PRATE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE, OFFICER RANDALL J. CAUDILL JR., OFFICER NICHOLAS LINKLATER, OFFICER ROBERT BYLLS, OFFICER JOHN YOCUM, OFFICER PHIL STEIK, SERGEANT JAMES MALY, SERGEANT JOE KARMIA, OFFICER GREG MAYYOU, AS WELL AS OTHER UNKNOWN VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE EMPLOYEES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are two separate Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss--one on behalf of the Village of Downers Grove and Nicholas Linklater and the other on behalf of Officers Bylls, Yocum, Steik, Maly, Karmia and Mayyou. Also before the Court is Defendant Village's motion to strike the prayer for punitive damages. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motions in part and denies them in part. The Court further directs Plaintiff to file an amended Complaint consistent with the terms of this Order by November 9, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

On May 31, 2011, Plaintiff Joel B. Prate filed a Complaint against the Village of Downers Grove, Officer Randall J. Caudill Jr., and other unknown Village of Downers Grove employees, alleging that Defendants falsely arrested and unlawfully detained him without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment, failed to intervene to prevent the violation of his constitutional rights, maliciously prosecuted him, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him, and conspired to commit unlawful acts. (R. 1, Compl.) Plaintiff also asserted a Monell policy and practice claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an indemnification claim against the Village, and further asserted that the Village is liable for its employees' conduct under the theory of respondeat superior. (Id.) On July 25, 2011, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint, alleging the same facts and legal claims and adding Officer Nicholas Linklater as a named Defendant. (R. 17, Am. Compl.) Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on August 17, 2011, again asserting the same factual allegations and legal claims, but adding Officer Robert Bylls, Officer John Yocum, Officer Phil Steik, Sergeant James Maly, Sergeant Joe Karmia, and Officer Greg Mayyou as named Defendants. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages from all Defendants and further seeks punitive damages from the individual defendants in their "individual capacities." (Id. at 11, Prayer for Relief.)

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Second Amended Complaint. He is a 52-year old man who lives in Utah. (Am. Compl ¶ 5.) Until the events underlying his lawsuit occurred, he was self-employed as a long-haul truck driver for five years, during which time law enforcement officers never stopped, ticketed, or charged him with a drug or alcohol related offense. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.) Plaintiff and his son, Jeff Prate, drove as a team. (Id. ¶ 8.)

In the spring of 2009, Plaintiff suffered a pulmonary embolism. (Id. ¶ 10.) His doctor prescribed Coumadin, a blood-thinning medication, which he has taken since that time. (Id.) Plaintiff receives a blood test each month when he refills his Coumadin prescription so that his blood levels can be monitored to ensure the proper dosage of Coumadin. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff also suffers from chronic pain caused by metal implants in his spine that were made necessary by a spinal birth defect, which was exacerbated by a car accident several years ago. (Id. ¶ 12.) His doctor has prescribed a number of additional medications for Plaintiff for his pain and other serious medical conditions. (Id. ¶ 13.)

On or around August 23, 2009, while Plaintiff was visiting his daughter in Villa Park, Illinois, he received a call from a trucking company assigning his son and him to a job that required a pickup on August 25, 2009 at 7:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff and his son were scheduled to be on the road for 30 days. (Id.) To prepare for the trip, Plaintiff took his prescriptions to the pharmacy to be refilled, and he received enough of each medication to last for the next 30 days. (Id. ¶ 15.) The pharmacy dispensed each medication in a pill bottle with an adhesive label attached. (Id.)

At approximately 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. on August 25, 2009, Plaintiff and his son drove Plaintiff's vehicle to the emergency room at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital so that Plaintiff could have the Coumadin levels in his blood tested and his medication adjusted, if necessary, before his trip. (Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff parked on the second floor of the parking garage, approximately 50-75 feet away from the emergency room entrance. (Id. ¶ 17.) In the emergency room, Plaintiff spoke with an intake nurse, who told him that the blood test would have to be administered at the hospital's Coumadin Clinic, which did not open until 6:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 18.)

While Plaintiff and his son waited for the Coumadin Clinic to open, they fell asleep in Plaintiff's vehicle, which was still parked near the emergency room entrance. (Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff awoke to a police officer (whom Plaintiff alleges was one of the Defendant Officers in his case) rapping on the driver's side window of the vehicle, and he saw several uniformed officers in positions around his vehicle. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff rolled his window down, and, upon the officer's request, showed the officer his valid Utah Class A commercial driver's license. (Id. ¶ 22.) The police officer reviewed Plaintiff's driver's license, wrote down the license number, and asked Plaintiff if he had any drugs or weapons in his vehicle. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff replied that he did not, and he consented to a search of his vehicle. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) One of the Defendant Officers found Plaintiff's prescription medications during the search and stated "Oh, we've got some good prescription drugs here," or words to that effect. (Id. ¶ 27.) The Defendant Officers then arrested Plaintiff for driving under the influence and took him into custody. (Id. ¶ 28.)

Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant Officers' sole purpose in arresting him was to confiscate his prescription medications, "including potent pain medication that, upon information and belief, could fetch thousands of dollars on the black market." (Id. ¶ 29.) The Defendant Officers never inventoried the prescription medication that they confiscated, nor, with the exception of one pill, did they log it into evidence. (Id. ¶ 30.) Instead, they stole it for their own purposes. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that in order to cover up their theft of his prescription medications, Defendant Officers falsely and maliciously caused Plaintiff to be charged with nine counts of driving under the influence--one count for each medication in his possession. (Id. ¶ 31.) Defendant Officers also charged Plaintiff with not possessing a valid driver's license, even though his Utah commercial driver's license that he gave to them was valid. (Id. ¶ 32.) Defendant Linklater signed the criminal complaint against Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 43.) When Plaintiff was released from custody, Defendant Officers did not return his prescription medication to him, and he accordingly suffered serious pain and medical complications for one month until he could refill his prescriptions. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) Plaintiff alleges that "[a]ll of the Defendants' interactions with [him] were undertaken under color of law, and within the scope of their employment." (Id. ¶ 56.) He further alleges that because each Defendant acted within the scope of his employment, the Village is liable for damages arising out of each Defendant's conduct. (Id. ¶ 57.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Caudill was one of the officers who arrested him and that Defendant Caudill subsequently attended his trial. (Id. ¶ 40.) Defendant Caudill is currently under indictment for engaging in a longstanding conspiracy to abuse his position as a Downers Grove police officer to steal drugs from citizens in order to sell them on the black market. (Id. ¶ 41.) According to Plaintiff, the other Defendant Officers agreed with Defendant Caudill to steal Plaintiff's medications in order to sell them. (Id. ¶ 42.)

After a bench trial on July 21, 2010, Plaintiff was acquitted of all charges. (Id. ¶ 35.) He alleges that because of Defendant Officers' conduct, he missed the scheduled pickup on August 25, 2009 and has been unable to work since that time. (Id. ¶¶ 36-37.) Additionally, he asserts that all trucking companies have a zero tolerance policy for substance abuse, and the nine charges against him effectively ended his career even though they were ultimately dismissed. (Id. ¶ 37.) He also alleges that he ...


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