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09/16/87 Elaine Riley, v. Raymond Fairfield Et Al.

September 16, 1987





513 N.E.2d 618, 160 Ill. App. 3d 397, 112 Ill. Dec. 204 1987.IL.1355

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon. Patrick M. Burns, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY and STOUDER, JJ., concur.


The defendants, Kankakee County sheriff's police officers Raymond Fairfield and John Ruch, arrested the plaintiff, Elaine Riley, in reliance on a Du Page County arrest warrant. The plaintiff brought the instant suit for Federal statutory and Illinois common law damages based on her arrest and subsequent imprisonment. She brings this appeal from the court's order of summary judgment for the officers.

At approximately 10 p.m. on December 13, 1985, the officers stopped the plaintiff's vehicle, as one headlight was not lit. In a routine computer check of the plaintiff's driver's license, Officer Ruch was informed that the license was valid but that a Du Page County arrest warrant had been issued for a person with the plaintiff's name and birth date but a different address.

According to the documents on file, Ruch returned to the plaintiff's vehicle to make some inquiries. The plaintiff informed Ruch that she did not know where Du Page County was located and that she had never been charged with a crime. Ruch returned to his car. In further radio communication he was informed that, like the plaintiff, the warrant subject was a black woman. However, the warrant subject's description was approximately two inches taller and 20 to 30 pounds heavier than the plaintiff. Ruch again returned to the plaintiff's car. In response to his questions, the plaintiff stated that she had weighed more when she was pregnant but not otherwise.

According to the plaintiff's affidavit, Officer Ruch expressed to the plaintiff his and the radio dispatcher's confusion about how to proceed on the arrest warrant, considering the differences between the height and weight of the person named in the warrant and the plaintiff's height and weight. Ultimately, the officers took the plaintiff into custody. They did not handcuff her and they allowed her to sit in the front seat of the squad car as they drove her to be booked and jailed. The following morning, the plaintiff was released from jail upon posting $500 bond.

After the plaintiff made three appearances to defend against the felony theft charge for which she was arrested, on January 30, 1986, charges were dismissed against her. The plaintiff was not charged thereafter.

The plaintiff filed the instant suit in response to her arrest and imprisonment. In count I of the suit the plaintiff alleged pursuant to section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code (42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 (1982)), that the officers' conduct had caused her to be deprived of rights secured under the United States Constitution. Specifically, she claimed deprivation of her right to freedom from unreasonable seizure and right to freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In count II of the suit, in allegations sounding in Illinois common law for false arrest and false imprisonment, the plaintiff alleged that her arrest and confinement were illegal, without probable cause, and the proximate cause of her loss of liberty.

The court granted the officers' motion for summary judgment on both counts. The plaintiff brought the instant appeal. In relation to both counts she argues on appeal that the court erred in ordering summary judgment as the pleadings, depositions and admissions on file, together with affidavits, revealed genuine issues of material fact and that the officers were not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-1005.

The petitioner first argues on appeal that summary judgment was inappropriate on her section 1983 claim, as the validity of her arrest depended upon the officers' belief and intent in arresting her. We, however, agree with the officers that the court was not required to determine their intent in arresting the plaintiff.

To establish a cause of action under section 1983, a claimant must show that a person's action under color of State law deprived the claimant of a right, privilege, or immunity secured under the laws or the Constitution of the United States. 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 (1982); ...

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