United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Kane County's motion to dismiss
, Defendant Kane County Sheriff Donald Kramer's
motion to dismiss , and Defendants Kane County and
Sheriff Kramer's motion to bifurcate Plaintiffs'
claims under Monell v. Department of Social Services of
the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) . For the
reasons set forth below, Defendant Kane County's motion
to dismiss  is granted in part and denied in part, and
Defendant Sheriff Kramer's motion to dismiss  is
granted. Plaintiffs are given until January 13, 2017 to file
a second amended complaint consistent with this opinion. The
Court denies Defendants' motion to bifurcate as premature
, but continues to stay all Monell discovery.
to the operative complaint, the allegations of which must be
assumed true at this stage of the case, on April 15, 2015,
Plaintiffs America Martinez, Rodolfo Tapia, and Ismael
Jaimes-Meza were driving through Kane County, Illinois when
they were stopped by Defendant Sergeant Ronald Hain, an
employee of the Kane County Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Hain
called for backup and then conducted a search of all three
Plaintiffs. In one of Meza's pockets, Sgt. Hain found $5,
118 in cash and a debit card with a $566.62 balance, both of
which were seized. Nothing else of note was found on
Meza's person. Sgt. Hain handcuffed Meza and questioned
Tapia and Martinez. Sgt. Hain also conducted a search of
Tapia's car, but did not find any contraband in the
vehicle. All three Plaintiffs were transported to the Kane
County Sheriff's Office. Tapia's car was also towed
to the office, where it was searched again and ultimately
seized by Sgt. Hain.
Sheriff's Office, Tapia and Martinez were handcuffed and
all three Plaintiffs were strip-searched. Martinez and Tapia
were then photographed, fingerprinted, dressed in orange
jumpsuits, placed in holding cells, and held overnight.
Martinez was denied the opportunity to make a phone call and
neither Martinez nor Tapia were read their Miranda
rights. The next day, Martinez and Tapia were released from
the Sheriff's Office without being charged with a crime.
The amended complaint is silent as to whether Meza was
charged with any crime.
15, 2015, Sgt. Hain encountered Tapia and Martinez again,
this time driving Martinez's car. Sgt. Hain stopped them
and searched the car, but did not find any contraband.
on this series of events, Plaintiffs filed a fifteen-count
complaint against Sgt. Hain, various named and unnamed Kane
County sheriff's officers, the Kane County Sheriff's
Office, Kane County Sheriff Donald Kramer, and Kane County.
Plaintiffs assert state law claims for false imprisonment and
battery and claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
unreasonable searches, unreasonable seizures, false arrests,
and failures to intervene. Against Sheriff Kramer, Plaintiffs
assert violations of Section 1983 for failure to train,
supervise, or discipline officers of the Kane County
Sheriff's Office under Monell v. Department of Social
Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978)
(Count XI). Plaintiffs assert the same Monell claim
against Kane County (Count XIII), as well as a state law
claim that Kane County must indemnify any Defendant Officers
who are found liable for any federal claims (Count XIV).
Sheriff Kramer moved to dismiss Count XI  and Kane County
moved to dismiss Counts XIII and XIV . While those
motions were pending, Sheriff Kramer and Kane County moved to
bifurcate and stay all discovery related to Plaintiffs'
survive a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the
complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), such that the defendant is given “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) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957)) (alteration in original). Second, the factual
allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the
possibility of relief above the “speculative
level.” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs.,
Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “A pleading that
offers ‘labels and conclusions' or a
‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555). Dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6) is proper “when the allegations in a
complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of
entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
558. In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all of Plaintiffs'
well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable
inferences in Plaintiffs' favor. Killingsworth v.
HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir.
42 U.S.C. § 1983, a person may sue anyone who, while
acting under color of law, causes him to be deprived of any
of his constitutional rights. 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 60-62 (2011). A
municipality can be held liable under Section 1983 only
“when execution of [its] policy or custom, whether made
by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may be
fairly said to represent official policy, ” causes the
constitutional deprivation. Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs. of City of New York, 536 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). A
municipality cannot be held liable solely on a respondeat
superior basis. Id. at 691. The Seventh Circuit
recognizes three paths to municipal liability: “(1)
through an express policy that, when enforced, causes a
constitutional deprivation; (2) through a ‘wide-spread
practice' that although not authorized by written law and
express policy, is so permanent and well-settled as to
constitute a ‘custom or usage' with the force of
law; or (3) through an allegation that the constitutional
injury was caused by a person with ‘final decision
policymaking authority.'” Calhoun v.
Ramsey, 408 F.3d 375, 380 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting
McTigue v. City of Chicago, 60 F.3d 381, 382 (7th
Cir. 1995)). Plaintiffs rely on the second prong for their
two Monell claims. To state a Monell claim,
a plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference” that the
municipality maintained a policy or custom that caused the
alleged constitutional deprivation. McCauley v. City of
Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “The required level
of factual specificity rises with the complexity of the
claim.” Id. at 616-17; Swanson v.
Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 405 (7th Cir. 2010)
(“A more complex case * * * will require more detail,
both to give the opposing party notice of what the case is
all about and to show how, in the plaintiff's mind at
least, the dots should be connected.”). Mere
“legal conclusions or elements of the cause of
action” must be disregarded. McCauley, 671
F.3d at 617. Thus, “boilerplate” allegations that
repeat the elements of a Monell claim without any
further factual content are dismissed for failure to state a
claim. See, e.g., Falk v. Perez, 973
F.Supp.2d 850, 864 (N.D. Ill. 2013) (“[B]y alleging
‘widespread practices, ' ‘customs, ' and
‘unofficial policies, ' Plaintiff merely states
boilerplate legal conclusions that are the elements of her
Monell claim.”); Annan v. Vill. of
Romeoville, 2013 WL 673484, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 25,
2013) (holding that an allegation that defendant
“maintains a policy by which officers use excessive
force to arrest individuals with no probable cause or
reasonable suspicion warranting such” was insufficient
to state a Monell claim); Sheppard v. Vill. of
Glendale Heights, 2011 WL 6102012, at *4 (N.D. Ill.Dec.
5, 2011) (holding that an allegation that plaintiff was
discriminated against on the basis of her sex and race
“pursuant to wide-spread practice” of the
defendant village was insufficient to state a Monell
order to prevail on a Monell claim, a plaintiff also
must be able to show that the municipality's policy was
the “moving force” behind the alleged injury;
that is, a plaintiff “must demonstrate a direct causal
link between the municipal action and the deprivation of
federal rights.” Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs of Bryan
Cnty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997); see also
City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989);
Teesdale v. City of Chicago, 690 F.3d 829, 833 (7th
Cir. 2012). The Court reviews both Monell claims
under this standard.
Monell claims against Kane County and Sheriff Kramer are
largely identical. Both involve an alleged failure to train,
supervise, or discipline officers of the Sheriffs Office. As
the Supreme Court has cautioned, a “municipality's
culpability for a deprivation of rights is at its most
tenuous where a claim turns on a failure to train.”
Connick, 563 U.S. at 61. Plaintiffs allege that
these Defendants “directly encourage[d]” and were
“the moving force” behind the following alleged
. “[p]rolong[ing] citizens'
detentions pursuant to traffic stops without a legally
. “[s]earch[ing] vehicles without
legal justification during those stops;”
. “[s]eiz[ing] citizens' property
without legal justification as a result of those