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Outlaww v. City of Cahokia

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 26, 2017

JERRY OUTLAW, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by defendants Village of Cahokia, James Jones and Matthew Mason (the “Cahokia defendants”) (Doc. 91). They seek dismissal of Counts I, II, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX.[1] Plaintiff Jerry Outlaw has responded to the motion (Doc. 103), and the Cahokia defendants have replied to that response (Doc. 104).

         I. Standard for Dismissal

         When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This requirement is satisfied if the complaint (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads 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 (citing Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 556). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         In Bell Atlantic, the Supreme Court rejected the more expansive interpretation of Rule 8(a)(2) that “a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief, ” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 561-63; Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777. Now “it is not enough for a complaint to avoid foreclosing possible bases for relief; it must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief . . . by providing allegations that ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777 (quoting Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555).

         Nevertheless, Bell Atlantic did not do away with the liberal federal notice pleading standard. Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007). A complaint still need not contain detailed factual allegations, Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555, and it remains true that “[a]ny district judge (for that matter, any defendant) tempted to write ‘this complaint is deficient because it does not contain . . .' should stop and think: What rule of law requires a complaint to contain that allegation?” Doe v. Smith, 429 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original). Nevertheless, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555. If the factual detail of a complaint is “so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8, ” it is subject to dismissal. Airborne Beepers, 499 F.3d at 667.

         II. Facts Alleged

         A. Sources Considered

         As a preliminary matter, when considering the facts alleged in the Second Amended Complaint, the Court declines to consider the video submitted by the Cahokia defendants in support of their motion. The video purports to be a recording of a custodial interview of Outlaw by Jones and Mason, one of the central events in Outlaw's claims against Jones and Mason.

         With certain exceptions, when matters outside the plaintiff's pleading are presented in connection with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court may treat the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment or it may exclude the additional material from consideration. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). There is an exception to this rule for matter which is an exhibit to the complaint, Tierney v. Vahle, 304 F.3d 734, 738 (7th Cir. 2002); see Bogie v. Rosenberg, 705 F.3d 603, 609 (7th Cir. 2013); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c) (stating that a written instrument attached to a pleading is a part of the pleading), or a document which is central to the complaint but not attached to it, Minch v. City of Chicago, 486 F.3d 294, 300 n. 3 (7th Cir. 2007). Both of these categories of materials may be considered in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion without converting it to a summary judgment motion.

         The tendered video falls into neither category; it is neither an exhibit to the complaint nor a document central to the complaint but not attached. Because it falls into neither of these exceptions to the general rule, nor any other exception, the Court will not consider it in connection with a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). The Court further declines to convert the motion to a motion for summary judgment and will consider the motion as it was captioned, under Rule 12(b)(6).

         B. Facts Alleged

         Accepting as true all factual allegations in the Second Amended Complaint and drawing all reasonable inferences therefrom in Outlaw's favor, the pleading establishes the following relevant facts for the purposes of this motion:

         In March 2015, Outlaw was a 19-year-old man with an IQ of 55[2] and the intellectual functioning of a nine-year-old. Witnesses directly or indirectly identified him as the perpetrator of a robbery along with his brother, although Outlaw did not actually commit the robbery. A few days later, on March 17, 2015, law enforcement officers went to Outlaw's home, arrested him and took him to the Cahokia Police Station for questioning. They did not allow his mother to accompany him.

         At the station, Jones and Mason conducted the custodial interrogation. It was clear from the beginning of the interview that Outlaw had mental handicaps. When Jones and Mason asked Outlaw to read a sign out loud, Outlaw began sounding out the words, but could not read the word “monitored.” Outlaw told the officers, “I am slow in the head, ” “I lose memory real fast, ” and “Can you bring me to memory?” Jones and Mason took advantage of his intellectual deficiencies to intimidate, coerce or trick Outlaw into signing a waiver of his Miranda rights and falsely confessing to the robbery.

         For example, at the beginning of the interview, Jones quickly read Outlaw his Miranda rights and obtained Outlaw's signature on a sheet indicating that he understood his rights, although he never asked Outlaw if he waived those rights and Outlaw never stated orally that he waived those rights. In fact, Outlaw did not have the mental ability to understand his Miranda rights.

         Despite knowing of Outlaw's low cognitive level, Jones and Mason employed interview tactics designed for fully-functioning, capable adults such as, for example, falsely telling him others had given statements against him, playing on his emotions, threatening actions if he did not cooperate, minimized the severity of the crime to encourage a confession, and giving him details of the crime for him to recite as if they were true. Specifically:

• Jones told Outlaw (1) that his brother had already confessed to the robbery, had told the truth, and had implicated Outlaw, (2) that his girlfriend had denied Outlaw was with her at the time of the robbery, and (3) that his mother had made a statement against him concerning his handling of the gun. In fact, law enforcement had not interviewed Outlaw's brother, girlfriend or mother yet.
• Jones told Outlaw, “I don't think you are the monster [your brother] says you are, ” that his “little brother” was more of a man than he was, and that his brother had cried, found Jesus and his mom in his heart, and then told the truth about the robbery. Jones and Mason told Outlaw his brother had a bigger heart than he did and that Outlaw was acting “coldblooded.”
• Jones and Mason threatened to have federal authorities charge Outlaw with a crime for having his mother's gun in his room. They implied that Outlaw would not see his infant son grow up. They also threatened Outlaw by saying his mother would lose her Section 8 housing and end up in the street with all of his younger siblings if he did not admit to committing the armed robbery.
• Jones and Mason told Outlaw that it was just a “stupid, ” “simple” theft, and implied that if he confessed, he would receive leniency. They told Outlaw that “this is a speed bump, ” and that he is “making this a mountain” by not cooperating. They also told Outlaw that they knew he only wanted the money to provide for his baby because “that's what men do, they provide.”

         After telling Outlaw the details of the crime, Jones and Mason asked Outlaw to recite the details. When he asked questions or became confused about what happened, when he recited a detail differently than Jones and Mason wanted, or when he professed his innocence, Jones and Mason became frustrated and angry, berated Outlaw for getting details wrong, and fed him more details. Outlaw eventually agreed to the version of events Jones and Mason had provided to him, although often in the same breath he denied involvement with or knowledge of the robbery. For example, Outlaw stated during the interview, “I don't do robberies. I'm just going along with what ya'll are telling me.” When Jones asked Outlaw if this was his first time doing something like this, Outlaw responded, “I never did it, but yeah.” When Jones asked Outlaw if he wanted to say anything to the victims, Outlaw responded, “Tell them I'm really sorry, I'll never do it again-which I didn't-but I'll never do it again.”

         Following his interrogation, Outlaw was detained at the St. Clair County Jail and indicted for armed robbery by a state court grand jury that had been presented with Outlaw's custodial statements. On October 30, 2015, the state court dismissed the criminal case against Outlaw, and Outlaw was immediately released from jail. One of the factors supporting the state court's dismissal of the charges was a medical report finding Outlaw did not have the mental capacity to waive his Miranda rights.

         The Second Amended Complaint contains nine causes of action. Those relevant to this motion are as follows:

Count I:A claim against Jones and Mason for a Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process violation because of a coercive and abusive police interrogation that shocks the conscience and that resulted in a false confession;
Count II:A claim against Jones and Mason for a Fifth Amendment Self-Incrimination Clause violation because of a coercive police interrogation that that resulted in a false confession that was used ...

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