Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

TROUT v. FREGA

May 2, 1996

JAY M. TROUT, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH FREGA, JOSEPH HEINRICH, ROBERT STEINMAN, and JEFFREY WOLF, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

 I. Background1

 Plaintiff Jay M. Trout ("Trout") filed a one-count Amended Complaint against Defendants Joseph Frega ("Frega"), Joseph Heinrich ("Heinrich"), Robert Steinman ("Steinman"), and Jeffrey Wolf ("Wolf") (collectively, "Defendants"). Trout asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which arose out of his arrest on February 26, 1993.

 On that day, Trout was exercising at the Powerhouse Gym in Geneva, Illinois. Trout is 6'3" and weighs approximately 260 pounds. Defendants, all police officers from the City of Geneva, Illinois, went to the gym to arrest Trout pursuant to a warrant. The warrant issued based on Trout's alleged phone harassment of his former girlfriend. Before the arrest, the other officers had indicated to Wolf that Trout had threatened his girlfriend. When Defendants arrived at the gym, Trout was lifting weights on a curling machine in the gym.

 Trout produces no evidence connecting Wolf's act of handcuffing with the subsequent fracture. Trout went immediately to Delnor Community Hospital after he was released on February 26, 1996. The Delnor records and radiology report reference a "scaphoid fracture." Subsequent to his same-day release from Delnor, Trout was treated by Dr. Wittenstrom, who found a radial styloid fracture, in addition to the preexisting scaphoid fracture. Dr. Wittenstrom testified that a radial styloid fracture usually results from a fall on the hand or the wrist, and that he was unsure about whether handcuffing (proper or excessively forceful) could cause such a fracture.

 II. Discussion

 Trout sues Defendants in their individual capacities. *fn2" Trout's Complaint alleges that Defendants violated 28 U.S.C. § 1983 by causing him further wrist injury when handcuffing him during his arrest. Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that qualified immunity and an absence of constitutional deprivation effectively shield them from liability.

 Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving parties are entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must marshal evidentiary facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex Cop. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 Individual liability under § 1983 must arise from direct personal involvement, and cannot be vicarious or based on a theory of respondeat superior. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 325, 70 L. Ed. 2d 509, 102 S. Ct. 445 (1981). There must be a showing that the defendant committed, or at least encouraged, the alleged misconduct. Wolf-Lillie v. Sonquist, 699 F.2d 864, 869 (7th Cir. 1993). In other words, an individual cannot be held liable in a § 1983 action unless he caused or participated in the alleged constitutional deprivation. Id. Frega, Heinrich and Steinman argue that, as to them, Trout cannot satisfy the personal involvement requirement: there is no evidence that anyone other than Wolf applied any force to Trout during the arrest; Trout himself testified that Wolf was the only Defendant to use force during the arrest.

 Trout argues that the mere presence of Frega, Heinrich and Steinman at the scene gave rise to their liability, because they acted with deliberate indifference for Trout's welfare. However, beyond this unsupported argument, Trout has demonstrated no causal link between those three officers and the complained of force. *fn3" As such, even if that force was excessive, there is no genuine issue of material fact as to those officers. Presence is not enough. The mere presence of the three officers, without more, does not constitute their requisite § 1983 personal involvement in any constitutional violation which may have occurred. See Apostal v. City of Crystal Lake, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17407, No. 94 C 50068, 1995 WL 692680, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 22, 1995).

 Assuming arguendo that all officers were linked to the alleged violation, all are nevertheless entitled to qualified immunity. Whether Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity is a question of law. Jones by Jones v. Webb, 45 F.3d 178 (7th Cir. 1995). The doctrine of qualified immunity shields government officials from civil liability when they perform discretionary functions to the extent that their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. Lanigan v. Village of E. Hazel Crest, 913 F. Supp. 1202 (N.D. Ill. 1996) (citation omitted). In determining whether the rights were clearly established at the time of the alleged ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.