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Bruce v. Perry

June 23, 2006

ALFONSO BRUCE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICKY PERRY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POLICE OFFICER FOR THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS, ANDRE HENSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POLICE OFFICER FOR THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS, AND THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 28) filed by defendants Ricky Perry ("Perry"), Andre Henson ("Henson") and the City of East St. Louis, Illinois (the "City")(collectively referred to as "Defendants"). Perry and Henson are both Police Officers employed by the City of East St. Louis, Illinois. Plaintiff Alfonso Bruce ("Plaintiff") has filed an opposing Response (Doc. 30). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 15) is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary damages against Defendants "for committing acts under color of law which deprived [Plaintiff] of rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the United States and the State of Illinois" (Id. at ¶ 1). Count I alleges Officers Perry and Henson used excessive force in arresting Plaintiff, causing him to suffer physical and emotional injuries (Id. at ¶¶ 32-37). Count II alleges the City is also liable for the actions of Officers Perry and Henson, for failure to supervise and/or discipline or properly train the Officers (Id. at ¶¶ 38-46).

Count III alleges assault and battery against Officers Perry and Henson (Id. at ¶¶ 47-50). Count IV alleges the City is liable for Officers Perry and Henson's alleged assault and battery against Plaintiff, based upon municipal policy (Id. at ¶¶ 51-54). Count V alleges a claim of false arrest against Officers Perry and Henson (Id. at ¶¶ 55-58) and Count VI alleges a claim of false arrest against the City based upon municipal policy (Id. at ¶¶ 59-61). Counts VII alleges a claim of malicious prosecution against Officers Perry and Henson (Id. at ¶¶ 62-65) while Count VIII alleges the same claim against the City (Id. at ¶¶ 66-68). Count IX against Officers Perry and Henson (Id. at ¶¶ 69-73) and Count X against the City (Id. at ¶¶ 74-77) allege claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, Count XI seeks punitive damages from all Defendants (Id. at ¶¶ 78-80). Plaintiff has requested a trial by jury.

In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following factual allegations: that on September 8, 2001, he drove to his parents' house, located in East St. Louis, Illinois, he proceeded to the rear of the house, walked onto the patio deck and knocked on their back door (Id. at ¶ 13). While Plaintiff was standing at the back door, he was approached by Officer Perry who asked Plaintiff to identify himself (Id. at ¶ 14). Plaintiff then told Officer Perry that he had identification in his back pocket (Id.). Next, Officer Perry allegedly ordered Plaintiff to come down off of the deck, at which point, Plaintiff informed Officer Perry that this was his parents' house and his sister also lived there (Id. at ¶ 15). Plaintiff's sister was a Police Officer for the City at the time (Id.).

Plaintiff's factual allegations continue, stating that at about the time Officer Perry ordered Plaintiff to step down from the patio deck, Officer Henson arrived (Id. at ¶ 16). At that time, Plaintiff alleges that the Officers proceeded to use "undue force" on him in order to pull him from the patio deck and then forcing him face-down on the ground, where they repeatedly beat Plaintiff "without provocation or cause" (Id. at ¶ 17). The Officers then arrested and charged Plaintiff for resisting a peace officer (Id. at ¶21). As a result of their use of excessive force, Plaintiff alleges Officers Perry and Henson caused him serious and permanent internal and external injuries, including a fractured jaw and eye socket, as well as mental pain and anguish (Id. at ¶ 37).

Plaintiff further alleges that the City, as the Officers' employer and due to its municipal policy, is liable for Plaintiff's injuries. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that the City's policies, practices and customs of inadequately supervising, disciplining and/or training its law enforcement personnel ultimately lead to the Officers' use of excessive force towards Plaintiff (Id. at ¶¶ 22-31).

B. DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Defendants have moved for summary judgment, making the following arguments: (1) Officers Perry and Henson did not use excessive force against Plaintiff, but instead their actions were reasonable given the circumstances; (2)the City cannot be liable because Plaintiff has failed to produce evidence to show it was deficient in its training policies or that there had been prior allegations of misconduct against Officers Perry and Henson; (3) Officers Perry and Henson are entitled to qualified immunity from liability for their actions; (4) Officers Perry and Henson had reasonable grounds to arrest and imprison Plaintiff; (5) Officers Perry and Henson neither intended nor did they have knowledge of the probability that their conduct caused Plaintiff severe emotional distress; and (6) the City is immune from liability for punitive damages and the Officers' conduct did not rise to the level of willful and wanton behavior to justify punitive damages (Doc. 28).

Defendants' version of the facts differ substantially from Plaintiff's allegations. Defendants' substantiate their factual account from the deposition testimony of both Officers Perry and Henson, attached as Exhibits A and B to Defendants' memorandum in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 28). Defendants claim they were both on patrol the early morning of September 8, 2001, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Officer Perry was parked in his patrol car facing east, talking to Officer Henson, who was parked in his patrol car next to Officer Perry and facing west on Lawrence Avenue. Officer Perry claims he then spotted Plaintiff running to the right side of a house*fn1 carrying a plastic shopping bag in each hand (Doc. 28, p. 2, Ex. A, p. 63). Officer Perry then got out of his patrol car and approached Plaintiff, asking for identification (Id.). Officer Henson followed (Id.). Plaintiff responded "I ain't got to tell you guys shit," and refused to produce his identification (Id., Ex. A, p. 64). Officer Perry recalled that he smelled alcohol on Plaintiff's breath (Id). Again, Officer Perry claims he asked Plaintiff to come down from the patio and walk around to the front of the house to verify his identity, to which Plaintiff again responded "I ain't got to tell you all shit" (Id.). Officer Perry recalled Plaintiff then tried to push past him and run, but he stumbled and fell down the steps to the ground, face-first (Id. and Ex. B, p. ).

The Officers then tried to subdue Plaintiff, but he kept fighting them (Id.). OfficerPerry testified that he and Officer Henson then noticed a "red blood-like substance on [Plaintiff's] face" when they were attempting to handcuff him (Id.). Officer Henson's testimony is in line with Officer Perry's recollection of events. Both Officers testified that although Plaintiff fought them before being handcuffed, neither of the Officers ever hit or kicked Plaintiff (Doc. 28, Exs. A & B).

III. ANALYSIS

A. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment is appropriate under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when "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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of factual issues and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Wollin v. Gondert, 192 F.3d 616, 621-22 (7th Cir. 1999). The Court must consider the entire record, drawing reasonable inferences and resolving factual disputes in favor of the non-movant. Schneiker v. Fortis Ins. Co., 200 F.3d 1055, 1057 (7th Cir. 2000); Baron v. City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333, 337-38 (7th Cir. 1999).

In reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court does not determine the truth of asserted matters, but rather decides whether there is a genuine factual issue for trial. EEOC v. Sears, Robuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2000). No issue remains for trial "unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not sufficiently probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986); accord Starzenski v. City of Elkhart, 87 F.3d 872, 880 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1055 (1997); Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994). As such, " '[i]f no reasonable jury could find for the party opposing the motion, it must be granted.' " Oates, 116 F.3d at 1165 (quoting Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995)(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). However, summary judgment may not be averted merely by the non-moving party "baldly contesting his adversary's factual allegations," but ...


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