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Santos v. Curran

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

February 14, 2018

EMIL J. SANTOS, Plaintiff,
MARK C. CURRAN, JR., SHERIFF, LAKE COUNTY, in his individual and official capacity; JENNIFER WITTHERSPOON, in her individual capacity, and JANE DOE, in her individual capacity; IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT OFFICER EASTERDAY, in his individual capacity; IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT OFFICER BILBO, in his individual capacity, Defendants.


          SARA L.ELLIS, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Emil J. Santos challenges his detention in the Lake County Jail before his transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) custody even though a judge ordered his release and his sister paid his bond. Santos initially filed this suit seeking a writ of habeas corpus, but after his transfer to ICE custody, he filed an amended complaint alleging that he was wrongfully detained from the time of his arrest to the time of his transfer and that he was transferred in retaliation for filing this action. He names as Defendants Mark C. Curran, Jr., the Sheriff of Lake County, in both his individual and official capacity; Jennifer Witherspoon, in her individual capacity; Jane Doe, in her individual capacity (collectively, the Lake County Defendants); ICE Officer Easterday, in his individual capacity; and ICE Officer Bilbo, in his individual capacity. The Lake County Defendants have moved to dismiss Santos' amended complaint.[1] The Court cannot determine at this stage whether the Lake County Defendants had a valid reason to detain Santos beyond the time his sister posted bail based on the facts in the amended complaint and the immigration detainer, the only additional document the Court finds appropriate to consider in evaluating the Lake County Defendants' motion to dismiss. Under these alleged facts, the Court does not find that Heck v. Humphrey prevents Santos from pursuing his claims or that qualified immunity protects the Lake County Defendants from those claims. The Court further concludes that Santos has adequately pleaded both his wrongful detention and retaliation claims, except that it dismisses the retaliation claim against Jane Doe because he has not alleged a basis to hold her personally responsible on that claim.


          Santos, born in Honduras, lived in Fox Lake, Illinois, located in Lake County, when Fox Lake police arrested him on April 1, 2017. Officers detained him at the Lake County Adult Corrections Facility (the “Lake County Jail”) and charged him with domestic battery and interfering with a domestic violence report. That day, a judge ordered him released upon the payment of a $20, 000 bond. Santos' sister went to the Lake County Jail and paid the bond. Jane Doe, a Lake County Jail officer working at the desk, told Santos' sister to return in three hours, indicating it would take that long to process Santos' release. But before Santos' sister could return to the Lake County Jail, she received a call from Jane Doe, who stated that Santos would not be released because of an ICE detainer and that the sister should return to reclaim the money. Santos' sister returned to the Lake County Jail and received a refund of the amount she had posted as bail.

         Santos did not receive a notice to appear in immigration court from any federal immigration agency and ICE officials did not take Santos into custody. Instead, Santos remained in Lake County custody until April 13, 2017. On April 11, Santos filed the instant case, seeking a writ of habeas corpus. On April 12, in the afternoon, Santos' counsel faxed a copy of the complaint and petition for writ of habeas corpus to Witherspoon, the legal liaison for the Lake County Sheriff's Office. Counsel also called Witherspoon at the Lake County Sheriff's Office Legal Affairs Department. That evening, a Lake County Jail officer told Santos to have his family pay the bond, indicating that although immigration authorities would likely arrest him, he should nonetheless pay the bond. Santos' sister did so around 8:00 p.m. that evening. But Lake County officials did not release Santos after his bond had been paid. Instead, they communicated to ICE officials that Santos had filed a complaint challenging his detention. This prompted Santos' transfer to ICE custody on April 13, when Bilbo or Easterday took Santos from the Lake County Jail to an immigration processing facility in Chicago, Illinois. One of them told Santos that despite a lawsuit being filed on his behalf, they “got him” anyway. Doc. 6 ¶ 36. ICE then transferred Santos to the Dodge County Detention Facility in Dodge County, Wisconsin.


         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.


         I. Validity of the Detention

          The Lake County Defendants first argue that Santos' wrongful detention and retaliatory discharge claims fail because he was the subject of an ICE warrant for arrest and immediate deportation, meaning that his detention was lawful at all times and he cannot establish any retaliation. The Lake County Defendants rely on certain documents not attached to Santos' amended complaint as the underlying basis for their argument. Specifically, the Lake County Defendants attach a warrant of removal/deportation issued by ICE along with an immigration detainer on DHS Form I-247A both dated April 1, 2017. Doc. 12 at 16-17. The warrant of removal, signed by a field office director and addressed to “any immigration officer of the United States Department of Homeland Security, ” indicates that Santos is subject to removal from the United States based on a final order pursuant to Section 241(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and directs the immigration officer to take Santos into custody and remove him from the United States.[3] Doc. 12 at 16. The immigration detainer, issued specifically to the Lake County Jail, states that the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has determined through biometric confirmation that Santos lacks immigration status or otherwise is removable under U.S. immigration law and requests that the Lake County Jail notify DHS as early as practicable before Santos is released from custody and maintain custody of him “for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS beyond the time when he[ ] would otherwise have been released from [its] custody to allow DHS to assume custody.” Id. at 17. It further states that Santos “must be served with a copy of this form for the detainer to take effect.” Id. The Lake County Defendants also attach a notice and order of expedited removal dated August 25, 2006, finding Santos inadmissible to the United States under Section 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the INA and ordering him removed from the United States pursuant to INA Section 235.[4] Id. at 18-19.

         Neither side explains why the Court may consider the documents the Lake County Defendants have attached to their response at the motion to dismiss stage. The Court may consider documents that are referenced in a complaint and central to a plaintiff's claims without converting a motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 582-83 (7th Cir. 2009). Santos alleges that Jane Doe told his sister that he would not be released because of an ICE detainer, which at least allows the Court to consider the one-page detainer. But Santos' amended complaint says nothing about an arrest warrant or any other documents that accompanied the detainer, such as the 2006 notice and order of removal. The Lake County Defendants state that ICE sent the warrant to the Lake County Jail, but the Court cannot consider such a factual statement by a defendant accompanying the document on a motion to dismiss where it is not clear from the documents that the Lake County Jail received the warrant or the notice of removal at the time of Santos' detention. Because factual questions surround these additional documents and Santos does not refer to them in his amended complaint, the Court does not consider them at this stage.

         The Court, therefore, must defer until summary judgment the Lake County Defendants' main argument for dismissal-that Santos was being held not on a detainer but rather a warrant because he had committed the criminal immigration violation of illegal reentry, meaning that his detention was mandatory. The immigration detainer itself does not indicate that Santos had previously entered the country illegally or state that the Lake County Jail was required to hold him despite his sister having posted his bond.[5] See Galarza v. Szalczyk, 745 F.3d 634, 642 (3d Cir. 2014) (reviewing the INA and ICE's position on detainers to conclude that “detainers are not mandatory”). Instead, the detainer only “request[s]” that the Lake County Jail “[m]aintain custody of [Santos] for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS beyond the time when he[ ] would otherwise have been released from [its] custody to allow DHS to assume custody.” Doc. 12 at 17. This suggests that Santos' detention in Lake County Jail after his sister posted bond on April 1 until his transfer to ICE custody on April 13 was wrongful. See Galarza, 745 F.3d at 643, 645 (because immigration detainer is not mandatory, it cannot be used as a defense to a wrongful detention, finding that “immigration officials may not order state and local officials to imprison suspected aliens subject to removal at the request of the federal government”); Villars v. Kubiatowski, 45 F.Supp.3d 791, 806-08 (N.D. Ill. 2014) (rejecting Lake County Defendants' argument that jail officials could detain plaintiff pursuant to ICE detainer despite plaintiff having posted bond at the motion to dismiss stage where plaintiff alleged that Lake County did not have probable cause that plaintiff violated federal criminal law). Therefore, the Court does not further address the Lake County Defendants' arguments that Santos cannot pursue his claims because they were required to detain Santos pursuant to a warrant for removal and could not release him on bond despite the state court judge's order. The Court instead proceeds to address the Lake County Defendants' remaining arguments for dismissal, with the Lake County Defendants free to reassert their arguments concerning the validity of Santos' detainer pursuant to the ICE warrant at a later date.

         II. Heck v. Humphrey Bar

          The Lake County Defendants alternatively argue that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), bars Santos' claims. Under Heck, a criminal defendant may not use § 1983 to claim damages for “harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, ” unless that conviction or sentence had been “reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 486-87. § 1983 is the not the appropriate vehicle for criminal defendants to collaterally attack an otherwise valid criminal conviction. Id. at 486. The Lake County Defendants argue that although this case does not involve a conviction, Heck similarly applies to bar claims that would invalidate an immigration detention. See Cohen v. Clemens, 321 Fed.Appx. 739, 742 (10th Cir. 2009) (applying Heck to bar plaintiff's Bivens claim challenging his civil immigration detention because, in order to receive damages, he ...

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