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McDuffie v. Loney

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

December 6, 2017

Daniel McDuffie, Plaintiff,
v.
Sergeant John Loney; U.S. Bank National Association, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge

          Daniel McDuffie alleges that Chicago Police Sergeant John Loney violated his Fourth Amendment rights by forcing him to vacate a house he was renovating at 10655 South Sangamon Street in Chicago. R. 44. U.S. Bank has been in proceedings to evict McDuffie from the Sangamon house. Based on these proceedings, McDuffie has also brought a state law abuse of process claim against U.S. Bank. Both defendants have moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. R. 45; R. 50. U.S. Bank has also filed a counterclaim against McDuffie for civil and criminal trespass, seeking (among other relief) a declaratory judgment that it owns the Sangamon house. See R. 54. U.S. Bank has moved for summary judgment on those claims. R. 63. For the following reasons, Sergeant Loney's motion to dismiss is denied, U.S. Bank's motion to dismiss is granted, and since the claim against U.S. Bank is dismissed, the Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over U.S. Bank's counterclaims, and U.S. Bank's motion for summary judgment is denied as moot.

         Legal Standard

          A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. See, e.g., Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). 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), sufficient to provide defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 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. Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.

         Background

         McDuffie alleges that he performed renovations on the Sangamon house for the former owner. McDuffie alleges further that when the former owner couldn't pay for the renovations in 2014, he quitclaimed the Sangamon house to McDuffie. McDuffie continued to put money into renovating the house.

         U.S. Bank filed a foreclosure action on the Sangamon house in state court in 2016. On March 10, 2016, U.S. Bank obtained an order of possession. See R. 50-1. McDuffie was a participant in those proceedings. See R. 36.

         On June 24, 2016, individuals arrived to “board up” the Sangamon house on the authority of the order of possession obtained by U.S. Bank, and demanded that McDuffie and the workers assisting him vacate the property. McDuffie refused and called the police. Eventually Sergeant Loney arrived and examined both the order of possession and McDuffie's quitclaim deed. Sergeant Loney determined that McDuffie did not have a right to be on the property and ordered him to leave within two hours or face arrest. McDuffie asked for more time in order to be able to remove all his equipment, which Sergeant Loney denied. Sergeant Loney left other officers to ensure that McDuffie complied with his order. McDuffie was not able to remove all of his equipment within the two hour time limit.

         U.S. Bank filed a counterclaim in this case seeking a declaratory judgment “prohibit[ing] McDuffie from continuing to interfere with U.S. Bank's exclusive right to possession and ownership” of the Sangamon house. In its counterclaim, U.S. Bank alleges that McDuffie continues to enter the Sangamon house and to lease it to other people.

         Analysis

          I. Claims against Sergeant Loney

McDuffie claims that Sergeant Loney violated his Fifth Amendment right to be free of deprivation of his property without due process. That right, however, applies only against the federal government, not state actors like Sergeant Loney. See Arce v. Chi. Trans. Auth., 2015 WL 3504860, at *8 (N.D. Ill. June 2, 2015) (citing Bingue v. Prunchak, 512 F.3d 1169, 1174 (9th Cir. 2008); Martinez-Rivera v. Sanchez Ramos, 498 F.3d 3, 8-9 (1st Cir. 2007)).

         As Sergeant Loney recognizes, and McDuffie agrees, his claims are better analyzed under the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures, which restricts the conduct of state actors like Sergeant Loney. McDuffie alleges that Sergeant Loney unreasonably seized the equipment he had in the Sangamon house when Sergeant Loney ordered him to leave without giving him enough time to remove the equipment.

         For purposes of the Fourth Amendment, a “seizure” of property “occurs when there is some meaningful interference with an individual's possessory interests in the property.” Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56, 61 (1992). McDuffie's alleges that Sergeant Loney's refusal to allow McDuffie sufficient time to retrieve his equipment prevented him from maintaining possession of his equipment. These allegations sufficiently allege a seizure. See Cantele v. City of Burbank, 2016 WL 8711498, at *9 (N.D. Ill. May 13, 2016) (“It was, in short, clearly established at the time of the events at issue in this case that evicting someone from their home without a warrant or other court authorization constitutes a Fourth Amendment ...


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