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Pittman v. City of Mount Sterling

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

January 4, 2018

CITY OF MOUNT STERLING, ILLINOIS, and CHASE FOX, individually and in his capacity as police officer with City of Mount Sterling, Illinois, Police Department, Defendants.



         Before the Court is the Partial Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (d/e 13) filed by Defendant City of Mount Sterling, Illinois (Mount Sterling). The motion is DENIED. Plaintiff Lyndsey J. Pittman, in her First Amended Complaint, sufficiently pleads state-law claims against Mount Sterling based on the doctrine of respondeat superior.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts come from Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (d/e 7). The Court accepts them as true at the motion to dismiss stage. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         On October 21, 2015, Plaintiff, then 17 years old, was driving an automobile in Mount Sterling, Illinois. Defendant Chase Fox, an officer with the Mount Sterling Police Department, activated his squad car's overhead lights to initiate a traffic stop of Plaintiff's vehicle because Plaintiff had allegedly failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign. Plaintiff brought her vehicle to a stop. Defendant Fox obtained Plaintiff's driver's license, thereby learning that Plaintiff was a minor, and asked Plaintiff whether marijuana or any other illegal substance was present in Plaintiff's vehicle. Plaintiff answered in the negative.

         Defendant Fox proceeded to Plaintiff to exit her vehicle and stand in front of his squad car. A passenger exited Plaintiff's vehicle and inquired as to why Defendant Fox was detaining Plaintiff. Defendant Fox ordered the passenger to get back in Plaintiff's vehicle, but as the passenger was getting back into Plaintiff's vehicle, Defendant Fox violently grabbed the passenger and forced him out of the vehicle.

         Because of Defendant Fox's actions, Plaintiff reentered her vehicle and drove away. Defendant Fox drew his service weapon and shot out the back window of Plaintiff's vehicle. Defendant Fox then holstered his weapon and initiated a high-speed pursuit of Plaintiff's vehicle, a pursuit that reached speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. Eventually, Plaintiff lost control of her vehicle, which was destroyed after it left the road and rolled over. As a result of the accident, Plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer physical pain, emotional trauma, fear, and anxiety.

         On December 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (d/e 1), seeking recovery for her physical and emotional injuries. Plaintiff subsequently filed a five-count[1] First Amended Complaint on March 3, 2017. Count 1 alleges a § 1983 claim against Defendant Fox. Count 2 alleges a § 1983 claim against Mount Sterling. Counts 4 through 6[2] allege state-law claims for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. On April 21, 2017, Mount Sterling filed its Partial Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff's three state-law claims should be dismissed as to Mount Sterling because Plaintiff had not named Mount Sterling as a defendant in those counts and failed to make any allegations against Mount Sterling in those counts. Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion.


         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's § 1983 claims because they are based on federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”). Further, this Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state-law claims because those claims and Plaintiff's § 1983 claims “form part of the same case or controversy.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Venue is proper in this district because the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred here. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) (stating that a civil action may be brought in “a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred”).


         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plausibility means alleging factual content that allows a court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). A plaintiff's complaint must suggest a right to relief, “raising that possibility above a speculative level.” Kubiak v. City of Chicago, 810 F.3d 476, 480 (7th Cir. 2016). “The required level of factual specificity rises with the complexity of the claim.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616-17 (7th Cir. 2011).

         When faced with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court “accept[s] as true all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). However, “legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth.” McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616.

         IV. ...

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