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Snyder v. Village of Midlothian

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

August 7, 2014

JAMES T. SNYDER, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF MIDLOTHIAN, and STEVEN ZAMIAR, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Police Chief of the Village of Midlothian Police Department, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES B. ZAGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff James T. Snyder has brought this action against the Village of Midlothian ("the Village") and Steven Zamiar, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Police Chief of the Village of Midlothian Police Department, for common law assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Defendants have moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that in the early morning hours of November 24, 2011, Defendant Steven Zamiar, then the Deputy Police Chief of the Village of Midlothian, beat Plaintiff with an ASP baton roughly 12 to 15 times without provocation. Plaintiff was then taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault and resisting a police officer. Those charges were subsequently dropped.

On November 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed a six-count complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Zamiar in his individual and official capacities, as well as the Village. Defendants moved to dismiss for Plaintiff's failure to bring his claims within the applicable statute of limitations. With leave of the court, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding two counts against Zamiar and the Village under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of rights guaranteed under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The case was removed to federal court on April 2, 2014, and Defendants now move for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) based on the applicable statute of limitations.[1]

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the court treats all well-pled allegations as true, and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id.

II. Plaintiff's Original Complaint Was Not Timely

Plaintiff's original complaint of November 20, 2013, articulated six state common law counts against Zamiar and the Village. The Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act ("TIA") provides that "[n]o civil action... may be commenced in any court against a local entity or any of its employees for any injury unless it is commenced within one year from the date that the injury was received or the cause of action accrued." 745 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 10/8-101(a) (West 2014). The Village of Midlothian was clearly a "local public entity" and thus was covered by the TIA. See 745 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 10/1-206 (West 2014) ("Local public entity' includes a... municipality [or] municipal corporation"); 65 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/1-1-2(1) (West 2014) ("Municipal' or municipality' means a city, village, or incorporated town in the State of Illinois"). Since the original complaint was filed one year and 361 days after the alleged incident, the three counts against the Village were clearly time-barred.

Further, the TIA's one-year statute of limitations applied equally to Zamiar, even if Plaintiff was bringing his claims against Zamiar "individually." Under the TIA, the one-year statute of limitations applies to "public employee[s] acting within the scope of their employment." Racich v. Anderson, 241 Ill.App.3d 336, 337-40 (3d Dist. 1993). See also Wright v. Willage of Calumet Park, No. 09-cv-3455, 2009 WL 4545191, *2 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 2, 2009) ("[plaintiff's] claims cannot be saved by virtue of having also been brought against the officers individually'"); Crockett v. City of Northlake, No. 00 C 4542, 2002 WL 31236085, *14 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 1, 2002) (barring claims against defendant police officers sued individually under the TIA's one-year limit because they were "acting in their role as police officers and performing their regular duties, such as handcuffing an arrestee, removing the cuffs, incarcerating the arrestee, and transporting the arrestee, once injured, out of the jail").

Illinois law in this regard is quite clear and Plaintiff offers no case law for his position that suing a public official in his individual capacity makes a claim survive the strictures of the TIA's one-year limitation. In any case, Plaintiff himself states in the original complaint that "[a]t all relevant times herein, ZAMIAR was acting within the scope of his employment as Deputy Police Chief and under the color of law." Compl. ¶ 5. As such, TIA's one-year statute of limitations applies to all six state common law counts in the original complaint. The original complaint was not timely filed.

III. Statute of Limitations Applicable to the § 1983 Claims in the Amended Complaint

I agree with Defendant that Plaintiff's amended complaint containing the § 1983 claims was filed outside the two-year statute of limitations. While § 1983 does not expressly provide for a time limit within which a claim may be brought, the United States Supreme Court has looked to the law of the state in which the cause of action arose, using that state's general statute of limitations for personal injury torts. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007); Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989); Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 279-80 (1985). In Illinois, that limit is two years. See Williams v. Lampe, 399 F.3d 867 (7th Cir. 2005); see also 735 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/13-202 (West 2014).

Plaintiff asserts that the uniform four-year federal statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a) applies to these § 1983, but I do not agree. Section 1658(a) provides, in pertinent part, that "a civil action arising under an Act of Congress enacted after the date of the enactment of this section may not be commenced later than 4 years after the cause of action accrues."[2] Relying on Jones v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 541 U.S. 369 (2004), Plaintiff argues that a ...


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