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Hooks v. City of Batavia

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 10, 2014

ANTWONE HOOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BATAVIA, OFFICER THOMAS DOGGETT (STAR NO. 154), and OFFICER GEORGE A. GRAMME (STAR NO. 155), Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Thomas Doggett and George Gramme. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 16, 2011, Defendant Officers Thomas Doggett and George Gramme (collectively, hereinafter, the "Defendants") stopped Plaintiff Antwone Hooks ("Plaintiff") while he walked on a public sidewalk in Batavia, Illinois. Defendants ordered Plaintiff to produce identification, and Plaintiff complied. Defendants then initiated an arrest of Plaintiff for criminal trespass, but Plaintiff resisted. Eventually, Defendants completed the arrest, and Plaintiff was charged subsequently with criminal trespass, aggravated battery, and resisting arrest. Of those three charges, Plaintiff was convicted only of resisting arrest.

Plaintiff brought this lawsuit against Defendants, alleging several claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Doggett and Gramme now move to dismiss Counts IV (false arrest) and V (equal protection) of Plaintiff's Complaint.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

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). That is, it "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 (2009). On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in Plaintiff's Complaint and draws all inferences in his favor. Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Procedural Error

Plaintiff argues that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss should be denied because it is procedurally improper and untimely. Pl.'s Resp. at 2. This Court gave Defendants leave to file their Motion and set a briefing schedule for it on August 22, 2013. See. ECF No. 22. While Plaintiff argues that the Motion to Dismiss was filed after the Answer, a review of the docket shows that the Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss Counts IV and V at the same time they answered Counts I-III. See, ECF Nos. 17, 19. Accordingly, the timing of Defendants' motion is not a basis for denying it.

B. False Arrest

A false arrest is an arrest made without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Bentz v. City of Kendallville, 577 F.3d 776, 779 (7th Cir. 2009). Such an arrest is actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when the arresting party acted under the color of state law and deprived the plaintiff of a constitutionally protected right. See, Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, Inc., 449 F.3d 751, 760 (7th Cir. 2006). Such a claim cannot proceed, however, if it would invalidate a criminal conviction, or if there actually was probable cause for the arrest. See, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994); Friedman v. Vill. of Skokie, 763 F.2d 236, 239 (7th Cir. 1985). The Court will examine both issues. The Court notes that while it is generally improper to consider facts outside of a plaintiff's complaint on a motion to dismiss, courts can take judicial notice of other proceedings that "have a direct relation to [the] matters at issue." Opoka v. I.N.S., 94 F.3d 392, 394 (7th Cir. 1996) (stating that courts have an "obligation" to take judicial notice of proceedings in other courts, "if the proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue"). Accordingly, in examining whether there was probable cause, this Court takes judicial notice of Plaintiff's criminal trial involving the incident at issue, in which he was convicted of resisting arrest.

1. The Heck Doctrine

Defendants assert that Plaintiff's false arrest claim is barred by the Supreme Court's holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). The Heck doctrine states that "arguments attacking the validity of a conviction cannot be advanced under § 1983 unless the conviction or sentence previously has been invalidated." Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 836 (7th Cir. 2011). A plaintiff's § 1983 claim is improper if success on that claim would undermine the validity of the plaintiff's criminal conviction. See, Hardrick v. City of Bolingbrook, 522 F.3d 758, 762 (7th Cir. 2008). "To properly apply Heck's bar against certain damage actions, a district court must analyze ...


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