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FIORENZO v. NOLAN

January 30, 1991

ALFRED FIORENZO, DAVID OHLSON, and PATRICK SHANNON, Plaintiffs,
v.
SAMUEL W. NOLAN, individually and officially, and JAMES E. O'GRADY, in his official capacity, Defendants


James F. Holderman, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOLDERMAN

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Two motions are now pending before this court -- defendant James E. O'Grady's motion for summary judgment, and defendant Samuel W. Nolan's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below both motions must be granted.

 I. BACKGROUND FACTS

 The parties do not dispute the following facts. Plaintiffs Alfred Fiorenzo, David Ohlson and Patrick Shannon are white police officers with the Sheriff's Police Department of Cook County, Illinois. Defendant James O'Grady was elected Sheriff of Cook County on November 7, 1986, and took office on December 1, 1986. Defendant O'Grady's immediate predecessor as sheriff was Richard J. Elrod, who was originally named by plaintiffs as a defendant in this action.

 Defendant Samuel Nolan served as Chief of the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department from July 7, 1986 to November 16, 1986. As Chief of the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department defendant Nolan was delegated complete responsibility for, among other things, making transfers within the County Sheriff's Police Department for those persons holding the rank of "police officer." "Police officer" is the lowest rank in the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department.

 Plaintiffs' complaint arises from their transfers, which occurred after Sheriff O'Grady's election but prior to his taking office. Before plaintiffs were transferred, they each served in the rank of "police officer" in the Office of Field Operations. Plaintiff Fiorenzo served in the Fugitive Section and plaintiffs Ohlson and Shannon served in the Prosecutive Support Division of the Office of Field Operations.

 On November 6, 1986 the Sheriff's Department issued a personnel memorandum, signed by Chief Nolan, transferring each of the plaintiffs from his respective assignment to the Uniform Patrol Division of the Field Operations Bureau ("Personnel Memorandum"). The transfers were effective November 9, 1986. The transfers were lateral transfers -- they did not affect plaintiffs' compensation, benefits, or rank. According to plaintiffs, however, the positions to which they were transferred were less "prestigious" than their previous positions. (Pl.'s 12(m) Statement, para. 6.)

 At the time of the issuance of the Personnel Memorandum, Richard Elrod was the Sheriff of Cook County. Prior to issuance of the Personnel Memorandum Chief Nolan did not discuss the transfer order in general or plaintiffs' transfers in particular with Sheriff Elrod, who was out of town at the time. Upon Sheriff Elrod's return, Chief Nolan informed him of the transfers. Chief Nolan also informed Sheriff-Elect O'Grady of the transfers.

 Because of an injury suffered in an automobile accident, on November 1, 1986 Officer Fiorenzo was placed on a medical leave of absence. After several months, when Officer Fiorenzo returned to duty, he was assigned at his own request to the Prosecutive Support Division in the Office of Field Operations. Consequently, contrary to the Personnel Memorandum, he never served a day in the Uniform Patrol Division of the Field Operations Bureau.

 After their transfers Officers Shannon and Ohlson served less than four months in the Uniform Patrol Division of the Field Operations Bureau. Effective March 1, 1987 both officers were transferred back to the assignments that they had held in the Prosecutive Support Division of the Office of Field Operations.

 At the time of plaintiffs' transfers neither Chief Nolan nor Sheriff Elrod were aware of either the race or the political affiliation of any of the plaintiffs. Moreover, there is no evidence that Chief Nolan or former Sheriff Elrod had any idea as to the political affiliation of any of the three black police officers who were transferred into the Prosecutive Support Division and Fugitive Division of the Field Operations Bureau.

 On November 28, 1986 -- nineteen days after their transfers became effective -- plaintiffs filed their two-count complaint in this case. Count I alleges that plaintiffs' transfers violated the Equal Protection Clause, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 ("Section 1983"). In Count II plaintiffs aver that they were transferred because of their political affiliation, in violation of the First Amendment as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 1983.

 Plaintiffs sue defendant O'Grady in his official capacity as Sheriff of Cook County and defendant Nolan in both his official capacity as Chief of the Cook County Sheriff's ...


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