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Chester v. Tucker

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

November 7, 2016

DARRYL CHESTER K-58557, Plaintiff,
LT. TUCKER, et al., Defendants.


          Sara L. Ellis, Judge

         For Plaintiff Darryl Chester, the old adage “snitches get stiches, ” rang painfully true. After correctional officers publicly called Chester a “snitch, ” beat him, and caused another inmate to attack him for being a “snitch, ” Chester filed this lawsuit against Lieutenant Earl Tucker, Deputy Marquis Beauchamp, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County, and Unknown Cook County Correctional Officers (“Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment[1] rights arising from incidents with the correctional officers on March 18, 2013 and April 9, 2013, and a subsequent altercation on May 22, 2013, with another inmate. Chester also seeks state law indemnification pursuant to the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/9-102. Defendants move to dismiss [33] Chester's First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) because he has insufficiently pleaded his claims, failed to exhaust them, and the statute of limitations bars them. The Court denies in part and grants in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. Because the Court lacks information at this stage to determine whether the statute of limitations bars Chester's claims or he has failed to exhaust them, the Court denies the motion to dismiss with respect to Counts I and IV. The Court finds, however, that Chester has insufficiently pleaded his Fourth Amendment and Monell claims, and dismisses Counts II and III without prejudice.


         On March 18, 2013, Chester was at the barber shop at the Cook County Jail. Defendant Tucker entered the shop with approximately ten other correctional officers and told Chester to “get his ‘Stool Pidgeon[3] [sic] ass' out of the barber chair.” Doc. 23 ¶ 10.

         On April 9, 2013, Tucker and approximately seven other unknown correctional officers took Chester out of his cell, “aggressively battered” him, searched his cell, and confiscated permitted items. Id. ¶ 11. At this time, Tucker yelled to the day room that Chester was wearing a wire and working with the Criminal Intelligence Unit.

         Chester filed an inmate grievance regarding the April 9th incident on April 18, 2013 and requested that jail officials process the grievance as an emergency grievance. Platoon Counselor Puckett acknowledged the grievance when Chester filed it and informed him that Chester would “have problems” because he was complaining about the actions of correctional officers. Id. ¶ 14.

         On May 22, 2013, another inmate, Alex Arroyo, attacked Chester because Tucker and Beauchamp had told inmates that Chester was a “snitch.” Id. Chester received injuries during the attack that required medical attention. That same day, Chester filed an inmate grievance regarding the attack. After Chester filed this grievance, Internal Affairs and an Assistant State's Attorney contacted Chester regarding the May 22nd incident, but no further action occurred regarding the grievance. Chester also alleges that Tucker or Beauchamp destroyed this grievance at some point to prevent an investigation.

         On June 15, 2015, Chester filed the present suit. On April 18, 2016, he filed the FAC, which Defendants now move to dismiss.


         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor. AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a claim's basis but must also be facially plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.


         I. Statute of Limitations and Exhaustion

         Defendants argue that Chester's claims are barred by the statute of limitations because he filed his initial complaint more than two years after the May 22, 2013 incident. The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that need not be anticipated in the complaint in order to survive a motion to dismiss. United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005). But that is not the case where “the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense, such as when a complaint reveals that an action is untimely under the governing statute of limitations.” Id.; see also Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579 (7th Cir. 2009) (considering statute of limitations defense on motion to dismiss where relevant dates were set forth in the complaint).

         Chester's § 1983 claims are governed by the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury claims, in this case, two years. Henderson v. Bolanda, 253 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 2001); 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202. Additionally, federal courts borrow the state's tolling rules, including equitable tolling doctrines. Johnson v. Rivera, 272 F.3d 519, 521 (7th Cir. 2001). Under the relevant Illinois tolling statute, the statute of limitations is tolled when there is a statutory prohibition against filing the case. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-216. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (“PLRA”), a prisoner may not bring a case under § 1983 until he has exhausted his available administrative remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Johnson, 272 F.3d at 521. Therefore, the statute of limitations is tolled while a prisoner pursues his administrative remedies. Johnson, 272 F.3d at 522. Further, although the statute of limitations is borrowed from state law, federal law determines when a ยง 1983 claim ...

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