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Thomas v. City of Markham

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

March 21, 2018

LAFAYETTE THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF MARKHAM, ILLINOIS, Officer WILLIAM BRAZIL, and Officer ZAKIYA LARRY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HON. JORGE L. ALONSO United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss Counts VI and VII of plaintiff's First Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Markham's Motion to Dismiss is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Lafayette Thomas, filed the instant action against the City of Markham, Illinois (“Markham”) and two of its police officers, Officer William Brazil and Officer Zakiya Larry. Plaintiff alleges that, on March 17, 2016, he was brutally attacked and assaulted by Officer Brazil during a traffic stop and that Officer Larry watched the attack and did nothing to stop it. Plaintiff alleges he was seriously injured as a result.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants on August 16, 2016, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as other state law claims. Counts I and II asserted Monell claims against Markham, alleging that Markham's policies of failing to train, supervise, and discipline its police officers were the moving force behind the defendant officers' injurious actions. In November 2016, Markham moved to dismiss the Monell claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). On September 29, 2017, this Court granted Markham's motion to dismiss the Monell claims without prejudice and gave plaintiff leave to amend his complaint.[1]

         On November 1, 2017, plaintiff filed a First Amendment Complaint (“FAC”). Plaintiff did not amend Counts I and II, but he added two new state law claims. Count VI alleged Markham was negligent in hiring, training, and supervising its officers, and Count VII alleged Markham was willful and wanton in hiring defendant Officer Brazil. Plaintiff alleges that Officer Brazil had a checkered employment history prior to joining Markham's police department. On December 5, 2017, Markham moved to dismiss Counts VI and VII again pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion “tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted.” Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff's complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim[s] showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement must “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (ellipsis omitted). Under federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff's 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). “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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, courts must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         ANALYSIS

         In essence, Markham argues that Counts VI and VII of plaintiff's FAC are barred for two reasons: (1) the applicable statute of limitations has run on both claims and (2) Markham is immune from the claims pursuant to Sections 2-109 and 2-201 of the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. The Court disagrees and handles each argument in turn.

         I. Statute of Limitations

         As both parties acknowledge, the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense and “[a] plaintiff is not required to negate an affirmative defense, such as the statute of limitations, in his complaint.” Clark v. City of Braidwood, 318 F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2003). As such, the statute of limitations is “rarely a good reason to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Reiser v. Residential Funding Corp., 380 F.3d 1027, 1030 (7th Cir. 2004). But a plaintiff can plead himself out of court if he alleges facts that affirmatively show that his claims are time-barred. Id.

         Counts VI and VII are state law claims, so the Court applies Illinois law “regarding the statute of limitations and any rules that are an integral part of the statute of limitations, such as tolling and equitable estoppel.” Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Markham argues-and plaintiff does not contest-that the Illinois Tort Immunity Act provides the applicable statute of limitations here for plaintiffs' hiring claims. Section 8-101 of the Act states that “[n]o civil action . . . may be commenced in any court against a local entity or any of its employees for any injury unless it is commenced within one year from the date that the injury was received or the cause of action accrued.” 745 ILCS 10/8-101(a). Markham argues that the statute of limitations on plaintiff's hiring claims began to run on March 17, 2016-the day that defendant Officer Brazil allegedly injured ...


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