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John Hall, Bonita Franks, Vernon Dennis, Kim Pindak, Ronald Portis, William Johnson, Mcarthur v. City of Chicago

December 28, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber


Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint. For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants the Motion without prejudice.


This civil rights case stems from the Special Order issued on February 23, 2012 ("S04-13-09") by the Chicago Police Department. S04-13-09 is a directive which delineates the responsibilities and procedures for Chicago Police to complete both electronic and hard copy Contact Information Cards. It also outlines the procedures for maintaining and accessing the Chicago Police Department's contact information database.

Plaintiffs are panhandlers in Chicago. They argue that S04-13-09 is unconstitutional because it permits Chicago Police Officers, and in turn the Defendant City of Chicago (hereinafter, the "Defendant" or the "City") to stop Plaintiffs and other individuals without reasonable suspicion. They bring their Complaint on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated.

In the Complaint, Plaintiffs' submit three separate Section 1983 Monell claims against the City. Count I alleges that the City's implementation of S04-13-09 violates the Fourth Amendment. Count II alleges that the City is violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the City's actions when enforcing S04-13-09 have "a discriminatory effect on individuals who panhandle." Pls.' Comp. at 20. Count III alleges that the City has violated Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights because the City's enforcement of S04-13-09 has a chilling effect on Plaintiffs' free speech rights.

On October 9, 2012, the City filed its Motion to Dismiss pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6).

In it, the City argues that Plaintiffs' Complaint should be dismissed because the allegations therein fail to state any claims for which relief can be granted.


On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in Plaintiffs' Complaint and draws all inferences in their favor. Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll.

Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011). A complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). Plaintiffs need not allege "detailed factual allegations," but must offer more than conclusions or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action[.]" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement" will not suffice -- 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009).


The City claims that Plaintiffs' complaint fails because Plaintiffs' have not pled sufficiently the requirements for municipality liability under Monell. Specifically, the City argues that Plaintiffs fail to plead that the City is liable under Monell pursuant to an express policy theory and fail to plead that the City is liable under a widespread practice theory.

A. Monell

Section 1983 provides in relevant part:

Every person who, under the color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State . . . subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. "A municipality or other local government may be liable under this section if the governmental body itself "subjects" a person to a deprivation of rights or "causes" a person "to be subjected" to such deprivation." Connick v. Thompson, 131 S.Ct. 1350, 1359 (2011) citing Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 692 (1978). However, a municipality is not vicariously liable under Section 1983 for its employees' actions. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. Instead, in order to impose Section 1983 liability on a municipality, a plaintiff must prove that "action[s] pursuant to official municipal policy" caused his/her injury. Id. at 694. The policy must be the "moving force" behind the allegations surrounding the constitutional violation. McNabola v. Chicago Transit Auth., 10 F.3d 501, 510 (7th Cir. 1993).

Additionally, in order for a plaintiff to allege municipality liability, the plaintiff must allege that the municipality violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights because the municipality either: "(1) [has] an express policy that, when enforced, causes a constitutional deprivation; (2) [has] a widespread practice that, although not authorized by express municipal policy, is so permanent and well-settled that it amounts to a custom with the force of law"; or (3) [has] caused a constitutional ...

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