United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
October 17, 2005.
JOHN D. PADGETT, as Administrator of the Estate of John D. Padgett, II, Deceased, Plaintiff,
JAMES MICHAEL RIDEN and THOMAS PERKINS, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. GILBERT, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on defendant James Michael
Riden's ("Riden") motion for summary judgment (Doc. 37).
Plaintiff John D. Padgett ("Padgett") has responded to the motion
Summary judgment is appropriate where "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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);
Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th
Cir. 2000). Where the moving party fails to meet its strict
burden of proof, a court cannot enter summary judgment for the
moving party even if the opposing party fails to present relevant
evidence in response to the motion. Cooper v. Lane,
969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).
In this case, Padgett alleges that on April 25, 2005, defendant
Thomas Perkins ("Perkins") and plaintiff's decedent, John D.
Padgett II ("John") had an altercation. He further alleges that
when Riden, a Harrisburg, Illinois, policeman, arrived on the
scene, Riden and Perkins concocted a false story that shifted all
blame for the confrontation to John. The complaint also alleges
that Riden included the false story in his official report,
testified to it in court, pressured witnesses to change their stories to support it,
and planted evidence that tended to corroborate it. Riden
arrested John, who spent several days in jail until bond was set.
Ultimately, John was acquitted of all charges at trial in October
2002. Padgett alleges that as a result of Riden's and Perkins's
actions, John suffered, among other things, great emotional
distress, which caused him to commit suicide in December 2002.
Padgett's complaint alleges claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violation of John's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be
free from unreasonable seizure and for violation of John's
Fourteenth Amendment due process right not to be maliciously
prosecuted. The complaint also alleges state law claims for
In order to establish a § 1983 claim against an individual, a
plaintiff must prove that the defendant deprived the plaintiff of
rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States
and that the defendant was acting under color of state law.
Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); Brokaw v. Mercer
Co., 235 F.3d 1000, 1009 (7th Cir. 2000). In order to establish
a claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must prove "(1)
the commencement or continuance of an original criminal or civil
judicial proceeding by the defendant; (2) the termination of the
proceeding in favor of the plaintiff; (3) the absence of probable
cause for such proceedings; (4) the presence of malice; and (5)
damages resulting to the plaintiff." Ferguson v. City of
Chicago, 795 N.E.2d 984, 986 (Ill.App.Ct. 2003) (internal
Riden's motion requests summary judgment on the grounds that,
under Illinois law, Padgett cannot recover for suicide following
a tortious act. See Moss v. Meyer, 454 N.E.2d 48 (Ill.App.Ct.
1983). The motion does not, however, establish that Riden is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law on any of the claims
asserted. First, Riden's motion does not discuss the
applicability of Illinois law to § 1983 actions. Second and more
importantly, Riden's motion is directed solely toward eliminating certain aspects of damages and
does not negate or point to any factual gap with respect to any
element that Padgett must prove to prevail in his case. Even if
Riden's argument has merit, a matter that the Court does not
decide in this order, Padgett may still be able to recover
nominal damages or compensatory damages for injuries to his
constitutional rights that preceded John's suicide. See Memphis
Community School District v. Stachura, 477 U.S. 299, 308 n. 11
(1986) ("nominal damages . . . are the appropriate means of
`vindicating' rights whose deprivation has not caused actual,
For this reason, the Court finds that Riden has not
demonstrated that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
and DENIES Riden's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 37).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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