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Scheidler v. Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority

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

March 16, 2017

ERIC J. SCHEIDLER, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN PIER AND EXPOSITION AUTHORITY, an Illinois municipal corporation; NAVY PIER, INC., an Illinois corporation; JOHN GRAEBER, and EDWARD MONTGOMERY, in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority's motion to dismiss [42]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to dismiss [42] is granted. Plaintiff is given until April 17, 2017, to file an amended complaint if he believes that he can cure the deficiencies set out above.

         I. Background[1]

         On April 15, 2015, Planned Parenthood rented an event space at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. Security guards employed by Navy Pier, Inc. (“NPI”) were allegedly given photographs of Plaintiff Eric Scheidler and “other pro-life persons” so that they could identify them and “take action against them” if they attempted to enter Navy Pier. [1, ¶ 186.] When Plaintiff tried to enter Navy Pier, he was initially stopped by an unnamed NPI security guard, who told Plaintiff that “protesters were not allowed on Navy Pier.” Id. ¶ 47. The guard then radioed a supervisor who authorized Plaintiff to enter Navy Pier. Id. ¶¶ 53-58.

         Plaintiff then walked to the room where the Planned Parenthood event was being held. An unnamed woman outside the event asked Plaintiff if he was there to attend the event and he answered, “No.” [1, ¶¶ 60-64.] Plaintiff then exited the building, but was followed by the unnamed woman. This person allegedly spoke with two NPI security guards to express her disapproval at Plaintiff passing through the area. Id. ¶¶ 69-70.

         Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff noticed that he was being followed by a NPI security van. He was then stopped by another NPI security guard and Chicago police officer Edward Montgomery, both of whom asked to see Plaintiff's identification. According to Plaintiff, Montgomery threatened to arrest and jail Plaintiff for trespassing “if he refused to surrender his I.D.” Id. ¶ 81. Plaintiff then “tried to get his I.D. out of his wallet, ” but Montgomery accused Plaintiff of “resisting arrest.” Id. ¶ 84. Montgomery then handcuffed Plaintiff while a security guard took Plaintiff's cell phone. Montgomery escorted Plaintiff to a holding room at Navy Pier and took Plaintiff's GoPro camera, which had been recording these events. Plaintiff contends that Montgomery stated, “If Navy Pier wants [this footage] erased, it will be erased.” Id. ¶ 98.

         Sometime later, NPI personnel provided Plaintiff with a “Navy Pier Trespass Notice, ” [1-1, 23], which Plaintiff claims “falsely stated” that he had been protesting on Navy Pier in a restricted or private area [1, ¶ 105]. Plaintiff was then “forced to sign the false Trespass Notice while he was still their captive.” Id. ¶ 108. Plaintiff was ultimately transported to the police station by different Chicago police officers and charged with trespassing. Id. ¶¶ 109-117, 138. When he was released, Plaintiff found that his GoPro's memory card had been removed, which was done to “cover up” Defendant's' “illegal actions.” Id. ¶¶ 120-25. Plaintiff went to trial on his trespassing charges in August 2015, and was found not guilty. Id. ¶¶ 148-49.

         On April 13, 2016, Plaintiff filed his complaint [1] against NPI, Montgomery, NPI's Security Director John Gaber, and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (“MPEA”)[2]asserting 28 claims based on these events. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment and conspiracy, as well as state law claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, conversion, negligent spoliation of evidence, conspiracy, exemplary damages, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees. Defendant MPEA filed a motion to dismiss the specific claims against it. [42.]

         II. Legal Standard

         To survive a 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 Plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007). The “documents attached to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to his claim” and “may be considered by the district court in ruling on the motion to dismiss * * * without converting [it] to a motion for summary judgment.” Wright v. Associated Ins. Cos. Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th Cir. 1994).

         III. Analysis

         Under 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). 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 Chi., 60 F.3d 381, 382 (7th Cir. 1995)).

         Defendant MPEA moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims against it for violations of the Fourth Amendment (Claim Four), violations of procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment (Claim Seven), deprivation of liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment (Claim Ten), confiscation of Plaintiff's GoPro's “micro S.D. memory card” in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Claim Thirteen), violations of the First Amendment (Claim Sixteen), as well as declaratory (Claim Twenty-Six) and injunctive relief (Claim Twenty-Seven). In support of dismissing all of these claims, Defendant argues that it cannot be held vicariously liable for NPI's acts based on the terms of its lease with NPI.

         Plaintiff attached the lease agreement between MPEA and NPI to his complaint. [1-1, at 1-16.] The lease provides that NPI “shall have exclusive authority to operate and manage, and shall be responsible for managing and operating” Navy Pier and some of the surrounding area (the “Premises”). Id. at 6 (§ 6.1). NPI's duties include responsibility for “all operating expenses and capital expenditures” and “hir[ing] and employ[ing] such personnel as shall, in [NPI's] judgment, be required to operate, manage and maintain the Premises in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement and the Framework Plan, and, in connection therewith, shall have sole authority and responsibility to determine the personnel policies and practices of the Premises.” Id. at 7 (§ 6.1.1). The lease provides that MPEA has “no responsibility to provide any security at the Premises” after December 31, 2011. Id. at 8 (ยง 6.7.2). Based on these terms, MPEA argues that it lacks any agency relationship with NPI. And ...


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