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Trettenero v. Kendall County

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

January 17, 2017

TASHA TRETTENERO, Plaintiff,
v.
KENDALL COUNTY, ET AL. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Tasha Trettenero claims that Defendants Deputy Brian Harl and Deputy Robert Lechowicz violated her constitutional rights when arresting her on June 7, 2014. She brings claims against the Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Excessive Force (Count I), Failure to Intervene (Count II), and Conspiracy to Deprive Constitutional Rights (Count III). Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).[1] Defendants argue Trettenero's claims are barred by collateral estoppel and the Heck doctrine. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court takes the following allegations from the Complaint and treats them as true for purposes of the motion. See Vinson v. Vermillion County, Ill., 776 F.3d 924, 925 (7th Cir. 2015).

         On June 7, 2014, at 9:00 p.m., Deputy Harl pulled Trettenero over in a traffic stop near Route 30 and Briarcliff Road in Montgomery, Illinois in an unmarked car. (Dkt. 13 at ¶ 2.) Trettenero, an unarmed 135 pound 24-year-old, was driving alone at the time of the stop on a vacant roadway. Trettenero was therefore reluctant, and ultimately refused, when Deputy Harl asked her to step out of her vehicle without providing a reason. (Id. at ¶¶ 14, 17.) Deputy Harl then proceeded to grab Trettenero by her ponytail, pull her out of the car, and slam her face down onto the roadway. (Id. at ¶ 19.) When she was on the ground, he dug his knee into her back and ground her face into the road. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Meanwhile, Deputy Lechowicz arrived, and positioned his vehicle so that his dashcam was obstructed by Deputy Harl's vehicle. (Id. at ¶ 31.) Deputy Lechowicz joined Deputy Harl in physically assaulting Trettenero. (Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.) Trettenero further alleges that she never “hit, kicked, or injured either officer.” (Id. at ¶ 26.)

         Trettenero attached two photographs to her Complaint which show bruising to her eye and her thigh. (Dkt. 13 at 2.) Additionally, although Deputy Lechowicz's dashcam was obstructed by Deputy Harl's vehicle, there is an audio recording of the incident. Trettenero alleges that in the recording she asks why she is being attacked, and screams and weeps telling the officers that they are hurting her. (Id. at ¶ 32.) The recording also captures Deputy Lechowicz asking “do you like it” while assaulting her. (Id. at ¶ 34.)

         The resulting information charged Trettenero with:

…AGGRAVATED BATTERY … in that said defendant knowing Deputy Robert Lechowicz to be a peace officer … knowingly made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Deputy Robert Lechowicz in that she kicked Deputy Robert Lechowicz multiple times in the lower abdomen and upper thigh area.

(Dkt 24-4 at 2.) On April 22, 2015, Trettenero was found guilty of battery to a police officer and resisting arrest after a bench trial in Kendall County, Illinois. (Dkt. 13 at ¶ 34.) The judge rendered a verdict of not guilty for the alleged traffic violations. (Dkt. 24-4 at 1.) Trettenero was sentenced to 90 days of incarceration, 36 months of probation, as well as other fines, counseling, and treatment. (Dkt. 13 at ¶ 34.) She appealed the conviction, and her appeal is pending. (Id. at ¶ 34.)

         Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) arguing that Trettenero's state court conviction bars her civil claims pursuant to the doctrine of collateral estoppel and/or the Heck doctrine.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Doe v. Village of Arlington Heights, 782 F.3d 911, 914 (7th Cir. 2015). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must provide sufficient facts so as to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” and “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The Court accepts all well-pled facts as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hatmaker v. Mem'l Med. Ctr., 619 F.3d 741, 743 (7th Cir. 2010).

         DISCUSSION

         Neither the doctrines of collateral estoppel nor Heck warrant dismissal of Trettenero's Complaint. While Trettenero is estopped from relitigating issues determined in her criminal case, specifically whether she committed a battery against the Defendants, her Complaint states a claim that her constitutional rights were violated when Defendants used unreasonable force in arresting her, and those allegations do not upset her criminal ...


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