United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Chachere brought this suit against the City of Chicago and
two of its police officers, Danielle Deering and Cory
Junious, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law,
alleging that his home was unlawfully searched, that he was
unlawfully detained on groundless charges, and that the
personal property taken upon his arrest was unlawfully
destroyed. Doc. 1. Defendants answered many of the claims,
Doc. 13, but the City moved under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the property destruction
claims, Doc. 14. The motion is granted.
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth of the
complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, though not
its legal conclusions. See Zahn v. N. Am. Power &
Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th Cir. 2016). The court
must also consider “documents attached to the
complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and
referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper
judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set
forth in Chachere's brief opposing dismissal, so long as
those additional facts “are consistent with the
pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of
Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013). The facts are
set forth as favorably to Chachere as those materials allow.
See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc., 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th
Cir. 2016). In setting forth those facts, the court does not
vouch for their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v.
First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir.
October 14, 2014, Deering and Junious conducted a warrantless
search of Chachere's home. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 5-7.
Asserting that the search turned up guns and that Chachere
confessed to owning them, the officers arrested him for
unlawful possession of firearms. Id. at ¶¶
8-9, 11. In fact, the officers had no reason to think any
guns found were Chachere's, and they falsified the
confession. Id. at ¶¶ 10, 11. As a result,
Chachere spent over four months detained at the Cook County
Jail on unfounded gun charges, which were ultimately
dismissed. Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.
Deering and Junious arrested and booked Chachere, they took
and placed into storage his wallet, cell phone, and necklace.
Id. at ¶ 21. The officers did so pursuant to
Chicago Police Department Special Order S07-01-01, which sets
forth procedures for inventorying, storing, and returning
personal property taken from arrestees. Doc. 18 at 16-19.
Adhering to that policy, the City did not send the wallet,
cell phone, and necklace along with Chachere to the jail, but
instead inventoried and stored them in the police
department's “Evidence and Recovered Property
Section.” Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 17, 21; Doc. 18 at
retrieve inventoried property, an arrestee has two options:
(1) go to the police department in person; or (2) designate
someone else to do so. Doc. 1 at ¶ 23; Doc. 18 at 4, 16.
An arrestee detained at the jail of course cannot go to the
department in person, and the City knew from experience that
many detainees struggled to secure assistance from others to
retrieve their property. Doc. 1 at ¶ 20. Nevertheless,
the special order imposes a thirty-day limit on the retention
of seized property, after which it may be destroyed.
Id. at ¶ 19; Doc. 18 at 21.
was detained for more than four months after his arrest and
was unable to find another person to claim his property. Doc.
1 at ¶¶ 12, 23; Doc. 18 at 4. As a result, his
wallet, phone, and necklace were destroyed. Doc. 1 at ¶
24. Although Chicago Municipal Code § 2-84-160(b)
obligates the City to make reasonable efforts to give notice
of the procedure for retrieving seized property, the City
failed do so here. Doc. 18 at 5, 21.
property destruction claim invokes the Fourth Amendment, the
Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause, and the Fourteenth
Amendment's Due Process Clause. Doc. 18 at 8-13.
alleges that the City's destruction of his personal
property violated the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment
prohibits “unreasonable … seizures.” U.S.
Const. amend. IV. A seizure of personal property occurs when
there is “some meaningful interference with an
individual's possessory interests in [his]
property.” Lee v. City of Chicago, 330 F.3d
456, 460 (7th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original). The
initial seizure of Chachere's property upon his arrest
was lawful. See Illinois v. Lafayette, 462 U.S. 640,
646 (1983) (“At the stationhouse, it is entirely proper
for police to remove and list or inventory property found on
the person or in the possession of an arrested person who is
to be jailed.”). The question here is whether the
City's subsequent destruction of his property violated
the Fourth Amendment.
answers this question, holding that the Fourth Amendment does
not apply to the government's retention or treatment of
property following its initial seizure: “Once an
individual has been meaningfully dispossessed, the seizure of
the property is complete, and once justified by probable
cause, that seizure is reasonable. The amendment then cannot
be invoked by the dispossessed owner to regain his
property.” 330 F.3d at 466. Chachere attempts to
distinguish Lee on the ground that it involved
property seized as evidence, Doc. 18 at 11, but nothing in
Lee suggests that its holding is limited to seizures
that have a law enforcement purpose. To the contrary, the
Seventh Circuit has made clear that Lee applies no
matter the justification (or lack thereof) for the initial
seizure. See Gonzalez v. Vill. of W. Milwaukee, 671
F.3d 649, 660 (7th Cir. 2012) (“Lee's
holding that a seizure occurs upon the initial act of
dispossession does not depend on the legality of the seizure.
Stated differently, continued retention of unlawfully seized
property is not a separate Fourth Amendment wrong.”).
Lee explained, limiting the Fourth Amendment's
scope to the initial property seizure is consistent with the
Seventh Circuit's consistent rejection of the concept of
a “continuing seizure.” 330 F.3d at 463-65. The
Seventh Circuit recently reaffirmed its position in Bell
v. City of Chicago, 835 F.3d 736 (7th Cir. 2016),
holding that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to the
City's failure to return a seized vehicle because
“the seizure … is complete when the officer or
agent seizes and impounds the vehicle.” Id. at
741. Chachere correctly observes that the Seventh
Circuit's rejection of the “continuing
seizure” theory is before the Supreme Court in
Manuel v. City of Joliet, 136 S.Ct. 890 (2016). But
unless and until the Supreme Court says otherwise, this court
remains bound by circuit precedent. See Jansen v.
Packaging Corp. of Am., 123 F.3d 490, 495 (7th Cir.
1997) (en banc). Thus, at this juncture, the City's
failure to return seized property must be evaluated under the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. See Bell, 835 F.3d
at 741 (“[T]he Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment can be used to challenge post-seizure procedures
and the City's continued retention of [the
plaintiffs'] vehicle.”); L ...