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Brian Otero v. Thomas J. Dart

October 18, 2012

BRIAN OTERO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS J. DART, SHERIFF OF COOK COUNTY, AND COOK COUNTY ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Thomas J. Dart ("Dart") and Cook County Illinois (collectively, the "Defendants") move to dismiss Plaintiff Brian Otero's ("Otero") claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(b)(1) or to strike under Rule 12(f). For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion in part and denies it in part.*fn1

RELEVANT FACTS

Otero alleges the following facts in support of his claims, which the Court accepts as true for the purpose of this motion. On November 23, 2009, the Chicago Police Department arrested Otero for an alleged burglary. (R. 1, Compl. ¶ 21.) Otero was charged with burglary and held in Cook County Jail pending trial because he could not afford to make bail. (Id.) Otero stood trial for burglary July 18-21, 2011 and was found "not guilty" on all charges. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 24.) Otero had no outstanding warrants at the time of the acquittal. (Id. ¶ 25.) After the acquittal, Defendants placed Otero in handcuffs and transported him back to Cook County Jail for processing. (Id. ¶ 27.) Defendants detained Otero in the "bullpen" at Cook County Jail for approximately twelve hours while Defendants completed the procedure to process Otero for release. (Id. ¶ 29.) Defendants have a policy or practice to hold individuals in custody pending the completion of a check for warrants and holds (the "Unlawful Detention Policy"). (Id. ¶ 32.) While in the bullpen, an inmate punched and pummeled Otero about the face and body after Otero informed the inmate that he had been acquitted. (Id. ¶ 30.)

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Rule 12(b)(1)

When a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the allegations regarding subject matter jurisdiction on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 443-44 (7th Cir. 2009); United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003) (en banc), overruled on other grounds by MinnChem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., 683 F.3d 845 (7th Cir. 2012). "Where jurisdiction is in question, the party asserting a right to a federal forum has the burden of proof, regardless of who raises the jurisdictional challenge." Craig v. Ontario Corp., 543 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 2008).

II. Rule 12(b)(6)

"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 of Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation and citation omitted). Pursuant to 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 complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957)).

"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, 649 F.3d at 614. "To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face . . . A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Indep. Trust Corp. v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 934-35 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted)). "The complaint 'must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Id. at 935 (citing Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008)). "[A] plaintiff's claim need not be probable, only plausible: 'a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'" Id.(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal quotation omitted)). "To meet this plausibility standard, the complaint must supply 'enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence' supporting the plaintiff's allegations." Id.(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

III. Rule 12(f)

"Rule 12(f) provides that a district court 'may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.'" Delta Consulting Grp., Inc. v. R. Randle Const., Inc., 554 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f)). Motions to strike pursuant to Rule 12(f) are usually discouraged. See Smith v. Bray, 681 F.3d 888, 903 (7th Cir. 2012). Motions to strike are appropriate, however, if they serve to expedite litigation. See Heller Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989); see also Talbot v. Robert Matthews Distrib. Co., 961 F.2d 654, 664 (7th Cir. 1992) (allegations may be stricken if the matter bears no possible relation to controversy). District courts have considerable discretion to strike allegations under Rule 12(f). See Delta, 554 F.3d at 1141--42. "The party moving to strike has the burden of showing that the challenged allegations are so unrelated to plaintiff's claim as to be devoid of merit, unworthy of consideration, and unduly prejudicial." E & J Gallo Winery v. Morand Bros. Beverage Co., 247 F. Supp. 2d 979, 982 (N.D. Ill. 2003) (citation and internal quotation omitted).

ANALYSIS

On April 27, 2012, Otero filed a one count complaint against Thomas Dart, the Sheriff of Cook County, and Cook County Illinois. (Compl. ¶¶ 34-41.) Defendants jointly filed Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and/or Strike the Plaintiff's Complaint. (R. 16, Mot. to Dismiss.) Defendants' argue (1) Otero has failed to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) Otero lacks standing to seek equitable relief; and (3) Otero cannot assert substantive claims against Cook ...


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