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Neita v. Travis

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

January 29, 2015

VAUGH NEITA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHERIE TRAVIS, OFFICER JANE RADDATZ, OFFICER MELISSA ULDRYCH, and the CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

On February 14, 2014, Plaintiff Vaughn Neita ("Neita") filed his original complaint (Dkt. No. 3) alleging violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts I and II) and Illinois state law claims for indemnification (Count III), malicious prosecution (Count IV), and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") (Count V). All of Neita's allegations arise from his arrest for animal cruelty and the prosecution that followed, of which Neita was determined not guilty. Neita originally sued defendants Cherie Travis ("Travis"), Chicago Police Officers Jane Raddatz ("Raddatz") and Melissa Uldrych ("Uldrych"), Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Dan Calandriello ("Calandriello"), and sought indemnification from the City of Chicago ("City") and Cook County, Illinois ("Cook County") pursuant to 745 ILCS 10/9-102. The court has twice dismissed Neita's claims against Calandriello and Cook County, (Dkt. Nos. 24, 59), and following the second dismissal entered judgment in favor of those two defendants.[1] The court has also dismissed Neita's claims against the remaining defendants on October 30, 2014, (Dkt. No. 59), and granted Neita leave to file a second amended complaint to cure the deficiencies set forth in the court's October 30, 2014 Memorandum Opinion and Order (Dkt. No. 59).

On November 25, 2014, Neita filed his second amended complaint ("Second Amended Complaint") (Dkt. No. 64 ("Am. Compl.")) alleging the same counts against the same defendants (minus Calandriello and Cook County): he brings his § 1983 false arrest claim against Travis, Raddatz, and Uldrych; his § 1983 illegal search and seizure claim against Raddatz and Uldrych; his state law claims for malicious prosecution and IIED against all defendants; and his indemnification claim against the City. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 35-52.) Travis, Raddatz, Uldrych and the City (collectively, "Defendants") have again moved to dismiss all of Neita's claims against them pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 65.) For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion to dismiss Neita's Second Amended Complaint is granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The factual allegations set forth in Neita's Second Amended Complaint are similar to those of his previous two complaints. Neita owned and operated a dog grooming business called "A Doggie Business, " located at 1458 North Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.) On February 14, 2012 at 10:40 a.m., Neita brought two dogs in his care to the City's Department of Animal Care and Control ("ACC"). ( Id. ¶ 7.) One dog, Osa, was overly aggressive and had attacked and killed a miniature poodle; the other dog, Olive Oil, had just given birth to six puppies but began eating fecal matter after giving birth, putting the puppies' health at risk. ( Id. ¶ 8-14.) Travis, an ACC employee who is not a veterinarian, was working at ACC when Neita arrived with the dogs and called the police, presumably because she suspected that Neita had mistreated the two dogs. ( Id. ¶ 15.)

Officers Raddatz and Uldrych responded to Travis's call and communicated with Travis once they arrived at ACC. ( Id. ¶ 16.) During those communications, one of several alternative events took place: Travis made false statements causing the officers to arrest Neita; the officers arrested Neita in spite of Travis's truthful statements; or Travis and the officers reached an agreement to arrest Neita without probable cause. ( Id. ¶ 17.) According to Neita's Second Amended Complaint, nothing he said or did, nor anything the Defendants could have seen at the time, indicated that he, Neita, had injured or neglected either of the dogs, Osa or Olive Oil. ( Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) Officers Raddatz and Uldrych nevertheless took Neita into custody. ( Id. ¶ 20.)

The same officers, Raddatz and Uldrych, later conducted a search of Neita's person, his car, and his dog grooming business. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-24.) As was the case with Neita's two previously filed complaints in this case, his Second Amended Complaint does not state whether any of the searches-or at least the search of his car and business-occurred pursuant to a warrant; he merely states that the searches were "illegal." ( Id. )

After Neita's arrest, Defendants caused him to be charged with two counts of animal cruelty, 510 ILCS 70/3.01, and 13 counts of violation of owner's duties, 510 ILCS 70/3, all of which are misdemeanors for first time offenders. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) Neita has attached to his Second Amended Complaint a number of criminal complaints underlying the charges against him, (Am. Compl. Ex. 1), including several criminal complaints signed by Travis, Raddatz, or Uldrych. None of the criminal complaints provides significant detail about the event; instead, they tend to recite the statutory text for the charged violations. According to Neita's Second Amended Complaint, Travis either attested to the facts contained in the criminal complaints despite having no reason to believe that Neita had committed animal cruelty, or, "in the alternative, " Officers Raddatz and Uldrych fraudulently attested to the criminal complaints on Travis's behalf without her knowledge or consent. (Am. Compl. ¶ 27.)

Regardless which version of Neita's "alternative" allegations is true, Neita alleges that Raddatz and Uldrych falsified the police report regarding Neita's arrest (the "Arrest Report") by stating that Neita was not arrested until 1:34 p.m. and that the statutory violations discovered at Neita's business were among the bases for Neita's arrest, when in fact Neita had been arrested several hours before the search of his business. ( Id. ¶¶ 29-30.) Neita did not attach the Arrest Report to his Second Amended Complaint but Defendants have included it along with their motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 65 Ex. B.) Because Neita has in his Second Amended Complaint made the Arrest Report central to his falsification allegations, the court may consider the Arrest Report in ruling on Defendants' motion to dismiss without converting it to one for summary judgment. See Venture Assoc. Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp., 987 F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993) (holding that documents attached by a defendant to a motion to dismiss "are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to her claim"). The Arrest Report confirms his allegations, at least in part. According the Arrest Report, Officers Uldrych and Gage-the latter of whom is not named as a defendant-arrested Neita at 1:34 p.m. and the bases for his arrest were Travis's observations at ACC as well as Animal Control Agent Holcomb's inspection of Neita's business, where he found "8 dogs all left in cages without padding and with no food or water." (Dkt. No. 65 Ex. B at 3.)

On February 17, 2012, Travis made one or more false statements "maligning" Neita and his business, which were published in the Chicago Tribune and otherwise "widely circulated." (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 31-32.)

On May 22, 2013, all of the charges filed against Neita were "dismissed in a manner indicative of his innocence" when Judge Peggy Chiampis of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois found Neita "not guilty" of all 13 charges. ( Id. ¶ 33.)

Defendants now move to dismiss all of Neita's renewed claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

LEGAL STANDARD

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint's allegations need only to set forth "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. A 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, ...


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