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Christine J. Bloom, Individually,Etc v. Palos Heights Police Department

January 4, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge


Christine Bloom ("Bloom") has sued the Palos Heights Police Department, two of its named officers (Chris Hodorowicz ("Hodorowicz") and Jeff Marran ("Marran")) and various unknown officers of the Police Department and Fire District (collectively the "Officers"), the Palos Heights Fire Protection District ("Fire District"), the Palos Community Hospital ("Hospital") and Patricia Mamone and Anthony Mamone for injuries stemming from an incident in which the Mamones reported (falsely according to Bloom) a suicide attempt by her daughter, S.B. On November 1, 2011 Bloom voluntarily dismissed the Hospital. All remaining defendants have filed motions to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 12(b)(6), and the litigants have briefed the matter. For the reasons stated here, all of the motions are granted--albeit on differing grounds--and both this action and the Amended Complaint are dismissed.

Rule 12(b)(6) Standards

Under Rule 12(b)(6) a party may move for dismissal of a complaint on the ground of "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562--63 (2007) was the first case to repudiate, as overly broad, the half-century-old Rule 12(b)(6) formulation announced in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45--46 (1957) "that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." And post-Twombly cases have further reshaped a new Rule 12(b)(6) standard.

First Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 held that to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion a complaint must provide "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Or put otherwise, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right of relief above the speculative level" (id. at 555). Then Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (per curiam) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) provided further Supreme Court enlightenment on the issue.

Before Iqbal our own Court of Appeals, in Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT & T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007) described Twombly and Erickson as establishing "only that at some point the factual detail in a complaint may be so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8." And more recently Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009) has confirmed that the Airborne Beepers reading of pleading law post-Twombly and post-Erickson remains accurate after Iqbal. Brooks, id. describes Iqbal as "admonishing those plaintiffs who merely parrot the statutory language of the claims that they are pleading (something that anyone can do, regardless of what may be prompting the lawsuit), rather than providing some specific facts to ground those legal claims, that they must do more."

Familiar Rule 12(b)(6) principles--still operative under the new pleading regime--require this Court to accept as true all of Bloom's well-pleaded factual allegations, with all reasonable inferences drawn in her favor (Christensen v. County of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 457 (7th Cir. 2007)(per curiam)). What follows in the next section adheres to those principles.


S.B. is Bloom's 15 year-old daughter (AC ¶2)*fn1 . N.M. is the Mamones' son (id. ¶¶8-9). N.M. and S.B. dated each other in early 2011, but the Mamones did not approve of the relationship and tried to keep their son from seeing S.B. (id. ¶15).

On May 6, 2011 N.M. was at the Bloom house (AC ¶13). Patricia Mamone drove to the house to pick up N.M. and called him on his cell phone to let him know that she had arrived (id. ¶16). Patricia and N.M. began to argue on the phone, and N.M. refused to leave the house (id.). Anthony Mamone then called his son, precipitating another argument (id. ¶17). Those arguments caused S.B. to become upset (id. ¶18). She ran into the kitchen, and N.M.--now back on the phone with Patricia--told Patricia that S.B. had made comments about cutting herself (id. ¶¶18-20). Paradoxically, N.M. also told Patricia that she should not call 911 (id. ¶20). S.B. did not actually cut herself (id. ¶22). According to AC ¶21, N.M. and S.B. then sat down on the couch, and though S.B. "was still upset and emotional" she "was not in any physical danger to herself of anyone else." No AC allegations say whether N.M. or the Mamones or anyone else knew that.

Patricia called 911 (AC ¶26). Bloom says that Patricia told the dispatcher that the situation was not serious (id.). Whatever else Patricia told the dispatcher, it prompted the dispatcher to call for both a psychological evaluation from the Fire District and for a police unit to come to the Bloom house (id. ¶27-28). Officers arrived at the house and spoke to Patricia (id. ¶29-30), who told them that S.B. was contemplating suicide and had a knife to her throat (id. ¶30). But the Mamones had a personal connection to some Police Department personnel (the AC does not say whether Hodorowicz or Marran were among them), and the AC goes on to state that the Mamones spoke to the latter two Officers upon their arrival at the Bloom home (id. ¶¶124-25). Both the Mamones and the Officers assertedly agreed on a plan to take her to the Hospital whether or not it was necessary (id. ¶127).

Hodorowicz, Marran and possibly other Officers entered the Bloom house without knocking and without a warrant (AD ¶32). They found S.B. and N.M. sitting on a couch in the living room (id. ¶33). No knife was in the living room (id. ¶33). S.B. told the officers that she was not trying to commit suicide (id. ¶34), but the Officers removed S.B. from her home against her will, strapped her to a gurney and took her to the Hospital (id. ¶¶35-40). At the Hospital the Officers did not make an application for admission of S.B. to a mental health facility for inpatient treatment under 405 ILCS 3/503 (id. ¶¶42-43).

Someone attempted to reach Bloom on her cell phone, but Bloom's phone lost reception and the call was cut off (AC ¶¶45-46). Bloom eventually learned that S.B. was at the Hospital and met her there at 6:40 p.m. (id. ¶¶47-49). S.B. then underwent a psychiatric evaluation (id. ¶50), and she was discharged around 11:30 p.m. (id. ¶51).

Bloom's Legal Theories*fn2

Bloom lists fully 14 legal theories that she says entitle her to relief, either on her own behalf or on behalf of S.B. Those legal theories overlap: For example, Bloom says that 42 U.S.C. §1983*fn3 allows her to recover against the Officers, the Police Department, the Fire District and the Mamones. But the Section 1983 analysis differs for each set of defendants, so this opinion is organized in terms of the theories' applicability to the different defendants: the Officers, the Police Department, the Fire District and the Mamones.

Theories Against Individual Police Officers and Does

Bloom asserts that a host of statutes and common law doctrines entitle her to relief against Hodorowicz, Marran and the Doe defendants:

* Section 1983 for violation of her Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process

* Section 1983 for violation of her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection

* Section 1983 for an unlawful entry under the Fourth Amendment.

* Intentional infliction of emotional distress

* "Conspiracy"

* Section 1985(3)

* Excessive force

* Negligence

On behalf of S.B., Bloom asserts all of those theories except for the substantive due process ...

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