Thompson v. Madison Cnty. Sheriff's Office, Case No. 20-cv-00128-JPG

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Southern District of Illinois
Writing for the CourtGILBERT, District Judge
Docket NumberCase No. 20-cv-00128-JPG
Decision Date21 May 2020

and JOHN DOE 2, Defendants.

Case No. 20-cv-00128-JPG


May 21, 2020


GILBERT, District Judge:

Plaintiff Bennie L. Thompson, a detainee at Madison County Jail located in Edwardsville, Illinois, filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff claims he was unlawfully arrested and detained by Madison County officers on September 14, 2019. (Id. at p. 6). He seeks money damages and release from confinement.1 (Id.).

The Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints and filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks money damages from a defendant who is immune from relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations in the pro se Complaint are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

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The Complaint

Plaintiff sets forth the following allegations in the Complaint: On September 14, 2019, two unknown officers (John Doe 1 and 2) from Madison County Sheriff's Office broke down the side door of Plaintiff's home and entered with their guns drawn. (Doc. 1, p. 6). When Plaintiff asked the officers to state the reason for their warrantless intrusion, Officers Doe 1 and 2 informed Plaintiff that he was under arrest for beating Sue Ann Buchanan. (Id.). At the time, Plaintiff was sitting in his living room recliner, and Ms. Buchanan was sitting at the kitchen table. (Id.). Ms. Buchanan told the officers that Plaintiff never beat her, and she had no marks on her body. (Id.). The officers arrested Plaintiff anyway. (Id.). They placed Plaintiff into a police car and transported him to Madison County Jail, where he has been detained ever since. (Id.). In the process, the officers left his home unlocked, and "everything" was taken in a burglary. (Id.). On December 10, 2019, Plaintiff was assaulted by a convicted felon at the Jail. (Id.).

Based on the allegations, the Court designates the following claims in this pro se action:

Count 1: Unlawful search and/or seizure claim against Defendants for entering Plaintiff's home without a warrant and arresting him on or around September 14, 2019.

Count 2: Failure-to-protect claim against Defendants for housing Plaintiff near a convicted felon who assaulted him on or around December 10, 2019.

Count 3: Property loss claim against Defendants for causing Plaintiff to lose his possessions in a burglary that followed their arrest of him on or around September 14, 2019.

Any claim(s) encompassed by the allegations in the Complaint but not addressed herein is/are considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under Twombly.2

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Preliminary Dismissal

Plaintiff names the Madison County Sheriff's Office as a defendant. This entity is not a "person" subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's designation of the defendant may represent an attempt to hold a municipality liable for his injuries. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690, 694 (1978). However, municipal liability under Section 1983 arises from the execution of a government policy or custom that causes a constitutional injury. Id. Plaintiff points to no such policy or custom. Madison County Sheriff's Office shall be dismissed with prejudice from this action.

Count 1

The Fourth Amendment protects against all unreasonable searches and seizures and draws a "firm line at the entrance to the house." Anderson v. City of West Bend Police Dep't, 774 F. Supp. 2d 925, 939 (E.D. Wis. 2011) (quoting Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 590 (1980)). Absent probable cause and exigent circumstances, "that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant." Id. With that said, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit "police officers from making warrantless entries and searches when they reasonably believe that a person within is in need of immediate aid." Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 392 (1978). The "reasonable belief" standard is objective and requires evidence that the "'circumstances as they appeared at the moment of entry would lead a reasonable, experienced law enforcement officer to believe that someone inside the house, apartment, or hotel room required immediate assistance.'" United States v. Richardson, 208 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2000) (quoting United States v. Arch, 7 F.3d 1300, 1303-05 (7th Cir. 1993)). Although Plaintiff alleges that officers entered his home and arrested him without a warrant, Plaintiff does not allege the absence of probable cause, exigent

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circumstances, or reasonable belief that someone inside needed immediate assistance. In certain situations, a warrantless home entry is justified. For example, grounds for a warrantless entry may exist where the facts suggest that a crime of domestic violence has...

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