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McFadden v. Pryor

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

June 25, 2015

THOMAS McFADDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
SERGEANT STEVEN PRYOR, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN ROBERT BLAKEY, District Judge.

The case is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss [72] for lack of standing and for failure to state a claim. Defendants seek to dismiss the operative complaint, which is the Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") [57], filed October 8, 2014. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted.

Background

Plaintiff's TAC alleges that, on March 3, 2012, Officer Pryor, Supervisor Brzeczek, Sergeant Hroma and certain unknown defendants, arrived at 732 North Lawndale in Chicago to execute a search warrant. TAC [57], ¶14. At that time, the property was owned by plaintiff's mother, Ethel McFadden, who was then 74 years old and suffering from esophageal cancer. Id., ¶13. The defendants had a search warrant and, pursuant to that warrant, they searched for Sam Walker and searched the first floor of the property. The warrant allowed them to "seize firearms, ammunition, bullets, bullet casings, firearm boxes, firearm magazines, documents referencing the purchase and/or sale of firearms and documents showing proof of residency." TAC, ¶15 and Exhibit B [57-1], p. 10. Additionally, according to the TAC, Ethel signed a "Consent to Search" form, allowing defendants to search beyond the warrant and into the basement, hallways and garage of the property. Id., ¶16 and Exhibit C [57-1], p. 11. Plaintiff further alleges that the defendants "broke down the garage door, entered and searched the garage" and "broke the back door of the house" and "broke into and searched the second floor unit which was occupied by unrelated tenants." TAC, ¶¶17-18. Plaintiff alleges that by "the time the Defendants left, the Property had been severely damaged, all the locks had been broken, and the house could not be secured." TAC, ¶20.

While plaintiff did not own the searched property on March 3, 2012, he alleges that he is the "only child and only heir" of Ethel, who has since died (the TAC does not say when she passed away), and "has succeeded to the ownership of the Property." TAC, ¶24. Based on these allegations, plaintiff asserts one claim under Section 1983, alleging that "the Defendants willfully and maliciously and under cover of the law of the State of Illinois deprived him of the rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the State of Illinois." Id., ¶ 27.

Discussion

The defendants have moved to dismiss the TAC for lack of standing under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). Under both 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 915 (7th Cir. 2013); Long v. Shorebank Dev't Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). Statements of law, however, need not be accepted true. Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915.

For a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met. Ctr. for Dermatology & Skin Cancer, Ltd. v. Burwell, 770 F.3d 586, 589 (7th Cir. 2014). If the jurisdictional facts are challenged, Plaintiff must support those facts by competent proof. Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 446 (1942). The standard for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion differs from that under Rule 12(b)(6) only in that the Court "may properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the [claim] and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists." Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 444 (7th Cir.2009).

To survive Defendant's motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the Complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915. "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. Rule 12(b)(6) limits this Court's consideration to "allegations set forth in the complaint itself, documents that are attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and are referred to in it, and information that is properly subject to judicial notice." Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).

A. Plaintiff's Standing to Pursue this Claim

The defendants first argue that plaintiff lacks standing to sue for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights (via Section 1983) because he could have had no expectation of privacy (much less a reasonable expectation of privacy) in the property at 732 North Lawndale. At the time of the search, he had no ownership interest in the property and did not reside there. Nor did he have any ownership interest at the time the suit was filed (and, having been in police custody since 2011, he did not live there at that time either).

"The Supreme Court has characterized the doctrine of standing as an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III' of the Constitution." Perry v. Village of Arlington Heights, 186 F.3d 826, 829 (7th Cir. 1999)(quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992)). "A party seeking to invoke a federal court's jurisdiction must demonstrate three things: (1) an injury in fact, ' which is an invasion of a legally protected interest that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct, such that the injury can be fairly traced to the challenged action of the defendant and not from the independent action of some third party not before the court; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Perry, 186 F.3d at 829 (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61). The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing the elements of standing. See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130. Since the elements of standing "are not mere pleading requirements but rather an indispensable part of the plaintiff's case, each element must be supported in the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of evidence required at the successive stages of litigation." Id.

In ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of standing, the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. See Warth, 422 U.S. at 501. But where "standing is challenged as a factual matter, the plaintiff bears the burden of supporting the allegations necessary for standing with competent proof.'" Retired Chicago Police Ass'n, 76 F.3d at 862. "Competent proof" requires a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that standing exists. See NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-America, Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 237 (7th Cir.1995).

Here, plaintiff alleges that the defendants' unconstitutional search of his mother's home deprived him of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment focuses on whether there is a "constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy.'" California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 211 (1986) (quoting Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 360 (1967)). "Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights, which, like some other constitutional rights, may not be vicariously asserted." Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34 (1978)(citations omitted). Fourth Amendment rights are not derivative, but may only be asserted by one whose Fourth Amendment rights have been violated. Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 171-72 (1969); U.S. v. Eighty Thousand Nine Hundred Forty-One and 05/100 Dollars ($80, 941.05) in U.S. Currency, No. 05-2106, 2006 WL 1215194, at *4 (C.D. Ill. May 5, 2006). In Siebert v. Severino, 256 F.3d 648, 655 (7th Cir. 2001), plaintiffs - a husband and wife - sued an Agricultural Investigator under Section 1983 alleging violation of the Fourth Amendment; the plaintiffs alleged ...


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