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ROBINSON v. GERRITSON

July 1, 2002

TALANGEA ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
V.
ROBERT GERRITSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, Senior District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Talangea Robinson ("Robinson") has filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") action, together with a related state law claim, against Village of Calumet Park ("Village") and three of its police officers: Robert Gerritson ("Gerritson"), Jeffrey DeVries ("DeVries") and Kimberly Reda ("Reda").*fn1 Robinson charges that she was deprived of her constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments*fn2 in having been (1) arrested without probable cause, (2) detained unlawfully and (3) subjected to an unreasonable search and seizure. As already indicated, Robinson also asserts a state law claim of false arrest and imprisonment.

Each of Gerritson and DeVries has filed a Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56 summary judgment motion, and both have complied (as has Robinson) with this District Court's related LR 56.1.*fn3 For the reasons set forth in this memorandum opinion and order, DeVries' motion is granted in its entirety and Gerritson's motion is granted as to Robinson's Section 1983 claims but denied as to her state law claim.

Summary Judgment Standards

Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on parties moving for summary judgment the burden of establishing both the lack of a genuine issue of material fact and the movant's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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)). As Pipitone v. United States, 180 F.3d 859, 861 (7th Cir. 1999) has quoted from Roger v. Yellow Freight Sys. Inc., 21 F.3d 146, 149 (7th Cir. 1994):

A genuine issue for trial exists only when a reasonable jury could find for the party opposing the motion based on the record as a whole.

As with every summary judgment motion, this Court accepts nonmovant Robinson's version of any disputed facts, but only so long as it is supported by record evidence. What follows in the Facts section is culled in that manner from the parties' submissions.

Facts

Robinson worked as the general manager of the Plaza Inn Hotel in Calumet Park ("Plaza Inn") from about August or September 1999 until September 2000 (G.St. ¶ 2). Plaza Inn was owned by Stazde Enterprises, Inc. ("Stazde") (Vlado Lenoch Dep. 6). Among Robinson's duties was logging in the periodic deliveries by Brinks, Inc. of $930 in small bills to be used by the hotel staff for making change ("change deliveries" or "Brinks deliveries") (G.St. ¶¶ 24, 33).

On September 22, 2000 Stazde Vice President Josef Lenoch ("Lenoch") reported to the Calumet Park police that Robinson was suspected of stealing money from Plaza Inn (G.St. ¶¶ 9-10),*fn4 and on September 27 the case was assigned to investigator Gerritson (id. ¶ 13). For that purpose he was given, along with the initial police report, additional documents provided by Lenoch, including information as to Robinson's employment and earnings and an internal Plaza Inn memo documenting accounting shortages (id. ¶ 14).

After reviewing those papers and deciding that he needed more information, Gerritson obtained more documents from Lenoch on October 6 (id. ¶¶ 15-16). Among those materials were a spiral notebook containing a handwritten log of entries indicating the dates on which the $930 change deliveries were made (the "safe log") and several dated receipts for Brinks deliveries signed by Plaza Inn employees (id. ¶ 17). Hotel workers were required to sign for the deliveries and put the money on or under Robinson's desk, and Robinson would then record the deliveries in the safe log and place the money in the change safe (id. ¶¶ 24, 34) unless such funds (perhaps the entire amount) would have to be made available to the hotel desk clerks to make their own change (R.-G. Add.St. ¶ 7).*fn5 Numerous individuals had access to the back office where that money was kept (id. 1 12).

After considering the added documents, Gerritson wrote a report documenting three unsuccessful attempts to "pick up" Robinson on October 7 (G. Dep. Ex. 4; G. St. ¶ 22). According to his testimony, he had then intended to ask her to discuss the case with him voluntarily (G.Dep. 37). Then on October 12 Gerritson spoke with one of Robinson's coworkers (G.St. ¶ 23).

After the December 6 meeting Gerritson decided that he had probable cause to arrest Robinson (G.St. ¶ 36). On January 3, 2001 he wrote a report documenting numerous unsuccessful attempts to "pick up" Robinson over the preceding month (id. ¶ 38). Then on January 12 Gerritson decided to go to Robinson's house and arrest her (id. 39), asking Officer DeVries to accompany him, although he did not discuss the evidence against Robinson with DeVries (id. ¶ 40; D. St. ¶ 43). Both men rode to Robinson's home in a police car, and they arrested her at about 5 p.m. as she was getting out of her car (id. ¶ 42). DeVries handcuffed Robinson and placed her in the back of the police car, and they all returned to the police station (id. ¶¶ 43-44).

At the station Gerritson asked telecommunicator Reda to search Robinson (G.Dep. 88). Before Reda took Robinson into a separate room to be searched, Reda and Gerritson had a conversation (R.-G. Add. St. ¶¶ 22, 25; G. St. ¶ 45). No one else was present in the room during the search, and the door was closed (G.St. ¶¶ 47-48). Robinson claims that she was subjected to a strip search in which Reda required her to open her blouse, lift up her bra, pull down her pants and take off her boots (R.-G. Add.St. ¶ 28).

After the search Robinson declined to give Gerritson a statement, and Gerritson placed her in a holding cell (G.St. ¶¶ 5154). He then went to obtain statements from some of Robinson's former coworkers. At that time Gerritson was aware that the State's Attorney's office in the Sixth District, of which Village is part, expected police officers at least to attempt to obtain a statement from an accused before seeking the approval of charges by an Assistant State's Attorney (id. ¶ 56). Gerritson maintains that he was also aware that if obtaining a statement from an accused was not possible, he was expected to obtain statements from other witnesses before calling the State's Attorney's office (id. ¶ 57). But Alzetta Bozeman-Martin ("Bozeman-Martin"), the Assistant State's Attorney involved in the case, testified only as to an expectation regarding statements from "suspects or proposed defendants" (Bozeman-Martin Dep. 34-37). No evidence (other than Gerritson's own statement) was presented as to any expectation regarding statements from witnesses.

While Robinson remained in the holding cell, Gerritson obtained written statements from two of her former coworkers (G.St. ¶¶ 59-60). Then he gave Robinson another opportunity to make a statement (which she refused) before going off duty on the morning of January 13 (id. ¶¶ 61-62). Gerritson obtained a written statement from a third former coworker on the afternoon of January 13 (id. ¶ 63). None of the coworkers said that he or she believed Robinson took the money (G.Dep.Exs. 15, ...


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