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Deceased v. Luster

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 2, 2014

BEVERLY HILL and EDDIE RICKS, as Co-Administrators of the Estate of TIMOTHY JOHNSON, deceased, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARK E. LUSTER, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction and Background

Now before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss and to strike (Doc. 19). Specifically, defendants Village of Cahokia, Kevin Phegley, Gary Brewer, Dane Luke, Shawn Hurt, Tom Carrico, Jeff Johnson, Joseph Angles, Jeremy Moyers, David Heine, Kathy Collins and James Jones move to dismiss and strike claims in the Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiffs oppose in part and agree in part to the motion (Doc. 37). Based on the following, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion to dismiss and to strike.

On July 25, 2012, plaintiff Carolyn Kidd, as Independent Administrator of the Estate of Timothy Johnson, deceased, filed a complaint pursuant to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the Illinois Survival Act against the Village of Cahokia in the St. Clair County, Illinois Circuit Court (Doc. 2-1). Thereafter, the Village of Cahokia moved to dismiss the complaint (Doc. 2-2). On April 1, 2013, the Circuit Court entered an order removing Kidd as Administrator and appointing Beverly Hill and Eddie Ricks as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Johnson. On August 19, 2013, Hill and Ricks filed an amended complaint in the Circuit Court asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and adding as defendants eleven employees of the Village of Cahokia police department: Officer Kevin Phegley, Lieutentant Gary Brewer, Office Dane Luke, Dispatcher Shawn Hunt, Dispatcher Tom Carrico, Dispatcher Jeff Johnson, Officer Joseph Agles, Officer Jeremy Moyers, Officer David Hine, Officer Kathy Collins, and Chief of Police James Jones (Doc. 2-3). Further, the amended complaint added state claims. Thereafter, the Village of Cahokia and the Village of Cahokia employees removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (Doc. 2).

On September 27, 2013, plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint containing twenty seven counts and added state law claims against Mark Luster (Doc. 15). The second amended complaint alleges that on May 12, 2012, Johnson was a detainee of the Village of Cahokia's police department and that Luster, Johnson's cellmate, murdered Johnson. Counts I through XII are against the Village of Cahokia and the individual Village of Cahokia employees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Counts XIII through XXIV are against the Village of Cahokia and the individual Village of Cahokia employees for wilful wanton misconduct; and the remaining Counts are against Mark Luster for common law assault/survival action; common law batter[sic]/survival action; and wrongful death.[1]

Subsequently, the Village of Cahokia and the Village of Cahokia employees filed the motion to dismiss and to strike (Docs. 19 & 20). Plaintiffs filed their response (Doc. 37). As the motion is ripe, the Court turns to address the merits.

II. Motion to Dismiss and to Strike

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) imposes "two easy-to-clear hurdles" that a complaint must satisfy in order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6). Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008)(quoting EEOC v. Concentra Health Svcs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007)). First, a complaint must describe the plaintiff's claims and the grounds supporting them in "sufficient detail to give the defendants fair notice" of the claims alleged against them. This requires more than mere "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007).

Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, the court determines whether the well-pleaded allegations, if true, "plausibly suggest a right to relief, raising that possibility above a speculative level." See Iqbal 556 U.S. at 679; Concentra, 496 F.3d at 776. A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "The plausibility standard... asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted). "Plausibility' in this context does not imply that the district court should decide whose version to believe, or which version is more likely than not." Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). Rather, Twombly and Iqbal require "the plaintiff to provide some specific facts' to support the legal claims asserted in the complaint." McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)). Though the "degree of specificity required is not easily quantified, ... the plaintiff must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together.'" Id. (quoting Swanson, 614 F.3d at 404). If a complaint does not satisfy these two criteria, "the plaintiff pleads itself out of court." Concentra, 496 F.3d at 776. Accordingly, a motion to dismiss may be properly granted where the plaintiff does not allege a plausible entitlement to relief either by (1) failing to provide the defendant with notice of plausible claims against it or (2) asserting only speculative or conclusory allegations in the complaint.

Further, Rule 12(f) provides:

The court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter. The court may act:
(1) on its own; or
(2) on motion made by a party either before responding to the pleading or, if a response is not allowed, within 21 days after ...

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