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Purtell v. Mason

January 17, 2006

JEFFREY R. PURTELL AND VICKI A. PURTELL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BRUCE MASON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Jeffrey R. Purtell and Vicki A. Purtell filed a two-count Complaint against Defendant Village of Bloomingdale Police Officer Bruce Mason alleging that he violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights to the United States Constitution. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Officer Mason's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Officer Mason's motion.

BACKGROUND

I. The Purtells

The Purtells resided at 165 Jackson Lane, in the Village of Bloomingdale, Illinois for approximately 13 years prior to the incident giving rise to the present lawsuit. (R. 21-1, Def.'s Local Rule 56.1 Stmt., ¶ 5.) In October of 1995, the Purtells purchased a recreational vehicle ("RV") that measured 38 feet in length and over 12 feet in height. (Id. ¶6.) In January of 2001, Jeffrey Purtell delivered a letter to his neighbors informing them that due to his family's financial and medical problems, he needed to park his RV at his residence. (Id.; R. 25-1, Pl.'s Addl. Stmt. Facts, ¶ 4.)

II. Village of Bloomingdale Ordinance

Betty and Jim Garbarz have resided at 169 Jackson Lane, directly south of the Purtells' home, since the late 1980s or early 1990s. (R. 21-1, Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 7.) Jeffrey Purtell sent a letter to Jim Garbarz dated January 21, 2001 regarding the parking of the Purtells' RV at their residence. (Id. ¶ 8.) Jim Garbarz testified that he had no objection to the Purtells parking their RV on their property for a few months, but that he grew unhappy when the Purtells had parked the vehicle on their property off and on for over a year. (Id. ¶ 9.) Eventually, Jim Garbarz called the Village of Bloomingdale to complain about the presence of the RV on the Purtells' property. (Id.)

At all times relevant to this case, Diane Lesner, her husband Robert, and two children resided at 161 Jackson Lane, directly north of the Purtells' residence. (Id. ¶ 12.) In August of 2002, some of the Purtells' neighbors, including Diane Lesner and the Garbarzs, began to support the passage of a Village of Bloomingdale ordinance that would prohibit the parking of recreational vehicles on residential property. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14.) On August 17, 2002, the Village of Bloomingdale published a Notice Of Public Hearing indicating that on September 3, 2002, the Plan Commission of the Village of Bloomingdale would conduct a public hearing and meeting concerning the proposed ordinance. (R. 25-1, Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 13.) A Plan Commission meeting also took place on October 1, 2002. (Id.) The Purtells attended these meetings and expressed their opposition to the ordinance, whereas the Garbarzs and Diane Lesner expressed their support for the ordinance. (R. 21-1, Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 14.) In November of 2002, the Village Board of Bloomingdale passed an ordinance prohibiting the parking of RVs on residential property. (Id. ¶ 15; R. 25-1, Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 16.)

III. The Tombstones

In mid-October of 2002, Jeffrey Purtell erected several "tombstones" on his front lawn as Halloween decorations, some of which made specific reference to neighbors who supported the passage of the RV ordinance. (R. 21-1, Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 16.) One tombstone referenced Jim Garbarz and stated:

Here Lies Jimmy,

The OlDe Towne IdioT MeAn As sin even withouT his Gin No LonGer Does He wear That sTupiD Old Grin ...

Oh no, noT where they've sent Him! -1690-(Id. ¶ 20.) Jeffrey Purtell admits that the "Jimmy" tombstone referred to Jim Garbarz and by making the tombstone, he was attempting to show Jim Garbarz how ignorant he was regarding the RV ordinance. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Another tombstone, directed at Diane Lesner, stated: -- 1610 --

Dyean was Known for Lying So She was fried.

Now underneath these daises is where she goes ...


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