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Therkield v. City of Chicago

October 16, 2012


Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. than Assigned Judge



For the reasons set forth below, the Court sua sponte dismisses without prejudice Counts VI and VII pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant Norman is dismissed from this lawsuit. The claims against the City of Chicago and Defendant Officers remain pending in this court. Defendant Norman's motion to dismiss [18] is denied as moot.

O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.


I. Background

On July 28, 2010, Defendant Lonnie Norman, the landlord/owner of a residential rental building located at 1006-1008 West 68th Street, Chicago, Illinois, demanded that Plaintiff David Therkield move out of the unit that Therkield occupied. Plaintiff refused, and Defendant began to remove some of Plaintiff's personal items from the residence. According to Plaintiff, when he resisted, Defendant Norman attacked him with a baseball bat. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the attack he suffered a broken arm.

Eventually, the Chicago Police Department was notified, and Defendant Officers Nicole Henkes and Nicolas Prazuch arrived shortly after the attack. According to Plaintiff's complaint, Defendant Officers "did not witness the attempted eviction or the attack." Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Officers did not properly investigate the incident and instead arrested and charged Plaintiff with assaulting Norman. Plaintiff was held at the Seventh District "lockup facility" from 5:30 p.m. on July 28 to 4:25 a.m. on July 29, 2010. Plaintiff alleges that after his arrest, Defendant Norman confiscated Plaintiff's personal property located in the unit and changed the locks.

On July 27, 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Norman, the City of Chicago, and Defendant Officers, alleging false arrest under § 1983, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution against Defendant Officers; respondeat superior and statutory indemnity against the City of Chicago; and a violation of Chicago's Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance and assault and battery against Defendant Norman. The only basis for federal jurisdiction for the claims asserted against Defendant Norman is supplemental jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The City of Chicago Defendants have answered, and Defendant Norman has moved to dismiss the two claims asserted against him.

II. Analysis

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; "they have only the power that is authorized by Article III of the Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto." Transit Express, Inc. v. Ettinger, 246 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001). Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. § 1331 provides that "[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." The burden of establishing jurisdiction lies with Plaintiffs. Transit Express, 246 F.3d at 1023. Under Rule 12(b)(1), a party may move to dismiss a claim (or, indeed, an entire lawsuit) on the ground that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Additionally, the Court has an independent "obligation to police subject matter jurisdcition sua sponte." Pepsico Do Brasil, Ltda v. Oxy-Dry Corp., 534 F. Supp. 2d 846, 847 (N.D. Ill. 2008).

Where a plaintiff pleads both federal and state law claims, supplemental jurisdiction is appropriate over the state law claims where the state law issues "are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The "case or controversy" requirement is satisfied when the state and federal claims "derive from a common nucleus of operative facts." Sanchez & Daniels v. Koresko, 503 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2007); see also United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966). "A loose factual connection between the claims is generally sufficient." Id. (quoting Baer v. First Options of Chicago, Inc., 72 F.3d 1294, 1299 (7th Cir. 1995) and Ammerman v. Sween, 54 F.3d 423, 424 (7th Cir. 1995)). However, it is not enough that the claims be tangentially related. Hernandez v. Dart, 635 F.Supp. 2d 798, 814 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (citing Chaney v. City of Chicago., 901 F.Supp. 266, 270 (N.D. Ill. 1995)). Furthermore, the "facts linking state to federal claims must be 'operative,' i.e., they must be 'relevant to the resolution of' the federal claims." U.S. v. Clark, 2010 WL 476637, *1 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 3, 2010) (citing Berg v. BCS Financial Corp., 372 F. Supp. 2d 1080, 1093 (N.D. Ill. 2005)); see also General Auto Serv. Station v. The City of Chicago, 2004 WL 442636, *12 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 9, 2004) (state law claim that provided "factual background" for federal constitutional claim was not sufficiently related to give rise to supplemental jurisdiction). While "[n]eedless decisions of state law should be avoided both as a matter of comity and to promote justice between the parties," a district court may exercise its jurisdiction when "judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants" so demands. Gibbs, 383 726. If a plaintiff's claims are "such that he would ordinarily be expected to try them all in one judicial proceeding," exercise of federal jurisdiction is appropriate. Id. at 725. A district court should also retain jurisdiction over supplemental claims when "substantial judicial resources have already been committed, so that sending the case to another court will cause a substantial duplication of effort." Wright v. Assoc. Ins. Cos., 29 F.3d 1244, 1251 (7th Cir. 1994).

In his motion to dismiss, Defendant Norman's only argument is that because the CPD eventually arrived on the scene and concluded that Plaintiff, not Norman, should be arrested, Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed. Defendant fails to cite any case law in his brief, including the motion to dismiss standard. At this stage, the fact that Defendants Officers decided to arrest Plaintiff and not Defendant Norman would not warrant dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against Norman. Norman cannot avoid litigation on the merits simply because the officers sided with him during the incident in question. The suggestion that the motion should be granted for that reason alone is baseless and in need of no further discussion.

However, the question remains whether Plaintiff's federal claims against the City and Defendant Officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are sufficiently related to the state law claims against Defendant Norman for supplemental federal jurisdiction to lie under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The question before the Court is whether the state and federal claims are "so related" to each other "that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). As noted above, Defendant Officers and the City of Chicago are charged with false arrest under § 1983, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, respondeat superior, and statutory indemnity. Each of these counts arises solely out of the acts or omissions taken by the Defendant Officers on July 28, 2010 and July 29, 2010 as well as the officers' decision to prosecute Plaintiff ...

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