42 U.S.C. § 1983 unless his conviction has been reversed or
otherwise called into question, the Seventh Circuit has addressed
in a series of cases whether that same principle applies to other
sorts of § 1983 claims. It has repeatedly concluded that a person
may maintain a false arrest claim even if he was ultimately
convicted of the offense and even if the conviction still stands.
In Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d 134 (7th Cir. 1995), cert.
denied, 519 U.S. 833, 117 S.Ct. 104, 136 L.Ed.2d 58 (1996), the
plaintiff, who was still awaiting trial on the charges for which
he had been arrested, sued for (among other things) false arrest.
By the time of the appeal, he had been convicted. The court
addressed whether Heck barred plaintiff's false arrest claim.
It concluded that the claim was not barred because even if
successful, the claim "would [not] necessarily undermine the
validity of his conviction for felony murder." Id. at 136
(emphasis in original). The court noted that "an illegal search
or arrest may be followed by a valid conviction," and thus the
conviction need not be set aside in order for the plaintiff to
pursue a false arrest claim. Id.
In Booker v. Ward, 94 F.3d 1052 (7th Cir. 1996), cert.
denied, 519 U.S. 1113, 117 S.Ct. 952, 136 L.Ed.2d 840 (1997),
the plaintiff, who had been convicted of murder but whose
conviction was reversed on appeal, sued for false arrest more
than two years after his arrest; defendants argued that the claim
was time-barred, as the statute of limitations for § 1983 claims
arising in Illinois is two years. The issue was when plaintiff's
false arrest claim had accrued. Plaintiff argued that success on
his false arrest claim "would necessarily imply the invalidity of
his conviction" and that under Heck he could not bring a § 1983
claim until his conviction was vacated, which was within the two
years prior to the filing of suit. Id. at 1056. The Seventh
Circuit disagreed, saying that "a wrongful arrest claim, like a
number of other Fourth Amendment claims, does not inevitably
undermine a conviction; one can have a successful wrongful
arrest claim and still have a perfectly valid conviction." Id.
(emphasis added). See also Sneed v. Rybicki, 146 F.3d 478, 481
(7th Cir. 1998); Perez v. Sifel, 57 F.3d 503, 505 (7th Cir.
In sum, the rationale underlying Cameron has essentially been
rejected by the Seventh Circuit. We do not believe that the
Seventh Circuit would follow Cameron if asked to do so. See
King v. Goldsmith, 897 F.2d 885 (7th Cir. 1990) (noting that
Cameron has been questioned).
Cameron also relies on the notion that where a person was
ultimately found guilty of an offense, the goals of § 1983 are
not furthered by permitting him to bring a false arrest suit, for
"[t]he fact of conviction means that the plaintiff was not
entitled to escape arrest entirely and that the arrest was simply
premature. Though the right to be free from arrest without
probable cause is substantial, the injury caused solely by
prematurity of the arrest is, of itself, insubstantial."
Cameron, 806 F.2d at 388. A person's recoverable damages in
this situation may prove to be minimal or even nonexistent, and
the desire to weed out claims perceived to be insubstantial is an
understandable one. But that has never been a ground for refusing
a person whose constitutional rights have been violated the right
to sue for, at least, nominal damages. See Edwards v. Balisok,
520 U.S. 641, 645, 117 S.Ct. 1584, 137 L.Ed.2d 906 (1997)
(nominal damages for procedural due process violation); Carey v.
Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 266-67, 98 S.Ct. 1042, 55 L.Ed.2d 252
(1978) (same); Kyle v. Patterson, 196 F.3d 695 (7th Cir. 1999)
(nominal damages for unlawful detention); Briggs v. Marshall,
93 F.3d 355, 359-60 (7th Cir. 1996) (nominal damages in excessive
force case). And one cannot categorically rule out the
possibility that a particular person arrested falsely but later
convicted might have suffered a significant compensable loss of
some sort as a result of his false arrest. The right to be free
from arrest absent probable cause deserves protection
irrespective of whether the authorities are ultimately able to
produce evidence sufficient
to convict. See Patterson, 947 F. Supp. at 1217. For this and
the other reasons set forth above, we decline to follow Cameron
v. Fogarty. See Rose v. Bartle, 871 F.2d 331, 351 (3d Cir. 1989)
Even though we are constrained to deny Robinson's summary
judgment motion, we grant summary judgment in favor of Round Lake
Park. Municipal liability under § 1983 is limited to those
deprivations of rights caused by action taken pursuant to a
policy, practice, or custom of the municipality. Monell v.
Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658,
98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). The Langs have made no
effort to forward any evidence of the existence of a policy on
the part of the Village that produced the constitutional wrongs
claimed by the Langs (indeed, they did not even plead the
existence of such a policy). Their claim against the Village thus
Plaintiff's motion to strike defendants' video tape is denied.
The motions for summary judgment of defendants Gliniewicz, Hoyne,
the Village of Fox Lake, and the Village of Round Lake Park are
granted. The motion to dismiss filed by defendants Gliniewicz,
Hoyne, and the Village of Fox Lake is denied as moot in light of
this ruling. Those defendants' motion to strike plaintiffs' Rule
12N statement is likewise denied as moot. The motion for summary
judgment of defendant Robinson is denied. This case is set for a
status hearing on January 13, 2000 at 9:30 a.m.