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Parker v. City of Quincy

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 30, 2017

MARY PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF QUINCY, ILLINOIS, a Municipal Corporation, and TERRY HAGAN, Defendants.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendants City of Quincy, Illinois, a municipal corporation, and Terry Hagan's Motion to Dismiss (d/e 7). Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. Although Count I of Plaintiff's Complaint does not state a procedural due process claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the allegations in Count I, taken as true, do state a cognizable substantive due process claim based on the alleged actions of Defendant Terry Hagan. Further, Counts II and III of Plaintiff's Complaint allege causes of action recognized by Illinois law, claims over which this Court has supplemental jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts come from Plaintiff's Complaint (d/e 1). The Court accepts them as true at the motion to dismiss stage. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         In late 2010 or early 2011, Plaintiff began dating Tracy Malone, a resident of Chicago, Illinois, after meeting him at a party in Quincy, Illinois. During their relationship, Malone mentally abused Plaintiff through control and violence. On one occasion, Malone damaged Plaintiff's car by kicking it. Because of Malone's actions, Plaintiff prohibited him from spending the night at her apartment or being inside her apartment when she was not present. Due to these restrictions, Malone stayed in the apartment of Plaintiff's downstairs neighbor when he came to Quincy to visit Plaintiff.

         On or about May 17, 2011, Malone physically attacked Plaintiff. He poked Plaintiff in the eye, pushed her to the ground, and punched and kicked her in the ribs. He also prevented Plaintiff from calling 911 by grabbing her phone and running into the apartment of Plaintiff's downstairs neighbor. Plaintiff went to the hospital for treatment of the injuries she suffered in the attack. After leaving the hospital, Plaintiff went to the Quincy Police Department (QPD) and reported Malone's attack to Officer David Distin.

         Later that night, after Plaintiff had returned home, Malone broke into Plaintiff's apartment and screamed, “Bitch, if I can't have you nobody can. I'm going to kill you.” Malone strangled Plaintiff until she went limp. Upon leaving Plaintiff's apartment, Malone was met by Officer Distin and another officer, who had arrived to arrest Malone for attacking Plaintiff earlier that day. The officers arrested Malone, who was subsequently charged with home invasion, aggravated domestic battery, theft, and domestic battery.

         At some point after Malone's May 2011 arrest, Plaintiff discovered that she was pregnant with Malone's child. On January 19, 2012, Plaintiff gave birth to T.M., her second child and first with Malone.

         Approximately four months earlier, on September 8, 2011, Malone pleaded guilty to theft and domestic violence charges stemming from the incident on May 17, 2011, and was sentenced to four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Malone was released from prison on or about May 17, 2013. Several months earlier, in early 2013, Plaintiff and her two children moved from an apartment to a nearby house.

         In July 2013, Malone came to Quincy to help take care of T.M. and Plaintiff's other minor child, I.P., while Plaintiff served a 10-day sentence of work release for driving on a suspended license. During this visit, Malone entered Plaintiff's residence and read her personal letters and other private communications, the content of which caused Malone to become jealous and extremely angry. Malone threatened to physically harm Plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff again told Malone that he was not to be in her residence when she was not there.

         During a subsequent visit to Quincy by Malone, Plaintiff asked him to watch her children while she went out with friends. Malone later arrived at Plaintiff's residence with the children and Plaintiff's mother. Malone demanded that Plaintiff take the children out with her. When Plaintiff agreed to do so, Malone became angry, slashed one of the tires on Plaintiff's car, shoved Plaintiff to the ground, took her cell phone and car key, and left. Plaintiff borrowed her cousin's car to meet her friends. When Plaintiff returned home, she found that all four of the tires on her car had been slashed and that a flat screen television in her residence had been smashed. Plaintiff called the police to report the damage. The next day, Plaintiff discovered that someone had damaged her car by scratching the paint with a key. She again called the police to report the damage. The police attempted to locate Malone but discovered that he had already taken the train back to Chicago.

         On January 29, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Complaint for Child Support against Malone in Adams County, Illinois. On March 13, 2014, a court order was entered in that case requiring Malone to pay Plaintiff $170 per month toward the support of T.M. On October 31, 2014, an arrest warrant was issued for Malone due to his failure to appear, as ordered, before the Adams County judge handling the case.

         On February 6, 2015, Malone came to Quincy for a visit. The following day, Malone screamed at Plaintiff at her mother's house because he was angry about posts on Plaintiff's Facebook page. A similar altercation occurred at Plaintiff's mother's house on February, 8, 2015, during which Malone, who had been drinking and appeared intoxicated, threatened to enter Plaintiff's residence and destroy her property. In response, Plaintiff, after dropping her children off at her aunt's house, drove to her own house and put certain electronics in her car so that Malone could not destroy them. After returning to work, Plaintiff called 911 and reported Malone's threat to enter her house and destroy her property. She informed the 911 dispatcher that she would call back when she decided whether she wanted to meet with the police.

         Around 90 minutes after Plaintiff's 911 call, Malone left a voicemail on Plaintiff's cell phone that stated, “Bitch, I'm here. I'm waiting.” Plaintiff did not listen to the voicemail at the time Malone left it. About five minutes after Malone left the voicemail, the 911 dispatcher called Plaintiff and left a voicemail asking if she wanted police assistance. Plaintiff called the dispatcher fifteen minutes later, informed the dispatcher that she was at work, and reiterated Malone's threat to break into her house and destroy her property. Plaintiff also informed the dispatcher that her work shift ended at 10:45 p.m. and that she wanted a police officer to go by her house before then to ensure that Malone, who was not authorized to be inside her house, was not there. Immediately after Plaintiff's call, the dispatcher conducted a computer check on Malone which revealed that he had an active warrant for his arrest that had been issued due to Malone's failure to appear in court.

         At approximately 9:55 p.m. on February 8, 2015, Defendant Terry Hagan, an officer with the QPD, arrived at Plaintiff's house and requested immediate backup after discovering that someone was inside. Another officer was dispatched to the scene in response to Defendant Hagan's request. Defendant Hagan knocked on the door of Plaintiff's house. Malone came outside while talking on his cell phone and smoking a marijuana blunt and told Defendant Hagan that he had been living at Plaintiff's house for the last year. Defendant Hagan arrested Malone for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and pursuant to the outstanding warrant for his arrest.

         Defendant Hagan did not request a criminal history or a Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) check on Malone, which would have revealed Malone's prior conviction for domestic battery against Plaintiff and subsequent prison sentence. At the time he arrested Malone, Defendant Hagan did not enter Plaintiff's house or make a cursory search to determine whether there was any indication of unauthorized or forced entry, which would have revealed that the door at the northeast corner of Plaintiff's house was broken. Defendant Hagan did not call Plaintiff to inform her that Malone was in her home or to determine the veracity of Malone's statement regarding his residency there.

         Plaintiff, still at work, received a call from her mother informing her that Malone had been arrested at Plaintiff's house, was in jail, and would be released on bond soon. Plaintiff called the QPD to verify what her mother had told her. Plaintiff expressed her concern that Malone was going to come to her house and kill her after he was released. She requested that a police officer be present at her house when she got home from work.

         Defendant Hagan was present at Plaintiff's house when Plaintiff arrived. Plaintiff asked Defendant Hagan how Malone had entered her house earlier that day; Defendant Hagan stated that he did not know and that Malone had come to the door when he knocked. Plaintiff, who was upset and crying, told Defendant Hagan that Malone was going to hurt her once he got out of jail. She tried several times to convince Defendant Hagan that she was in danger.

         While at her house with Defendant Hagan, Plaintiff, for the first time, listened to the voicemail message Malone left on her cell phone earlier that night. She played the voicemail for Defendant Hagan, who told Plaintiff that he would include information about the voicemail in his report but stated that there was nothing else he could do. After discovering the broken door in her house and showing it to Defendant Hagan, Plaintiff asked Defendant Hagan if he could arrest Malone for an offense that would prevent him from being released on bond. Defendant Hagan responded that he would include the additional information in his report and “look into it.”

         Plaintiff's mother arrived at Plaintiff's house while Defendant Hagan was still present. Plaintiff's mother confirmed to Defendant Hagan that Malone did not reside at Plaintiff's house. Plaintiff again told Defendant Hagan that Malone would return to her house and hurt her after Defendant Hagan left. Defendant Hagan assured Plaintiff that she would be safe and that he would be patrolling the area. After watching Plaintiff prop a chair against the broken door of her house in an attempt to secure it, Defendant Hagan left.

         Around midnight on February 9, 2015, Plaintiff picked up her two children from her aunt's house and returned home. At around 2:30 a.m., Plaintiff heard a noise downstairs and footsteps on the stairs. Malone burst into Plaintiff's bedroom, where Plaintiff's two children were sleeping with Plaintiff in bed, and said, “Bitch, I'm gonna kill you.” Malone proceeded to stab Plaintiff 34 times before running away. Plaintiff was able to call 911 and was transported to the hospital. In addition to the 34 stab wounds, she suffered a collapsed lung and internal bleeding. She underwent surgery, requiring three blood transfusions, and survived Malone's vicious attack.

         After being discharged from the hospital, Plaintiff was unable to take care of herself or her children, and she needed around-the-clock assistance until late March 2015.[1] Plaintiff was prescribed narcotic pain medication for her physical injuries. In addition, Plaintiff suffered from extreme anxiety and depression, later diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and she received both counseling and psychoactive medication as a result of these mental and emotional issues.

         On March 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed a three-count Complaint against Defendants. Count I of Plaintiff's Complaint is a claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Hagan alleging that he violated Plaintiff's constitutional right to due process.[2]Count II is a state-law claim against Defendant Hagan alleging willful and wanton misconduct in violation of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. Count III is a state-law claim against the City of Quincy, Illinois, alleging that it is liable for the willful and wanton misconduct of Defendant Hagan pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior. On March 31, 2016, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing, with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983 claim, that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to plead a constitutional violation and that Defendant Hagan is entitled to qualified immunity. Defendant argues, with respect to Plaintiff's state law claim against Defendant Hagan, that the claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant further argues that because the claims against Defendant Hagan are deficient, Plaintiff's claim against the City of Quincy, Illinois, is likewise deficient because it is based on vicarious liability, a theory of liability that, in any event, does not apply to § 1983 claims.

         II. JURISDICTION

         This Court has original jurisdiction over Plaintiff's due process claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because it is a claim to “redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”). Further, this Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state-law claims because those claims and Plaintiff's § 1983 claim “form part of the same case or controversy.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a motion to dismiss if a complaint fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Plausibility means alleging factual content that allows a court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). A plaintiff's complaint must suggest a right to relief, “raising that possibility above a speculative level.” Kubiak v. City of Chicago, 810 F.3d 476, 480 (7th Cir. 2016).

         When faced with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court “accept[s] as true all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). “[L]egal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court is “not obliged to ignore any facts set forth in ...


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