Molina v. Latronico

Decision Date27 December 2019
Docket NumberCase No. 18-cv-6632
Citation430 F.Supp.3d 420
Parties Michele M. MOLINA, Plaintiff, v. Glenn LATRONICO (Star No. 6589) and Eric David (Star No. 6329), Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

James Patrick McKay, Jr., Law Offices of James P. McKay, Jr., Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

Jason Aaron Kanter, Illinois Attorney General, Michael Charles Stephenson, Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC, Chicago, IL, for Defendant Glenn Latronico.

Shirley Ruth Calloway, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendant Eric David.


Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge

Plaintiff brings claims against Defendants for unreasonable seizure, civil conspiracy, and other torts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various state law theories. Before the Court are Defendants' respective motions to dismiss the complaint. See generally [25]; [27]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted with respect to Counts I, II, III, V, VIII, IX, XI, XII, and XIII, and denied with respect to Counts IV, VI, VII, and X. Counts XII and XIII, along with any remaining claims against Defendants in their official capacities, are dismissed with prejudice. The case is set for further status hearing on January 15, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

I. Background1

The present litigation concerns Plaintiff Michele Molina's arrest by Defendant Eric David and at the behest of Defendant Glenn Latronico. Molina and Latronico first met in August 2015, and Molina met David soon thereafter in January 2016. Although the arrest occurred in September 2016, the details of Molina's background with Defendants are provided for context.

A. August 2015 Accident

Molina and Latronico first became acquainted in August 2015. [24, ¶¶ 6–9.] Molina, at the time a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer, was driving on the highway while off duty and saw a traffic accident. [Id. , ¶ 7.] She called emergency assistance, and Latronico, an Illinois State Trooper, responded to the scene. [Id. , ¶¶ 8–9.] Latronico took down Molina's phone number, and the two began exchanging "friendly text messages relating to work, pets and social interests." [Id. , ¶¶ 9–10.] Latronico then asked Molina on dates and sent "unsolicited photographs of himself." [Id. , ¶ 11.] By September 2015, he asked Molina for her home address, and in November he sent Molina a naked picture of himself. [Id. , ¶¶ 12, 14.] Molina neither told Latronico where she lived nor did she reciprocate by sending "inappropriate photographs of herself." [Id. , ¶¶ 13, 16.] In fact, the two never dated nor had "intimate physical relations." [Id. , ¶ 18.]

B. January 2016 Traffic Stop and Aftermath

Molina first met David, also an Illinois State Trooper, in January 2016. [Id. , ¶ 19.] David pulled Molina over on the highway with the "intent to ticket and/or charge" Molina, presumably for a traffic offense. [Id. , ¶¶ 19–20.] In an attempt to get out of the ticket, Molina name-dropped Latronico. [Id. , ¶ 21.] David and Latronico then talked on the phone, after which David refused to let Molina off the hook. [Id. , ¶ 22.] Molina was saved, however, by some CPD officers who arrived on the scene, told David to leave, and "handled the matter." [Id. , ¶ 23.] The CPD did not charge or cite Molina. [Id. , ¶ 24.]

When Molina got home, she had a telephone conversation with Latronico about the stop, focusing on David's demeanor. [Id. , ¶ 25.] Molina told Latronico that his phone call with David seemed to exacerbate David's aggressive demeanor and that he "made the situation worse." [Id. , ¶ 27.] These statements offended Latronico and he hung up on Molina. [Id. , ¶ 28.]

But this wasn't the last that Molina heard from Latronico. "[O]ut of the blue" he reached out to her in September 2016, asking "to sleep at her home as a personal favor." [Id. , ¶ 29.] He peppered her with text messages asking for her address and for permission to sleep at her home and "friend requested" Molina on the social-media application Snapchat.2 [Id. , ¶¶ 30, 33, 32.] Molina pointedly refused to tell Latronico her address, and at one point responded angrily, but she did accept his Snapchat request. [Id. , ¶¶ 34, 36, 37.]

C. September 30, 2016 Arrest

On September 30, 2016, Molina went out to the Blue Light Chicago, and took a "snap" of the exterior. [Id. , ¶¶ 38–39.] Latronico saw the image on Snapchat, took a screenshot of the Blue Light's image, and sent the screenshot to David. [Id. , ¶¶ 40–42.] David, in turn, drove to the Blue Light to wait for Molina. [Id. , ¶43.] Molina left the Blue Light and began driving home, trailing her boyfriend's car. [Id. , ¶ 44.]

David pulled Molina over a few blocks away from the Blue Light, explaining that she had committed some kind of "minor traffic violation." [Id. , ¶ 45–46.] Molina's boyfriend, also a CPD officer, pulled over and tried to walk over to Molina's car. [Id. , ¶ 49.] David repeatedly ordered Molina's boyfriend back to his car, while telling Molina that he thought he recognized her and asking Molina about her boyfriend. [Id. , ¶¶ 47, 50, 52–54.] Somewhat inexplicably, Molina name-dropped Latronico again, to which David responded, "Latronico? That's my boy." [Id. , ¶¶ 55–56.] David then kibitzed with Molina "about her work, dating life, Latronico and the traffic stop for over twenty minutes." [Id. , ¶ 57.] While David was stalling, he began getting incoming text messages and snaps from Latronico. [Id. , ¶¶ 58–59.] According to Molina, David and Latronico stayed in contact in order to plan and execute a plot wherein David would "detain and arrest" Molina and "accuse [her] of committing certain traffic violations." [Id. , ¶¶ 60–61, 64–67.] Pursuant to this plan, David conducted a field sobriety test (FST), even though Molina "did not show any signs of alcohol consumption." [Id. , ¶¶ 66, 68, 89.] At this point, "additional Illinois State Troopers" arrived, but David shooed all but one of them away. [Id. , 70–72.]

David told the remaining trooper that he recognized Molina from the January 2016 traffic stop, explaining "we just got confirmation from her that we stopped her a while ago on a very similar situation."3 [Id. , ¶¶ 72–73.] David told Molina that he was upset that he had let her go in January, and that, by his lights, the previous stop had not gone well. [Id. , ¶¶ 77, 75.] In fact, David admitted that he forced her to do the FST because of the January stop. [Id. , ¶ 76.] David then handcuffed Molina and placed her in the back of his police car. [Id. , ¶ 78.] Even though Molina "did not show any signs of alcohol consumption," David spent an hour pressuring Molina to take a breathalyzer test. [Id. , ¶¶ 78–79, 86.] Throughout this hour, during which Molina was handcuffed in the back of the police car, David exchanged text messages with Latronico about how they were going to proceed in their plot to arrest her. [Id. , ¶¶81–83.] Molina's boyfriend then engaged David in conversation, during which David explained that he only conducted the FST because of Molina's conduct during the January 2016 stop, and that he was upset because during that stop she exhibited "completely unacceptable behavior." [Id. , ¶¶ 84–85, 88.]

After an hour of cajoling, Molina submitted to a breathalyzer analysis. [Id. , ¶ 90.] David immediately announced that he was taking her into custody and drove her to the First District Chicago Police Station, located in the South Loop.4 [Id. , ¶¶ 91–94.] Upon arrival at the First District, however, Molina "was not processed, booked or charged"—instead, David left her alone in the parking lot, handcuffed in the back of the police car for half an hour. [Id. , ¶¶ 100, 95–98.] When David returned, he informed her that they were going elsewhere. [Id. , ¶ 99.]

David disabled the police car's dashboard camera (dashcam), and never turned it back on. [Id. , ¶¶ 101–02.] He started driving to the Sixteenth District Chicago Police Station, located on the 5100 block of Milwaukee Avenue (i.e. , on the other side of the city). [Id. , ¶ 103.] David took the scenic route, driving through side streets and texting and calling Latronico all the while. [Id. , ¶¶ 104–105.] David then pulled out a laptop and began playing dashcam footage taken of Molina during the January 2016 stop, which David mockingly dubbed Molina's "greatest hits." [Id. , ¶¶ 105–06.] Molina "experienced anguish, humiliation, distress, fear and anxiety," and tearfully begged David to turn the footage off. [Id. , ¶¶ 107, 109.] David instead "laughed, made demeaning remarks, and continued to let the dashcam footage play." [Id. , ¶ 108.] David, on the phone with Latronico, mocked Molina, telling Latronico that "he had [Molina] in his custody, she's being real nice now, she's even crying back there, and she's not so uppity." [Id. , ¶¶ 110–11.] Though Molina could only hear David's side of the conversation, she inferred through his snickering, laughter, and demeaning remarks that Latronico and David were mocking her together. [Id. , ¶¶ 113–14.] At long last, David and Molina arrived at the Sixteenth District Station. David again left Molina locked in the backseat of his police car as he went into the station and loitered for 20 minutes. [Id. , ¶ 115.] He came back and said that Molina was not going to be booked or charged, unlocked the backseat, and removed Molina's handcuffs. [Id. , ¶¶ 116–117.]

Unfortunately, Molina's troubles did not end there. Molina asked David to call her boyfriend or a rideshare for her, but David refused to "let [her] out of his custody and insisted that he drive her" home.5 [Id. , ¶¶ 118–19.] Even though Molina said that she did not want to be near David or give him her address, he "ordered [Molina] back into his police car." [Id. , ¶ 121.] Molina, intimidated and scared of David, did not feel free to leave and thus complied with his order; David did not, at that time, handcuff Molina. [Id. , ¶¶ 123–24; 122.] While driving her back, David repeatedly demanded to speak to...

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