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Wilson v. Warren County

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

September 26, 2014

THOMAS WILSON and RANDY BROWN, Plaintiffs,
v.
WARREN COUNTY, ILLINOIS, MARTIN EDWARDS, individually and in his capacity as Sheriff of Warren County, Illinois, THOMAS CARITHERS, individually and in his capacity as Sheriff's Deputy of Warren County, Illinois, ALBERT ALGREN, individually and in his capacity as State's Attorney of Warren County, Illinois, RONALD HANSON, MARK JOHNSON, and DOUGLAS REINERS, Defendants.

ORDER

SARA DARROW, District Judge.

Plaintiffs request that the Court reconsider its order dismissing their claims against Defendants Ronald Hanson, Mark Johnson, and Douglas Reiners ("Private Defendants") under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 3601-3631, in Count II of their Amended Complaint. Sept. 30, 2013 Order, ECF No. 54. In the alternative, Plaintiffs' request leave to amend the Complaint to address the deficiencies the Court highlighted. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 59, is DENIED, as is leave to amend the Complaint.

BACKGROUND

The Court recounted the Plaintiffs' factual allegations in detail in its Order of September 30, 2013, ECF No. 54. Based on the limited scope of the instant motion, the Court provides here only a brief summary of relevant allegations.[1] Plaintiff Thomas Wilson and Defendant Ronald Hanson were business partners in a failing enterprise, a failure for which Hanson blamed Wilson. Wilson suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder ("OCD") and conversion disorder, medical conditions which caused his temporary physical incapacitation in stressful situations, which the Private Defendants knew. When dissolving their partnership, Hanson agreed that Wilson would keep a number of items and equipment. After his release from jail on an unrelated matter, Hanson objected to Wilson having retrieved items stored on Hanson's property despite having authorized Wilson to do so in writing. Hanson demanded that Wilson return the items, but Wilson refused, claiming that they were his.

Around this time, Wilson occupied three properties. On August 26, 2009, Defendant Martin Edwards, the Sheriff of Warren County, inspected two of the properties that Wilson occupied because the sheriff's department had received complaints about junk and debris on the properties. After inspecting the two locations, Sheriff Edwards determined that Wilson owned neither property: Hanson owned one and Dennis Gulseth owned the other. After responding to the complaints, Sheriff Edwards reported to the Warren County State's Attorney's Office that the condition of the two properties violated a county junk and debris ordinance. On September 15, 2009, Defendant Albert Algren, the Warren County State's Attorney, sent a letter to Hanson stating that the junk and debris on these two properties violated a county ordinance, and that he must clean them up.

On September 22, 2009, Hanson-along with his attorney, Defendant Mark Johnson, and his employee, Defendant Douglas Reiners-entered one of the properties Wilson occupied, without his permission, and confronted him. This created a stressful situation, causing Wilson to become physically incapacitated; he was taken away by ambulance. On September 26, 2009, the Private Defendants again entered Wilson's properties, including one where Wilson lived. Johnson followed Wilson around his residence, made threats, handed him a purported notice of eviction, and claimed that Wilson would be arrested if he did not leave. During this ordeal, Wilson saw Johnson and Reiners take some of his personal belongings. When Wilson resisted the Private Defendants' efforts to remove his belongings without court order, Defendant Deputy Sheriff Thomas Carithers-who Wilson had summoned-moved his hands toward his gun and threatened to take Wilson to jail. These events triggered Wilson's conditions, causing his partial physical incapacitation, which was further exacerbated when the Private Defendants and their crew began driving Wilson's vehicles off the property and removing other of Wilson's possessions. The Private Defendants entered the properties and removed Wilson's belongings on other occasions as well. The reaction of his OCD to the Defendants' actions compelled Wilson to cease occupying his residence.

Wilson and Plaintiff Randy Brown, who owned a forklift Defendants removed from Wilson's property, instituted this suit on September 26, 2011. They filed a seven-count Amended Complaint on July 12, 2012, alleging: (1) deprivation of civil rights; (2) housing discrimination; (3) intentional infliction of emotional and physical distress; (4) wrongful eviction; (5) trespass; (6) conversion; and (7) replevin. Am. Compl., ECF No. 39. On September 30, 2013, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs' FHA claims in Count II for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Sept. 30, 2013 Order 10-12. On February 28, 2014, Plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of the dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) "because the Court committed clear error." Pls.' Mot. Recons. 1, ECF No. 59. This is the motion now before the Court.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Framework

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) permits the court to relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding based on specified grounds, which include mistake, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, or "any other reason that justifies relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b); Talano v. Nw. Med. Faculty Found., Inc. , 273 F.3d 757, 762 (7th Cir. 2001). The Rule offers an "extraordinary" remedy and was "designed to address mistakes attributable to special circumstances and not merely to erroneous applications of law." Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of Gen. Motors Corp. , 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995). Rule 60(b) motions must address the specified grounds for modification and "cannot be general pleas for relief." United States v. Deutsch , 981 F.2d 299, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). Whether to correct mistakes under Rule 60(b) falls within a district court's discretion. Russell , 51 F.3d at 749.

Substance rather than form dictates which Rule governs a motion for reconsideration. See Obriecht v. Raemisch , 517 F.3d 489, 493 (7th Cir. 2008). Under Rule 54(b), an order adjudicating "fewer than all the claims or rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties... may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Courts have the inherent power to reconsider non-final orders, as justice requires, before entry of judgment. See Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp. , 460 U.S. 1, 12 (1983); Sims v. EGA Prods., Inc. , 475 F.3d 865, 870 (7th Cir. 2007).

Motions to reconsider interlocutory orders "serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc. , 90 F.3d 1264, 1269 (7th Cir. 1996). "A manifest error is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party, instead it is the wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent." Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co. , 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted). Because the standards for reconsideration are exacting, this Circuit has stressed that appropriate issues for reconsideration "rarely arise and the motion to reconsider should be equally rare." Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc. , 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990).

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must state a claim to relief that is "plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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." Aschroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Seventh Circuit has identified the practical requirements of Twombly and Iqbal for federal pleading:

First, a plaintiff must provide notice to defendants of her claims. Second, courts must accept a plaintiff's 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. Third, in considering the plaintiff's factual allegations, courts should not accept as ...

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