United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff Donald Gaddis claims his
civil rights were violated when he was falsely arrested by
police officers employed by the City of Marion, Illinois
(Doc. 1). Now before the Court are Defendants Stearns,
Spinka, City of Marion, and Dawn Tondini’s Motion to
Dismiss and Strike Counts I, II, and IV pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(f) (Doc. 23) and
Gaddis’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 21).
For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss and Strike
is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part and
the Motion for Preliminary Injunction is
to the Amended Complaint (Doc. 20), Gaddis, McCombs, and
Grant are neighbors living on the same street in Marion,
Illinois. The neighbors are involved in ongoing disputes that
began prior to July 2017 and resulted in McCombs seeking two
orders of protection against Gaddis. One such order was
temporarily granted in November 2017. All orders of
protection were dismissed as of June 29, 2018. On that date,
McCombs and Grant contacted the Marion Police Department and
told them that Gaddis had violated a protective order. The
responding officers, Tom Stearns and Logan Spinka, arrested
Gaddis, and he was detained at the Williamson County Jail. He
was released within 3 hours when it was determined that no
protective order was in effect at the time of his arrest.
Count 1 of the Amended Complaint, Gaddis alleges that he was
falsely arrested by Spinka and Stearns as they could have
easily ascertained whether a protective order was in place
prior to his arrest. He also alleges they knew they did not
have probable cause and knew that McCombs and Grant were
biased against him. In Count II, Gaddis asserts a Monell
v. Dep’t of Soc. Serv. Of City of New York, 436
U.S. 658 (1978) claim against the City of Marion, asserting
it has a policy and practice of failing to adequately train,
supervise, and control its police officers. Count III is a
false arrest claim against Grant and McCombs. In Count IV,
Gaddis seeks injunctive relief to prevent City of Marion
police officers from arresting him based on statements made
by McCombs and/or Grant. Defendants Stearns, Spinka, City of
Marion, and Dawn Tondini (the City of Marion’s Chief of
Police) seek dismissal of Counts I, II, IV, and seek to
strike the prayer for punitive damages in Count II and the
“official capacity” claims against Defendants
Stearns and Spinka.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6), a Complaint must “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Lodholtz v.
York Risk Servs. Group, Inc., 778 F.3d 635, 639 (7th
Cir. 2015) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (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.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[W]hen ruling on
a defendant’s motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as
true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007). The Court must also draw all reasonable inferences
and facts in favor of the plaintiff. See Vesely v.
Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664 (7th Cir. 2014).
first argue that Gaddis fails to state a false arrest claim.
In order to state such a claim under the Fourth Amendment,
Gaddis must adequately allege that he was arrested without
probable cause. Hurt v. Wise, 880 F.3d 831, 841 (7th
Cir. 2018). “A police officer has probable cause to
arrest when, at the moment the decision is made, the facts
and circumstances within his knowledge, and of which he has
reasonably trustworthy information would warrant a prudent
person in believing that suspect has committed or was
committing an offense.” Fleming v. Livingston
Cty., 674 F.3d 874, 878-9 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Qian v. Kautz, 168 F.3d 949, 953 (7th Cir. 1999)).
Gaddis alleges the officers did not have probable cause and
knew that his neighbors were biased against him. This is
sufficient to state a viable Fourth Amendment false arrest
claim. See Askew v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 894,
895 (7th Cir. 2006) (holding that while the police may arrest
when a witness provides probable cause, that principle can be
limited when the police know that the witness has a grudge
against the accused).
next argue that Gaddis’ Monell claim must be
dismissed because he failed to allege a sufficient pattern of
misconduct. Gaddis alleges that the City of Marion fails to
train, supervise, and control its police officers.
Municipalities can be held liable pursuant to § 1983 if
they have an official policy and/or unofficial customs that
cause constitutional violations. Monell, 436 U.S. at
690-1. “[T]he inadequacy of police training may serve
as the basis of § 1983 liability only where the failure
to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of
persons with whom the police come into contact.”
City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388
(1989). Gaddis’ allegations are sufficient to state a
Monell claim against the City of Marion at the
further contend that Gaddis is not entitled to the injunctive
relief he seeks in Count IV. Gaddis seeks prospective
injunctive relief in order to prevent his arrest based on the
statements of his neighbors. Defendants argue Gaddis lacks
standing to seek injunctive relief, that he has an adequate
remedy at law, and that he fails to state a claim for
injunctive relief. The Court agrees that Gaddis lacks
standing because he alleges only an abstract and speculative
injury – that at some future date his neighbors will
call the police or institute some judicial proceedings and
that he will be arrested and thereby injured. See City of
Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 101-102 (1983). His
injury is not real and immediate but conjectural and
hypothetical. Id.; see also O’Shea v.
Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1975); Capehart v.
Terrell, 695 F.3d 681, 684 (7th Cir. 2012). As such, he
has no standing to seek injunctive relief. Accordingly, the
Motion for Preliminary Injunction must be
DENIED and Count IV will be
DISMISSED with prejudice.
Defendants argue Gaddis may not seek punitive damages in
Count II and that his “official capacity” claims
against Stearns and Spinka in Count I are not consistent with
§ 1983 liability. Gaddis may not seek punitive damages
against the City of Marion. City of Newport v. Fact
Concerts, Inc., 453 U.S. 247, 271 (1981) (“we find
that considerations of history and policy do not support
exposing a municipality to punitive damages for the bad-faith
actions of its officials” pursuant to § 1983);
Swanigan v. City of Chicago, 775 F.3d 953, 961 n.5
(7th Cir. 2015). His official capacity claims against the
police officers are essentially a suit against their
employer, the City of Marion. Such official capacity claims
are redundant to the Monell claim against the city
in Count II and there is no respondeat superior
liability in § 1983 litigation. Rossi v. City of
Chicago, 790 F.3d 729, 737 (7th Cir. 2015).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) permits the Court to strike any
“redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Accordingly, Gaddis’ prayer for punitive
damages in Count II and his official capacity claims against
Spinka and Stearns are STRICKEN.
foregoing reasons, Defendants Stearns, Spinka, City of
Marion, and Tondini’s Motion to Dismiss and Strike
Counts I, II, and IV pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(f) (Doc. 23) is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part and Gaddis’ Motion for
Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 21) is DENIED.
Count IV of the Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with
prejudice, Defendant Dawn Tondini is
DISMISSED, the prayer for punitive ...