call. The caller was a male who identified himself only by
stating that he had been stopped by a Calumet Park police officer
at the Burger King parking lot. The caller threatened to shoot
the officer the next time the officer stopped him. Although the
police operator asked the caller for his name, the caller refused
to identify himself other than by stating that he had been
stopped in the Burger King parking lot. The CPPD telecommunicator
who answered the call then informed the on duty Calumet Park
police officers of the anonymous threatening call. Saffold, of
course, denies that he made this threatening phone call.
Lucente, the officer who issued Saffold the parking ticket,
spoke to the other CPPD officers on duty and verified that
Saffold was the only person whose vehicle had been stopped in the
Burger King parking lot that day. Shortly thereafter, Jeff Kraft
("Kraft") of the CPPD telephoned the Riverdale Police Department
("RPD") and asked for RPD's assistance in arresting Saffold, who
CPPD wanted for aggravated assault stemming from a threat to
shoot a police officer. Upon receipt of this information, RPD
dispatched several police officers to Saffold's house in
Riverdale and arrested Saffold pursuant to CPPD's request.
Saffold was held at the Riverdale police station for
approximately thirty minutes until CPPD officers Kraft and
Garrison arrived and transported Saffold to the Calumet Park
police station. Several hours after arriving at the Calumet Park
police station, Saffold was charged with aggravated assault based
on allegations that he had telephoned the CPPD and threatened to
shoot an officer. Although Calumet Park police officers
transported Saffold to Markham County Jail, the prison refused to
accept Saffold because of his diabetic condition. Saffold was
then returned to the Calumet Park police station and released on
his own recognizance.
Although Saffold was originally charged with aggravated assault
and disorderly conduct, the state criminal court dismissed the
aggravated assault charge, ruling that the threatening phone call
did not constitute aggravated assault as a matter of law. The
disorderly conduct charge was then amended to a charge of
telephone harassment. After several continuances, Saffold's
criminal case was dismissed for want of prosecution.
Saffold then brought this civil rights lawsuit alleging that
his arrest and detention violated the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the United States Constitution. In count I of his
complaint, Saffold alleges that defendant police officers, acting
in both their individual and official capacities, violated
42 U.S.C. § 1983 by arresting and detaining him without probable
cause. In count II of his complaint, Saffold asserts that the
Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/2-109, requires the cities of
Calumet Park and Riverdale to pay any settlement or judgment in
Saffold's favor against their respective police officers.
Defendants Riverdale, its police officer Rodgers, and Calumet
Park have filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The court may grant summary judgment only "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 party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
decide "whether there is any material dispute of fact that
requires a trial." Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp.,
24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986)). There is a genuine issue of material fact where "there
is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to
return a verdict for that party." Id. On a
motion for summary judgment, the court reviews the evidence and
draws all inferences "in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant." FDIC v. Knostman, 966 F.2d 1133, 1140 (7th Cir.
The central issue before the court is whether there was
probable cause for Saffold's arrest. At first blush, this would
seem to present only one question; however, because two different
police departments played two distinct roles in Saffold's arrest,
the court must analyze Saffold's claims in the context of each
police department's actions. Additionally, in defense of their
actions, Riverdale raises an argument that Calumet Park does not.
Accordingly, the court will address Calumet Park's and
Riverdale's motions for summary judgment separately.
I. Calumet Park's Motion for Summary Judgment
Calumet Park first claims that the court should dismiss count
II of Saffold's complaint because the Tort Immunity Act does not
"provide a valid cause of action to the plaintiff nor does it
provide an independent basis for the imposition of liability
against the City of Calumet Park." (Calumet Park Mem. in Supp. of
Mot. for Summ. J. at 3.) Calumet Park is correct that the Tort
Immunity Act does not provide "a cause of action" or "an
independent basis for the imposition of liability." See, e.g.,
McCuen v. Peoria Park Dist., 245 Ill. App.3d 694, 185 Ill.Dec.
894, 615 N.E.2d 764, 768 (1993). That is to say, the Tort
Immunity Act does not render Calumet Park and Riverdale
vicariously liable for the acts of their police officers.
However, while the Tort Immunity Act does not impute the
liability of their officers to Calumet Park and Riverdale, the
Act does require the cities to satisfy any monetary settlement or
judgment entered against their officers. While the distinction
between these two concepts is subtle, this difference requires
the court to reject Calumet Park's argument that the court must
dismiss count II. As the Seventh Circuit explained in Wilson v.
City of Chicago, 120 F.3d 681, 684-86 (7th Cir. 1997), the Tort
Immunity Act does not prohibit a plaintiff who is suing a
municipal employee from joining the municipality as a defendant
in a § 1983 lawsuit if the plaintiff is only seeking to compel
the municipality to pay a judgment entered against its employee.
Id. at 685. As the Wilson court observed, the plaintiff in
such cases merely seeks a declaratory judgment that the
municipality is liable for the judgment under the Tort Immunity
Act. Id. In this case, Saffold pleaded count II within the
confines of Wilson — he seeks to compel payment from the cities
in the event that he obtains a judgment against their employee
police officers. Therefore, under the Seventh Circuit's holding
in Wilson, the court rejects Calumet Park's argument that the
court must dismiss count II of Saffold's complaint.
Calumet Park next argues that the court should grant summary
judgment in its favor because it cannot be forced to pay a
judgment under the Tort Immunity Act. According to Calumet Park,
a municipality cannot be held liable under the Tort Immunity Act
where the municipal employee is not liable. Calumet Park asserts
that its officers cannot be held liable because they had probable
cause to arrest Saffold. Alternatively, Calumet Park claims that
the doctrine of qualified immunity shields its police officers
from any liability in this case. Therefore, Calumet Park argues
that since its police officers are not liable for Saffold's
arrest, the city cannot be forced to satisfy a settlement or
judgment under the Tort Immunity Act.
As noted, Calumet Park insists that its police officers cannot
be liable for two reasons: (1) its officers had probable cause to
arrest Saffold; and (2) even if the officers lacked probable
cause, they are shielded by the doctrine of qualified immunity.
Although Calumet Park makes these arguments separately, they form
only one issue. As the Seventh Circuit explained in
Northen v. City of Chicago, 126 F.3d 1024, 1027 (7th Cir.
1997), defendants in a false arrest case cannot raise both a "we
had probable cause" defense and a qualified immunity defense.
Id.; see also Boyce v. Fernandes, 77 F.3d 946, 947 (7th Cir.
1996); Mahoney v. Kesery, 976 F.2d 1054, 1059 (7th Cir. 1992).
Rather, the two defenses merge and the only issue for the court
to resolve is whether defendants had probable cause to carry out
the disputed arrest. Boyce, 77 F.3d at 947; see also Kelley v.
Myler, 149 F.3d 641, 648 (7th Cir. 1998) (overlap between
probable cause and qualified immunity renders the existence of
probable cause the dispositive question); Frazell v. Flanigan,
102 F.3d 877, 886 (7th Cir. 1996) (both probable cause and
qualified immunity "turn on whether the officers' conduct was
objectively reasonable under the circumstances").
As Chief Judge Posner explained in Northen, the policy that
drives the qualified immunity defense seeks to protect public
officials from unforeseeable changes in the law. Northen, 126
F.3d at 1027. However, because the "concept of probable cause has
not changed in a great many years," Boyce, 77 F.3d at 948, "it
is difficult to see what purpose would be served by a defense of
immunity when conceived as a protection against changes or
uncertainty in the law; and so the concepts of probable cause and
official immunity could be thought in such a case to merge."
Northen, 126 F.3d at 1027. Thus, as long as the concept of
probable cause has not changed since the plaintiff's arrest and
his lawsuit, the concepts of probable cause and qualified
immunity become one defense. Id.
The legal standards governing probable cause for an arrest have
been well-settled for a long time and have not changed since
Saffold's arrest. The Seventh Circuit has recently articulated
the familiar probable cause standard by stating that:
[a] police officer has probable cause to arrest when,
at the moment the decision is made, the facts and
circumstances within her knowledge and of which she
has reasonably trustworthy information would warrant
a prudent person in believing that the suspect had
committed or was committing an offense. This
flexible, commonsense approach does not require that
the officer's belief be correct or even more likely
true than false, as long as it is reasonable.
Qian v. Kautz,