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Evlicia Jackson-Long v. Village of Matteson

December 14, 2011

EVLICIA JACKSON-LONG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF MATTESON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

Defendants Sergeant Michael Jones and Detective Jeremy Sims (Sims) (collectively referred to as "Individual Defendants") are police officers for Defendant Village of Matteson. In May 2009, Individual Defendants and other unknown officers allegedly conducted surveillance of Plaintiff Evlicia Jackson-Long's (Jackson-Long) residence (Barn Owl Drive Residence) in Matteson, Illinois. Individual Defendants allegedly then obtained a search warrant (Search Warrant) and raided the Barn Owl Drive Residence in search of illegal drugs and evidence of a drug distribution operation. Jackson-Long asserts that it should have been apparent to officers conducting surveillance that she was operating a daycare business at the residence. Jackson-Long claims that she placed video surveillance cameras at her residence to protect the children at her daycare operations. Jackson-Long contends that Individual Defendants omitted facts regarding the daycare operations from the Search Warrant application and accompanying affidavit (Affidavit). Specifically, Sims allegedly indicated that drug trafficking operations often use video cameras to conduct counter-surveillance and Sims allegedly failed to indicate that the daycare operations at the Barn Owl Drive Residence provided a legitimate explanation for the video cameras.

Jackson-Long also alleges that, in order to harass and humiliate her, Individual Defendants delayed the execution of the Search Warrant until children from the daycare were present. Jackson-Long includes in her complaint claims alleging an unlawful search and seizure brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Section 1983). Jackson-Long contends that Defendants purposefully delayed the execution of the Search Warrant. Defendants move to dismiss all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Rule 12(b)(6)), a court must "accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint" and make reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(stating that the tenet is "inapplicable to legal conclusions"); Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002). To defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal quotations omitted)(quoting in part Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A complaint that contains factual allegations that are "merely consistent with a defendant's liability . . . stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal quotations omitted).

DISCUSSION

I. Section 1983 Unlawful Search Claims

Defendants argue that Jackson-Long has failed to present facts that plausibly suggest any unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. An affidavit by a law enforcement officer "supporting a search warrant carries with it a presumption of validity." Suarez v. Town of Ogden Dunes, Ind., 581 F.3d 591, 596 (7th Cir. 2009). If a plaintiff challenges the information provided by law enforcement officers in support of a search warrant, the plaintiff must show "that the officers knowingly or intentionally or with a reckless disregard for the truth made false statements to the judicial officer and show that the false statements were necessary to the judicial officer's determination that probable cause existed." Id. (internal quotations omitted)(quoting Molina ex rel. Molina v. Cooper, 325 F.3d 963, 968 (7th Cir. 2003)). The same standard is applied when a plaintiff alleges that the officers made material omissions from the information provided in support of the search warrant. Id.

Although Jackson-Long asserts that Sims purposefully omitted information from the Affidavit, the pleadings do not indicate that, even if such an omission was made, it was a material omission. See Parkey v. Sample, 623 F.3d 1163, 1165 (7th Cir. 2010)(indicating that a plaintiff needs to show that the officer applying for a search warrant "knowingly or intentionally or with a reckless disregard for the truth made misstatements to the magistrate and show the statements were necessary to the magistrate's probable cause determination")(internal quotations omitted)(quoting Molina, 325 F.3d at 968).

The crux of Jackson-Long's unlawful search claims is her contention that when requesting the search warrant from the state court judge, Sims indicated that video cameras are used by drug traffickers to conduct counter-surveillance and failed to inform the judge that Jackson-Long was operating a daycare facility. (Ans. 2). Jackson-Long argues that such information would have explained the use of video cameras at the Barn Owl Drive Residence. However, Jackson-Long fails to recognize that, aside from Sims' statements regarding the use of video cameras, in support of the Search Warrant Sims provided ample other facts indicating that evidence relating to a drug trafficking operation was located at the Barn Owl Drive Residence.

Defendants have attached to their motion to dismiss a copy of the Affidavit signed by Sims. A court can consider a document attached as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss, without converting the motion into a summary judgment motion, if the document was "referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and [is] central to [the plaintiff's] claim." McCready v. eBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 891 (7th Cir. 2006)(internal quotations omitted)(quoting Wright v. Assoc. Ins. Cos., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th Cir. 1994)). In this case, Jackson-Long specifically references in her complaint the Search Warrant, the application for the Search Warrant, and the "accompanying affidavit. . . ." (Compl. Par. 6). Jackson-Long also bases her unlawful search claims on her contention that Sims failed to include certain information in the Affidavit. Thus, the Affidavit is referenced in the complaint and is central to Jackson-Long's claims, and can be considered in ruling on the instant motion to dismiss.

Although Jackson-Long contends that Sims should have included information in the Affidavit regarding the daycare operation, Jackson-Long has not alleged any facts in her complaint that would contradict any of the facts set forth in the Affidavit. Sims indicates in the Affidavit that he has extensive experience in investigating violations of state narcotics laws and is familiar with the tactics used by narcotics traffickers. (Aff. 4). Sims also indicates that he discovered that Jackson-Long and her husband, Roy Long (Long), were connected to a residence at 6229 Streamwood Lane (Streamwood Lane Residence), which was being used for a drug trafficking operation. Sims explains in the Affidavit that in 2009, based on citizen calls, police officers were dispatched to the Streamwood Lane Residence to investigate a burglary in progress. (Aff. 4). Police officers stopped a vehicle fleeing from the scene of the burglary (Vehicle). (Aff. 4). In the Vehicle, police found plastic bags containing cannabis and boxes with individually ...


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