United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Mikail Collier is suing Defendants City of Rock Island
(“the City”), Officer Phillip Ledbetter, Officer
Michael Wood, and unknown officers for the exercise of
excessive force during an arrest. Collier brings his claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law. He seeks
compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and
attorney's fees. Before the Court are the City and
Ledbetter's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 31, and Wood's
Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 32. For the following reasons, the
motions are GRANTED IN PART and, in part, MOOT.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
14, 2014, Collier and his cousin were walking along Sixteenth
Avenue in Rock Island, between Ninth and Seventh Streets.
There was no sidewalk, and Collier walked on the street.
After Collier and his cousin turned into an alleyway, they
were approached by Officer Ledbetter, who had been following
them for a few blocks. When Collier asked why Officer
Ledbetter had been following him, Ledbetter replied
“because you were walking in the street back
there.” Officer Ledbetter proceeded to arrest Collier
by twisting Collier's wrist behind his back, grabbing him
under the arm and slamming him to the ground. Collier's
head struck the pavement. Officer Ledbetter held Collier down
by pushing a knee into his neck, while other officers who had
arrived on scene, including Michael Wood, assisted with the
arrest. Collier did not resist. As Ledbetter placed Collier
in a squad car, he stated “I owned your ass.”
filed suit on December 18, 2014. See Compl., ECF No.
1. In addition to state and federal claims against Officers
Ledbetter and Wood, he brought multiple constitutional claims
against the City of Rock Island, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and the municipal liability doctrine of Monell v.
New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S.
658, 690-91 (1978). Collier alleged that the City maintained
a “practice and custom of failing to adequately train,
supervise, control, discipline and dismiss” officers
who commit excessive force arrests as well as “a policy
of inadequately reporting, reviewing and investigating”
purported excessive force incidents. Compl. ¶ 44.
Collier also alleged that his injury was caused by the
City's “practice and custom” of employing too
few African-American police officers to patrol
African-American neighborhoods and by a “code of
silence” endorsed by final city policy-makers.
Id. ¶¶ 56, 59.
Court dismissed Collier's complaint in its entirety.
See Sept. 15, 2015 Order, ECF No. 25. With regard to
his Monell claim against the City, the Court noted
Collier's failure to plead “non-conclusory facts
even remotely suggesting a pattern or practice” of
police misconduct and granted him leave to amend his
complaint. Id. at 8. Collier filed an amended
complaint, ECF No. 27, adding to his new complaint factual
accounts of four allegedly excessively forceful arrests of
African-American individuals by Rock Island police officers
in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Am. Compl. 8-13.
October 14, 2015, the defendants filed their motions to
amended complaint, although it attempts to remedy some of the
deficiencies noted in the Court's September 15, 2015
order, is still confusing. See Order 4
(“Plaintiff appears to misunderstand the difference
between a claim for relief, which arises from a distinct
transaction or occurrence, and the legal underpinnings of
such a claim. The former should, per Rule 10(b), be separated
into distinct counts; the latter should not.”). The
Court will attempt to summarize it.
of the Amended Complaint appears to allege four separate
claims against two separate defendants. It alleges that
Ledbetter used excessive force in violation of the Fourth
Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and alleges that
the city was responsible for that use of excessive force; as
to the former, on the basis of his actions on July 14, 2014,
and as to the latter, on the basis of its failure to properly
train or supervise Ledbetter pursuant to Monell. Am.
Compl. 13-14. To make matters more complicated, although the
Count is titled “excessive force, ” it also
states that “Officer Ledbetter's false arrest and
false imprisonment of plaintiff also violated his Fourth
Amendment rights, ” id. at 13, thus apparently
also alleging Ledbetter falsely arrested Collier, and again
that this was a consequence of the City's policies and
procedures. Count II appears to allege a Monell
claim as to the City for unnamed officers' failure to
intervene in Ledbetter's arrest as a consequence of
deficient supervision or training, and possibly also a
similar claim against Officer Wood in his individual
capacity. Id. 14-15. Count III is a
Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against both the
City and “defendant officers”- presumably,
Ledbetter, Wood, and the unknown officers. Id. at
15-16. Count IV asserts (perhaps) state and federal law
claims of assault and battery against the City, and Ledbetter
and Wood “in their individual and[, ]”
redundantly, “official” capacities. Id.
at 16-17. See Sept. 15, 2015 Order 3 n.2
(“[O]fficial-capacity suits generally represent only
another way of pleading an action against an entity of which
an officer is an agent.” (quoting Hafer v.
Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991))). Count V comprises
(perhaps) state and federal false arrest and false
imprisonment claims against both the City and Ledbetter and
Wood (this time just individually). Am. Compl. 17. Count VI
is a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress against the same parties. Id. at 18.
and the City's motion to dismiss argues (1) that, to the
extent that Counts I-VI seek to bring federal constitutional
claims against the City under Monell, they still
fail to allege sufficient facts to support the inference that
the city could be liable for any violations, City Mot.
Dismiss 4; (2) that insufficient facts are pleaded to support
the inference that any individual defendant failed to
intervene under Count II, id. at 8-9; (3) that equal
protection is an inappropriate basis upon which to bring a
claim for excessive force in an arrest, id. at 9-10;
(4) that the false arrest claims contained in Counts I and V
fail because the claim was previously dismissed, Collier
admits in his pleadings that Ledbetter had probable cause to
arrest Collier, Ledbetter has qualified immunity in any case,
and the doctrine of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994), forbids Collier from challenging his arrest, City
Mot. Dismiss 11-14.
motion to dismiss (1) repeats the previous motion's
argument that insufficient facts are alleged to support a
failure to intervene claim in Count II, Wood Mot. Dismiss
3-5; (2) repeats the previous motion's argument that
equal protection is an inappropriate basis upon which to
bring an excessive force arrest claim, id. at 5-6;
(3) argues that Wood cannot be sued under Counts IV-VI
because the statute of limitations bars the claims against
him, id. at 6-8; (4) repeats the previous
motion's multiple arguments against the false arrest
claims in Counts I and V, id. at 8-11.
not surprising that the two motions to dismiss duplicate each
other at times, since counsel for all defendants is the same,
and the issues as between the City and Ledbetter on one hand,
and Wood on the other, similar. In an attempt at clarity, the
Court will first explain why the renewed federal claims
against the City pursuant to Monell fail, and will
then address Defendants' other arguments in turn, to the
extent that they address non-Monell issues.
Legal Standard on a Motion to Dismiss
reviewing a motion to dismiss, a court must accept as true
all well-pleaded facts in the complaint, and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scanlan
v. Eisenberg, 669 F.3d 838, 841 (7th Cir. 2012). A court
will dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In
determining whether such a claim has been stated, a court
should first identify pleadings that “because they are
no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption
of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009). It should then take the remaining, well-pleaded
factual allegations, “assume their veracity[, ] and . .
. determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Id. This means that a
complaint must provide “allegations that raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.” Tamayo v.
Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008).
Monell Liability: Counts I-VI
municipality cannot be held liable for a 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claim under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. Rather, liability may only
be ascribed to a municipality “if the unconstitutional
act complained of is caused by: (1) an official policy
adopted and promulgated by its officers; (2) a governmental
practice or custom that, although not officially authorized,
is widespread and well settled; or (3) an official with final
policy-making authority.” Thomas v. Cook County
Sheriff's Dept., 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir. 2009)
(citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690). An
“allegation of a single incident of unconstitutional
conduct by a municipal employee usually does not establish a
sufficient basis for suing [a] municipality, ” ...