any rights to the property interest embodied in Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 70, para. 91.
3. Nevertheless, assuming that Officer Cholewin was injured on duty while unhitching Collier's boat on September 4, 1988, and assuming that Officer Cholewin thereby acquired protectible rights in the property interest embodied in para. 91, the court finds that Evanston did not deny Officer Cholewin that property interest without due process of law.
4. The essential requirements of due process are notice and an opportunity to respond. Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 546, 84 L. Ed. 2d 494, 105 S. Ct. 1487 (1985). Before action is taken against a public employee which would deny the employee a property right, the employee must be adequately notified of the proposed action against him and must be provided a sufficient opportunity to "present his side of the case." Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 542-543.
5. In the instant case, Evanston provided Officer Cholewin with adequate notice of the proposed action against him. Evanston gave two separate written notices to Officer Cholewin. Officer Cholewin received these notices prior to his interview with Lt. Popadowski and well before any action was taken against him. The notices informed Officer Cholewin that there was some evidence contradicting his injury-on-duty claim and that the department was investigating whether he was in fact injured on duty. In the second notice, Officer Cholewin was advised ten days in advance that he should appear for an interview at which he would be afforded the opportunity to present his side of the case. Thus, Evanston fully apprised Officer Cholewin of the investigation of his injury-on-duty claim.
6. Evanston also provided Officer Cholewin with sufficient opportunity to respond to the charge against him, i.e., the charge that he was not injured on duty. First, due to the amount of time between the notices given to Officer Cholewin and his interview with Lt. Popadowski, Officer Cholewin had sufficient opportunity to respond, either in writing or orally, to the charge that he was not injured by lifting Collier's trailer. Second, Evanston provided Officer Cholewin with a forum to present his side of the story. During his interview with Lt. Popadowski, Officer Cholewin clearly had ample opportunity to substantiate his injured-on-duty claim.
7. Officer Cholewin apparently takes the position that he had a right to a full evidentiary hearing. However, the predeprivation "hearing" required to satisfy due process must merely provide an initial check against mistaken decisions and determine if there are reasonable grounds to support the proposed action. Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 546-47. Thus, the predeprivation "hearing" need not be elaborate. 470 U.S. at 546. As long as the employee is given adequate notice and a sufficient opportunity to respond, something less than a full evidentiary hearing is sufficient prior to adverse administrative action. Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 343, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18, 96 S. Ct. 893 (1976); Toney-El v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1224, 1229 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1178, 90 L. Ed. 2d 994, 106 S. Ct. 2909 (1986). Therefore, the court rejects Officer Cholewin's claim that he had a right to a full evidentiary hearing.
8. Similarly, the court rejects Officer Cholewin's claim that he had the right to examine all of the documents gathered by Lt. Popadowski and to confront all of the witnesses interviewed during the investigation. Significantly, throughout the entire investigation, neither Officer Cholewin nor his counsel, Noel Wroblewski, ever requested to review the relevant documents or interrogate any witnesses. Moreover, Officer Cholewin cannot maintain that he was inadequately apprised of the nature of the evidence against him. In any event, the court finds that due process was not abrogated by the fact that Officer Cholewin was not provided with all of the information gathered during the investigation. Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 542-47.
9. Finally, the court rejects Officer Cholewin's claim that his due process rights were violated because Evanston failed to follow its own procedures, as listed in the Evanston Employee Personnel Manual, in taking action against him. The procedures on which Officer Cholewin relies are disciplinary procedures. Officer Cholewin has not been disciplined by Evanston; the city has simply denied his claim for injury-on-duty benefits. He has been given an unpaid leave of absence simply because he is unable to work as the result of an injury which Evanston has determined he sustained off duty. Therefore, the disciplinary procedures outlined in the personnel manual are inapplicable.
10. Since the statute granting the property interest at issue in this case does not provide procedures by which an on-duty-injury claim must be evaluated, Evanston was free to evaluate Officer Cholewin's injury-on-duty claim through any procedure which afforded him adequate notice and opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. Brock v. Roadway Express, Inc., 481 U.S. 252, 107 S. Ct. 1740, 1747, 95 L. Ed. 2d 239 (1987); Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545, 552, 14 L. Ed. 2d 62, 85 S. Ct. 1187 (1965). The procedure followed by Evanston met these requirements. Therefore, Officer Cholewin was afforded the due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
11. To the extent that any of the foregoing conclusions of law are deemed to be findings of fact, they are hereby adopted as findings of fact.
For the foregoing reasons, judgment is entered in favor of defendant Evanston.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: July 17, 1989
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