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MARRERO v. LANDERMAN

DANIEL J. MARRERO, Plaintiff,
v.
JULIE LANDERMAN, in her individual capacity, and DAWN MALEC, in her individual capacity, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Daniel J. Marrero filed a two-count amended complaint against defendants Julie Landerman and Dawn Malec (both police officers in Joliet, Illinois), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In it, he alleges that defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully arresting him (Count I) and by using unreasonable force in connection with his arrest (Count II). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs.

Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Count I of the amended complaint is now before this court. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

  I. Summary Judgment Standard

  At summary judgment, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. See, e.g., Krchnavy v. Limagrain Genetics Corp., 294 F.3d 871, 875 (7th Cir. 2002). Summary judgment is appropriate 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c); Schuster v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 327 F.3d 569, 573 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c)). A triable fact issue exists "only if there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Schuster, 327 F.3d 569, 573 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Wade v. Lerner New York, Inc., 243 F.3d 319, 321 (7th Cir. 2001) (quotation omitted)).

  The movant bears the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 923, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). "Because the purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims," the non-movant must then present specific facts showing that there is an issue for trial. Michael v. St. Joseph County, et al., 259 F.3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(e)). To successfully oppose the motion, the non-movant cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must designate specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions that establish that there is a genuine triable issue. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment must be entered against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to his case and on which he will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

  II. Factual Background

  In his amended complaint, plaintiff asserts two claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. First, he alleges that defendants unlawfully arrested him (i.e., arrested him without probable cause) in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count I). Secondly, he alleges that defendants used unreasonable force in effecting his arrest, also in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count II). Defendants have moved for summary judgment only as to Count I (and not Count II) of the amended complaint, and, specifically, have moved only as to whether probable cause existed for plaintiff's arrest.*fn1 Only those facts relevant to the court's disposition of defendants' motion are addressed herein.

  A. Defendants' Contentions Concerning Plaintiff's Alleged Failure to Adhere to the Requirements of L.R. 56.1 and This Court's "Standing Order Regarding Motions for Summary Judgment"

  Defendants contend that plaintiff failed to follow the Local Rules and this court's "Standing Order Regarding Motions for Summary Judgment" in responding to their L.R. 56.1(a)(3) statement of material facts (i.e., in his L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A) statement) and in setting forth his own L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B) statement of additional facts. On that basis, they ask the court to strike plaintiff's response to their statement of facts, his statement of additional facts, and his memorandum of law in opposition to their motion for summary judgment and to grant summary judgment in their favor. As a preliminary matter, defendants' request is wholly inappropriate, as it is simply set forth in their response statement and not in a separate motion to strike. Setting aside this procedural flaw, defendants' objections to plaintiff's form are almost wholly without merit and plainly do not warrant the striking of plaintiff's submissions or the granting of defendants' motion for summary judgment.

  First, defendants seek to fault plaintiff on a rather meaningless technicality (and do so in a disingenuous manner not viewed favorably by this court). Defendants contend that because plaintiff's statement of additional facts begins with plaintiff's paragraph 62 and "[t]here is no indication where the Plaintiff's additional 61 paragraphs are," "it is impossible for the Defendants to contest the additional facts stated by the Plaintiff, using the format required by the standing order." (Def. Resp., pp. 1-2). This specious argument ignores the fact that defendants' initial statement of facts contained 61 paragraphs. It is manifestly clear that plaintiff simply numbered his eleven additional fact paragraphs in sequence — following defendants' 61 paragraphs. In so doing, plaintiff did not even technically violate L.R. 56.1 (although most practitioners in the Northern District begin numbering their L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B) statements anew (i.e., starting with the number "I"). In any event, this aspect of plaintiff's statement of additional facts presented no genuine impediment to defendants' ability to respond thereto.*fn2

  Defendants also contend that plaintiff improperly included explanation and argument in his L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A) statement, rather than merely stating his disputes with defendants' asserted facts and referring the court to "additional or contrary facts." (Def. Resp., pp. 1-2).*fn3 In fact, plaintiff admitted the majority of defendants' facts. Where he sought to contradict dispute defendants' facts, he properly made citations to portions of the record supporting his disagreement. Although plaintiff may have gone a bit overboard in explaining how the cited portions of the record could contradict defendants' asserted facts, the court finds that plaintiff's L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A) & (b)(3)(B) statements substantially comply with L.R. 56.1 and with this court's Standing Order.

  Finally, defendants contend with respect to plaintiff's L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B) statement that "[t]he references used to support the statement of fact [sic] are not accompanied by any documents containing any type of tabbing and the references are only to page numbers and not specific lines as required by the standing order." (Def. Resp., p. 2). In fact, plaintiff explained at the outset of his L.R. 56.1(b)(3) submission that (and how) he would refer to exhibits contained in defendants' self-described "Local Rule 56.1(a)(1) Documents" (which consisted of five complete deposition transcripts and one additional exhibit). Plaintiff also noted that he was submitting two additional exhibits and made clear precisely where those exhibits were located and how he would refer to them. Although it would have been helpful (and preferable) for plaintiff to have included specific line numbers in his citations to the deposition transcripts, his citations ...


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