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Matar v. Borchardt

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

May 19, 2017

ITEMID AL MATAR, Plaintiff,
v.
D.R. BORCHARDT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Itemid Al Mater (“Plaintiff”) has brought various constitutional claims against both individual Chicago Police Officers and the City of Chicago, pursuant to Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Currently pending before the Court is the City's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Monell claim. [28] at 1-13. The motion is denied, for the reasons explained below.

         I. Background[1]

         On July 4, 2015, Plaintiff passed several Chicago Police Officers on the stairs of the train stop located at the intersection of State Street and Lake. [15] at 2. After she had walked passed the officers, they followed her up the stairs, threw her to the ground, and ripped off her hijab and niqab. Id. This use of force was unprovoked. Id. at 3. Plaintiff claims that the individual officers are liable for, inter alia, use of excessive force, failure to intervene, false arrest, unlawful search, and violation of her freedom of religious expression. See generally [15] at 1-8.

         With respect to the City specifically, Plaintiff claims that it “has failed to monitor, supervise or train [its] officers, ” and that this “lack of supervision and training fosters a climate in the ranks of Chicago Police Department that if a citizen's rights are violated they do not have to report it, can look the other way and maintain a code of silence.” [15] at 9. Plaintiff additionally alleges that the City has failed to adequately train its officers regarding “the sensitivity of religious expression and freedom.” Id. at 10.

         In support of these more general allegations, Plaintiff claims that:

• The individual officers involved in the July 4 incident “have over thirty-five (35) complaint registers lodged against them, ” including one for impermissible use of force against Defendant Borchardt that was sustained;
• The jury verdict in Obrycka v. City of Chicago, Case No. 07-cv-2372 (N.D. Ill.) and comments from Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirm the existence of a “code of silence” at the Chicago Police Department; and
• Since “2009, the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Chicago has recorded and lodged into its organization over 50 incidents against Chicago Police for what appears to be Islamic targeting.”

Id. at 9-10.

         Plaintiff concludes by alleging that the “persistent and defiant code of silence was a moving force behind” the constitutional harms she suffered, and as a “result of the customs, policies and practices for the City of Chicago and [its] failure to train, ” the individual officers “ignored the rights of the Plaintiff, ” as described throughout the Amended Compliant. Id. at 10.

         II. Legal Standard

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) “challenges the sufficiency of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must first provide 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)).

         Second, the complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter” to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). That is, the allegations must 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). The plausibility standard “is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013). The “amount of factual allegations required to state a plausible claim for relief depends on the complexity of the legal theory alleged, ” but “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not ...


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