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Hill v. Harrington

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

August 25, 2019

Charles Hill and Donna Hill, Plaintiffs,
C. Harrington, Walls, Elena B. McKenna, Scott P. Liebhaber, Robert W. Purvis, Matthew M. Pufpaf, John A. Gartner, David M. Rodriguez, Alan P. Lasch, Kevin S. Geyer, Steven E. Suvada, City of Chicago, Defendants.


          Honorable Edmond E. Chang, United States District Judge.

         Chicagoans Charles and Donna Hill lived in an apartment right upstairs from their relative, Keitrion Lewis. R. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 8-10.[1] They allege that, in August 2016, two Illinois Department of Corrections parole officers and several Chicago Police Department officers entered and searched their home without a warrant and without their consent, apparently mistaking it for Lewis's apartment. Id. ¶¶ 14-16. The Hills now sue the individual officers and the City of Chicago for violating their Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully entering and searching their home and seizing their property. Defendants Harrington and Walls have moved to dismiss Counts 2 and 4 of the Complaint, arguing that those counts are redundant of Counts 1 and 3, respectively. R. 54, Mot. Dismiss. For the reasons explained below, Harrington and Walls's motion to dismiss is granted in part. Count 4 is dismissed, but Count 2 remains.

         I. Background

         For the purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true the allegations in the Complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In August 2016, the Hills lived at 4436 West Jackson Boulevard, on the second floor. Compl. ¶ 8. Lewis, lived on the first floor of the same building. Id. ¶ 10. At the time, Lewis was on parole under the supervision of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Id. ¶ 9. Although the Hills and Lewis are related, their respective apartments were separate: “distinct units, with different means of ingress and egress and separated by locked doors.” Id. 18.

         In August 2016, Defendants Harrington and another parole agent with the last name Walls were serving as Lewis's parole officers. Compl. ¶ 9. Elena McKenna, Scott Liebhaber, Robert Purvis, and Matthew Pufpaf were members of the Chicago Police Department. Id. ¶ 6. John Gartner, David Rodriguez, Alan Lasch, and Kevin Geyer were CPD supervisors. Id. ¶ 12. Steven Suvada was a CPD detective. Id. ¶ 13.

         The Hills allege that, on August 31, 2016, all of the individual Defendants- except Detective Suvada-entered their apartment without a warrant or any other legal justification. Compl. ¶¶ 14-17. While they were there, the Defendants searched the Hills' apartment and back porch, “leaving the home in disarray.” Id. ¶¶ 19-20. They also cut the lock on Charles's gun locker and seized his firearms and ammunition. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. During the time that the Defendants searched the home, the Hills were not allowed to go inside it. Id. ¶¶ 23-25.

         After the search, Charles Hill was unable to return to work as a part-time security guard because his firearms and ammunition had been seized. Compl. ¶ 27. His firearm and ammunition have not been returned to him. Id. ¶¶ 27-28. The Hills allege that in addition to the loss of the firearms, ammunition, and gun-locker lock, they “sustained humiliation and indignities, and suffered great mental and emotional pain and suffering.” Id. ¶ 30.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint generally need only include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This short and plain statement must “give the defendant fair notice of what the … claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) cleaned up).[2] The Seventh Circuit has explained that this rule “reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which is intended to ‘focus litigation on the merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities that might keep plaintiffs out of court.” Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)).

         “A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). These allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The allegations that are entitled to the assumption of truth are those that are factual, rather than mere legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

         III. Analysis

         Harrington and Walls argue that Counts 2 and 4 of the Complaint should be dismissed because they are redundant with Counts 1 and 3. The Court will discuss each in turn.

         A. Claim 2 (Scope and Duration)

         Harrington and Wells argue that Counts 1 and 2 are really the same, and thus that Count 2 should be dismissed. Mot. Dismiss at 4-5 (“[The] alleged unlawful entry into Plaintiffs' home is where Plaintiffs' alleged injury occurs in both Count I and Count II.”). The Hills, on the other hand, maintain that although the claims are both for violations of their Fourth Amendment rights, they are chronologically and legally distinct. R. 60, Pls.' Resp. at 3-5 (“Count I pertains to the illegal entry and Count II pertains to the illegal scope and duration of the police occupation of the home.”). Put another way, Count 1 seeks recovery for the Defendants' illegal entry into the home, while Count 2 claims “that defendants overstayed their occupation of the Hill home and performed a thorough, invasive search of the home even after it was clear they were in the wrong place.” Id. at 3. The Hills point ...

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