United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Byrne brings claims against the City of Chicago and Chicago
police officer John Schuler under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
Illinois law. After Schuler moved to dismiss the original
complaint, Doc. 22, and the City moved for a more definite
statement, Doc. 24, Byrne filed an amended complaint, Doc.
38. Defendants move separately under Civil Rule 12(b)(6) to
dismiss the amended complaint. Docs. 42, 44. The motions are
granted in part and denied in part.
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth
of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual
allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn
v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th
Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents
attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the
complaint and referred to in it, and information that is
subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with
additional facts set forth in Byrne's briefs opposing
dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are
consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v.
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). The facts are
set forth as favorably to Byrne as those materials allow.
See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc., 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th
Cir. 2016). In setting forth the facts at the pleading stage,
the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See Goldberg
v. United States, 881 F.3d 529, 531 (7th Cir. 2018).
February 25, 2018, Schuler and Byrne, who were involved in a
romantic relationship, drank alcohol at a bar to the point of
intoxication. Doc. 38 at ¶¶ 37, 40-41, 44. Later at
Schuler's residence, Schuler verbally abused Byrne.
Id. at ¶¶ 45-46. Despite knowing that
Byrne was intoxicated and that she had no experience with
firearms, Schuler placed his service weapon on a table in
front of her and said: “You should use this on
yourself.” Id. at ¶¶ 47-49. At the
time, Schuler knew that the weapon, a semi-automatic handgun,
was loaded with the safety off. Id. at ¶¶
50-52. Byrne decided to go home. Id. at ¶ 53.
last thing Byrne remembers from that night is leaning over to
put on her boots. Ibid. Schuler's weapon
discharged and struck her in the chin, dislodging pieces of
her jaw, tongue, teeth, and cheek. Id. at
¶¶ 54, 57. Byrne does not know whether Schuler shot
her or whether she shot herself, so she pleads both facts in
the alternative, as permitted by Rule 8(d)(2). Id.
at ¶¶ 55-56. Byrne sustained serious and permanent
injuries, requiring her to undergo several intensive and
painful reconstructive surgeries. Id. at ¶ 59.
to that evening, the Chicago Police Department
(“CPD”) had received over fifty complaints about
Schuler. Id. at ¶ 8-9. Numerous Chicago
entities investigated the complaints, including the
Independent Police Review Authority (“IPRA”) and
the Bureau of Internal Affairs (“BIA”).
Id. at ¶ 10. Based on those complaints, the
City knew or should have known that Schuler had a substance
abuse problem with alcohol. Id. at ¶ 12. Two
complaints, one in 1998 and the other in 2008, involved
Schuler driving under the influence. Id. at
¶¶ 13-14, 16-17. As to the 1998 incident, Schuler
was arrested and charged with a DUI, and received a five-day
suspension from the force. Id. at ¶¶ 13,
15. As to the 2008 incident, Schuler received a five-day
suspension. Id. at ¶ 19. Chicago police
officers typically receive a thirty-day suspension for a
first DUI, followed by termination for a second. Id.
at ¶¶ 20-21.
City also knew or should have known that Schuler had a
history of excessive force and violence. At least twenty-six
of the complaints alleged excessive force. Id. at
¶ 11. Another complaint alleged a May 2012 incident in
which Schuler got drunk and threw a full beer bottle at a
bartender, striking her in the head and injuring her.
Id. at ¶ 23. The bartender sued Schuler and the
City, and the City settled for $75, 000. Id. at
¶¶ 22, 27. The bartender was dissuaded from filing
a criminal complaint against Schuler by other Chicago police
officers, who implied that they would shut down her bar and
falsely accuse her of stealing Schuler's cell phone.
Id. at ¶ 25. The City did not discipline
Schuler for this incident, but instead promoted him to
sergeant, id. at ¶¶ 28-29, and even placed
him in charge of investigating misconduct by other officers,
id. at ¶ 61. In another incident, an
intoxicated Schuler threw a pool cue, made threatening
remarks, and displayed his service weapon to patrons at a
bar. Id. at ¶ 30. When frequenting bars,
Schuler typically wore his service weapon tucked into his
waistband. Id. at ¶¶ 30, 43.
City also knew or should have known that Schuler had a
history of violence against Byrne in particular. Id.
at ¶ 31. In November 2016, Schuler dragged Byrne down
the stairs of his home and threw her out the door.
Id. at ¶ 32. Schuler's brother, a CPD
officer assigned to the BIA, reported this incident to the
IPRA, id. at ¶ 33, but the City did not
discipline Schuler, id. at ¶ 34. On numerous
occasions from September 2017 to January 2018, Schuler, while
intoxicated, held his gun to Byrne's head. Id.
at ¶ 35.
to Byrne, the City's refusal to meaningfully discipline
Schuler for these incidents manifests a custom and unwritten
policy of cover-ups, preferential treatment, and protection
of police officers. Id. at ¶ 62. Had CPD
properly disciplined or terminated Schuler, he would not have
had access to a firearm at the time of Byrne's 2018
shooting. Id. at ¶ 63. The City's failure
to discipline Schuler encouraged him to act with impunity.
Id. at ¶ 64.
Section 1983 Claims
Claims Against Schuler
§ 1983 claims against Schuler allege excessive force
under the Fourth Amendment and violation of her right to
bodily integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due
Process Clause. Id. at ¶¶ 106-118. Schuler
argues that the complaint's allegations do not permit a
reasonable inference that he acted “under color of
state law, ” as ...