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Jane Doe v. Village of Arlington Heights

March 29, 2012

JANE DOE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, AND MARK DEL BOCCIO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AN AGENT OF THE VILLAGE OF ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Edmond E. Chang

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Jane Doe, a minor,*fn1 sued the Village of Arlington Heights and one of its police officers, Mark Del Boccio, for violating her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn2 Plaintiff also asserted several claims under Illinois state law. Defendants jointly move to dismiss all of the counts. R. 12. For reasons explained more fully below, Defendants' motion is granted. Plaintiff's state law claims (Counts 1-3, 8) are barred by the Illinois Local Governmental and Local Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/1-101 et seq. The doctrine of qualified immunity precludes Plaintiff's claim against Officer Del Boccio (Count 4), and the remaining federal claims (Counts 5-7) must be dismissed because the complaint does not allege facts sufficient to state causes of action under § 1983.

I.

In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true the complaint's factual allegations. On May 6, 2009, Plaintiff was drinking alcohol with a group of teenagers at an apartment complex in Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights, Illinois.

R. 2-1 (Compl.) at 1-2.*fn3 Around 7:15 p.m., a site manager at the apartment complex observed the group drinking and smoking near the complex's dumpster and called 911 to report them. Id. at 2. Shortly after placing the 911 call, the site manager saw some of the members of the group leave the complex. Id. at 3. Plaintiff and three males remained behind and continued drinking by the dumpster. Id. Plaintiff became intoxicated and the three males began walking her to a secluded area. Id. Plaintiff was so intoxicated that two of the males had to hold her up and help her walk. Id.

At 7:20 p.m., Arlington Heights Police Officer Mark Del Boccio arrived on the scene. Id. Del Boccio stopped his police car near the group of teens and rolled down his window. Id. Del Boccio spoke with the three males in the group. Id. During this time, Plaintiff could not stand up by herself, her head was down, and her eyes were closed. Id. One of the males in the group had to hold Plaintiff up from behind. Id. Del Boccio did not ask any of the teens for their identification. Id. at 4. After they were done speaking, Del Boccio permitted the three males to leave the scene and take Plaintiff home. Id. at 3-4.

The site manager approached Del Boccio and asked what happened. Id. at 4. Del Boccio explained that the three males were taking Plaintiff home. Id. The site manager told Del Boccio that the group of teens had been drinking straight from a vodka bottle, but Del Boccio reiterated that the males were taking Plaintiff home. Id. at 3. Del Boccio then left the scene. Id. at 4. Del Boccio reported to the police dispatch that the subjects of the 911 call were gone on arrival. Id. at 5. At some point, Del Boccio called off Officer Patrick Spoerry, who had also been dispatched to the apartment complex. Id. at 6. The complaint does not specify when or how Del Boccio notified Spoerry that he was not needed at the scene.*fn4 See id.

After Del Boccio left the scene, the three males carried Plaintiff into the laundry room at the apartment complex. Id. at 5. The site manager observed Plaintiff being taken into the building and again called 911. Id. This time, Mount Prospect police officers responded to the call. Id. When the officers entered the laundry room, they observed one of the males sexually assaulting Plaintiff. Id. All three males were arrested.*fn5 Id.

II.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint generally need only include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). A "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). When ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true and draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 637 (7th Cir. 2010).

III.

42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a cause of action against a person, who, acting under color of state law, deprives an individual of any "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 132 (1994). It provides the procedural vehicle for bringing suit as a "method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (quotation omitted). The plaintiff must identify the specific constitutional right that was infringed. Id. at 394.

Here, Plaintiff's federal claims (Counts 4-7) allege infringement of Plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Compl. at 32-62. Count 4 alleges a claim against Del Boccio for deliberate or reckless indifference to Plaintiff's liberty and personal security interests based on his conduct at the scene. Id. at 32-42. Counts 5, 6, and 7 are alleged against the Village of Arlington Heights. Specifically, Count 6 is based on Del Boccio's conduct at the scene, id. at 48-58, and Counts 5 and 7 both allege that Arlington Heights is liable because it did not properly screen Del Boccio before hiring him. Id. at 43-47, 59-62.

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's § 1983 claims must be dismissed because, based on the facts alleged, Defendants did not violate any of Plaintiff's rights under the Constitution. R. 13 (Defs.' Br.) at 5-7. And, even if Del Boccio violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, the doctrine of qualified immunity shields Del Boccio from liability in this case. Defs.' Br. at 7-8. Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's federal negligent hiring claim against the Village must be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Defs.' Br. at 9-12. The Court addresses each argument in turn, beginning with qualified immunity.

A.

Defendants argue that Del Boccio is entitled to qualified immunity.*fn6 Defs.' Br. at 7-8. Qualified immunity protects government officials "from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). "Qualified immunity balances two important interests-the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably." Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). Put another way, the general purpose of qualified immunity is "to provide government officials with the ...


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