Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Horatio Sumrall, Tommy Lee Watson, and Joe Mollet, Jr v. City of East St. Louis A Municipal Corporation

January 11, 2013

HORATIO SUMRALL, TOMMY LEE WATSON, AND JOE MOLLET, JR., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, TOM DANCY, ACTING CODE ENFORCER FOR THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS, AND RICKY PERRY, POLICE OFFICER FOR THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stiehl, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Before the Court is defendants City of East St. Louis, Tom Dancy, and Ricky Perry's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' second amended complaint (Doc. 30). Plaintiffs Horatio Sumrall, Tommy Lee Watson, and Joe Mollet, Jr. have responded (Doc. 45). Defendants have also filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 47), but it is not yet ripe; the Court will consider that motion after plaintiffs respond. In this action, plaintiffs are bringing state-law claims of conversion, trespass, false arrest, and false imprisonment, as well as federal claims that their constitutional rights were violated under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Horatio Sumrall ran a business cutting up metal scrap. He was leasing property for the business and had the property enclosed by a fence and a locked gate. He had two employees, coplaintiffs Tommy Lee Watson and Joe Mollet, Jr. Sumrall owned various equipment at his business, including a backhoe, a service truck, cutting torches, a generator, and several trailers.

At issue here, Tom Dancy, the acting code enforcer for the City of East. St. Louis, and Ricky Perry, a City police officer, broke the lock on the gate at Sumrall's business, handcuffed and arrested Watson and Mollet, and took them to the local jail, where they were held for nearly 48 hours. Watson and Mollet were not formally charged or given any reasons for their arrest.

Dancy and Perry then directed a towing company to remove Sumrall's property, valued at approximately $75,000, and put it in storage. Plaintiffs allege defendants "converted the property and title thereof to their own use" (Doc. 18, ¶ 6). Defendants have not yet returned the property, and Sumrall has lost the income from his business.

Plaintiffs bring state-law claims of conversion, trespass, false arrest, and false imprisonment. They also allege their civil rights were violated under § 1983. Defendants, they claim, deprived plaintiffs of their right to be free from harm, excessive force, and cruel and unusual punishment under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. Plaintiffs further claim that defendants (presumably they mean the City) had customs, policies, and practices that violated plaintiffs' rights; namely, they failed to appropriately train law-enforcement officers and code enforcers on policies and procedures, to supervise officers and code enforcers in the creation of appropriate policies and procedures to ensure that plaintiffs' rights would not be deprived, and to otherwise protect plaintiffs from the other defendants.*fn1

The claims against the City of East St. Louis Police Department were previously dismissed, as was the prayer for punitive damages against the City (Doc. 31).

DISCUSSION

"A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain: ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim to relief is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). And yet "'[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)). Courts must accept factual allegations as true, but "some factual allegations will be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice to defendants of the plaintiff's claim." Brooks, 578 F.3d at 581. In contrast to factual allegations, courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Brooks, 578 F.3d at 581; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663--64 ("While legal conclusions can provide the complaint's framework, they must be supported by factual allegations.").

ANALYSIS

I. False Imprisonment

Defendants argue that plaintiffs fail to state a claim for false imprisonment. They say plaintiffs only allege that Watson and Mollet were falsely arrested without probable cause, without being formally charged or given reasons. Defendants contend that plaintiffs fail to allege any unlawful detention, confinement, or restraint as required in Illinois for a claim of false imprisonment. See Martin v. Lincoln Park West Corp., 219 F.2d 622, 624 (7th Cir. 1955). To establish a claim of false arrest or false imprisonment, a plaintiff must show he "was restrained or arrested by the defendants, and that the defendants acted without having reasonable grounds to believe that an offense was committed by the plaintiff." Ross v. Mauro Chevrolet, 861 N.E.2d 313, 317 (Ill. App. Ct. 2006) (internal quotations omitted); Meerbrey v. Marshall Field & Co., 564 N.E.2d 1222, 1231 (1990).

Plaintiffs here do claim that defendants (they do not say whether Dancy or Perry) handcuffed Watson and Mollet, took them to the local jail, and held them for nearly 48 hours. Watson and Mollet were never charged or given reasons for their arrest and imprisonment. Thus plaintiffs allege they were restrained and that defendants acted without having reasonable grounds to believe that an offense was committed. The Court FINDS that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.