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Carr v. Illinois State Police

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

December 4, 2017

Marcus Carr, Plaintiff,
v.
Illinois State Police; Trooper Eric David Badge #6329, in his Individual and Official Capacity; Captain The V. Tran, in his Individual and Official Capacity; Lieutenant Marcus Gibson, in his Individual and Official Capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Marcus Carr brings this pro se complaint against defendants Illinois State Police, Trooper Eric David, Captain The V. Tran, and Lieutenant Marcus Gibson alleging violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently pending before the Court are: (1) defendants' motion to dismiss (R. 21); (2) Carr's motion to strike (R. 23); and (3) Carr's amended motion to strike (R. 26). For the reasons explained below, the Court grants defendants' motion to dismiss (R. 21) and denies Carr's motions to strike (R. 23, R. 26).

         Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and providing defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation marks omitted). This standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “‘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.'” Mann v. Vogel, 707 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id.

         Rule 12(b)(1) authorizes the Court to dismiss any claim for which the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “Rule 12(b)(1) is the proper vehicle when adjudicating issues of sovereign immunity.” Anderson v. United States Dep't of Agric., 2017 WL 4791776, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Oct. 24, 2017); accord Rao v. Gondi, 2017 WL 4215889, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2017) (“Illinois filed its motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) but motions asserting sovereign immunity are typically filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), which requires dismissal when the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.”). Rule 12(b)(1) also is the appropriate vehicle to adjudicate challenges to standing, which is a “jurisdictional requirement.” See Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 443 (7th Cir. 2009). When determining if subject matter jurisdiction is proper, “the district court must accept as true all material allegations of the complaint, drawing all reasonable inferences therefrom in the plaintiff's favor, unless standing is challenged as a factual matter.” Remijas v. Neiman Marcus Grp., LLC, 794 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2015) (quotation marks omitted). If a defendant factually challenges the basis for federal jurisdiction, “[t]he district court may properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.” Apex, 572 F.3d at 444. “In all cases, the party asserting federal jurisdiction has the burden of proof to show that jurisdiction is proper.” Travelers Prop. Cas. v. Good, 689 F.3d 714, 722 (7th Cir. 2012).

         In evaluating a pro se complaint, the Court applies a less stringent standard than it applies to formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304, 309 (7th Cir. 2015). But the Court need not ignore facts set forth in the complaint that undermine the plaintiff's claim, and the Court is not required to accept the plaintiff's legal conclusions. Johnson v. Thompson-Smith, 203 F.Supp.3d 895, 900 (N.D. Ill. 2016).

         Background

         Carr alleges that on October 14, 2013, he was pulled over in a traffic stop by Trooper Eric David, one of the defendants. R. 7 at ¶ 2. During the stop, Trooper David allegedly made racist comments to Carr and his wife, both of whom are African-American, and treated them unnecessarily harshly on account of their race. Id. For example, Trooper David threatened to “taze” Carr, and in addition to conducting a series of standard field sobriety tests, he made Carr count backwards from 69 to 34. Id. Trooper David also allegedly stated “[u]nbelievable no warrants” after running Carr's driver's license information. Id.

         During the stop, Trooper David gave Carr a breathalyzer test. Id. Carr states that he has never seen his breathalyzer results, but that Trooper David told him both that “[his] count was low” and that his breathalyzer result was .09 (which is above the legal limit). Id. Carr alleges that he had taken Thera-Flu earlier that night, and that if his blood alcohol level registered above the legal limit, the Thera-flu was the reason why. Id. Trooper David found the Thera-Flu box when he performed a search of Carr's car. Id. at ¶ 6. Trooper David ultimately arrested Carr for driving under the influence (“DUI”), in part, Carr alleges, because Trooper David wanted to maintain his “streak” of making three DUI arrests per shift. Id. at ¶ 2.

         Carr alleges that after his arrest, Trooper David refused to let Carr's wife drive their car home. Id. Instead, the car was towed, and Carr's wife was left alone on the road after midnight when Trooper David took Carr in for booking. Id. Carr alleges that Trooper David “failed to promote safety” by leaving Carr's wife alone on the expressway in the middle of the night. Id. Carr's wife is not a plaintiff in this case.

         Carr alleges that on January 17, 2016, he filed a civil rights complaint with the Illinois State Police Office of Internal Investigation. Id. at ¶ 3. The complaint was investigated by Captain Tran, another defendant. Id. Carr alleges that Tran's investigation was inadequate because it did not contain information regarding Carr's breathalyzer results and because Carr's wife, who had witnessed the event, was never contacted. Id. The investigation was closed on May 3, 2016, after the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigation found no evidence to support Carr's allegations. Id. at ¶ 5.

         On December 28, 2016, Carr made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for records related to the incident and complaints related to Trooper David. Id. at ¶ 4. He learned from those records that Trooper David had been disciplined in connection with other motorist complaints. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 8. Carr believes that the investigation of his complaint failed to hold Trooper David accountable for race discrimination. Id. at ¶ 4.

         Carr's pro se complaint filed on January 19, 2017 alleges violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. R. 1. He filed an amended complaint on February 15, 2017 that is identical to the original complaint except that it no longer attaches any exhibits. R. 7. In addition to Trooper David and Captain Tran, Carr sues Lieutenant Marcus Gibson and the Illinois State Police. The individual defendants are all sued in their personal and official capacities. Carr seeks damages ...


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