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Forgue v. City of Chicago

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 17, 2017

Ronald Forgue, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
City of Chicago, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued September 27, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15-cv-08385 - Charles R. Norgle, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Flaum and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

          Flaum, Circuit Judge

         From 1986 to 2015, Plaintiff Ronald Forgue was an officer with the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"). Forgue alleges that, from 2012 to 2015, he was harassed by fellow police officers for adhering to CPD policy and procedure and for filing numerous internal complaints. Forgue filed suit against the City of Chicago and over forty individual officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for First Amendment retaliation, equal protection, civil conspiracy, and procedural due process, as well as related state law claims. The district court granted defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Forgue's federal claims and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         I. Background

         From 1986 to 2015, Ronald Forgue worked for the CPD in several capacities, including for the Internal Affairs Division ("IAD"), as an incident team Sergeant, as an Operations Lieutenant, and as a Commanding Officer in the Alternate Response Unit. Forgue officially retired on August 13, 2015 after nearly thirty years of service.

         Forgue alleges that, between 2012 and 2015, he was harassed "in retaliation against his leadership as a sergeant and lieutenant because he followed proper procedure." Forgue cites several specific instances where he was wrongfully targeted for adhering to CPD rules. In 2012, for example, Forgue complained to his superiors that white officers were "spitting tobacco in black families' homes when on calls." Forgue claims that, in response, his superiors laughed at him and told him to "not mess with his boys."

         Forgue also maintains that CPD harassed him by unlawfully targeting his sons. Between June 2012 and January 2015, Forgue's three sons were stopped, arrested, handcuffed, or detained a total of twenty-two times. According to Forgue, the "majority of the reasons given for the stops and/or arrests were false." As examples: Forgue's three sons were falsely la- beled as gang members; in November 2012, two officers unlawfully seized one of Forgue's sons, drove him around, and interrogated him for two hours; and in August 2014, an officer "grabbed [Forgue's son] by the neck and beat[] [him] in front of [his] house." In response to this treatment, Forgue filed complaints with his superiors.

         Forgue also was allegedly targeted directly. On November 20, 2013, a poster falsely labeling Forgue's picture with the words "sex offender" was displayed and distributed at Forgue's police station. On March 24, 2014-the same day that he reported to the IAD that a sergeant was improperly distributing a booking photo and rap sheet of his son-Forgue discovered a fake Facebook account created under his name. The Facebook page associated with the account displayed a photograph of Forgue labeled "IAD INFORMANT." The creator of the account (who falsely purported to be Forgue himself) posted disparaging comments about Forgue as well as false complaints on the official Facebook page for the Chicago Mayor's Office.

         Moreover, Forgue claims he was passed over for several promotions in favor of other officers who did not file complaints, and on September 23, 2014, Forgue was assigned to the less desirable Alternate Response Unit. According to Forgue, the police union told him this transfer was because "of the complaints he made to the [IPRA] and IAD." Overall, between May 2012 and September 2014, CPD officers filed seven formal complaints against Forgue, allegedly for his strict compliance with CPD policies.

         Finally, upon his retirement from the CPD in 2015, Forgue was denied a retirement identification card ("Retirement Card" or "Card"). Pursuant to CPD policy, an officer who provides at least ten years of service and leaves the CPD in "good standing" receives a Retirement Card. Although the good standing determination is left to the discretion of the Police Superintendent, Forgue's complaint alleges that it was the "policy and practice" of the CPD to issue a Card to all retiring officers. There are several detriments to not receiving a Card. Without one, Forgue cannot carry a concealed firearm, procure benefits such as health insurance, or find other employment in law enforcement.

         On September 23, 2015, Forgue filed a complaint against the City of Chicago and forty-two City employees, including the CPD Superintendent and CPD sergeants, lieutenants, and officers. Forgue brought 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for First Amendment retaliation, equal protection, civil conspiracy, and procedural due process, as well as several related state law claims. In response, defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The district court granted defendants' motion on Forgue's federal claims and declined supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. This appeal followed.

         II. ...


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