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Juan Jose Ochoa v. Cook County Sheriff

November 8, 2011

JUAN JOSE OCHOA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COOK COUNTY SHERIFF, CITY OF CHICAGO, AND UNKNOWN SHERIFF DEPUTIES, OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF COOK COUNTY SHERIFF, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. George W. Lindberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is defendant Cook County Sheriff's ("Sheriff") motion to dismiss Counts III and IV of plaintiff Juan Jose Ochoa's ("Ochoa" or "plaintiff") First Amended Complaint ("complaint") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6). The Sheriff argues that Ochoa failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons set forth more fully below, the motion to dismiss is granted.

I. Relevant Facts

The instant case stems from plaintiff's April 29, 2010 arrest pursuant to an arrest warrant for a different individual with the same first and last name. According to the complaint, unknown Chicago police officers and unknown civilian personnel of the Chicago Police Department ("CDP") arrested plaintiff in his home in Burbank, Illinois on April 29, 2010 pursuant to an arrest warrant for an individual named Juan L. Ochoa. The arrest warrant described an individual shorter and heavier than plaintiff, who had tattoos. Plaintiff does not have any tattoos and claims that he does not look like the individual described in the arrest warrant. While at his home, plaintiff advised the arresting officers and civilian personnel that he was not Juan L. Ochoa and provided valid identification and other documentation identifying himself as Juan Jose Ochoa.

Nevertheless, the officers arrested plaintiff and detained him at the CPD facility located at Harrison and Kedzie for approximately 24 hours. During his detention at the Harrison and Kedzie facility, CPD employees never attempted to fingerprint plaintiff to confirm his identity. Members of plaintiff's family provided valid identification and other documents to CPD personnel, but plaintiff was not released from custody.

On April 30, 2010, CPD personnel transferred plaintiff to Cook County Jail. As he did with CPD personnel, plaintiff advised Cook County Jail personnel that he was not Juan L. Ochoa and provided them with valid identification and other documentation identifying himself as Juan Jose Ochoa. Similar to CPD personnel, Cook County Jail personnel detained plaintiff for 4 days without fingerprinting him to confirm his identity. Plaintiff remained in the Cook County Jail until May 3, 2010, when he was transported to the Lake County Jail.

Lake County Jail personnel finally fingerprinted plaintiff. The fingerprints confirmed that plaintiff was not the Juan L. Ochoa listed on the arrest warrant and plaintiff was released from the Lake County Jail on May 4, 2010.

On April 19, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County against two named defendants, the City of Chicago and Cook County. Plaintiff served both defendants with summons and a copy of the complaint on April 27, 2011. In May 2011, Cook County moved to dismiss the complaint. In response to the motion to dismiss, plaintiff sought and was granted leave to file an amended complaint in state court. Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on July 29, 2011. In the amended complaint, plaintiff added the Sheriff and "unknown Sheriff deputies, officers, and employees of the Cook County Sheriff" as defendants and removed Cook County as a defendant. The Sheriff removed this case to federal court on August 15, 2011.

II. Legal Analysis

In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court treats all well-pleaded allegations as true, and draws all reasonable factual inferences in Ochoa's favor. Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009). Under Rule 8(a), the complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The factual allegations must be sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.E.2d 929 (2007). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim of relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 929 (2009).

Before turning to the merits of the motion to dismiss, the Court must address the poorly written and virtually unintelligible response brief filed by plaintiff's counsel. In that brief, plaintiff's counsel did not demonstrate an understanding of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") and related case law. Even after reading plaintiff's complaint and response brief multiple times, it is still unclear to the Court what causes of action plaintiff is attempting to allege. What is clear to the Court is that plaintiff has not stated any valid claims against the Sheriff.

A. Count III

The two claims directed against the Sheriff purport to allege a cause of action pursuant to Section 1983 (Count III) and a claim for willful and wonton conduct (Count IV). As the Sheriff correctly noted in his motion to dismiss, plaintiff's complaint did not specify whether the Section 1983 claim was being alleged against the Sheriff in his official or individual capacity.

Plaintiff claims that the Sheriff, through his agents and employees, "violated provisions of [Section] 1983 by depriving" plaintiff of his "federal rights against false imprisonment and incarceration" and "his federal rights against being confined in the absence of probable cause." Plaintiff further claims that sheriff deputies and civilian personnel "exceeded the scope of their authority by wrongfully confining and imprisoning" him. Those deputies ...


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