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DaJuan Key (#43357-424) v. Romeoville Police Department

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

September 13, 2016

DaJuan Key (#43357-424), Plaintiff,
Romeoville Police Department, et al., Defendants.


          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff DaJuan Key, a federal inmate currently confined at Livingston County Jail, brought this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §1983, claiming that his motel room and vehicle were illegally searched in September 2013. This matter is now before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint [12]. For the reasons explained below, the motion is denied.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss on four grounds for dismissal: (1) expiration of the statute of limitations; (2) collateral estoppel; (3) qualified immunity; and (4) lack of personal involvement by Defendant Ferdinardo. The motion to dismiss is denied with respect to the statute of limitations. The complaint is not untimely on its face. The remainder of the motion is denied without prejudice. Rather than decide the remaining issues on the merits at this time, the Court on its own motion hereby further stays this case pending entry of final judgment by the district court of the ongoing federal criminal proceedings in Case No. 13-CR-726 (N.D. Ill.). Defendants may renew these arguments when the stay is lifted. Plaintiff is directed to file a status report concerning the progress of the criminal prosecution by November 30, 2016.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges as follows. He was staying at a Super 8 Motel in Romeoville, Illinois on September 10, 2013. On that date, Defendant Ferdinardo, a commander in the Romeoville Police Department, received a telephone call from a woman stating that she was driving to the motel to pick up her 15 year old daughter, who had traveled there from Wisconsin with two men. The woman allegedly told Ferdinardo that her daughter was no longer inside the motel room because the men had “put her out”, and the woman wanted to know if the neighborhood was safe enough for her daughter to walk to a police station. Ferdinardo then instructed Defendant Masterson, a sergeant with the Romeoville police, to try and make contact with the 15-year-old girl. Masterson, in turn, sent Romeoville police officers Truhlar and Legner to the Super 8 Motel.

         The officers allegedly saw a car with a Wisconsin license plate in the parking lot of the motel. They then spoke with a motel clerk, who told them that there was a man with a Wisconsin driver's license - whom the clerk identified as Plaintiff - renting a room at the motel. The two officers then entered his motel room through the cracked-open door without announcing themselves. When the officers entered the room, Plaintiff was lying on one bed and a woman, Dache Crayton, was on a second bed. They asked Plaintiff about the girl; he said he did not know who they were talking about. The officers then began searching the room and looking in drawers. They placed Plaintiff in handcuffs and then found and searched his cell phone and tablet. They also found the keys to Plaintiff's car, and asked him about it. He told them that it had been rented for him. The officers then received consent from Crayton to search the car. Plaintiff alleges that Crayton did not have the authority to provide such consent, and did so without Plaintiff's knowledge. Plaintiff also alleges that, in his currently pending federal criminal case in this district (Case No. 13-CR-726), he moved to suppress the evidence seized in these searches, and the district judge conducted an evidentiary hearing to address his motion to suppress the evidence seized in these searches.

         Plaintiff's Criminal Case

         Upon review of the docket in Case 13-CR-726, this Court takes judicial notice that a federal grand jury charged Plaintiff with transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), that an evidentiary hearing was held on October 13, 2015 on Plaintiff's motion to suppress, and that the court thereafter ruled on the motion in a written opinion on December 30, 2015. See Henson v. CSC Credit Services, 292 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994) (courts may take judicial notice of matters of public record, including the other court's dockets). The court granted the motion in part with respect to evidence seized in the motel room and denied the motion in full with respect to items seized in the car. See United States v. Key, No. 13 CR 726 [99]. On February 11, 2016, a jury found Plaintiff guilty of transporting a minor across state lines with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution. Plaintiff has filed post-trial motions for acquittal and a new trial, including a supplemental motion on August 31, 2016, that challenges the court's suppression rulings in particular. See Id. [170], [210]. The district judge presiding over the criminal case has not yet ruled on those motions, and the government's response to the supplemental motion is due on September 15, 2016. Id. [213]. Plaintiff's sentencing is scheduled for November 9, 2016. Id. [197].

         Procedural History

         Plaintiff's complaint is dated September 5, 2015, and was received by this Court on October 19, 2016. After Plaintiff submitted a revised application to proceed in forma pauperis in December 2015, this Court screened Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). On January 14, 2016, this Court issued a screening order that found that Plaintiff could proceed on a claim against Defendants Ferdinardo, Masterson, Truhlar and Legner (collectively “Defendants”) for illegal search and seizure of Plaintiff's motel room and rental car. See [6]. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on January 14, 2016 as well. Id.

         Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff filed a written response to the motion.


         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. See Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) 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) (citation omitted). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. Put differently, a “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         “In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [courts] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true.” Alam v. Miller Brewing Co.,709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013). Courts also construe pro se ...

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