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GUDINO v. TOWN OF CICERO

December 8, 2005.

EDUARDO GUDINO and OBDULIA PERALTA, Plaintiffs,
v.
TOWN OF CICERO et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN GRADY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the court is the motion of defendants Thomas Krummick, Dino Vitalo, and Waldemar Cruz for summary judgment, which is granted for the reasons stated below.

BACKGROUND

  This is a § 1983 civil rights action that is related to Duran v. Town of Cicero, 01 C 6858.*fn1 The Duran case is a civil rights action by numerous plaintiffs against the Town of Cicero and various Cicero police officers. Both cases arise out of incidents involving the Cicero police that occurred on September 2, 2000, at and around the home of Alejandro and Maria Duran, who were having a party. The plaintiffs in the instant case, Eduardo Gudino and Obdulia Peralta, were neighbors of the Durans who lived in separate houses across the street from the Durans. The basic facts regarding each plaintiff in the instant case are different; the commonality is that both Gudino and Peralta reacted to what was happening at the Duran home and then became involved in confrontations with the Cicero police. The relevant facts are taken from plaintiffs' deposition testimony.

  Obdulia Peralta

  Like the Durans, Peralta was having a party in her backyard on September 2, 2000. Peralta's party was much smaller than that of the Durans, with about fifteen guests. When Peralta and her guests heard screaming and commotion coming from the street in the front of the house and saw police officers running through yards toward the street, Peralta and her guests went out to stand in front of her house to see what was happening.

  Peralta saw police officers, some with asps, hitting people in the Durans' front yard. She and her party guests began screaming at the police officers, telling them not to hit people. Some officers, using profanities, told them that they shouldn't be watching and to be quiet and go inside the house. The officers threatened to bring police dogs and that if Peralta and her guests didn't go inside, they would be arrested. One officer then started pushing Peralta and her guests to move them inside. When the pushing was occurring, Peralta "slipped and [] went back and [] banged against the [brick] wall [of her house]." (Peralta Dep. at 16.) She was cut near her left shoulder blade by a nail protruding from the brick.

  Peralta identified two police officers at her deposition, only one of whom is a defendant: Sergeant Thomas Krummick.*fn2 Peralta stated that she saw Krummick, who was wearing a white shirt, in the street. He was one of the officers who used profanities and told the group that they would be arrested if they did not go inside.

  Eduardo Gudino

  On the night of September 2, 2000, Eduardo Gudino was sitting in the front room of his apartment on the second floor of a building across the street and three doors down from the Durans' home. He heard police sirens outside. When Gudino looked out the window, he saw police cars arriving and parking out front; a number of officers got out of their cars and talked amongst themselves. Gudino saw and heard the police officers, who seemed very "agitated," shouting at the Durans' party guests, so he got his video camera and began taping the events. He began taping from inside the apartment and then went outside and across the street to tape the events from a stairway at the house next door to the Durans'. Gudino saw officers hitting and pushing people and spraying them with pepper spray. At some point, Gudino moved from his vantage point; one of the officers saw him and chased Gudino. Two officers stopped Gudino, and one of them, whom Gudino was unable to identify at his deposition, demanded that Gudino give them the video camera or they would take it from him. The other officer, whom Gudino has identified as Officer Robert DeCianni, then punched Gudino in the stomach. The first officer started to hit Gudino, but Gudino used the camera to block him. Then, according to Gudino, "they grabbed my hand, and they took the camera from me, but when they took the camera from me, I shook them off, and I started to run towards my house." (Gudino Dep. at 19-20.) The officers chased Gudino for a short time, but Gudino got away and eventually went back inside his house.

  Plaintiffs' Claims

  Plaintiffs filed this § 1983 civil rights action on September 3, 2002. The First Amended Complaint names as defendants Sergeant Krummick, Officer DeCianni, Officer Dino Vitalo, Officer Waldemar Cruz, "other unidentified police officers," and the Town. Count I (for Fourth Amendment violations) and Count II (for Fourteenth Amendment violations) are brought against the individual officers. In Count I, Peralta alleges that DeCianni, Vitalo, and Cruz used excessive force on him, failed to intervene to prevent the further use of excessive force, and confiscated his video camera without cause or justification. As for Peralta, she alleges in Count I that Krummick failed to intervene to prevent "the further use of threats, profanity and excessive force." (First Amended Complaint, ¶ 36.) In Count II, plaintiffs allege that the individual defendants denied them equal protection. Against the Town, plaintiffs bring a Monell claim (Count III); a claim for spoliation of evidence (Count IV); and an indemnification claim (Count V). Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages.

  Krummick, Vitalo, and Cruz now move for summary judgment on the claims that are asserted against them. (DeCianni and the ...


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