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Lindsey v. Orlando

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

February 2, 2017

RICK LINDSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER MICHAEL ORLANDO, Star 5594, OFFICER JAIME FALARDEAU, Star 9431, in their individual capacity, the CITY of CHICAGO, a municipal corporation, DELTA AIRLINES, INC., a private corporation, and its agents THOMAS STEINFELS and MARCELLA PIRVU, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          REBECCA R. PALLMEYER United States District Judge.

         In June 2014, Plaintiff Rick Lindsey, a Utah resident, and his family were on the way home to Utah from a Father's Day celebration in the Midwest. The trip did not go smoothly. After a several-hour delay at O'Hare, Lindsey's brother, Randy Lindsey, had some kind of verbal altercation with Delta Airlines employees who demanded that he exit the airplane. Rick Lindsey followed his brother and the Delta employees onto the jet bridge, where, after some further conflict, two Chicago police officers arrested both brothers. Plaintiff was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer.

         The criminal charge against Plaintiff Lindsey proceeded to trial a year later, and the court entered a judgment of acquittal. This lawsuit followed. Lindsey charges the two police officers with false arrest and failure to intervene under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seeks to hold the City of Chicago liable under a Monell theory. He also asserts state law malicious prosecution claims against the officers and the city, as well as two Delta employees and the airline itself under a respondeat superior theory. The Delta Defendants have moved to dismiss, and the City of Chicago asks the court to bifurcate Monell issues and stay discovery on those issues pending a determination of the individual officers' liability. For the reasons explained here, both motions are granted.

         BACKGROUND

         For purposes of this motion, the court recounts the well-pleaded facts of Lindsey's complaint and presumes they are true. Katz-Crank v. Haskett, 843 F.3d 641, 646 (7th Cir. 2016).

         In 2014, Rick Lindsey, a 54-year-old insurance executive (Compl. ¶ 11), arranged and attended a large family gathering in Wisconsin for Fathers' Day. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Lindsey is a resident of Utah (Compl. ¶ 5), and was planning to fly back home through O'Hare Airport with his brother Randy Lindsey and other family members on June 15, 2014. (Compl. ¶ 12.) The Lindseys' flight on Delta Airlines was delayed for several hours. (Compl. ¶ 13.) During the delay, Randy spoke with “one or both” of two Delta employees, Thomas Steinfels and Marcella Pirvu. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the Delta employees “were rude to Randy, ” and Randy “exchanged words with them.” (Id.) When boarding finally began, Randy had another exchange with Steinfels and Pirvu. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Though the family was permitted to board the plane, Steinfels and Pirvu entered the airplane before the flight took off to demand that Randy exit. (Compl. ¶ 15). Randy “argued with” Steinfeld and Pirvu and Plaintiff Lindsey “followed to see if he could resolve the situation and keep his brother on the flight . . . .” (Id.)

         Plaintiff, his brother Randy, Steinfels, and Pirvu were engaged in a “heated, ” but in “no way physical” conversation on the jetway (Compl. ¶ 17), when two officers of the Chicago Police Department, Defendants Michael Orlando and Jaime Falardeau, arrived. (Compl. ¶ 16.) The officers “immediately turned to physical force, ” and “[w]ithout warning or provocation, ” Officer Orlando tackled Randy to the ground. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff Rick Lindsey did not intervene, but did “express his displeasure verbally.” (Id.) After the officers handcuffed Randy, they ordered Plaintiff to return to the terminal, and Lindsey's sons and father got off the plane to join him. (Compl. ¶ 19). Officer Orlando directed Delta staff not to re-book the Lindseys. (Compl. ¶ 20.) Two other Chicago police officers who arrived at the gate then arrested Lindsey at Orlando's direction and escorted him, handcuffed, through the terminal. (Compl. ¶¶ 21, 22.)

         Lindsey was charged by information with aggravated battery to a police officer, a Class 2 felony, and resisting arrest. (Compl. ¶ 23, 27.) These charges were fabricated, Plaintiff alleges, and were based on Defendant Orlando's false statement that Plaintiff had “pulled on [Orlando's] right shoulder” to obstruct the arrest of Plaintiff's brother Randy. (Compl. ¶¶ 22, 23, 25.) The Delta employees also allegedly acted improperly; Plaintiff claims that “[t]he Delta Defendants provided a false account of what occurred in the jetway, and Defendant Orlando relayed this false account in his testimony against Plaintiff at the preliminary hearing, which contributed to the information filed against Plaintiff.” (Compl. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff learned that the Delta employees submitted false reports to the airline as well, stating that there was a physical altercation involving Randy and that Lindsey had been verbally abusive. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

         The criminal case proceeded to trial about a year later in 2015. Without providing details concerning their testimony, Plaintiff alleges that both police officers and both Delta employees “testified against” him. (Compl. ¶ 30.) The judge entered a verdict of not guilty. (Id.)[1]

         Lindsey brought suit in February 2016 against the police officers, Orlando and Falardeau, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts I and II), and against the Delta employees, Steinfels and Pirvu, on a state law malicious prosecution claim (Count III). (See generally Compl.) Lindsey seeks to impose respondeat superior liability on Delta Airlines as Steinfels's and Pirvu's employer. (Compl. ¶ 10.) He has named the City of Chicago as a Defendant as well, on a respondeat superior theory as to the malicious prosecution claim (Compl. ¶ 6), and under the Monell doctrine with respect to his civil rights claims. The Delta Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint against them. The City asks the court to bifurcate proceedings under the Monell doctrine. As explained below, the court grants the motion to dismiss without prejudice, and grants the motion to bifurcate.

         DISCUSSION

         Delta Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts “the allegations in the complaint as true unless they are ‘threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements, supported by mere conclusory statements.'” Katz-Crank v. Haskett, 843 F.3d 641, 646 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The court must also draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Bell v. City of Country Club Hills, 841 F.3d 713, 716 (7th Cir. 2016). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), presenting “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.

         The elements of a claim for malicious prosecution, under Illinois law, are “(1) the commencement or continuance of an original criminal or civil judicial proceeding by the defendant; (2) the termination of the proceeding in favor of the plaintiff; (3) the absence of probable cause; (4) malice; and (5) damages.” Szczesniak v. CJC Auto Parts, Inc., 2014 IL App (2d) 130636, ¶ 10, 21 N.E.3d 486, 490 (citing Gauger v. Hendle, 2011 IL App (2d) 100316, ¶ 99, 954 N.E.2d 307, 326). A proceeding is not “commenced” by a private citizen when the person simply reports false information to the authorities, but when a police officer bases a complaint on the false information, “the officer's action may be attributed to the citizen.” Randall v. Lemke, 311 Ill.App.3d 848, 850, 726 N.E.2d 183, 185 (2d Dist. 2000). Put another way, a proceeding is considered “commenced” by a private citizen when the “prosecution is ‘based upon' the false information.” Id. at 851; 726 N.E.2d at 186 (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 653 cmt. g (Am. Law Inst. 1977)). The law does not attribute the commencement of a prosecution to a private person, even where the individual made an initial false report to authorities, where the authorities base the ensuing prosecution “upon separate or independently developed information.” Szczesniak, 2014 IL App (2d) 130636, ¶ 11, 21 N.E.3d at 491 (citing Randall, 311 Ill.App.3d at 851, 726 N.E.2d at 185-86). Thus, in Szczesniak, the owner of an auto parts store reported a customer to the police for bouncing checks and failing to pay; the customer ...


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