United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Robert A. Austin & Raapoetry LLC, Plaintiffs,
City of Chicago, Detective Lawrence Bond, Detective Jerad Tim, Sgt. J.A. Maciejewski, Jr., Uriel N. Padilla, Michael S. Mueller, & Sharon Huffman, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge
Austin and his company RAAPOETRY LLC bring this action
against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department
officers Lawrence Bond, Jerad Tim, J.A. Maciejewski Jr.,
Uriel Padilla, Michael Mueller, and Sharon Huffman for
several civil rights violations stemming from Austin’s
arrest in February of 2018. The City of Chicago moved to
dismiss the claims against it, and the defendants
collectively moved to dismiss RAAPOETRY from the case. For
the following reasons, the defendants’ motions are
granted, and except for Austin’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983
false imprisonment, conspiracy, and due process violation
claims, the Court sua sponte dismisses
Austin’s remaining claims. Defendant Lieutenant Huffman
is also dismissed from the case.
12(b)(6) motion challenges the “sufficiency of the
complaint.” Berger v. Nat. Collegiate Athletic
Assoc., 843 F.3d 285, 289 (7th Cir. 2016). 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), sufficient to provide defendant with
“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,
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.’” Boucher v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay,
Inc., 880 F.3d 362, 366 (7th Cir. 2018) (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.
Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634, 646 (7th Cir.
Robert Austin and RAAPOETRY, LLC sued defendants City of
Chicago, Detective Lawrence Bond, Detective Jerad Tim,
Sergeant J.A. Maciejewski, Jr., Officer Uriel N. Padilla,
Officer Michael S. Mueller, and Lieutenant Sharon Huffman for
several civil rights violations stemming from Austin’s
arrest in February of 2018. In his 58-page complaint, Austin
alleges that on February 8, 2018, defendants Mueller,
Padilla, and Maciejewski arrived at Austin’s home to
question him about false accusations stemming from
Austin’s interest in a WNBA player. R. 1 at 9-10.
Austin then alleges the defendants arrested him without
probable cause and transported him to the police station
without advising him of the charges against him or reading
him his Miranda rights. Id. at 11-14, 19,
26-27. Once in custody, defendants Bond and Tim interviewed
Austin about his alleged crimes. Id. at 35-36.
Austin then alleges that some or all of the defendants
altered the case incident and arrest reports to make him
appear guilty of those crimes, despite their knowledge of
exculpatory evidence. See Id . at 18-19, 35-36.
further alleges that the City of Chicago fosters an
environment that allows police officers to act with impunity.
Id. at 54. Specifically, that the police
department’s lack of an effective early warning system
to mitigate unlawful conduct by its officers and the
department’s “code of silence” led to his
constitutional violations. Id.
City of Chicago moved to dismiss Austin’s
Monell claim. The defendants also collectively moved
to dismiss RAAPOETRY from the case.
governmental entity cannot be held liable under Section 1983
for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents.
Monell v. Dep’t. of Soc. Servs. of the City of New
York. 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Instead, a plaintiff
must establish liability through the existence of (1) an
express policy; (2) an unofficial governmental practice or
custom that is widespread and well-settled, or (3) an act by
an official with final policymaking authority. See Thomas
v. Cook County Sherriff’s Dep’t., 604 F.3d
293, 303 (7th Cir. 2010). The policy or custom must be
“the moving force” behind the constitutional
violation. Estate of Sims ex rel. Sims v. County of
Bureau, 506 F.3d 509, 514 (7th Cir. 2007). The
gravamen of a Monell claim “is not individual
misconduct by police officers (that is covered elsewhere in
§ 1983), but a widespread practice that
permeates a critical mass of the institutional body.”
Rossi v. City of Chicago, 790 F.3d 729, 737 (7th
Cir. 2015). For this reason, “misbehavior by one or a
group of officials is only relevant where it can be tied to
the policy, customs, or practices of the institution as a
appears to allege both “express policy” and
“widespread practice” theories of Monell
liability. Each is addressed in turn.
express policy theory of Monell liability applies
“where a policy explicitly violates a constitutional
right when enforced.”Calhoun v. Ramsey, 408
F.3d 375, 379 (7th Cir. 2005). Austin alleges that the
officers acted pursuant to the police department’s
“code of silence, ” codified as Article V, Rule