United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
GINO L. ESPARZA, Plaintiff,
SHERI VERSTRAETE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gino Esparza alleges that the defendants-a group of police
officers in the city of Collinsville, Illinois-violated his
Fourth Amendment rights when they busted into his apartment
without a warrant, threw him into a wall, and tore through
the dwelling in a search for drugs. The defendants have now
moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc.
5.) For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES the motion to dismiss.
Esparza lives in an apartment in Collinsville, Illinois.
(Compl. ¶ 1, Doc. 1-3.) At about 8:00 AM one morning, he
awoke to a loud pounding on his front door by a Madison
County probation officer. Esparza answered, and the officer
said he was looking for Esparza's mother. At the same
time, Esparza claims that various officers from both the
Madison County Probation Department and the City of
Collinsville police department were going door to door in the
area around Esparza's apartment, apparently looking for
drugs. Esparza told the probation officer that his mother was
in his apartment, which led the officer to grab Esparza,
twist his arm, throw him into the wall, and handcuff him.
When Esparza asked whether the officer had a warrant, the
officer allegedly replied “we don't need
none.” (Id. at ¶¶ 2-13.)
thereafter, the five police officers named as defendants in
this case-along with Collinsville Code Enforcement Officer
Sheri Verstraete-swarmed upon Esparza's apartment despite
his objections. Esparza alleges that the defendants all
proceeded to search the apartment, move furniture,
“[tear] up the apartment, ” and photograph the
same. (Id. at ¶ 14.) When Esparza noticed that
Verstraete was taking pictures, he told her to stop because
she did not have a warrant, she was not a police officer, and
she did not have Esparza's consent to enter. Verstraete
allegedly replied: “I am from the City of Collinsville,
I can do what I want.” (Id. at ¶ 15.)
these events, Esparza brought suit in state court against
Verstraete and the five police officers for a violation of
his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and
seizures. He claims that the Collinsville police officers
were acting in a joint endeavor with the Madison County
Probation Department to bust suspected drug sales in the
area, using the Probation Department as a means to get into
certain homes without a warrant. (Id. at
¶¶ 19-20.) The defendants removed the case to this
Court on federal question grounds, properly invoking 42 U.S.C
§ 1983. (Doc. 1.) They have now moved to dismiss the
complaint, arguing that (1) Esparza has not alleged a
violation of any privacy right, and (2) Esparza did not
establish that each defendant was personally involved in this
case. (Doc. 5.)
12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
accepts as true all allegations in the complaint.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure
to state a claim, a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This
requirement is satisfied if the complaint: (1) describes the
claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice
of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and
(2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to
relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550
U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496
F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 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 (citing Bell Atl.,
550 U.S. at 556). “Determining whether a complaint
states a plausible claim for relief will...be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
18 U.S.C. § 1983
order to prove a § 1983 claim against a police officer,
a plaintiff must show that the officer (1) deprived the
plaintiff of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, and (2) that the defendant was acting
under color of state law. Ienco v. City of Chicago,
286 F.3d 994, 997-98 (7th Cir. 2002); see Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); McKinney v.
Duplain, 463 F.3d 679, 683-84 (7th Cir. 2006);
Brokaw v. Mercer Co., 235 F.3d 1000, 1009 (7th Cir.
Fourth Amendment provides: The “right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable
cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly
describing the place to be searched and the persons or things
to be seized.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. A defendant may
object to a search on Fourth Amendment grounds if he has
“a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded
place.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347,
353 (1967); accord Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128,
143 (1978). An individual has a stalwart expectation of
privacy in their home: “At the Amendment's very
core stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home
and there be free from unreasonable governmental
intrusion.” Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. 1, 6
(2013) (citing Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S.
505, 511 (1961)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Accordingly, Esparza had an expectation of privacy in his
defendants have attempted to justify their invasion into
Ezparza's castle by pointing at his mother's status
as a parolee, arguing that “there is no legitimate
expectation of privacy in a parolee's residence when the
parolee is present.” (Doc. 6, p. 5.) But this assertion
is only halfway correct: parolees' homes are protected by
the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness standards
“like anyone else's, ” Griffin v.
Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873 (1987); Green v.
Butler, 420 F.3d 689, 701 (7th Cir. 2005), though
parolees do have a lower expectation of privacy in their home
than the general population. Samson v. California,
547 U.S. 843, 852 (2006). This is especially true when a