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Coleman v. City of Peoria

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

September 27, 2016

CITY OF PEORIA, MICHAEL RABE, in the capacity as the executor of the ESTATE OF PATRICK K. RABE, TERRY PYATT, TIMOTHY ANDERSON, MICHAEL FORD, and other as-yet unidentified Peoria Police Officers, Defendants.



         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Bifurcate and Stay Discovery and Trial of Plaintiff's Municipal Liability Claims, ECF No. 35, and Defendants' renewed motion to dismiss Count IV of the Amended Complaint, ECF No. 52. For the following reasons, the motion to stay discovery is DENIED, and the motion to dismiss GRANTED.


         Plaintiff Coleman was convicted of having committed an armed robbery and sexual assault in Peoria, Illinois in 1994. He alleges that Defendants Rabe, Pyatt, Anderson, and Ford, officers of the Peoria Police Department at the time, [2] got the victim of the assault to identify Coleman as the perpetrator via a suggestive photo identification and lineup, and that they pressured a 12-year-old child, Anthony Brooks, to claim that Coleman was the perpetrator. Coleman alleges that although he was uninvolved in the crime, Defendants' actions resulted in his conviction and 19-year incarceration. In 2013, after an evidentiary hearing, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reversed the conviction, after which the Peoria County State's Attorney dismissed all charges against Coleman.

         Coleman brought suit in this Court on March 11, 2015, see Compl., ECF No. 1, and alleges (I) violations of his Constitutional right to due process pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Am. Compl. 9-10; (II) a conspiracy to deprive him of that right, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, id. at 10-11; (III) a failure to intervene by at least one of the officer defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, id. at 11; (IV) a malicious prosecution claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [3] id. at 12; (V) a state law malicious prosecution claim, id. at 13; (VI) a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, id. at 13-14; (VII)[4] a state law civil conspiracy claim, id. at 14; (VIII) a state law claim against the City of Peoria (“the City”) articulating a theory of respondeat superior liability for the actions of its servants, id. at 14; and (IX) a state law claim (if it is a claim[5]) observing that Illinois law requires public entities to indemnify employees for compensatory damages in tort, id. at 15. Count I, the due process claim, is evidently intended to be brought against not only the defendant officers, but also against the City, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 62-64, pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978).


         I. Motion to Dismiss

         Defendants' renewed motion to dismiss can be quickly disposed of. The Court previously granted the same motion as to the original Complaint's Count IV, dismissing that count because “the Seventh Circuit does not permit an action for malicious prosecution under § 1983 if a state remedy exists, which it does in Illinois.” Mar. 23, 2016 Order 1, ECF No. 44. At the time, Plaintiff conceded that such federal claims are not permitted in this circuit, and explained that he raised it in order to preserve it, with a hopeful eye to the possibility of the Supreme Court's disagreeing with the Seventh Circuit on the matter. Resp. Mot. Dismiss 1-3, ECF No. 24. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, however, contains the same claim for malicious prosecution under federal law. Am. Compl. 12. Plaintiff now explains, in response to a motion to dismiss renewed on identical grounds, that, while the Complaint was merely amended to properly re-name a party, he “re-pled, ” Resp. Mot. Dismiss 1, ECF No. 54, the malicious prosecution count in order to preserve it for appeal.

         However, as the Seventh Circuit has repeatedly explained, litigants do not need to replead dismissed claims in order to preserve them for appeal. See Bastian v. Petren Res. Corp., 892 F.2d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 1990) (“It is not waiver-it is prudence and economy-for parties not to reassert a position that the trial judge has rejected. Had the plaintiffs repleaded their [original claim] without alleging loss causation, the judge would have dismissed the charge, not only with prejudice but with annoyance.”); see also Smith v. Nat'l Health Care Services of Peoria, 934 F.2d 95, 98 (7th Cir. 1991) (“This court in Bastian stated that dismissed claims need not be included in an amended complaint, because the final judgment brings up all previous rulings in the case.”); Serritella v. Markum, 119 F.3d 506, 512 n.6 (7th Cir. 1996) (“[Plaintiff's counsel's] concern that he was required to replead the dismissed claim lest he be found to have waived the issue on appeal has no foundation in the law of this Circuit (or any other of which we are aware).”). Coleman's “hope, ” Resp. Mot. Dismiss 3-that supplementing the dismissed claim with an explanatory footnote would permit the claim to be repleaded-is inadequate to “obviate the need for the instant motion, ” id. There is no basis in law to bring the claim. It was dismissed before for this reason, and is dismissed again for this reason, with prejudice.

         II. Motion For a Separate Trial

         a. Legal Framework on a Motion For a Separate Trial

         “For convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize, the court may order a separate trial of one or more separate issues, claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, or third-party claims.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(b). A court's decision to order a separate trial of issues or claims is “at the court's discretion and will be overturned only upon a clear showing of abuse.” Houskins v. Sheahan, 549 F.3d 480, 495 (7th Cir. 2008). Unlike severance of claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, separate trials of issues or claims under Rule 42(b) typically do not create a separate action, and result in a single judgment. Houseman v. U.S. Aviation Underwriters, 171 F.3d 1117, 1122 n.5 (7th Cir. 1999). Thus, in determining whether to grant a motion for a separate trial, a court must weigh the possible benefits in efficiency and fairness of separate trials against the possible losses in efficiency and fairness. See Allstate Ins. Co. v. Vizcay, 826 F.3d 1326, 1333 (11th Cir. 2016) (describing the factors courts should consider as including “the risk of inconsistent adjudications of common factual and legal issues, the burden on parties, witnesses and available judicial resources posed by multiple lawsuits, the length of time required to conclude multiple suits as against a single one, and the relative expense” of the alternatives (quoting Hendrix v. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 776 F.2d 1492, 1495 (11th Cir. 1985))).

         b. Analysis

         Defendant asks that the constitutional claim against the City asserted in Count 1 be severed from the rest of the claims, and proceedings on that claim stayed while litigation proceeds on the other claims. Mot. Stay 1. Defendants argue that, while Coleman brings federal constitutional claims against individual officer defendants and against the City, the claim against the City cannot succeed unless Coleman first succeeds in showing that at least one individual defendant violated his constitutional rights. Mot. Stay 7. Since all individual defendants are indemnified by the City, the reasoning goes, Coleman will not get any more or better recovery by proceeding with the claim against the City, and is not any more likely to succeed on that claim than on the claims against the individuals, since success on at least one of those claims is a predicate of success on the claim against the City. The City thus urges that the claim against it is redundant and inefficient; the costs, both to the City in supplying discovery on the claim and to the Court in supervising that discovery, are asserted to be significant. Id. Additionally, ...

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