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Berry v. City of Chicago

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

May 3, 2018

Alfred Berry, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Chicago, Chicago Police Officer Charles Mammoser, and Robert Nolan, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Alfred Berry sued defendants City of Chicago, Chicago police officer Charles Mammoser, and administrative law judge Robert Nolan for an allegedly unlawful stop and frisk of Berry conducted during an administrative hearing. Currently before the Court is Nolan's motion to dismiss Berry's claims against him under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). R. 14. For the following reasons, the Court grants Nolan's motion.

         Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. E.g., Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). A complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The statement must give defendant “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (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.'” Mann v. Vogel, 707 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.

         Background

         Nolan was an administrative law judge in the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection for the City of Chicago. R. 1 ¶ 4. On March 14, 2017, Mammoser testified in a hearing before Nolan in a case titled City of Chicago v. Green Dolphin, 16 LR 163. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. Berry, the securities manager for Green Dolphin, testified after Massomer and allegedly directly impeached Mammoser. Id. ¶¶ 8-10. Berry alleges that he never carries a weapon and that he had no bulges around his waist or in his suit coat on the day of the hearing. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. Nevertheless, Massomer allegedly stopped and frisked Berry immediately after Berry's testimony. Id. ¶ 13.

         At the next hearing in the case on March 24, 2017, Nolan stated on the record that he caused the unlawful stop and frisk of Berry because he believed Berry was carrying a gun. Id. ¶ 18. Nolan specifically stated:

Before we start I have to make a statement for the record. I feel it necessary to do so. The last time we were here, Mr. Berry was about to testify. Had not testified yet. We took a break. I went down the hall to go to the bathroom. On my way back, I observed Mr. Berry standing. It appeared that his coat was open. I saw what appeared to be on the side what I believed to be a weapon. I came back into the premises. I talked to an assistant corporation counsel . . . [a]nd informed them of what I observed. I did that out of public safety of observing it. . . . It appears that maybe as a result of that, certain actions were taken. It appears that there was no weapon on the person. I humbly apologize to Mr. Berry . . . and further state that none of those observations or otherwise will be taken into consideration in my reviewing this file. I made no conversation with Officer - whatever his name, M-a-m-m-o-s-e-r, regarding that, but it was [what] I observed. It was like a brown thing on his side. That was all I observed.

R. 14-1 at 4-5.[1] Berry alleges that this statement was an attempt by Nolan “to cover up the unlawful conduct of Defendant Mammoser.” R. 1 ¶ 18. Based on Nolan's statement, Green Dolphin's counsel withdrew a motion to re-call Mammoser as a witness. R. 14-1 at 3, 5.

         On August 25, 2017, Berry filed this lawsuit. R. 1. The complaint alleges two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Mammoser and Nolan: (1) a claim for illegal search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count I); and (2) a claim for conspiracy to deprive Berry of his constitutional rights (Count II). Id. ¶¶ 21-30. Count III is an indemnification claim against the City of Chicago. Id. ¶¶ 21-33. In his response to Nolan's motion to dismiss, Berry concedes that Count I should be dismissed as to Nolan (R. 19 at 1 n.1), leaving only the conspiracy claim in Count II remaining against Nolan.

         Discussion

         Nolan's motion to dismiss first argues that Nolan is entitled to absolute immunity as a quasi-judicial officer. “Absolute immunity is a powerful shield attaching primarily to judicial functions-not to the person or position. When a functional analysis of the responsibilities at issue reveals that they are judicial in nature, the actor is entitled to absolute immunity from damages no matter how erroneous the act or injurious the consequences.” Brunson v. Murray, 843 F.3d 698, 710 (7th Cir. 2016). The Brunson court explained that the

functional analysis of the immunity issue is aided by the six factors characteristic of the judicial process . . .: (a) the need to assure that the individual can perform his functions without harassment or intimidation; (b) the presence of safeguards that reduce the need for private damages actions as a means of controlling unconstitutional conduct; (c) insulation from political influence; (d) the importance ...

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