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Jones v. City of Chicago

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

December 18, 2017



          SARA L.ELLIS United States District Judge.

         After spending two years in jail accused of a crime of which he was ultimately acquitted, Plaintiff Timothy Jones filed this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Chicago (the “City”), the County of Cook (the “County”), Chicago Police Department Sergeant James Corcoran, Detective Dwayne Davis, and Assistant State's Attorneys (“ASAs”) Tene McCoy Cummings and Teresa Guerrero. In his amended complaint, Jones brings federal claims for false arrest and false imprisonment against Davis and violation of due process against the ASAs. He also raises state law claims for malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) against Corcoran and Davis and seeks indemnification from both the City and County. Defendants have filed motions to dismiss Jones' amended complaint. Because the statute of limitations expired on Jones' false arrest and imprisonment claim before he initially filed suit, he cannot proceed on that claim. He filed suit before the statute of limitations expired on his state law claims and the Court previously found that equitable tolling applies based on issues recruiting counsel for Jones, thus his state law claims may proceed. But the Court dismisses Jones' due process claim against the ASAs because absolute immunity protects their prosecutorial actions. And the dismissal of all claims against the ASAs renders moot Jones' indemnification claim against the County.


         On July 20, 1998, a woman claimed she was raped. After a brief investigation, at which time the woman indicated she did not want to pursue the matter further, the case lay dormant. About eight years later, the police obtained a DNA match on a sample taken from Jones, but the police could not get in touch with the woman to proceed with the case. Finally, in 2012, the woman provided the police with additional information, causing Davis to prepare a warrant for Jones' arrest. Jones was arrested on July 31, 2012 in Nebraska and extradited to Chicago. Jones denied raping anyone but stated he may have had consensual sex with the woman. Corcoran recommended that charges be filed against Jones. Prosecutors charged Jones with non-aggravated criminal sexual assault and Jones had an arraignment hearing on September 26, 2012.

         At the time of Jones' arrest, the police did not have possession of the woman's medical records. Only several days before Jones' scheduled trial, prosecutors disclosed in a motion in limine that the woman had previously made at least one false rape allegation in December 1998. Jones' counsel moved for a continuance, and the judge moved the trial from October 15, 2013 to July 28, 2014. The two-day bench trial ended on September 5, 2015, with the judge finding Jones not guilty.


         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir.1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor. AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a claim's basis but must also be facially plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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. The allegations in the complaint “must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a ‘speculative level'; if they do not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court.” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 569 n.14).


         I. False Arrest and False Imprisonment Claim (Count I)

         First, Davis argues that the statute of limitations bars Jones' false arrest and false imprisonment claim against him. The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that Jones need not anticipate in his complaint in order to survive a motion to dismiss. United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005). But that is not the case where “the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense, such as when a complaint reveals that an action is untimely under the governing statute of limitations.” Id.; see also Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579 (7th Cir. 2009) (considering statute of limitations defense on motion to dismiss where relevant dates were set forth in the complaint).

         Jones' § 1983 claim is governed by the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury claims, in this case, two years. Henderson v. Bolanda, 253 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 2001); 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-202. Although the statute of limitations is borrowed from state law, federal law determines when a § 1983 claim accrues. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007). Jones' claim for false arrest and false imprisonment accrued when Jones was bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges. Id. at 389-91; Serino v. Hensley, 735 F.3d 588, 591 (7th Cir. 2013). Here, Jones was arraigned on September 26, 2012, meaning the statute of limitations on his false arrest and false imprisonment claim expired at the latest on September 26, 2014. The Court received Jones' complaint on February 9, 2015, several months after this date.

         Jones argues, however, that his claim should nevertheless proceed because the Court has determined that equitable tolling applies to the case. Equitable tolling applies where the plaintiff, through the exercise of due diligence, could not have obtained the information needed to file his claim before the limitations period expired. Shropshear v. Corp. Counsel of City of Chicago, 275 F.3d 593, 595 (7th Cir. 2001). Here, there is no suggestion that Jones could not have brought a claim of false arrest within the two-year statute of limitations and indeed, such a claim can be inferred from Jones' original pro se complaint. See Doc. 1. The Court's application of equitable tolling was intended to toll the statute of limitations from the time the Court received his complaint on January 9, 2015 and the time his recruited counsel filed an amended complaint because of the difficulty of securing recruited counsel for Jones during that period of time, effectively hampering his efforts to amend his claims and name additional defendants. See Doc. 51. Equitable tolling does not save Jones' false arrest and false imprisonment claim, however, where the statute of limitations had already expired before Jones filed his initial complaint. Therefore, the Court dismisses the false arrest and false imprisonment claim with prejudice.

         II. Malicious Prosecution and IIED Claims (Counts III and IV)

         Corcoran and Davis move to dismiss Jones' state law malicious prosecution and IIED claims on statute of limitations grounds as well. These claims are both subject to a one-year statute of limitations. See 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/8-101(a) (setting forth statute of limitations for civil tort claims against local government employees); Shelton v. Wright, No. 09 C 6413, 2011 WL 856811, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 9, 2011) (state law malicious prosecution claim); Evans v. City of Chicago, 434 F.3d 916, 934 (7th Cir. 2006) (IIED claim), overruled on other grounds by Hill v. Tangherlini, 724 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2013). For a malicious prosecution claim, this one-year period begins running “on the date the case was terminated in the plaintiff's favor.” Shelton, 2011 WL 856811, at *3. In this case, that means Jones' malicious prosecution claim accrued on September 5, 2014. The ...

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