United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ST. EVE, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
January 16, 2015, Plaintiff Gregorio Carmona
(“Carmona”) brought the present Complaint against
Defendants City of Chicago (the “City”) and
several individual Chicago police officers alleging numerous
constitutional violations and state law claims. Before the
Court is the City's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's
Monell claim brought pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the
Court grants the City's motion.
January 16, 2013, a fire occurred at Plaintiff's
residence in Chicago. (R. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 4, 12.) That
night, emergency personnel took Plaintiff and Claudia
Martinez-Rayo to Swedish Covenant Hospital for injuries
sustained in the fire. (Id. ¶ 13.) On January
17, Martinez-Rayo died from her injuries. (Id.
¶ 14.) The same day, at approximately 2:40 AM, three
Chicago police officers interrogated Plaintiff in the
hospital while he was being treated for smoke inhalation.
(Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges that during the
interrogation, the officers handcuffed Plaintiff to his
hospital bed, neglected to advise him that he was under
arrest or of his Miranda rights, and collected
evidence from his person. (Id. ¶¶ 16-19.)
The officers also refused to allow Plaintiff to speak to
family or friends. (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff
alleges that the initial interrogation lasted 1-2 hours and
that the officers interrogated him again that night at the
hospital. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.) Plaintiff claims
that during the interrogation, he was not permitted to leave
and the questions the officers asked were coercive and
designed to elicit incriminating responses. (Id.
¶¶ 24-25, 28.) On January 18, officers arrested
Plaintiff and Plaintiff was incarcerated without bond for
release. (Id. ¶¶ 27, 32-33.) Plaintiff
alleges that Detective Dantes prepared a search warrant for
his vehicle without probable cause. (Id.
Monell claim, Plaintiff alleges that the City's
deliberate indifference caused the police officers'
constitutional violations. (Id. ¶ 55.)
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the City encouraged the
misconduct at issue by failing to adequately discipline
similar misconduct and failing to supervise and control its
officers. (Id. ¶ 56.)
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing
that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers,
Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). Under Rule
8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain
statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must “give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Under the federal notice
pleading standards, a plaintiff's “factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Id. Put differently, 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) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In determining the
sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard,
courts must “accept all well-pleaded facts as true and
draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs'
favor.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d
561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016).
City argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's
claim under Monell v. Department of Social Services of
City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), because
Plaintiff's conclusory allegations fail to sufficiently
allege that the City maintained an unconstitutional
widespread practice or inadequately trained its officers.
Monell, the Supreme Court established that a
municipality may face liability for money damages under
§ 1983 only if the unconstitutional act about which the
plaintiff complains was caused by (1) an official policy
adopted and promulgated by its officers; (2) a governmental
practice or custom that, although not officially authorized,
is widespread and well settled; or (3) an official with final
policy-making authority. Johnson v. Cook Cnty., 526
Fed.Appx. 692, 695 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted); see also Thomas v. Cook Cnty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir.
2010) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690). While there
is no heightened pleading standard for Monell
claims, Estate of Sims ex rel. Sims v. Cnty. of
Bureau, 506 F.3d 509, 514 (7th Cir. 2007), legal
conclusions and conclusory allegations are not enough.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Plaintiff has not alleged the existence of an express policy
that caused his constitutional deprivation nor does he allege
that a person with final policymaking authority directly
caused his deprivation. Plaintiff must thus allege a
widespread practice of deliberate indifference to
unconstitutional interrogations “so permanent and
well-settled that it constitutes a custom or practice.”
Sims, 506 F.3d at 515. The Seventh Circuit has
declined to “adopt any bright-line rules defining a
widespread custom or practice, but to allege a widespread
practice a plaintiff must state that the City policymakers
were “deliberately indifferent as to [the] known or
obvious consequences” of the alleged practice.
Thomas, 604 F.3d at 303. In order for a plaintiff to
prevail on a deliberate indifference claim in this context,
the municipality or city official “must have been aware
of the risk created by the custom or practice and must have
failed to take appropriate steps to protect the
plaintiff.” Id. In addition, a plaintiff
pursuing a widespread practice claim generally must allege
more than one, and sometimes more than three, instances of
misconduct. Id. This requirement is intended to
“demonstrate that there is a policy at issue rather
than a random event.” Id. Finally, “to
establish municipal liability, a plaintiff must show the
existence of an ‘official policy' or other
governmental custom that not only causes but is the
“moving force” behind the deprivation of
constitutional rights.” Teesdale v. City of
Chi., 690 F.3d 829, 833-34 (7th Cir. 2012).
Plaintiff's Monell allegations are insufficient
for several reasons. First, as noted above, the Seventh
Circuit has held that a plaintiff must allege that a
widespread practice caused the harm suffered and not a random
event, and a plaintiff typically must allege more than one
instance of misconduct to do so. Thomas, 604 F.3d at
303. Put differently, while “it is not impossible for a
plaintiff to demonstrate the existence of an official policy
or custom by presenting evidence limited to [one
individual's] experience, ” it is difficult because
“what is needed is evidence that there is a true
municipal [or corporate] policy at issue not a random
event.” Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d. 763,
774 (7th Cir. 2008). Here, Plaintiff's boilerplate
allegations state that the City had a widespread policy of
allowing officer misconduct, but he has not alleged
any additional instances of police interrogation
misconduct generally, and he also has not alleged any other
instances of interrogation misconduct similar to his
interrogation, where the suspect was in the hospital
recovering from injuries. Courts in this District regularly
dismiss Monell claims where the plaintiff has failed
to allege instances of misconduct other than that from which
he suffered. See, e.g., Arita v. Wexford Health
Sources, Inc., No. 15-CV-01173, 2016 WL 6432578, at *2
(N.D. Ill. Oct. 31, 2016) (rejecting Monell claim
because there were no allegations of misconduct outside
plaintiff's own experience); Taylor v. Wexford Health
Sources, Inc., No. 15 C 5190, 2016 WL 3227310, at *4
(N.D. Ill. June 13, 2016) (same); Winchester v.
Marketti, No. 11-cv-9224, 2012 WL 2076375, at *4 (N.D.
Ill. June 8, 2012) (“What is fatal to the
Monell claims, however, is that Plaintiff makes no
attempt to plead a pattern of similar constitutional
violations with any degree of factual specificity.”);
Jones v. Feinerman, No. 09 C 03916, 2011 WL 4501405,
at *6 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2011) (dismissing Monell
claim because plaintiff alleged deliberate indifference that
was limited “only to him”).
failure-to-train and failure-to-discipline allegations are
similarly insufficient. Plaintiff alleges, in conclusory
fashion and without any supporting factual detail, that the
City causes the misconduct at issue here by failing to
adequately train or discipline its police officers. Again,
courts regularly reject boilerplate allegations like
Plaintiff's that lack any supporting facts. In Foy v.
City of Chi., No. 15 C 3720, 2016 WL 2770880, at *9
(N.D. Ill. May 12, 2016), for example, the court rejected a
Monell claim premised on failure-to-train
allegations because the allegations were boilerplate, failed
to “articulate what specific training was lacking,
” and failed to support the inference that the alleged
lack of training caused the plaintiff's constitutional
deprivation. Id. The court also rejected the
plaintiff's boilerplate failure-to-discipline allegations
explaining that plaintiff “never articulate[d] what the
City's actual practice is for ...