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Polk v. Dent

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

January 5, 2015

HIWANA POLK, et al., Plaintiffs,
SHEROD DENT, et al., Defendants.


MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge.

Presently before us are two motions: Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider our decision on Defendants' motion to dismiss and vacate judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b), and Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. For the reasons stated below Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider is granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiffs' motion to further amend their complaint is denied.


We detailed the facts of this case in our order granting in part Defendants' motion to dismiss, Polk v. Dent, No. 13 C 9321, 2014 WL 4269081, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 28, 2014), and thus do not fully repeat them here. Briefly, Plaintiffs Hiwana Polk, Individually ("Polk") and as Administrator of the Estate of Bejian Booker, Deceased ("Booker"), and Cornel Dawson, Jr., by Parent Sherrice Rainey ("Dawson"), filed a ten-count complaint against Defendants, alleging violations of state law and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. According to Plaintiffs' amended complaint, on the evening of December 31, 2011, a number of unidentified police officers stopped Polk's vehicle in traffic, forced Plaintiffs out of the car, and conducted an illegal search of the vehicle and their persons. Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' first amended complaint in its entirety. We granted Defendants' motion with the exception of three state claims against Unknown Officers, which we remanded to state court.


I. Motion for Reconsideration

The court's power to reconsider its judgments "should be exercised only in the rarest of circumstances and where there is a compelling reason..." Marmi E. Graniti D'Italia Sicilmarmi S.p.A. v. Universal Granite & Marble, 757 F.Supp.2d 773, 782 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (citing Solis v. Current Dev. Corp., 557 F.3d 772, 780 (7th Cir. 2009)). A litigant may challenge the merits of the district court's decision through either Rule 59(a) or Rule 60(b). U.S. v. Deutsch, 981 F.2d 299, 300 (7th Cir. 1992). A motion under Rule 59(e) is "only appropriate where a court has misunderstood a party, where the court has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the court by the parties, where the court has made an error of apprehension (not of reasoning), where a significant change in the law has occurred, or where significant new facts have been discovered." Broaddus v. Shields, 665 F.3d 846, 860 (7th Cir. 2011); see also Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990). The motion for reconsideration should be granted if doing so would "enable the court to correct its own errors and thus avoid unnecessary appellate procedures.'" Divane v. Krull Elec. Co., 194 F.3d 845, 848 (7th Cir. 1999) (quoting Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996)). Here, Plaintiff argues that we misapprehended the fact and law in this case. (Mot. at 2.) When a party seeks reconsideration based on a misapprehension of the case law, it must show a "wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent." Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000); Ammons v. Cook Co., Ill., No. 11 C 5010, 2012 WL 2368320, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 20, 2012).

Rule 60(b) is "considerably narrower" than Rule 59(e) and is limited to the six specific situations identified in the Rule. Maldonado v. Stinar, No. 8 C 1954, 2011 WL 2470124, at *3 (N.D. Ill. June 20, 2011) (quoting United States v. Manville Sales Corp., No. 88 C 630, 2005 WL 526695, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 2, 2005)). Relief from judgment under Rule 60 is "an extraordinary remedy and is granted only in exceptional circumstances." Thurner v. C.I.R., 255 F.Appx. 90, 92 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Harrington v. City of Chi., 433 F.3d 542, 546 (7th Cir. 2006)).

a. Federal and State Claims Against Dent

We previously dismissed Plaintiffs' federal and state claims against Dent without prejudice because the complaint failed to assert that Dent was personally involved in the alleged misconduct. (Op. at 6.) To survive Defendants' motion to dismiss, each claim against Dent required an allegation of proximate cause. We previously explained that proximate cause necessitates "some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged, " and "links that are too remote, purely contingent, or indirect" are insufficient. Staub v. Proctor Hosp., 131 S.Ct. 1186, 1192 (2011) (citing Hemi Group, LLC v. City of New York, 559 U.S. 1, 9, 130 S.Ct. 983, 989 (2010)). After reviewing Plaintiffs' complaint and the additional facts asserted in their response, we held that the facts alleged were too remote and speculative to sufficiently claim Dent's personal involvement.

Plaintiffs dispute this ruling, arguing that the complaint alleged sufficient circumstantial evidence to establish a causal connection under Iqbal pleading standards. (Mot. at 3-4, 7-8; Reply at 3, 6-7.) Plaintiffs, however, already made this argument in response to Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Resp. to MTD at 8-10.) Motions to reconsider "do not provide an opportunity to litigate previously rejected arguments." Thomas v. Johnston, 215 F.3d 1330, 2000 WL 518100, at *3 (7th Cir. 2000) (unpublished); see Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996) ("Reconsideration is not an appropriate forum for rehashing previously rejected arguments or arguing matters that could have been heard during the pendency of the previous motion."); Ammons v. Cook Cnty., Ill., No. 11 C 5010, 2012 WL 2368320, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 20, 2012) ("Motions to reconsider that merely take umbrage with the court's ruling and rehash old arguments, and do not demonstrate that there was disregard, misapplication or failure to recognize controlling precedent, are properly rejected by the court."). That Plaintiffs simply disagree with our holding is not a proper basis for reconsideration under Rules 59(e) or Rule 60(b). Moreover, we find that our previous ruling was correct. Therefore, we deny Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration on their claims against Dent.

b. Federal Claims Against Unknown Officers

We also previously dismissed all of Plaintiffs' § 1983 claims against the Unknown Officers as time-barred. (Op. at 5.) Plaintiffs concede that Polk's claims against the Unknown Officers are time barred, but argue that the statute of limitations should have been tolled as to the minors' claims. (Mot. at 3.) We will first discuss Dawson's claims.

Plaintiffs are correct that, in Illinois, the statute of limitations is tolled for minors until two years after the person reaches of the age of eighteen. 735 ILCS 5/13-211; see Wallace v. City of Chi., 440 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2006); Clay v. Kuhl, 189 Ill.2d 603, 607-08, 727 N.E.2d 217, 220 (Ill. 2000). Although Dawson's exact age is unclear, Plaintiffs allege that he was a minor when the offending traffic stop occurred and when Plaintiffs filed their original complaint. (Resp. to Dent MTD at 2.) Thus, at the earliest, the statute of limitations on Dawson's § 1983 expires two years after the original complaint was filed in this action, which is December 31, 2015. Accordingly, we agree with Plaintiffs that it was error to dismiss Dawson's § 1983 claims against Unknown Officers as time-barred. See ...

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