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Urban v. Altamirano

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

January 4, 2017

Cliff Urban, Plaintiff,
Edgar Altamirano, et al., Defendants.


          FREDERICK J. KAPALA District Judge

         Defendants' motion to dismiss [25] is granted in part and denied in part. Counts I, II, and IV of the amended complaint are dismissed and the City of Rockford is terminated as a defendant.


         In his amended complaint, plaintiff, Cliff Urban, has brought multiple claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against Rockford police officers Bruno, Johnson, Hackbarth, and Gulley, arising out of plaintiff's arrest at the Rockford International Airport (“RIA”) on November 27, 2013.[1] In particular, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his due process rights by fabricating reports and charging him with a crime he did not commit (Count I); initiated and/or continued a malicious prosecution against him without probable cause in violation of state law (Count II); and falsely arrested him without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count III). Currently before the court is a motion by defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss all of the claims against them as either time-barred or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. As explained in more detail below, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from the allegations in plaintiff's amended complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this order. On November 27, 2013, plaintiff was scheduled to fly from RIA to Las Vegas to visit his mother. Plaintiff, who has been issued concealed carry permits in Indiana, Utah, and Arizona, was traveling with his pistol. Upon his arrival at the airport, plaintiff went to the baggage check area to check his luggage and declare his pistol. As part of routine airport procedure, the baggage clerk, Isabel Garcia, asked plaintiff to open his gun case and show her what he was declaring. After examining the contents of the gun case, completing a certificate of firearm declaration, and taking possession of the gun case, Garcia notified plaintiff that he had not included a lock for his gun case. Plaintiff retrieved a lock from the car and returned approximately ten minutes later. Plaintiff gave the lock to Garcia, who in turn gave plaintiff his plane ticket. About ten minutes after plaintiff boarded the plane, TSA Agent Edgar Altamirano boarded the plane, grabbed plaintiff by the arm, and told him that he needed to leave the plane. After exiting the plane, Altamirano handcuffed plaintiff and walked him to the TSA office, where he had another airport employee call the Rockford police department and report that the TSA had a male in custody for attempting to check in with a gun even though he knew such conduct was not criminal.

         Defendant Johnson was the first Rockford police officer to arrive on the scene. He met with Garcia, who explained that she had immediately suspected plaintiff because of a strong odor of marijuana and the fact that he had brought a loaded weapon into the airport. Although Garcia insisted that the magazine of the gun was loaded, Johnson checked the gun and the magazine was empty. Johnson then viewed surveillance video that discredited Garcia and Altamirano and showed plaintiff was doing nothing unlawful, but Johnson claimed that the video was unclear and that he was too busy to pick up a copy of the video. At some point, the remaining defendants arrived at RIA and attempted to substantiate the claims made by Garcia and Altamirano that plaintiff's conduct was illegal, which included defendants Bruno, Hackbarth, and Gulley making a false report that plaintiff's checked luggage and gun case presented with a strong odor of cannabis.

         Although defendants noted that plaintiff possessed at least one concealed carry permit, which is available only to those without a criminal record, they nevertheless ran a LEADS background check on plaintiff to try to obtain some evidence of illegality. The check revealed that plaintiff had been arrested in Lake County, Illinois, in 2010, and had pled guilty to a misdemeanor for which he was sentenced to six months supervision. Plaintiff, however, successfully completed the supervision, which nullified the conviction, and he then had the record of arrest expunged.[2] Despite these circumstances, defendants claimed that the check revealed that plaintiff had pled guilty to a Class 2 felony. Defendant Gulley also claimed that he confirmed plaintiff's guilty plea to a Class 2 felony by contacting Lake County's Corrections Department, when in fact an officer would have to contact the Lake County State's Attorney's Office to confirm the LEADS information.

         Ultimately, on November 27, 2013, plaintiff was arrested for possession of a firearm by a felon and for failure to have a valid FOID card, [3] and he was placed in custody at the Winnebago County Jail. On November 30, 2013, plaintiff bonded out of jail, and on January 15, 2014, the prosecution dismissed the charges against plaintiff. Plaintiff's initial complaint in this case was filed on November 30, 2015.

         II. ANALYSIS

         In their motion to dismiss, defendants argue that all of plaintiff's claims against them were filed outside the applicable statute of limitations, and therefore, should be dismissed as time barred. Defendants also argue, in the alternative, that plaintiff's § 1983 due process and false arrest claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         A. Statute of Limitations

         “Claims brought under § 1983 are governed by the statute of limitations for personal-injury claims in the state where the plaintiff's injury occurred.” Neita v. City of Chi., 830 F.3d 494, 498 (7th Cir. 2016); see also Brooks v. City of Chi., 564 F.3d 830, 832 (7th Cir. 2009) (“The applicable statute of limitations for a § 1983 false arrest claim arising in Illinois is two years.”). Generally, “a complaint need not anticipate or overcome affirmative defenses such as the statute of limitations.” Hollander v. Brown, 457 F.3d 688, 691 n.1 (7th Cir. 2006). However, “when the allegations of the complaint reveal that relief is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim.” Logan v. Wilkins, 644 F.3d 577, 582 (7th Cir. 2011).

         In this case, defendants argue that plaintiff's false imprisonment claims[4] accrued at the time of his arrest on November 27, 2013, such that the complaint filed on November 30, 2015, was outside the limitations period. Plaintiff, on the other hand, contends that the complaint was timely because November 27, 2015, was a court holiday and November 30, 2015, was the next date for court business. Plaintiff also argues that his false imprisonment claim did not accrue until he was held pursuant to legal process by being arraigned on the charges. After consideration ...

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