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Leo Stoller v. Thomas Dart

May 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:


On May 22, 2012, Plaintiff Leo Stoller filed a twenty-count Third Amended Complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division, alleging that Defendants had violated his constitutional rights, as well as state law claims. On June 21, 2012, Defendants Cook County, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, Cook County Department of Corrections (the "Cook County Defendants"), the Village of Elmwood ("Elmwood Park"), and the Village of River Grove ("River Grove"), along with the individual named Defendants, removed this lawsuit pursuant to the Court's original and supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a).

Before the Court are River Grove's, Elmwood Park's, and the Cook County Defendants' motions to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court only addresses Defendants' challenges to Stoller's state law claims in the present order. The Court will address Stoller's constitutional claims in a separate order. After that order issues, the Court will set a deadline for Stoller to amend his pleadings accordingly.

For the following reasons, the Court grants in part with prejudice, grants in part without prejudice, and denies in part Defendants' motions to dismiss Stoller's state law claims. More specifically, the Court grants River Grove's and Elmwood Park's motions to dismiss the malicious prosecution claim alleged in Count XVII, the negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims in Counts XVIII and XIX , and the defamation claim in Count XX with prejudice. The Court also grants the County Defendants' motion to dismiss Stoller's defamation claim as alleged in Count XX and malicious prosecution claims as alleged in Counts XIV and XVII without prejudice and grants Stoller leave to amend his these allegations - if possible under counsel's Rule 11 obligations. Further, the Court denies the County Defendants' motion to dismiss the malicious prosecution claim alleged in Count XVI. The Court also strikes Stoller's punitive damages allegations against River Grove, Elmwood Park, and the County Defendants, except for the named Cook County Correctional Officers. See 745 ILCS 10/2-102.

Furthermore, the Court dismisses John Doe Defendants 1-7 with prejudice from this lawsuit. Because the Court is dismissing John Doe Defendants 1-7, the Cook County Defendants, Elmwood Park, and River Grove must file supplemental briefs in light of this ruling in the context of the remaining claims against them by no later than May 31, 2013. At that time, the County Defendants must develop their argument - made for the first time in their reply brief - that Stoller did not properly serve certain named officers. Stoller's response to the supplemental briefs shall be filed on or before June 14, 2013. Thereafter, the Court will rule on Defendants' motions to dismiss Stoller's constitutional claims.


"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citation omitted). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, 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, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "In evaluating the sufficiency of the complaint, [courts] view it in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, taking as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from the allegations in the plaintiff's favor." AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011).

Courts construe pro se allegations liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.") (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Here, Plaintiff has retained counsel, although counsel admits that his client drafted the Third Amended Complaint. Under these circumstances, Plaintiff does not get the advantage of the Court applying the more generous standard for pro se litigants. See, e.g., Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 669 (7th Cir. 2013). The Court reminds Plaintiff's counsel of their duties and obligations under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, including that by presenting Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint to the Court, counsel certified that Plaintiff's allegations

(1) "are not being presented for any improper purpose, (2) the claims and contentions are warranted by existing law, and (3) the allegations and factual contentions have evidentiary support." United States Bank Nat'l Ass'n, N.D. v. Sullivan-Moore, 406 F.3d 465, 469 (7th Cir. 2005).


Construing his allegations in Stoller's favor, he maintains that his lawsuit arises from three separate incidents of arrest and detainment in the Cook County Jail for the following time periods: (1) on or about February 25, 2009 through March 8, 2009; (2) on or about June 8, 2009 through July 15, 2009; and (3) on or about January 26, 2011 through April 6, 2011. (R. 1, Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 12, 67--73.) The Court discusses each incident separately.

I. First Incident

First, Stoller alleges that on February 25, 2009, Cook County Sheriff Deputies apprehended him in the Honorable Renee Goldfarb's courtroom in the Circuit Court of Cook County pursuant to a court order issued by Judge Goldfarb. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 16.) The order, which concerned a contempt charge against Stoller, stated in full:

In the case of the amended third petition for adjudication of indirect criminal contempt, after hearing testimony and argument by counsel, it is hereby ordered that Leo Stoller be remanded to the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections for an immediate evaluation (BCX)*fn1 to be performed at Cermak Hospital. Leo Stoller is to be released from the Cook County Department of Corrections immediately upon the completion of the BCX ...

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