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TETA v. PACKARD

February 26, 1997

MICHAEL TETA, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL PACKARD, in his personal capacity and in his official capacity as an employee and agent of Northern Illinois University, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REINHARD

 INTRODUCTION1

 During the evening of January 23, 1992, plaintiff Michael Teta, a second semester freshman at Northern Illinois University, was socializing with other students on the fourth floor of the residence hall where he lived. This socializing included watching television, snacking on food, listening to music, conversing generally and drinking beer. Plaintiff admits to consuming two beers between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m. Sometime between the hours of 9:00 and 9:15 p.m., a fire alarm sounded in Teta's residence hall. Teta was not pleased about this because it was cold outside. To avoid leaving the building, Teta, along with his girlfriend and his roommate, left his room and hid in the men's bathroom. To escape detection, Teta and his friends hid by standing on tops of toilets in the stalls. Teta and his friends were not successful, however, because a NIU resident assistant soon discovered them and told them to go outside for the fire drill.

 After they were caught, Teta and his two friends returned to his room, retrieved their jackets and proceeded to the stairwell. On the way down the stairs, Teta had to stop between the third and second floor because the line of people in the stairwell had stopped moving. This upset Teta because the fire drill was not "getting over with" to his satisfaction. After a few minutes the line began to move again. The bottom of the stairwell opens into a large corridor, which, in turn, leads towards two hallways, one to the left and one to the right. When Teta reached the bottom of the stairs, there were students in front of him exiting the building through glass doors located on the left side of the corridor. Teta had to wait approximately one minute as the students in front of him exited. Teta did not want to deal with the large crowd of people. Therefore, he attempted to exit the building by proceeding towards the hallway on the right. (The record is not clear whether the hallway on the right directly led to an exit.)

 After taking two or three steps towards the hallway on the right, Teta claims he felt defendant Daniel Packard, a resident assistant for NIU, grab his right arm just above the elbow. Packard asked Teta where he was going. Teta turned to Packard and told Packard he was going outside and to get his hands off him. Teta claims he did not recognize Packard, but he assumed he was a resident assistant because "he was acting as if he was in charge." After Teta responded to Packard's question, Teta claims that Packard pushed him against a wall approximately two feet away. Teta claims that Packard then stepped towards him and put his right hand on Teta's neck. Teta claims that Packard told him that he "was going to rip [his] fucking head off" Teta looked around at the other students and said "go ahead and do it, you'll lose your job." Teta claims that Packard then released his grip. Teta turned and walked back towards the door where everyone else was exiting.

 Teta claims that as he opened the door to exit, Packard pushed him aside with his forearm, pulled the door closed and would not let him exit. Packard then told Teta that "you're not going anywhere, you're in deep shit." At this point, Karen Stock, a senior staff member, arrived, and asked Teta to leave. Teta left the building. *fn2"

 A short time later, Teta was in the room of another student, Julie Sorden, where he began to discuss the situation and what he should do about it. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. There were several senior staff people, some resident assistants and two NIU police officers. Teta exited the room, and Packard, who was also present with the staff, pointed at him. One of the police officers then approached Teta and asked him his name. The officer informed Teta that Packard accused Teta of assaulting him. After a brief discussion, Teta was told to go to his room and get his jacket. Once inside his room, Teta was placed under arrest and handcuffed. He was then escorted out and transported to the NIU police station, where he provided a written statement. Packard was also present, and he signed a complaint charging Teta with aggravated battery, accusing Teta of striking him in the chest with his hands knowing that Packard was a resident assistant at NIU. *fn3"

 Teta was then taken to the DeKalb County Jail. Teta claims that while en route to the jail, one of the officers in the car commented that the jail was at frill capacity and told him that "they are going to have fun with you." After the officers started joking back and forth, Teta said "if anything like this does happen, I assure you I will have a lawyer." One of the officers responded by saying "you're going to need to save your money for a proctologist because you're going to need one after you get out of there." Teta arrived at the jail between 11 p.m. and midnight, where he was fingerprinted, searched and showered. He remained in the jail until 8:30 a.m., whereupon his friends posted bond on his behalf and he was released.

 Teta claims that this incident "knocked [him] off the track for a career in law enforcement." He did not feel he was treated professionally by the police officers and "didn't like being on the other side of it... and [he] kind of lost some hope [he] had or some respect [he] had for the aspiration of law." He also did not like losing his freedom for a night and felt like he lost his dignity by having to go through the booking procedures. He further claims that being arrested in the residence hall caused others to "look at him differently" and that he felt like he was an outcast.

 As a result of the incident with Packard, Teta faced criminal charges in state court as well as disciplinary charges with MU. According to Teta's amended complaint (the parties have not discussed this fact in their Rule 12M and 12N statements), he was found not guilty at trial. The NIU proceedings relating to his alleged physical battery on Packard were eventually dropped. (Teta apparently pleaded no contest to failing to comply with a fire drill.) Teta missed approximately four days of school to attend both the criminal and university proceedings. In February of that same year, Teta saw a doctor one time for anxiety and insomnia. Teta would go home as often as possible during the rest of the semester, as it was the only thing that seemed to ease his worries. Teta dropped out of MU after completing two years of study. He claims that he "basically lost [his] drive" and "no longer wished to pursue [his] education" as a result of the incident involving Packard. Since the incident, Teta has gone through a series of jobs, none of which are law enforcement related.

 PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

 On January 22, 1993, Teta filed a four-complaint against Packard in the circuit court of DeKalb County, Illinois, alleging state law claims of malicious prosecution (Count I), defamation (Count II) and emotional distress (Count III) and a claim based on the "violation of civil, constitutional and statutory rights" (Count IV). Service of process was effectuated on September 21, 1993. Packard timely filed a notice of removal in this court based on federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343, in that the complaint alleged violations of Teta's constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Upon completion of discovery, Packard moved for summary judgment. In a prior order, this court construed Packard's motion for summary judgment as a motion to dismiss and granted the motion, dismissing Count IV without ...


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