United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Elainle E. Bucklo United States District Judge.
Shereen Fakhoury was arrested by the Village of Oak Lawn
Police Department in December of 2013 for driving under the
influence. A warrant for her arrest was issued. On December
18, 2015, the Circuit Court of Cook County entered an Order
declaring that the warrant had been executed. Plaintiff
received a copy of that Order.
November 1, 2017, Officer Brongiel of the Village of Alsip
Police Department approached plaintiff in the driveway of her
residence in the Village of Alsip and inquired about the
warrant. Plaintiff told Officer Brongiel that the warrant had
been executed and offered to produce a copy of the December
18, 2015, Order from her home. According to the complaint,
Brongiel “contacted Alsip dispatch to verify the
status” of the warrant and “was advised said
warrant remained outstanding.” Compl. at ¶ 21.
Brongiel refused to allow plaintiff to retrieve her copy of
the Order and instead took her into custody.
then drove plaintiff to a location on the border of the
Village of Alsip and the Village of Oak Lawn, where he
transferred her into the custody of Officer Carlson of the
Oak Lawn Police Department. Officer Carlson contacted Oak
Lawn Dispatch and, like Officer Brongiel, was advised that
the warrant remained outstanding. Officer Carlson then
transported plaintiff to the Oak Lawn Police Department
Lockup. Plaintiff alleges that throughout this time, she
repeatedly told the officers that the warrant had been
executed and that she was in possession of a copy of the
Order. Plaintiff repeatedly requested permission to contact
her brother so that her brother could bring a copy of the
Order to the Oak Lawn Police Station. Her requests were
denied. Plaintiff also advised Officer Carlson that she
suffered from an anxiety disorder requiring medication and
requested permission to contact her brother so that her
brother could bring her medication. This request was likewise
was placed in a cell at the Oak Lawn Police Department at
around noon the same day. Over the next two hours,
plaintiff's brother contacted the Oak Lawn Police
Department to advise them of the Order stating that the
warrant had been executed, but Officer Carlson and/or other
officers of the Oak Lawn Police Department “continued
to refuse to receive said Court Order” and continued to
detain plaintiff. Compl. at ¶ 50. Shortly before 3:00
p.m., plaintiff complained of pain in her chest and side. She
was transferred to a hospital emergency room ten minutes
later, where she was treated for an aggravation of her
anxiety disorder and returned to the Oak Lawn Police
Department shortly after 7:00 p.m. She remained in the
custody of the Oak Lawn Police Department until her
appearance at a hearing pursuant to the warrant in the
Circuit Court of Cook County at 8:35 the following morning.
The judge determined that the warrant had been executed on
December 18, 2015, and entered an order stating that all
warrants issued in plaintiff's cause prior to the hearing
date were quashed and recalled. Plaintiff was released from
custody, and this lawsuit followed.
complaint alleges that Officers Brongiel, Carlson, unknown
others, and the Villages of Alsip and Oak Lawn falsely
arrested and falsely imprisoned plaintiff in violation of the
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment. She also alleges that
Officers Carlson and unknown others, and the Village of Oak
Lawn, denied her medical care in violation of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments. Finally, she asserts against all
defendants state law claims for intentional infliction of
emotional distress and false imprisonment. Against the
municipal defendants, plaintiff also pleads counts captioned
respondeat superior and indemnification. Defendants Brongiel
and the Village of Alsip have answered the complaint.
Defendants Carlson and the Village of Oak Lawn (“the
Village”) have moved to dismiss the claims directed to
them: false arrest and false imprisonment in violation of the
Constitution and Illinois state law; denial of medical care
in violation of the Constitution; and intentional infliction
of emotional distress (“IIED”). For the reasons
that follow, the motion is granted.
motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint, not
its merits. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d
1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). I assume the truth of
plaintiff's factual allegations and draw all reasonable
inferences in her favor. Id. at 1521.
raise several arguments for dismissal. First, they assert
that the plaintiff's own allegations establish probable
cause for her arrest, eviscerating her Fourth Amendment and
Illinois wrongful arrest claims. At a minimum, defendants
continue, the alleged facts show that Officer Carlson had
“arguable probable cause” for her arrest, so he
is qualifiedly immune from liability for the alleged
constitutional violations. Next, defendants argue that
plaintiff's allegations do not state an actionable claim
for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need or
IIED. Defendants' final argument is that there is no
basis for municipal liability because even assuming that the
complaint pleads a constitutional violation by Carlson, it
fails to allege any facts suggesting the existence of a
municipal policy, custom, or practice as required to hold the
Village liable under Monell v. New York City Dept. of
Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978), and because
each of her substantive state law claims is subject to
dismissal. Plaintiff offers no response to defendants'
argument concerning Monell liability, but she
disputes their remaining arguments seriatim.
with the issue of probable cause, since its existence
“is an absolute defense” to both federal and
state claims based on a wrongful arrest. Mustafa v. City
of Chicago, 442 F.3d 544, 547 (7th Cir. 2006) (probable
cause defeats claims for false arrest and false imprisonment;
Stokes v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 599
F.3d 617, 626 (7th Cir. 2010) (same under Illinois law). An
officer has probable cause to arrest when the totality of the
facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge
objectively support a reasonable belief that the individual
has committed a crime. Holmes v. Village of Hoffman
Estates, 511 F.3d 673, 679 (7th Cir. 2007).
“Qualified immunity is available if there is
‘arguable probable cause' for the arrest.
Muhammad v. Pearson, 900 F.3d 898, 908 (7th Cir.
outset, it bears noting that plaintiff does not allege that
Carlson was involved in the decision to arrest her. Instead,
she states that Carlson took custody of her after
she was detained by Officer Brongiel. See Compl. at
¶ 25 (Officer Brongiel took plaintiff into custody at
her home). According to the complaint, Brongiel transferred
custody of plaintiff to Carlson on a street corner at the
border of Alsip and Oak Lawn. Id. at ¶¶
26-27. There, Carlson contacted the Oak Lawn police
department and learned-just as Officer Brongiel had from the
Alsip police department-that a warrant for her arrest was
outstanding. Id. at ¶¶ 28, 21. Carlson
then transported plaintiff to the Village lockup.
Id. at ¶ 28. These facts do not easily lend
themselves to a claim of false arrest against Carlson, who
had no role in plaintiff's initial arrest and took
affirmative steps to confirm that her custody was lawful
prior to taking custody of her. Those steps yielded
information supporting probable cause. Moreover, unlike in
plaintiff's central authority, McMurry v.
Sheahan, No. 95 C 999, 1996 WL 296585 (N.D. Ill. May 31,
1996) (Gettleman, J.), plaintiff neither alleges nor offers
facts to suggest that Carlson knew or should have known that
the information he obtained from his fellow officers was
unreliable. Cf. id. at *7. (computerized system
showing outstanding warrants was allegedly known to be
“an utter failure and cannot be relied upon, ”
and “routinely leads to false
a person arrested pursuant to a facially valid warrant cannot
prevail in a § 1983 suit for false arrest, ”
unless the arresting officer knew the warrant was invalid.
Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 443-44 (7th Cir.
2013) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137 143
(1979)). Plaintiff insists that she told Carlson-as she had
Brongiel-that her arrest warrant had been executed, and that
she could prove it by showing them the Order. But even with
the Order in hand, Officer Carlson would have been faced with
facially contradictory evidence: information he obtained from
his fellow officers indicating that a warrant for
plaintiff's arrest was outstanding, and a judicial order
that, on its face, appeared to show the contrary.
“Courts, and not the police, should determine whether
to credit a suspect's claim of innocence.”
Dakhlallah v. Zima, 42 F.Supp.3d 901, 909 (N.D. Ill.
2014). See also Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756,
762 (7th Cir. 2007) (suspect's denial of guilt
“does not negate probable cause for his arrest”).
While an officer “may not close his eyes to facts that
would clarify the situation, ” McBride v.
Grice, 576 F.3d 703, 707 (7th Cir. 2009), the Fourth
Amendment does not require officers in the field to resolve
inconsistencies in the facts they observe prior to taking a
suspect into custody, see Leaver v. Shortess, 844
F.3d 665, 669 (7th Cir. 2016) (conflicting information
uncovered in police investigation does not
“conclusively negate” probable cause). See
also McBride 576 F.3d at 708 (“[t]here is no
constitutional or statutory requirement that before an arrest
can be made the police must conduct a trial.”) (quoting
Gramenos v. Jewel Companies, Inc., 797 F.2d 432, 439
(7th Cir. 1986)); Dakhlallah 42 F.Supp.3d at 921
(N.D. Ill. 2014) (information arresting officer obtained from
law enforcement database supported probable cause,
notwithstanding suspect's offer to provide copy of a
court order showing inaccuracy of that information).
minimum, Officer Carlson is entitled to qualified immunity
because a reasonable officer in his situation could have
believed that he had probable cause to detain plaintiff
“at least long enough to figure out definitively”
whether plaintiff's arrest warrant was still outstanding.
See Muhammad v. Pearson, 900 F.3d 898, 909 (7th Cir.
2018) (officer executing search warrant had “arguable
probable cause” to arrest individual who “did not
look like the picture” the officer had of the suspect,
but who met other criteria known about the suspect and had no
identification to prove who he was or where he lived).
Plaintiff argues that qualified immunity is inappropriate on
the facts alleged, but her cited authorities confirm the
opposite. See Fleming v. Livingston County, Ill.,
674 F.3d 874, 879 (7th Cir. 2012) (granting qualified
immunity to arresting officer who “reasonably, albeit
possibly mistakenly” believed probable cause existed);
Duckett v. City of Cedar Park, Tex., 950 F.2d 272,
278 (5th Cir. 1992) (granting qualified immunity to officer
who arrested the plaintiff based on “a computer
check” that revealed an outstanding warrant,
notwithstanding the plaintiff's insistence that the
warrant had been withdrawn); Lauer v. Dahlberg, 717
F.Supp 612 (N.D. Ill. 1989)(granting qualified immunity to
officer who arrested the plaintiff ...