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Jeremy Johnson v. Det. J.J. Chibicki

November 21, 2011

JEREMY JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DET. J.J. CHIBICKI, DET. B. BRATTON, OFCR. B. BAADER, SGT. R. BROWN, AND CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Jeremy Johnson has filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Chicago police officers violated his constitutional rights in connection with his arrest on January 1, 2010. Johnson's complaint also named as defendants a private citizen, police supervisors, lock-up officers, state prosecutors, public defenders, a state court judge, and a parole officer.

The Court reviewed Johnson's complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and, in an April 25, 2011 order, dismissed the defendants against whom the Court concluded Johnson could not advance a claim. The remaining defendants -- police officers Chibicki, Bratton, Baader, Brown, and the City of Chicago -- have moved to dismiss the remaining claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants defendants' motion in part and denies it in part.

Background

Johnson is a prisoner in the Illinois Department of Corrections as the result of a narcotics conviction. He alleges that on January 1, 2010, his girlfriend falsely reported that he had committed domestic battery against her, when in fact, he contends, it was she who had attacked him in a jealous rage. Chicago police officers Jonathan Chibicki, Brian Bratton, and Brian Baader responded to the call, with Baader interviewing Johnson's girlfriend about the claimed battery.

Detectives Chibicki and Bratton found Johnson upstairs asleep. They woke him and gave him a pair of his own sweat pants to wear. Officer Chibicki claimed to find narcotics in a pocket of the sweat pants. Johnson contends the drugs were not his and had been planted there. The officers subsequently arrested Johnson and charged him with both domestic battery and possession of narcotics.

On January 20, 2010, the domestic battery charge against Johnson was dismissed. Johnson was found guilty, however, on the narcotics charge.

In this case, Johnson has two remaining federal claims. In count 1, he claims that Chibicki, Bratton, Baader, and Sergeant Raimondo Brown arrested him without probable cause. In Count 4, Johnson claims that the officers conspired to falsely arrest him because of his race.

Johnson also asserts four claims under Illinois law. In count 5, Johnson asserts a state law claim parallel to the federal false arrest claim in count 1. In count 7, he asserts a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, in Counts 12 and 13, Johnson asserts state law claims against the City for respondeat superior and indemnification. The Court dismissed all of Johnson's other claims following its initial review of the complaint.

Discussion

A plaintiff is required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) to set forth in his complaint "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff need not plead a detailed set of facts, so long as the complaint supplies the defendant with "fair notice of what . . . the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). The claim must be "plausible on its face," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 7 (2009), which requires the court to consider whether the events alleged could have happened, not whether they did happen or even whether they likely happened. Swanson, 614 F.3d at 404. See also In re Text Messaging Antitrust Litig. (Appeal of Verizon Wireless), 630 F.3d 622, 629 (7th Cir. 2010) ("the complaint must establish a nonnegligible probability that the claim is valid; but the probability need not be as great as such terms as 'preponderance of the evidence' connote").

The court filings of a pro se plaintiff are liberally construed so as to do substantial justice. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). "'[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 97); Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 451, 456 (7th Cir. 2009).

In their motion to dismiss, defendants argue that the Supreme Court's decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars plaintiff's federal and state false arrest claims. Alternatively, defendants argue that the officers had probable cause to arrest Johnson. Defendants also argue that Johnson does not plead facts sufficient to suggest a race discrimination conspiracy. They argue that Johnson's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is barred by the statute of limitations. Finally, they argue that ...


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