United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
HELENA DAVIS, as Mother and Next Friend of T.L., a Minor, Plaintiff,
PEORIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 150, et al., Defendants.
E. SHADID, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss, filed by the
following Defendants: the Board of Education of Peoria Public
School District No. 150 (“the District”),
Darryies Johnson, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Geralyn
Hammer, and Unknown Supervisors and Officers of Peoria Public
School District No. 150. (D. 29). The Plaintiff, Helena Davis,
as mother and next friend of T.L., a minor, filed a Response
(D. 32) and Memoranda of Law in Support (D. 30); (D. 31). For
the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' Motion is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiff filed her initial Complaint in May 2017 against the
Defendants noted above, along with Donald Williams and Renee
Andrews. (D. 1). Andrews has since been dismissed from the
case. (See the Court's January 19, 2018 text
order). The Plaintiff later filed a Second Amended Complaint
against the remaining Defendants. (D. 28). She seeks damages
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”)
for alleged violations of her constitutional rights and
Illinois state law.
Plaintiff's son, T.L., attended a Day Treatment Program
for students with emotional disabilities and other behavioral
problems at the District's Trewyn School. The Plaintiff
alleges the District had a policy and/or custom of
encouraging the use of something known as “the
box.” (D. 28 at pg. 3). She further asserts that the
District's policy “encourage[es] the use of
excessive force in placing children in ‘the
box'.” Id. The box the Plaintiff refers to
is what the Defendants describe as “a safe room used
for de-escalation of disruptive and violent behavior of
students.” (D. 29 at pg. 3).
footage attached to the Plaintiff's initial Complaint (D.
1), shows that on March 1, 2016, Williams-a teacher's
assistant at Trewyn, shoved T.L. into the doorframe while
T.L. was walking through the doorway of the box. Shortly
thereafter, Williams struck T.L. on the left side of his face
with his right hand. The Plaintiff acknowledges that the box
is “a locked room used for punishment of unruly
children, ” and claims she incorporates the submitted
video footage of the incident from her initial Complaint into
her Second Amended Complaint. (D. 28 at 3). She further
alleges Johnson (the Assistant principal of Trewyn) and
Hammer (the Director of Human Resources for the District),
were informed of the incident, but Johnson's reaction was
“advisory” and “non-disciplinary”
which amounts to sanctioning Williams' behavior
Id. at pg. 4.
Plaintiff argues that it was never legally necessary for
Williams “to strike, or use physical force” on
T.L. Id. She also alleges the use of force initiated
by Williams was “excessive, unreasonable, unnecessary
and willful, and recklessly disregarded” her rights.
Id. In total, the Plaintiff claims: (1) the
District's initial refusal to produce the video to her
deprived her of her parental right to fully comfort her
child; (2) the District ignored any potential injury T.L. may
have had and declined to give him medical treatment or allow
him to contact his mother after the incident; (3) Williams
and Johnson willfully injured T.L.; and (4) on April 20,
2016, Williams made derogatory remarks toward T.L. about his
deceased father. Id. at pp. 4-5.
result of the foregoing events, the Plaintiff alleges she is
entitled to damages from the Defendants, pursuant to §
1983, for the following: (1) excessive use of force by
Williams, which is also attributed to Kherat-as
superintendent of the District-Hammer, and Johnson; (2)
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations by Johnson,
Williams, Kherat, and Hammer; (3) battery by Williams; (4)
willful and wanton conduct by Williams, Kherat, Hammer,
Johnson, and the District; (5) intentional infliction of
emotional distress by Williams; and (6) negligent training
and supervision by the District. Id. at pp. 5-16.
The Plaintiff further alleges the District is liable for all
of Williams' and Johnson's alleged actions by way of
the doctrine of respondeat superior and 745 ILCS
10/9-102. Id. at pp. 13-14.
remaining Defendants, minus Williams-who is proceeding
pro se-now move to dismiss all of the Counts in the
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint directed at them,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (D.
29). The Defendants argue: (1) Counts II and III fail to
plead a § 1983 claim against Kherat or Hammer in their
individual or official capacities (Id. at pp. 6-10);
(2) Count IV fails to state a claim against Johnson (D. 29 at
pp. 10-12); (3) Counts VIII, IX, X, and XI fail to state a
cause of action for willful and wanton conduct under Illinois
law (Id. at pp. 12-13); (4) Counts XII and XIV fail
to state a cause of action against the District under
respondeat superior (Id. at pp. 13-15); (5)
Counts XIII and XIV must be dismissed because agency
principles are not applicable to § 1983 claims
(Id. at pp. 15-16); (6) Count XV fails to state a
cause of action for negligent supervision and is barred by
the Illinois' Tort Immunity Act (Id. at pp.
16-19); and (7) the Plaintiff's request for punitive
damages should be stricken (Id. at pp. 19-20).
reviewing the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court accepts
the Plaintiff's factual allegations as true. Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Allegations stated in
the form of legal conclusions, however, are insufficient to
survive a motion to dismiss. McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch
& Co., Inc., 694 F.3d 873, 885 (7th Cir. 2012). A
complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the
plaintiff's claim, sufficient to show entitlement to
relief and to notify the defendants of the allegations
against them. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). This standard is
met if the plaintiff describes in sufficient factual detail
enough to suggest a right to relief beyond a speculative
level. Id.; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Srvs., 496 F.3d
773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). In short, “the plaintiff must
give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to
present a story that holds together. In other words, the
court will ask itself could these things have
happened, not did they happen.” Swanson v.
Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010)
(emphasis in original).
the Defendants allege that Counts II and III of the
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint fail to plead a
§ 1983 claim against Kherat or Hammer in their
individual or official capacities. (D. 29 at pp. 6-10). They
claim the Plaintiff “fails to explicitly state in which
capacity the claims are actually brought.” Id.
at pg. 7. The Plaintiff asserts that she has clearly brought
these counts against Kherat and Hammer in both capacities.
(D. 31 at pp. 2-3).
order to bring an individual capacity claim under § 1983
for Williams' alleged constitutional violations, the
Plaintiff must prove Kherat or Hammer knew about the conduct,
facilitated it, approved it, condoned it, or turned a blind
eye toward it. Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d
985, 992 (7th Cir. 1988). More bluntly, “[t]o be held
liable for ...