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Neita v. Cook County

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

October 30, 2014

VAUGH NEITA, Plaintiff,


JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Vaughn Neita ("Neita") filed this suit, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated (Counts I and II). 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Neita also brings Illinois state law claims for indemnification (Count III), malicious prosecution (Count IV), and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") (Count V). (Dkt. No. 34 ("Am. Compl.").) All of Neita's allegations arise from his arrest for animal cruelty and the unsuccessful prosecution that followed. Neita brings his constitutional claims against defendants Cherie Travis ("Travis") Chicago Police Officers Jane Raddatz ("Raddatz") and M. Uldrych ("Uldrych"). Neita's malicious prosecution and IIED claims name Travis, Raddatz, Uldrych, as well as Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Dan Calandriello ("Calandriello"). Neita's final claim, Count III, seeks indemnification from the City of Chicago ("City") and Cook County, Illinois ("Cook County") pursuant to 745 ILCS 10/9-102. All of the defendants have moved to dismiss the claims alleged in Neita's Amended Complaint: Travis in one motion (Dkt. No. 38); Raddatz, Uldrych, and the City in another (Dkt. No. 50); and Calandriello and Cook County in another (Dkt. No. 52). For the reasons stated below, all of the motions (Dkt. Nos. 38, 50, 52) are granted.


Neita filed his original complaint on February 14, 2014. (Dkt. No. 3.) On July 9, 2014, the court granted (Dkt. No. 24) Calandriello and Cook County's first motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 15) on the basis of absolute immunity and denied (Dkt. No. 29) Neita's motion for reconsideration (Dkt. No. 25) four days later. On July 14, 2014, Raddatz and Uldrych filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. No. 27.) On July 21, 2014, however, Neita filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, purportedly to "clarify[y] the nature of the allegations against Dan Calandriello." (Dkt. No. 31 ¶ 4.) Because neither Calandriello nor Cook County appeared to oppose the motion on July 24, 2014, the court granted Neita leave to amend his complaint and mooted Raddatz and Uldrych's motion for judgment on the pleadings, which asserted arguments that could be brought in a motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 35.)

The court later learned that Calandriello and Cook County did not receive notice of Neita's motion through the court's electronic filing system because they had been dismissed from the case; Neita, unaware that dismissed defendants do not receive electronic notice of filings, failed to provide notice of his motion through another channel. (Dkt. No. 32 at 2.) The court therefore entertained, but ultimately denied, Calandriello and Cook County's motion to reconsider the court's decision to allow Neita's amended complaint. (Dkt. No. 49.) All of the defendants, including the apparently unserved Travis, have now moved to dismiss Neita's Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. Nos. 38, 50, 52.)


The sparse factual allegations in Neita's Amended Complaint are virtually identical to those in the original complaint. Neita owned and operated a licensed dog grooming business as well as a shelter where he took in rescue dogs. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) On February 14, 2012, Neita brought two dogs in his care to the City's Department of Animal Care and Control ("ACC"). ( Id. ¶ 10.) One dog, Osa, was overly aggressive and had attacked and killed a miniature poodle; the other dog, Olive Oil, was so ill that it was eating fecal matter. ( Id. ¶ 11-12.) Travis, who was working at ACC when Neita arrived with the dogs, called the police (presumably because she suspected that Neita had mistreated the two dogs). ( Id. ¶¶ 5, 13.)

Officers Raddatz and Uldrych responded to Travis's call and eventually arrested Neita. ( Id. ¶¶ 14-16.) The same officers later conducted a search of Neita's dog care business without his consent, but it is not clear whether the search happened before or after Neita's arrest. ( Id. ¶ 17.) It is also unclear whether the officers had a warrant for the search. This particular allegation, like many of Neita's allegations, concludes that the act was unlawful but omits the facts necessary to support such a conclusion. ( Id. )

After Neita's arrest, Assistant State's Attorney Calandriello "initiated, caused and/or participated in the charging of [Neita] with multiple counts of animal cruelty, 510 ILCS 70/3.01, and violation of owner's duties, 510 ILCS 70/3, " (Am. Compl. ¶ 18), both of which are misdemeanors for first time offenders. Calandriello signed three criminal complaints against Neita, at least one of which was on behalf of Travis. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-23.) Neita claims that the facts set forth in at least one of the criminal complaints must have been the product of Calandriello's own investigation because they were not within Travis's knowledge. ( Id. ¶ 21.)

On May 22, 2013, all of the charges filed against Neita were "dismissed in a manner indicative of his innocence" by the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.[1] ( Id. ¶ 19.)

On February 14, 2014, Neita filed his five-count complaint, alleging that Travis and the arresting officers violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, ( id. ¶¶ 21-23, 1-3), and that all defendants maliciously prosecuted him and intentionally inflicted emotional distress ( id. ¶¶ 29-37). Neita also sought indemnification from the City and Cook County pursuant to 745 ILCS 10/9-102. (Compl. ¶¶ 24-28.) After this court granted Calandriello and Cook County's motion to dismiss the claims against them on the basis of prosecutorial immunity, Neita filed his Amended Complaint alleging the same counts against the same defendants, but purportedly clarifying "the nature of the allegations against Dan Calandriello." (Dkt. No. 31 ¶ 4.)

All of the defendants, including Calandriello and Cook County, have now moved to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).


Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need contain only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not required, "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must "include sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 ...

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