United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
suit against Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad
Corporation (“Metra”), Metra police officer
Vasko, and several unnamed Metra officers, Hilton Hudson
alleges that Vasko assaulted and then wrongfully searched and
detained him. Doc. 9. Vasko has not yet appeared. Metra moves
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss
several counts of the complaint for failure to state a claim.
Doc. 24. The motion is granted in part and denied in part.
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth
of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual
allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn
v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th
Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents
attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the
complaint and referred to in it, and information that is
subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with
additional facts set forth in Hudson's brief opposing
dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are
consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v.
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). The facts are
set forth as favorably to Hudson as those materials allow.
See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc., 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th
Cir. 2016). In setting forth those facts at the pleading
stage, the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See
Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610
F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).
9:15 p.m. on August 15, 2015, after working on a cleaning
crew at the Chicago Air and Water Show, Hudson, who is
African-American, arrived at a Metra station in downtown
Chicago to catch a train to Joliet. Doc. 9 at ¶¶ 9,
21, 22, 29. At a special checkpoint put in place for the Air
and Water Show, a Metra police officer named Vasko detained
Hudson and told him that he could not get on the train
because he was “a bum and a drunk.” Id.
at ¶¶ 25-28. When Hudson protested that he was not
drunk and had just gotten off work, Vasko screamed at him to
leave the station. Id. at ¶¶ 29-32.
attempted to call his fiancée, but Vasko grabbed his
forearm and took the phone away from him. Id. at
¶¶ 34-35. Vasko then told Hudson to put his hands
on his head and proceeded to forcibly move his arms upwards.
Id. at ¶ 38. Vasko searched Hudson, patting him
down and turning his pockets inside out, and then handcuffed
him and told him that he was under arrest. Id. at
¶¶ 39-42. Vasko detained Hudson in a room at the
train station, and Hudson heard Vasko tell others that he
would let Hudson go after the last train left for Joliet.
Id. at ¶¶ 44-45. After two and half hours,
Hudson was released. Id. at ¶ 47.
filed this suit against Metra, Vasko, and several
unidentified Metra police officers on July 24, 2017, alleging
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law. Doc. 1.
The complaint has eight counts. Metra moves to dismiss the
claims against it in Count V (conspiracy to interfere with
civil rights), Count VI (intentional infliction of emotional
distress), Count VII (failure to prevent conspiracy), and
Count VIII (Monell failure to train).
Count VIII: Monell Failure to Train
alleges that Metra failed to adequately train its officers to
prevent the constitutional violations he suffered. Doc. 9 at
¶¶ 89-93. “[A] municipality may be directly
liable [under Monell v. Department of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), ] for constitutional
violations by its officers when the municipality evinces a
deliberate indifference to the rights of the plaintiff by
failing to train adequately its officers to prevent the
violation.” Jenkins v. Bartlett, 487 F.3d 482,
492 (7th Cir. 2007). To give rise to this kind of liability,
the failure to train “must amount to deliberate
indifference to the rights of persons with whom the untrained
employees come into contact.” Connick v.
Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 61 (2011). “A pattern of
similar constitutional violations by untrained employees is
ordinarily necessary to demonstrate deliberate indifference
for purposes of failure to train. Policymakers' continued
adherence to an approach that they know or should know has
failed to prevent tortious conduct by employees may establish
the conscious disregard for the consequences of their action
… necessary to trigger municipal liability.”
Id. at 62 (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted). In addition to alleging facts that, if true, would
show that the municipality was deliberately indifferent, the
plaintiff must also allege facts sufficient to show
causation, meaning that the failure to train was the
“moving force behind the injury alleged.” Bd.
of Cnty. Comm'rs. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997)
(internal quotation marks omitted); see also
Connick, 563 U.S. at 59 n.5 (noting that deliberate
indifference and causation are separate elements of a
support the deliberate indifference element of his claim,
Hudson points to an assessment of the Metra police force
commissioned by Metra and issued in August 2013 by the
security consulting firm Hillard Heintze. Doc. 34 at p. 4.
The report concluded that the Metra police force was
“in crisis” and “in need of major
transformation, ” ibid., and recommend that
officers receive additional training on the use of force,
arrests, searches, and discrimination and profiling,
id. at 2. According to Hudson, Metra ignored the
training recommendations. Id. at 2.
report's conclusion that the Metra police needed
additional training on the use of force, arrests, searches,
and discrimination, together with Hudson's allegation
that Metra did not conduct any such training, are sufficient
to “raise [Hudson's] right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This is not a case
where the plaintiff has “add[ed] Monell
boilerplate allegations” in an effort to “proceed
to discovery in the hope of turning up some evidence to
support the ‘claims' made.” Strauss v.
City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765, 768 (7th Cir. 1985).
Instead, pointing to the Hillard Heintze report, Hudson has
directly alleged that Metra was aware in 2013 that its police
force had systematic problems with, among other things, the
use of force, arrests, searches, and discrimination and
profiling, and that additional training was needed to rectify
them; and he further alleges that Metra ignored those
problems. Those allegations, if true, could demonstrate
deliberate indifference, for if the documented problems were
severe enough, then Metra's alleged decision not to
conduct any new training would constitute “continued
adherence to an approach that [Metra] kn[e]w or should [have]
know[n] ha[d] failed to prevent tortious conduct by
employees.” Connick, 563 U.S. at 62.
allegations are also sufficient to plausibly demonstrate
causation. It is true, as Metra observes, that Hudson does
not explicitly allege that Metra's failure to adequately
train its officers caused his injuries. Doc. 24 at 9. But the
Civil Rules “requir[e] plaintiffs to plead
claims rather than facts corresponding to the
elements of a legal theory.” Chapman v. Yellow Cab
Coop., 875 F.3d 846, 848 (7th Cir. 2017). “It is
enough to plead a plausible claim, after which a plaintiff
receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the
hypotheses are consistent with the complaint.”
Ibid. Based on the facts alleged in Hudson's
complaint and response brief, it is plausible that
Metra's failure to act on the Hillard Heintze
report's training recommendations was the “moving
force” behind Hudson's injuries-that is, that Vasko
would not have violated Hudson's rights had he been
properly trained on the use of force, searches, arrests, and
discrimination. See City of Canton v. Harris, 489
U.S. 378, 391 (1989) (observing that the ultimate question
for causation is whether “the injury would have been
avoided had the employee been trained under a program that
was not deficient in the identified respect”).
has put forward sufficient factual allegations to state a
plausible failure-to-train claim. Metra's motion to