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HAUGABROOK v. CITY OF CHICAGO

August 3, 1982

KENNETH HAUGABROOK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aspen, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is presently before the Court on the motion of Brzeczek and the City for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. In support of a motion for summary judgment, the moving party has the burden of showing that there is no dispute as to any genuine issue of fact material to a judgment in its favor as a matter of law, Cedillo v. International Association of Bridge & Structural Iron Workers, Local Union No. 1, 603 F.2d 7, 10 (7th Cir. 1979); Fitzsimmons v. Best, 528 F.2d 692, 694 (7th Cir. 1976). The non-moving party is entitled to all reasonable inferences that can be made in its favor from the evidence in the record. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 994, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962); Moutoux v. Gulling Auto Electric, 295 F.2d 573, 576 (7th Cir. 1961).

I.

Section 1983 Claims

In order to prevail on a section 1983 claim against a supervisory official such as Brzeczek, a plaintiff must establish an affirmative link between his injury and the supervisor's failure to act in the face of unconstitutional action by subordinates. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 96 S.Ct. 598, 46 L.Ed.2d 561 (1976); Murray v. City of Chicago, 634 F.2d 365, 367 (7th Cir. 1980); Hamrick v. Lewis, 515 F. Supp. 983 (N.D.Ill. 1981). As far as the City is concerned, it is settled that in order to hold a municipality liable under section 1983, a plaintiff must establish that he was injured by official misconduct or wrongdoing perpetrated pursuant to an officially sanctioned policy, custom or practice that causally links the municipality to the alleged wrongdoing and injury. Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978); Powe v. City of Chicago, 664 F.2d 639 (7th Cir. 1981); Murray v. City of Chicago, 634 F.2d 365 (7th Cir. 1980); Rivera v. Farrell, 538 F. Supp. 291 (N.D.Ill. 1982); Hamrick v. Lewis, 515 F. Supp. 983, 985-86 (N.D.Ill. 1981). Thus, it has generally been held that "where senior personnel have knowledge of a pattern of constitutionally offensive acts by their subordinates but fail to take remedial steps, the municipality may be held liable for a subsequent violation if the superior's inaction amounts to deliberate indifference or to tacit authorization of the offensive acts." Herrera v. Valentine, 653 F.2d 1220, 1224 (8th Cir. 1981); Turpin v. Mailet, 619 F.2d 196, 201 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1016, 101 S.Ct. 577, 66 L.Ed.2d 475 (1980); Villa v. Franzen, 511 F. Supp. 231, 235 (N.D.Ill. 1981); Spriggs v. City of Chicago, 523 F. Supp. 138, 142 (N.D.Ill. 1981).

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 534, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 1912, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981), holding that section 1983 does not contain a state of mind requirement, it is entirely possible that even negligent conduct by supervisors or policymaking officials let alone grossly negligent or intentional conduct may support a civil rights claim against the individual official or the municipality in an appropriate case. See Means v. City of Chicago, 535 F. Supp. 455, 462 (N.D.Ill. 1982). But see Hays v. Jefferson County, 668 F.2d 869 (6th Cir. 1982); Spriggs v. City of Chicago, 523 F. Supp. 138, 142-43 (N.D.Ill. 1981). We need not decide the question in the case at bar, however, for we conclude that the record is devoid of evidence to support a claim against either Brzeczek or the City under any standard.

In the instant case, Haugabrook alleges that Brzeczek and the City knew or should have known that Officers Tilford and Ward "had a propensity to use excessive force upon Black citizens of the City of Chicago," and that they "failed to properly train, supervise, regulate or discipline these two officers in the exercise of their police function." Complaint, ¶ 20. To support his theory that Brzeczek had knowledge of the alleged violent propensities of Tilford and Ward, Haugabrook points to the officers' complaint history records, commonly known as "hard cards." Officer Tilford's card indicates that during the five and one-half years since he became a police officer, he received two citizen complaints for use of excessive force. Tilford's record indicates that the Chicago Police Department classified both complaints as "not sustained," meaning that, after an appropriate investigation, there was insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegations. Defense Exhibit 1. Officer Ward's card reveals fifteen citizen complaints alleging the use of excessive force in the six and one-half years that he has been a police officer.*fn2 Ward's record indicates that five of the complaints were found to be "not sustained," nine were found to be "unfounded," meaning that, after an appropriate investigation, the department considered them to be false or not supported by the facts, and the remaining complaint was classified as "exonerated," meaning that an investigation revealed that the incident occurred but was lawful and proper. Defense Exhibit 2. The complaint records of the two officers are the only evidence cited to support the argument that Brzeczek and, through him, the City had knowledge that the officers had violent propensities toward fellow blacks and that such behavior was condoned by Brzeczek and the City.

On the basis of this evidence, the Court cannot conclude that Brzeczek or the City knew or should have known of any alleged violent propensities of Officers Tilford and Ward or that they failed to train, supervise, regulate or discipline the officers as alleged in the complaint. Brzeczek's affidavit, which is unrebutted by Haugabrook, states that his sole knowledge relative to the complaints against Ward and Tilford is set forth in the hard cards. As stated above, the recorded allegations of excessive force made against each officer were investigated by the Chicago Police Department and found to be either "not sustained," "unfounded" or, in one case, "exonerated." Haugabrook has not alleged or shown that Brzeczek knew or should have known of any unrecorded prior complaints or any other evidence tending to show that the officers had a tendency to react violently to black citizens. There is also no evidence to suggest that the prior recorded charges of excessive force, even if they had been sustained, were racially motivated. In short, Haugabrook has failed to provide any basis upon which a court could infer that Brzeczek or the City negligently, recklessly or intentionally allowed these two officers with alleged violent propensities toward blacks to remain in uniform resulting in any injury to the plaintiff.*fn3

Accordingly, there being no genuine issue of fact material to a judgment in their favor as a matter of law, defendants' motions for summary judgment on the section 1983 claims will be granted.

II.

Section 1981 Claim

The more difficult question in this case concerns Haugabrook's claim that the City should be held liable for the allegedly racially-motivated acts of Officers Tilford and Ward on a theory of respondeat superior under the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981.*fn4 The specific allegations of racial discrimination are set forth in the complaint as follows:

  14. Plaintiff was subjected to the above officially
  inflicted punishment, pains and penalties, and loss
  of property, because of his race, as the Defendant's
  [sic] WARD and TILFORD did not consider the Plaintiff
  to be their "brother." Plaintiff was denied the
  "equal benefit of laws and ...

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