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Miles v. McNamara

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 11, 2014

KIRBY MILES, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. MARK McNAMARA, LT. M. RYAN, ANTHONY SUSNIS, DET. JONATHAN HARMENING, BRIAN WALSH, TIM WALSH, and the CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOAN H. LEFKOW, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kirby Miles brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various Illinois state statutes against Defendants Brian Walsh and his father Tim Walsh (together, "the Walshes"), Chicago police officers Sergeant Mark McNamara, Lieutenant M. Ryan, Anthony Susnis, Detective Jonathan Harmening, other unknown officers, and the City of Chicago (together, "defendants") for false arrest, failure to intervene, denial of due process rights, malicious prosecution and conspiracy. Pending before the court is the Walshes' motion to dismiss claims against them. For the following reasons, the court determines that Miles has not asserted any violation of his federal constitutional rights against any of the defendants. The Walshes' motion to dismiss is granted and this entire suit is dismissed for lack of supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.[1]

BACKGROUND[2]

On June 26, 2011, Miles and Brian Walsh were each driving in the same direction on Western Avenue in Chicago. Miles was in the right lane and Brian Walsh was in the left lane about 15 feet ahead of Miles. Brian Walsh turned into an empty parking lot on the right side of the street, cutting off Miles. Miles then pulled into the same parking lot, exited his car, and walked over to Brian Walsh's car. He proceeded to give the "much younger" Brian Walsh a "high volume lecture" about "proper driving." (Dkt. 15, Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 16-17.)

After the encounter, Brian called family friends employed by the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") and reported the incident. He also told his father, Tim Walsh, about what had transpired. Tim Walsh, a Chicago firefighter, "recruited" his "friends and/or acquaintances" within the CPD to help. ( Id. ¶ 19.) CPD employees visited the Walshes' home on or about June 28, 2011, presenting Brian Walsh with a photo array of suspects.[3] Brian Walsh implicated Miles, who was arrested on September 8, 2011, despite defendant officers' possession of a video that allegedly "absolved Plaintiff of any criminal culpability." ( Id. ¶ 20.) He was indicted for one count of attempted robbery, two counts of aggravated battery in a public place, and one count of unlawful restraint. Following a bench trial in March 2012, Miles was found not guilty of those three offenses but was found guilty of reckless conduct, a misdemeanor that the criminal court judge explained was a lesser included offense of the other crimes charged.[4] (Dkt. 18, Ex. 1; dkt. 24 at 4; dkt. 26 at 9.) Miles was fined $200, placed on court supervision for 18 months, and required to take anger management classes. (Dkt. 18, Ex. 1 at 3.)

Miles brought suit about a year later against the Walshes, the CPD officers he alleges were involved in his arrest, unknown officers, and the City of Chicago, and filed an amended complaint on June 7, 2013. (Dkt. 15.) Count I alleges false arrest in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Count II alleges failure to intervene against McNamara, Ryan, and unknown officers. Count III alleges that defendants violated Miles' due process rights to a fair trial under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Count IV alleges a state-law claim for malicious prosecution. Count V alleges a claim against Chicago for the payment of judgment under 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/9-102. Count VI alleges conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all defendants. The Walshes have moved to dismiss all claims against them. (Dkt. 18.)

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp. 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor. Dixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 486 (7th Cir. 2002). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a claim's basis, but must also establish that the requested relief is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). The allegations in the complaint must be "enough to raise a right of relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). At the same time, the plaintiff need not plead legal theories. Hatmaker v. Mem'l Med. Ctr., 619 F.3d 741, 743 (7th Cir. 2010). Rather, it is the facts that count.

ANALYSIS

I. Miles' Federal Claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

To make out a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Miles must allege he was deprived of a federal right, privilege, or immunity by a person acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988); see also Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Miles does not argue that the Walshes themselves acted under color of law. Instead, he argues that they conspired with state actors to violate his constitutional rights. A private party may be held liable under § 1983 "by engaging in joint action with state officials to deprive a person of a federally protected right." Hughes v. Meyer, 880 F.2d 967, 972 (7th Cir. 1989) (citations omitted). "[T]o establish § 1983 liability through a conspiracy theory, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) a state official and a private individual(s) reached an understanding to deprive the plaintiff of his constitutional rights, and (2) those individual(s) were willful participant[s] in joint activity with the State or its agents.'" Lewis v. Mills, 677 F.3d 324, 333 (7th Cir. 2012) (brackets in original) (quoting Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 764 (7th Cir. 2007)).

The conspiracy itself is not an independent basis of § 1983 liability. There must be an underlying constitutional injury or the attendant conspiracy claim necessarily fails. See Hill v. City of Chicago, No. 06 C 6772, 2009 WL 174994, at *9 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 26, 2009) (citing Reynolds, 488 F.3d at 764). "As such, if a plaintiff fails to prove an underlying constitutional injury, any attendant conspiracy claim necessarily fails." Id. (citing Cefalu v. Vill. of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 423 (7th Cir. 2000)). "A plaintiff alleging a § 1983 conspiracy must indicate the parties, general purpose, and approximate date, so that the defendant has notice of what he is charged with.'" Drager v. Vill. of Bellwood, No. 12 C 9569, 2013 WL 4501413, at *9 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 22, 2013) (quoting Cooney v. Casady, 652 F.Supp.2d 948, 957 (N.D. Ill. 2009)).

The Walshes do not contest that Miles alleges sufficient information to find that a conspiracy existed between the Walshes and the other defendants. He alleges that the Walshes contacted their acquaintances at the CPD immediately following Brian Walsh's encounter with Miles. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19.) The purpose of the alleged conspiracy was to "seek revenge" against Miles. ( Id. ¶ 19.) He alleges how defendants carried out the conspiracy (by way of the photo array and then by charging Miles). ( Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) This was enough to ...


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