United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
March 25, 2004.
GORDON ANDERSON CRYSTAL ANDERSON Plaintiff's,
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff's Gordon and Crystal Anderson filed this action in January
1999. Their Complaint was subsequently amended twice, most recently in
July 2002. It is the Second Amended Complint ("Complaint") that now sets
forth Plaintiff's allegations in this case. This Complaint contains two
counts. Count I states a claim that the conduct of the Defendant Police
Officers violated both Plaintiff's rights under the Fourth Amendment.
Count II alleges that the Defendant City of Chicago violated Plaintiff
Gordon Anderson's due process rights when it destroyed his antique
firearm collection in advance of his trial.
The case comes before the Court now on the Defendants' Motions for
Summary Judgment. The Defendant Police Officers seek summary judgment on
Count I. The Defendant City of Chicago seeks summary judgment on Count
II. Both motions have been fully briefed and they will both be addressed
in this opinion. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' Motions
for Summary Judgment are granted.
Plaintiff Gordon Anderson ("Mr. Anderson") is the father of Plaintiff
Crystal Anderson ("Ms. Anderson").*fn1 Mr. Anderson was the owner of a
residence at 4049 W. Patterson. The residence at 4049 W. Patterson
consists of a basement unit, a first-floor unit, and a second-floor
unit. (PI. Aff. Opp. Summ. J., Ex. 10 at 31, lines 18-21.) The basement
level of the residence is divided into a living unit at the front of the
building, and a smaller common area at the back of the building
containing, among other things, a washer and dryer. (Pl. Aff. Opp. Summ.
J., Ex. 10 at 29, lines 14-23.) At all times relevant to this case,
Plaintiff's Gordon and Crystal Anderson resided in the second-floor unit;
the first-floor apartment was occupied by Ms. Debra Singleton; and the
basement unit was unoccupied.
On December 21, 1997, Chicago police officers responded to a complaint
that Mr. Anderson had issued threats against Placko.*fn2 (Def. Officers
Motion Summ. J., Ex. F) The police report indicates that Placko reported
he was "involved in a long running dispute" with Mr. Anderson. (Id.) The
police report also notes "Offender alluded [sic] to having numerous
weapons in the house." (Id.) The responding officer urged Placko to
obtain a restraining order against Mr. Anderson, but no further action
was taken on the complaint. (Id.)
At approximately 1:15 p.m. on January 31, 1998, Defendant Joseph
Gawlick, a Chicago Police Officer, received an anonymous call from a
concerned citizen that Mr. Anderson was stockpiling weapons in the
basement of the building at 4049 W. Patterson. (Def. Officers
Motion Summ. J., Ex. G at 26, lines 11-17.) At that time, Defendant
Gawlick was a Sergeant in the Gang Team Tactical Unit in the 17th
District of the Chicago Police Department. (Id. at 25, lines 13-14). In
response to this phone call, Defendant Gawlick "called in officers off of
the street from my unit to formulate a plan of going over to this house
and seeing Mr. Anderson." (Id. at 27, lines 7-10.)*fn3
Thereafter, the six Defendant Officers, Jesse Eng, Janine Hermonn, Mark
George, James Tarara, Michael Rice, and Joseph Gawlick, went to the
residence on 4049 W. Patterson. None of the Defendant officers were in
uniform. It is fairly contested whether the Defendants could see the
weapons through the window into the basement of the residence. (Compare
Def. Officers Statement of Uncontested Facts No. 15 with Pl. Aff. Opp.
Def. Motion Summ. J., Ex. 10 at 32, lines 6-24 and Def. Officers Motion
Summ. J., Ex. C at 160, lines 20-24.) At least two of the Defendant
officers knocked on the front door of the building and Ms. Singleton, the
first-floor tenant, let them in. (Def. Officers Motion Summ. J., Ex. D at
27, lines 3-8.) Ms. Singleton let at least two of the Defendant Officers
into the basement of the residence. (Id. at7) She also told them where to
find Mr. Anderson's guns in the basement. (Id. at 28.)
Meanwhile, four or five officers knocked on the front door of Mr.
Anderson's apartment.*fn4 (Def Officers Motion Summ. J., Ex. C at 156.)
At the time, Ms. Anderson was not at home and Mr. Anderson was sleeping.
(Id.) When he answered the door, the Defendant officers demanded to be
let in, claiming to have a warrant for Mr. Anderson's arrest. (Id.) When
they were unable to produce the warrant (which they never had), Mr.
Anderson told them, "No warrant, leave", and closed the front door. (Id.)
Mr. Anderson then attempted to return to sleep.
A few minutes later, Mr. Anderson heard his dogs barking at the back
door. (Id. at 165.) Four of the Defendant Officers knocked at the back
door of Mr. Anderson's apartment. (Id. at 166.) Again, Mr. Anderson asked
the officers if they had a warrant. When they informed him (truthfully
this time) that they did not have a warrant, he again told them to leave
and attempted to close the door. (Id. at 167.) Defendant Gawlick stuck
his foot between the door and the door jamb to prevent Plaintiff from
closing the door. (Id. at 167.) Next, Defendant Gawlick "pulled out a
snub-nose revolver . . . pointed that just close enough to the door, said
that if [Mr. Anderson] didn't let him in, he was going to knock the door
down and start shooting the dogs." (Id.) Mr. Anderson, fearful that
either he or his pets were about to be shot, permitted the Defendant
officers access to his apartment at that point. (Id.) Once the Defendant
officers were in the apartment, they immediately handcuffed Mr. Anderson
and placed him under arrest. (Id. at 168.) The Defendant Officers told
Mr. Anderson that they had found his guns in the basement. (Id. at
172-73.) Mr. Anderson was told that he was being arrested for illegal
possession of firearms. (Id. at 173.)
After arresting Mr. Anderson, the Defendant Officers asked him if he
had any more guns in the apartment. (Id. at 172.) Mr. Anderson told them
that there were some in a gun case in his office. (Id.) The Defendant
Officers proceeded to search Mr. Anderson's apartment, From the basement
and the apartment, the Defendant Officers seized thirty-two weapons from
4049 W. Patterson on January 31, 1998. The weapons were assigned
inventory numbers by the Chicago Police Department, ranging consecutively
from 1937601 to 1937633. (Pl. Comp. Ex. A.) The Standard Operating
Procedures of the Chicago Police Department require the weapons to be
transfered to the "gun vault" at 1011 South Homan in Chicago. (Def. City
Statement Uncont. Facts No. 21,)
Later on January 31, 1998, Defendant Officer Mark George executed
thirty-two quasi-criminal complaints charging Gordon Anderson with
"Failure to Register Firearms" in violation of Section 8-20-040 of the
Municipal Code of the City of Chicago. (Def. City Motion Summ. J., Ex.
At some point on January 31, 1998, Mr. Anderson's neighbor, Dane
Placko, swore a criminal assault complaint against Mr. Anderson based on
the events from December 20, 1997. (Def. Officers Motion Summ. J., Ex.
BC.) Mr. Anderson asserts that this complaint was signed and sworn to
after the Defendant Officers came to his home, Defendants do not proffer
a more specific timeframe for Placko's complaint. The assault charge
against Mr. Anderson was eventually dismissed.
In the state court criminal action on the weapons charges, Mr. Anderson
filed a motion to quash the arrest and suppress the evidence due to a
Fourth Amendment violation. After a
hearing, the state court judge ruled on July 22, 1998 that "the
Constitutional Rights of the Defendant were not violated." (Def. Officers
Mot. Summ. J., Ex. L at 108, lines 11-12.)
On September 10, 1998, Mr. Anderson's defense attorney and a retained
defense firearms expert inspected the weapons seized from Mr. Anderson's
home. (Def. City Ex. 9 at 163-64.) Neither the Chicago Police Department
nor the City's Municipal Prosecutions Unit placed a hold on the weapons
pending the outcome of the trial. (Id. at 125-26.) In June 2000, personnel
from the Evidence and Recovered Property Section of the Chicago Police
Department destroyed Mr. Anderson's firearms pursuant to an adminstrative
review and disposal process that dictates destruction of evidence
retained on misdemeanor violations after 18 months. (Id. at 128-29.) The
firearms were destroyed "in accord with the normal practice and procedure
of the Evidence and Recovered Property Section." (Id. at 129.) At the
time the firearms were destroyed, the officer who oversaw their
destruction had no knowledge of the pending ordinance violation case and
harbored no malice towards Mr. Anderson. (Id.)
Mr. Anderson was informed that his weapons had been destroyed by letter
dated June 5, 2001. (Pl. Comp. Ex. A) Mr. Anderson then filed a motion to
dismiss the ordinance violation complaint, alleging that the destruction
of the weapons deprived him of an opportunity for a fair trial. (Def.
City Ex. 11 at 2.) Although the state court judge was "trouble[d] . . .
that the guns [we]re gone" (Id. at 15), he denied Mr. Anderson's motion
to dismiss holding that the destruction of the weapons did not violate
his right to a fair trial. The state court judge was uncertain whether
the destruction of the evidence was in bad faith and decided "that's an
issue that [Mr. Anderson] [could] raise with the jury", although the
judge himself "d[id]n't see any showing of bad faith." (Id. at 18, lines
2-4; 19, lines 16-17.)
On February 21, 2002, Mr. Anderson was convicted of 20 counts of
Failure to Register a Firearm, and acquitted of 11 counts. (Def. Officers
Mot. Summ. J., Ex. M at 163-66.)
A. Summary Judgment Standard
A party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing that there
are no genuine issues of material fact that would prevent judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. When reviewing a motion for summary
judgment, the Court will "view all facts and draw all inferences in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party." Chortek v. City of
Milwaukee, 356 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2004). Although the non-moving
party benefits from inferences in its favor, where the moving party has
submitted sufficient evidence in support of its position, the non-moving
party must come forward with evidence on which a reasonable jury could
return a verdict in its favor.
B. Count I: Fourth Amendment Violation
Count I of Plaintiff's' Complaint asserts that the conduct of the
Defendant Officers violated the Fourth Amendment rights of both Mr.
Anderson and Ms. Anderson. Defendants assert that they are entitled to
summary judgment on Count I for two independent reasons: (1) qualified
immunity and (2) collateral estoppel. The Court will address those
1. Qualified Immunity
The Defendant Officers assert that they are entitled to qualified
immunity on the alleged Fourth Amendment violation. To determine whether
the defendants are eligible for qualified immunity, the Court must
undertake a two-step analysis. As an initial matter, the Court must
determine whether the alleged conduct, if proved, would constitute a
constitutional violation. If
the conduct would violate the constitution, the Court must determine
whether the constitutional standards were clearly established at the time
of the violation. See Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 775 (7th Cir.
2003). When determining whether the right was clearly established, the
Court asks whether it would be clear to a reasonable officer that his
conduct was unlawful in the situation that confronted her. Id. at 775-76
(citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 202 (2001)).
a. Did the Officers conduct, as alleged, violate the Fourth Amendment?
"When determining whether a police officer's conduct violates the
Fourth Amendment, we must determine (1) whether the conduct constitutes a
search or seizure; and, if so, (2) whether the search or seizure was
unreasonable." Dunn v. City of Elgin, Illinois, 347 F.3d 641, 648 (7th
Cir. 2003). The conduct of the Defendant Officers was undisputably a
search and, with respect to Mr. Anderson, also a seizure. The more
salient question belongs to the second half of the inquiry: was their
Before the police entered the Anderson residence, they were apprised of
two pieces of information: (1) Mr. Anderson was the subject of an assault
complaint from December 1997; (2) there were a number of firearms in the
basement of the residence. This information may have been sufficient to
give rise to probable cause to search the Anderson residence, but the
Defendant Officers would need to obtain a warrant to execute the search
unless an exception to the warrant requirement obtains. When they
appeared at Mr. Anderson's door, he twice denied them access to his home
unless and until they obtained a search warrant, which is his right. His
conduct is not alleged to have been threatening.
At that point, the Defendant Officers were required to obtain a search
warrant if they wanted to search the residence. They did not do so.
Instead, the Plaintiff's allege (and these
allegations are undisputed) that one of the Defendant Officers placed his
foot between the door and the doorjamb, unholstered his firearm, and
threatened to shoot one of Mr. Anderson's pets if he did not give them
access to his home. Taking the facts in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiff's, as the Court must at this stage, it is clear that the
conduct of the officers was unreasonable. Threatening to shoot the pets
of citizens in order to obtain access to their homes is beyond all
b. Did this behavior violate clearly established Fourth Amendment law?
Even though their alleged conduct would violate the Fourth Amendment,
the Defendant Officers would still be entitled to qualified immunity
unless their behavior violated clearly established standards of Fourth
Amendment law. In the murky waters of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,
there are a few bedrock principles. One of those principles is that a
person's home is a private space that merits the highest level of
protection the Fourth Amendment affords. The United States Supreme Court
recently reiterated that "the right of a man to retreat into his own home
and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion stands [a]t
the very core of the Fourth Amendment." Groh v. Ramirez, 124 So.
Ct. 1284, 1290 (2004) (internal quotations & citations omitted). For
almost twenty-five years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been extremely clear
that warrantless searches and seizures inside a home are presumptively
unreasonable. See Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980).
The Fourth Amendment means nothing if a citizen cannot demand the
police obtain a search warrant before searching his home. There are
exceptions to the warrant requirement, of course, (most notably the
exigent circumstances exception which the state court found to obtain in
this case) but on the record presently before it, this Court cannot find
that any exception
would obtain.*fn5 This Court is confident that the alleged conduct
of the Officers in this case violates clearly established Fourth
Amendment principles. Therefore, the Defendant Officers are not entitled
to qualified immunity.
2. Collateral Estoppel
Defendant Officers assert that the state court determination that their
behavior did not violate the Fourth Amendment should preclude the
Plaintiff's from litigating the issue here. They seek to preclude the
Plaintiff's under the doctrine of collateral estoppel. "Under collateral
estoppel, once an issue is actually and necessarily determined by a court
of competent jurisdiction, that determination is conclusive in subsequent
suits based on a different cause of action involving a party to the prior
litigation." Montana v. United States, 440 U.S. 147, 153 (1979).
When assessing the preclusive effect of a state court judgment in a
federal case, the district court applies the collateral estoppel
principles of the state in which it sits. See Brokaw v. Weaver,
305 F.3d 660, 669 (7th Cir. 2002) ("the preclusive effect of a state
court judgment in a federal case is a matter of state [law] rather than
of federal law"). "Under Illinois law, collateral estoppel requires
that: (1) the issues decided in the prior adjudication are identical to
issues presented for adjudication in the current proceeding; (2) there be
a final judgment on the merits; and (3) the party against whom estoppel is
asserted was a party or in privity with a party in the prior action."
Kalush v. Deluxe Corp., 171 F.3d 489, 493 (7th Cir. 1999).
Although the determination of whether the Defendant Officers conduct
violated the Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights is a mixed question of
fact and law, collateral estoppel can apply to such mixed questions when
the "historic fact setting was complete by the time of the first
adjudication." 18 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay
Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 4425, at 643 (2002). In this
case, the predicate facts for the Fourth Amendment violation were
established at the time of the state court suppression hearing.
Furthermore, following the Supreme Court's holding in Alien v. McCurry,
449 U.S. 90 (1980), the Seventh Circuit clearly holds that "[c]ollateral
estoppel can be used to bar a § 1983 claimant from relitigating a Fourth
Amendment search-and-seizure claim that he lost at a state suppression
hearing." Scott v. Sutker-Dermer, 6 Fed. Appx. 448 (7th Cir. 2001)
(citing Alien v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90 (1980)). If the elements of
collateral estoppel are met, then this Court must accept the state
court's determination of the Fourth Amendment issue, which would require
summary judgment to be granted to the Defendant Officers. See 10B Charles
Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2735, at 287 (1998) (declaring that "a rule 56 motion often
is the most appropriate vehicle" for collateral estoppel claims),
As to Mr. Anderson, it is clear that all the elements of collateral
estoppel are present in this case. In the state court action, Mr.
Anderson sought to quash his arrest and suppress the weapons that the
officers seized in the search of his home on the grounds that the arrest
and the search violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment; this is
the identical issue he seeks relief on here. After an evidentiary
hearing, the state court judge ruled that neither the search nor the
seizure violated Mr. Anderson's rights; this is a final judgment on the
merits of the issue. Since
Mr. Anderson was a party to the state court action, collateral estoppel
bars him from relitigating the issue here.*fn6
Ms. Anderson, however, was not a party to the state court case. She was
not charged in that action and she did not have the opportunity to
litigate the issue on her own behalf. She can only be bound by the
previous judgment if she is in privity with Mr. Anderson, "Although
`strict identity of the parties is not necessary to achieve privity[,] .
. . the parties must be so closely aligned that they represent the same
legal interest.' Kunzelman [v. Thompson], 779 F.2d [1172,] at 1178 [(7th
Cir. 1986)]." Kraushaar v. Flanigan, 45 F.3d 1040, 1050 (7th Cir. 1995)
(applying Illinois law). The person to be bound, whether a party or their
privy, must have "had a full and fair opportunity to litigate" the issue,
as well as an "incentive to vigorously litigate in the former
proceeding." Talarico. v. Dunlap, 685 N.E.2d 325, 328 (Ill. 1997). Even
when all the collateral estoppel requirements are met, the Illinois high
court has cautioned that "the doctrine should not be applied unless it is
clear that no unfairness will result to the party sought to be estopped."
American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Savickas, 739 N.E.2d 445, 451 (Ill.
This Court finds that the previous state court action will also estop
Ms. Anderson from contesting the Fourth Amendment issue in this case.
Under the Fourth Amendment, her interests in protecting her home from
illegal searches and seizures are perfectly co-extensive with her
father's interests. The facts on which to base the decision are identical
to the facts in the state court determination. At the state court
evidentiary hearing on the Fourth Amendment issue, the state court heard
testimony that Ms. Anderson was present and very frightened when the
Defendant Officers came to the house. Although the state court judge did
not find this testimony credible (and for good reason, as Plaintiff's
have abandoned their contention that Ms. Anderson was present during the
search and seizure), this testimony nevertheless forced consideration of
Ms. Anderson's privacy interest during the previous proceeding.
Moreover, Mr. Anderson's incentive to litigate the issue vigorously in
the prior proceeding was quite strong owing to the pending criminal
charges. Since the legal inquiry would be identical for both Plaintiff's
and the previous proceeding did include evidence of harm to Ms.
Anderson's interests, this Court can detect no unfairness to Ms. Anderson
from applying collateral estoppel to her claim as well.
Under the circumstances of this particular case, this Court finds that
Ms. Anderson was in privity with her father, and she is fairly bound by
the previous determination. See Henderson v. Stone, NO. 87 C 2775, 1989
WL 81818 (N.D. Ill. July 11, 1989) aff'd 930 F.2d 25 (7th Cir. 1991)
(table) (holding that collateral estoppel is appropriate against criminal
defendant's wife where her interests were presented at the state
Since both Plaintiff's are fairly bound by the earlier state court
determination, they are prevented from relitigating here whether the
Defendant Officers' conduct violated their Fourth Amendment rights.
Consequently, the Plaintiff's are unable to prove that the Defendant
Officers violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment, so the
Defendant Officers are entitled to summary judgment on Count I of
C. Count II: Due Process Violation
Count II of Plaintiff's' Complaint asserts that the City's destruction
of Mr. Anderson's weapons violated his rights under the Due Process
Clause. In the response to the Defendant City's Motion for Summary
Judgment, Mr. Anderson asserted for the first time claims relating to
the delay in the criminal proceeding and a claim under the Fifth
Amendment's Takings Clause. When this Court denied Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss, it clearly held that Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint stated
only a due process claim relating to the destruction of evidence. If
Plaintiff disputed that interpretation of the Complaint, Plaintiff should
have filed a Motion to Reconsider. Having failed to do so, Mr. Anderson
forfeited the ability to seek relief under any other theory.
There are three elements to this due process claim: (1) the exculpatory
value of the evidence must be apparent before its destruction; (2) the
defendant would not be able to obtain comparable evidence by other
reasonably available means; and (3) the destruction was in bad faith. See
United States v. Aldaco, 201 F.3d 979, 982-83 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing
United States v. Watts, 29 F.3d 287, 289-90 (7th Cir. 1994)).
In this case, the element of bad faith is determinative. Defendant City
has proffered competent evidence that the destruction of the weapons was
not in bad faith. See Def. City's Motion Summ. J., Ex. 9 at 129. Mr.
Anderson has provided nothing that would rebut that evidence. Since bad
faith is an essential element of Plaintiff's claim in Count II, there is
no evidence in the record upon which a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the Plaintiff on Count II. The Court finds that the Defendant
City is entitled to summary judgment on Count II.
For the reasons set forth in this opinion, the Court grants both
Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment.