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Cheatham v. City of Chicago

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

October 25, 2016




         Plaintiff Lauren Cheatham filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) in the Circuit Court of Cook County, which was removed to federal court. Plaintiff then filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) against the City of Chicago and Police Officer Yesenia Medina, alleging violations of her civil rights pursuant to § 1983 and several violations of state law. Yesenia Medina filed a Motion to Dismiss [26] the state-law claims against her. City of Chicago (the “City”) filed a Motion to Dismiss [22] the Monell claim and the malicious-prosecution claim against the City. For the reasons discussed more fully below, Medina's Motion to Dismiss [26] is granted in part and denied in part; and City of Chicago's Motion to Dismiss [22] is granted in part and denied in part.


         Lauren Cheatham is a resident of the City of Chicago. (SAC ¶ 1.) The City of Chicago is a municipal entity created and authorized under the laws of the State of Illinois. (Id. ¶ 2.) Medina was, at all relevant times, an officer with the Chicago Police Department. (Id. ¶ 3.)

         On February 22, 2015, Cheatham and her cousin, Dan Bailey, were stopped at a Burger King in the City of Chicago. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff and her cousin are African Americans. (Id.) Several plain-clothes officers, including Medina, approached the vehicle and told Cheatham and Bailey to get out of the car. (Id. ¶ 8.) Cheatham and Bailey were placed in separate police vehicles. (Id.) Medina asked Cheatham about drugs and whether Bailey was selling drugs. (Id. ¶ 9.) Cheatham informed Medina that Bailey was not selling drugs. (Id. ¶ 10.) Medina told Cheatham that she had been driving on a suspended license but that she would let Cheatham go if Cheatham would tell her about the drugs. (Id. ¶ 11.) Cheatham again told Medina that Bailey was not selling drugs. (Id. ¶ 12.) The officers did not arrest Bailey, and no drugs were ever found. (Id. ¶ 13.)

         Cheatham was arrested and brought to the station. (Id. ¶ 14.) Medina questioned Cheatham about drugs, cursed at Cheatham, and told Cheatham that she was lying. (Id. ¶ 16.) Cheatham's hands were handcuffed to the table. (Id.) After a male officer left the room and shut the door, Medina slapped Cheatham on the face, causing a tooth to come out. (Id. ¶ 17.) Cheatham reported Medina to the Independent Police Review Authority. (Id. ¶ 19.) Charges were filed against Cheatham, including aggravated assault and resisting and/or obstruction of the performance of a police officer. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff was found not guilty on all charges. (Id. ¶ 22.)


         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint must allege enough facts to support a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). Facial plausibility exists when the court can “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). All well-pleaded allegations are presumed to be true, and all inferences are read in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Lavalais v. Village of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2013). This presumption is not extended to “legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 666 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)). A plaintiff is not required to “plead the elements of a cause of action along with facts supporting each element.” Runnion ex rel. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Nw. Indiana, 786 F.3d 510, 517 (7th Cir. 2015). Rather, the complaint must provide a defendant “with ‘fair notice' of the claim and its basis.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).


         Officer Medina

         Medina moves to dismiss three state-law claims brought against her in the SAC. Count I alleges assault and battery; Count VI alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”); and Count VII alleges negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”).[1]

         Medina argues that the NIED claim is barred under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, which immunizes officers from negligence liability. A police officer “is not liable for his act or omission in the execution or enforcement of any law unless such act or omission constitutes willful and wanton conduct.” 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/2-202. It is not disputed that Medina was executing or enforcing the law. Plaintiff alleges that Medina, “in assaulting and battering Plaintiff, was careless and negligent as to the emotional health of Plaintiff and caused severe emotional distress to Plaintiff.” (SAC, ¶ 111.) The NIED claim is barred by the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, as it is based on negligence. See Miller v. Womak, 2010 WL 2522994, at *1 (C.D. Ill. 2010) (“a negligence claim is barred by the Illinois Tort Immunity Act”). Medina's Motion to Dismiss is granted with prejudice as to Count VII.[2]

         Medina argues that the claims in Counts I and VI are time-barred under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. Under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, tort claims against a government entity or its employees have a one-year statute of limitations. 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/8-101 (“No civil action may be commenced in any court against a local entity or any of its employees for any injury unless it is commenced within one year from the date that the injury was received of the cause of action accrued.”) The statute of limitations began to run when Plaintiff received her injuries, February 22, 2015. Plaintiff filed her original Complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County on February 18, 2016. The FAC was filed on February 22, 2016; and summons and the FAC were served upon the City of Chicago and Defendant Unknown Police Officer on February 29, 2016. The case was removed to federal court on March 10, 2016. Medina was first named as a Defendant in Plaintiff's SAC, which was filed on April 29, 2016.

         Plaintiff argues that her claims against Medina are not time-barred because the SAC, in which Plaintiff first identified Medina, relates back to the filing of the original Complaint in state court on February 18, 2016. Where an amendment changes the party or the name of a party against whom a claim is made, that amendment relates back to the original complaint “if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment: (i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending on the merits; and (ii) knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the proper party's identity.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C). Previously, the Seventh Circuit consistently held that “‘relation back' on grounds of ‘mistake concerning the identity of the proper party' does not apply where the plaintiff simply lacks knowledge of the proper defendant.” Hall v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 469 F.3d 590, 596 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing King v. One Unknown Fed. Corr. Officer, 201 F.3d 910, 914 (7th Cir. 2000); Eison v. McCoy, 146 F.3d 468, 472 (7th Cir. 1998); Baskin v. City of Des Plaines, 138 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 1998); Worthington v. Wilson, 8 F.3d 1253, 1257 (7th Cir. 1993)). This is known as the John Doe rule. However, after the Supreme Court's decision in Krupski v. Costa Crociere S.p.A., 560 U.S. 538 (2010), the Seventh Circuit, in Joseph v. Elan Motorsports Techs. Racing Corp., 638 F.3d 555 (7th Cir. 2011), held:

[t]he only two inquiries that the district court is now permitted to make in deciding whether an amended complaint relates back to the date of the original one are, first, whether the defendant who is sought to be added by the amendment knew or should have known that the plaintiff, had it not been for a mistake, would have sued him instead or in addition to suing the named defendant; and second, whether, even if so, the delay in the plaintiff's discovering his mistake impaired the new defendant's ability to defend himself.

Joseph, 638 F.3d at 559-60.

         Courts in this district disagree on whether lack of knowledge of a defendant's identity counts as a mistake post-Krupski. Compare Vandenburgh v. Bannockburn Police OfficerRobert Ogden, No. 15 C 6191, 2016 WL 403663, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 3, 2016) (holding that, even after Krupski, plaintiff's lack of knowledge of the proper defendant does not allow for relation back under Rule 15(c)(1)(C)'s mistake requirement) with White v. City of Chicago, No. 14 CV 3720, 2016 WL ...

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