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RIORDAN v. CITY OF JOLIET

June 4, 1998

DANIEL S. RIORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF JOLIET, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 Daniel Riordan ("Riordan") initially sued City of Joliet ("Joliet"), its Police Officers Joseph Seme ("Seme") and Michael Knowski ("Knowski")(collectively "Officers") and private corporation Sports Center, Inc ("Center") under 42 U.S.C. ┬ž 1983 ("Section 1983") and Illinois state law. This Court's April 24, 1998 memorandum opinion and order dismissed Riordan's state law claims against Joliet and Officers (Counts IV, V, VI and VII). Riordan has since dismissed his claims against Center. Riordan's remaining Section 1983 claims charge Officers with violating his substantive due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment by releasing him from custody into a dangerous situation and charge Joliet with municipal liability for its policies under which Officers violated Riordan's civil rights.

 Joliet and Officers now move for summary judgment under Fed.R. Civ.P. ("Rule") 56 as to all of Riordan's surviving claims. Riordan has responded with a cross-motion for summary judgment. Each party has complied with this District Court's General Rule ("GR") 12(M) and 12(N), *fn1" which has been adopted to highlight the existence or nonexistence of any material fact disputes, and both party's motions are fully briefed and ready for decision. For the reasons set out in this memorandum opinion and order, each side's motion is denied as to Riordan's surviving Section 1983 claims except as stated in n.2. *fn2"

 Summary Judqment Standards

 Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on a party seeking summary judgment the burden of establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact ( Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986)). For that purpose this Court must "read[] the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party," although it "is not required to draw unreasonable inferences from the evidence" ( St. Louis N. Joint Venture v. P & L Enters., Inc., 116 F.3d 262, 265 n.2 (7th Cir. 1997)). Where as here cross-motions for summary judgment are involved, it is necessary to adopt a dual perspective--one that this Court has often described as Janus-like--that sometimes involves the denial of both motions. Such is the case here, for each party has shown that genuine issues of material fact remain that must be addressed before Riordan's surviving claims may be resolved.

 Facts

 On December 27, 1995 Riordan was 48 years old and lived at the Sports Center, a long-term residential hotel for men in Joliet, Illinois (R. 12(M) P3). Riordan had rented his room at Sports Center on a weekly basis since August 31, 1995, and he had prepaid his $ 65 rent for the December week in question (id. P8).

 At 1 p.m. December 27 Riordan purchased a pint of vodka and a pack of cigarettes at a liquor store (J. 12(M) P10). He returned to his room at the Sports Center and began drinking and smoking. That is the last thing Riordan remembers until December 30, when he woke up at Silver Cross Hospital (J. 12(M) P12). Necessarily, then, the following narrative relies on accounts from other eyewitnesses.

 Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on December 27, Sports Center's manager Arthur Morris ("Morris") received a complaint that someone was urinating in the fifth floor phone booth. Morris investigated the complaint and found Riordan exposing himself and "hollering" into the phone (Morris Dep. 12-13). Morris also noticed that Riordan's breath smelled of alcohol and that he needed to lean against the wall to stand up (R. 12(M) P13). In fact, at that point Riordan was highly intoxicated, with an astonishingly elevated blood/alcohol level of approximately .427 (id. P42). Riordan refused to return to his room, even after Morris threatened to call the police.

 Morris went back to the lobby and called the Joliet Police Department at 8:31 p.m. (J. 12(M) PP30-31). Both Officers were assigned the call and proceeded promptly to the Sports Center. In the lobby Morris told Seme that Riordan was drunk and refused to go to his room (id. PP34-35). Morris also said that Riordan had previously broken numerous Sports Center rules and that Morris wanted Riordan out of there (id. PP35-36). Then Morris led Officers to the fifth floor and found that Riordan was still next to the phone booth.

 Officers quickly recognized that Riordan was drunk. He had alcohol on his breath, bloodshot eyes, a red face and slurred speech (id. PP39-40). Riordan again adamantly refused Morris' request that he return to his room or leave the building, so each of Seme and Knowski took one of Riordan's elbows, and they half-walked, half-propelled Riordan back to his rented room (id. P50; Morris Dep. 26).

 Once they reached Riordan's room, Officers gathered Riordan's possessions and tried to get him ready to go outside. Riordan was wearing only a t-shirt, jeans and a corduroy jacket (R. 12(M) P56). Knowski told Riordan that it was "freezing" outside and tried to get Riordan to put on more clothes, but Riordan refused to cooperate (id. P48). Eventually Knowski tried several times to put Riordan's shoes on for him, but each time Riordan kicked them off, while swearing and telling the officer he did not need his shoes (Knowski Dep. 78-79). Riordan also refused to allow Knowski to put his coat on for him (J. 12(M) P55).

 Riordan also exhibited further signs of intoxication while in his room. At one point he fell on the floor, and Officers had to help him back up (Morris Dep. 26). He repeatedly cursed at the officers and had to be told repeatedly to sit down (Knowski Dep. 77-79). Riordan's behavior and appearance led both Officers to believe that he was intoxicated and that his blood/alcohol level exceeded .10, the legal limit for driving in Illinois (R. 12(M) P41). Officers therefore made several offers to take Riordan to a detoxification center, shelter or hospital or to the house of a friend or relative (J. 12(M) PP70-72). Riordan belligerently rejected all those offers (Seme Dep. 99-100).

 Finally Officers forced Riordan to leave his room, again guiding him by the elbows, and took him outside the Sports Center (J. 12(M) PP66-68). At that point the ambient temperature outside was less than 20 Fahrenheit (R. 12(M) P58). Riordan was wearing only his t-shirt, jeans and corduroy jacket (id. P83). He was not wearing socks, shoes, a hat, gloves or any other winter clothes (id.). Furthermore, Riordan's address book and wallet, which contained his money and state-issued identification card, were left behind with his possessions at the Sports Center (id.).

 Officers handcuffed Riordan and placed him in the back of Knowski's police cruiser. They did not, however, arrest him. While Seme believed that Riordan could have been arrested for aggravated battery of a police officer and resisting arrest, Seme instead told Knowski that they should issue Riordan a compliance ticket for trespassing (J. 12(M) P83). *fn3" Seme felt that the compliance ticket would let Riordan know that he could not return to the Sports Center (id.).

 Officers decided to take Riordan to the Joliet Police Department ("Department"), only a two minute drive away, because transients were allowed to stay in the lobby area of the police station overnight to stay warm (id. P78). Knowski took Riordan in his squad car and, during the drive, again offered to take Riordan to a hospital or a family member's house. Riordan refused both offers and reiterated that he had no friends or family in the area (id. PP87-89).

 Knowski parked his squad car about three car lengths south of the intersection of Washington and Joliet Streets (id. P93). That intersection is approximately 100 feet east of the Department, which is located on the second floor of the south side of the Joliet Municipal Building. Department's lobby area is reached by entering through a set of locked doors (a buzzer system allows entrance) at the top of a flight of stairs that lead down to Washington Street (R. 12(M) P67). None of the other doors to the Municipal Building was open in the evening (id. P84).

 Knowski wrote out a compliance ticket for Riordan and then released him from the back of the car and removed his handcuffs (id. P70). Knowski asked Riordan to sign the ticket, but Riordan refused and simply scribbled on the form until Knowski took it back (J. 12(M) P97). Knowski wrote on the narrative portion of the ticket that Riordan was "unable to sign this document because of his intoxication" (R. 12(M) P71).

 Knowski twice told Riordan to go to the station and call someone for a place to stay, but Riordan refused each time (R. Exh. 30). At that point Seme drove up in his squad car and also urged Riordan to go to the police station. Riordan finally started walking slowly towards the station, but he continually stopped, yelled insults and made obscene gestures at both policemen (J. 12(M) P112). Riordan also started to remove his jacket, but he stopped when Officers told him to put it back on (id. PP110-11).

 At 8:55 p.m. Seme drove away so that he could escort employees of a local currency exchange to their cars (R. 12(M) P75). That was part of his routine community service, rather than a response to an emergency call (id.). Riordan was about 50 feet away from the stairs leading to the police station doors when Seme left the scene (J. 12(M) P113). Although Seme returned to the police station when he completed his shift at 10:00 p.m., he did not check to see whether Riordan had entered the station (R. 12(M) PP86, 88-90).

 Knowski waited while Riordan walked somewhat closer to the police entrance, then he too drove away. Knowski last saw Riordan on the sidewalk near the stairs leading up to the police entrance (J. 12(M) P120). At 9:28 p.m. Knowski advised Department by radio that the call concerning Riordan had been completed and that he had issued a compliance ticket, but Knowski did not warn anyone at the station to look out for Riordan (R. 12(M) P80). Like Seme, Knowski also failed to check whether Riordan had entered the police station when he returned to the station at the conclusion of his shift at 11:30 p.m. (id. PP87-90).

 Riordan never entered the Department's vestibule area (id. P85). Instead he was next seen at 6:00 a.m. December 28, when a Joliet Police radio dispatcher found Riordan lying unconscious on a sidewalk in a recessed alcove in front of locked doors on the west side of the Municipal Building (id. P95). At that time the ambient temperature in Joliet was 11 [degrees] Fahrenheit, and the wind chill index was 7 [degrees] ...


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