N.D.Ill.: Ptf adequately pled that def officers used SWs as excuse to commit theft and robberies of search targets

Plaintiff adequately pled that defendant officers, members of CPD Team 6713, were engaged in a theft and robbery ring where they used bogus and apparently real search warrants to rob their victims. Motion to dismiss for failing to state a claim is denied. Robles v. City of Chicago, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9022 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 18, 2019):

… Robles alleges unequivocally that “the Defendant-Officers” obtained a bogus warrant, unlawfully searched his home, and stole his property, and his response brief confirms that the term “Defendant-Officers” encompasses all of the individual defendants in this case. Thus, each of the defendant officers is alleged to have been a member of a team that collectively conspired to, and did, jointly rob Robles by obtaining a search warrant with fabricated evidence and seizing cash, firearms, and other valuable property found in the home. Each defendant is alleged to have participated personally in the unlawful search and in the seizure and theft of Robles’ property. That is enough to put each defendant on notice as to “what he … did that is asserted to be wrongful.” Knight, 725 F.3d at 818. See, e.g., Ephrain v. Gossett, No. 15 CV 3359, 2016 WL 3390659, *3 (C.D. Ill. June 17, 2016) (rejecting challenge to collective allegations about conduct of “Orange Crush” tactical team in conduct of shakedown prisoner strip searches where plaintiff alleged that team operated as a group and conspired together). The complaint does not, it is true, allege how much money or other property each defendant carried out of the home, or what each did in connection with securing or executing the bogus warrant, or other details of precisely what each defendant did in the course of the unlawful search, but it plainly alleges that all of them participated in the entire episode. That suffices to alert the defendants as to what they have to defend against; a complaint needn’t allege every detail about each individual’s participation to plausibly allege their involvement or to put them on notice of the nature of the claim. In the context of a claim where an entire team of individuals is alleged to have worked together to execute a scheme to rob the plaintiff, the defendants do not need allegations as to who searched the kitchen and who the bedroom to understand the nature of the plaintiff’s claim.

Further, there is nothing implausible here about the allegation that each of the defendants participated in the unlawful search. The defendants are alleged to have been assigned to a single operational unit, so it may reasonably be inferred that they worked regularly together and would not, when executing a search warrant, stand idly by while other officers carried out the search. This is not a scenario where numerous unaffiliated officers arrive at a scene independently and then engage based on an ad hoc assignment or on their own initiative; in such cases, it may be less clear as to which officers personally participated in the challenged conduct. …

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