Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Whitehouse v. Piazza

May 21, 2007

JOEL WHITEHOUSE, ELIANA WHITEHOUSE AND JUSTIN HITEHOUSE, MINOR CHILDREN OF JOEL WHITEHOUSE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MAYOR JOHN PIAZZA, CHIEF OF POLICE, KEVIN SHAUGHNESSY, UNKNOWN LEMONT POLICE OFFICERS, AND THE VILLAGE OF LEMONT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nan R. Nolan United States Magistrate Judge

Judge Nan R. Nolan

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Joel Whitehouse and his two minor children, Justin and Eliana Whitehouse, filed suit against Lemont, Illinois Mayor John Piazza, Lemont Police Chief Kevin Shaughnessy, and the Village of Lemont alleging unlawful retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, assault, battery, trespass, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On February 28, 2007, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all of Plaintiffs' claims. See Whitehouse v. Piazza, No. 05 C 1638, 2007 WL 641543 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 28, 2007). Defendants have moved for costs pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 54(d)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Piazza additionally seeks attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b), and sanctions under FED. R. CIV. P. 11. For the reasons set forth here, the motions for costs are all granted in part and denied in part; Piazza's motion for attorneys' fees and sanctions is denied.

BACKGROUND

This opinion assumes the reader's familiarity with the court's earlier decision, Whitehouse, 2007 WL 641543, at *1-7, and relevant facts are repeated here only as necessary to resolve the motions for fees and costs.

On February 22, 2005, eight-year-old Justin Whitehouse complained that Piazza's seven-year-old son had hit and scratched him during a ride home on a school bus. Whitehouse, 2007 WL 641543, at *2. At the time, Joel Whitehouse was running for trustee of the Village of Lemont as part of a political group opposed to Mayor Piazza. Id. at *1. Whitehouse called the school principal claiming that the incident constituted an assault and/or battery, and threatened to "sue everybody and call Channel 5." Id. at *2. On February 25, 2005, Piazza drove over to the Whitehouse residence to discuss the incident, but the two men argued and Whitehouse ended up calling 911. Id. at *2-3.

Sergeant Jerrold Lehmacher received the dispatch and realized that it involved Whitehouse and Piazza. Chief Shaughnessy, too, knew about the disturbance because he received a cellular phone call from Piazza informing him of Whitehouse's 911 call. Id. at *3. At Shaughnessy's instruction, Lehmacher met with the Chief a short distance from the Whitehouse residence to discuss the situation, and then both men proceeded in separate cars to the Whitehouse home, arriving approximately ten minutes after receiving the 911 call. Id. at *3-4. Shortly thereafter, Officer Peter Moranda arrived as well. Whitehouse told the officers that Piazza had come onto his property, yelled at him, and bumped him in the chest to provoke a fight. Whitehouse said that he wanted to file misdemeanor charges against Piazza for assault, battery, and trespass. Id. at *4.

While Whitehouse was speaking with the officers, Justin stepped out into the garage to observe what was transpiring. Whitehouse told his son to come out and tell Chief Shaughnessy about the incident with Piazza. Shaughnessy and Lehmacher objected that it was inappropriate to involve Justin given his age and, according to Justin, Shaughnessy then went over to him and told him that nothing had happened except a friendly conversation between Piazza and his dad. Id. Justin testified that he was afraid, but that he nonetheless re-enacted the events for the officers. Notably, Justin never said that Piazza had chest-bumped Whitehouse. Id.

Shaughnessy advised Whitehouse that the police would prepare and file reports but would not make any arrests or file any complaints pending further investigation. Shaughnessy noted that Whitehouse's own son did not corroborate his story as to any physical contact. Id. After leaving the Whitehouse residence, Chief Shaughnessy drove to Piazza's house to investigate Whitehouse's claims, but Piazza was not home. When Shaughnessy spoke with Piazza by telephone later that evening, Piazza confirmed that he went to the Whitehouse residence but denied any physical contact with Whitehouse. Id. Officer Moranda interviewed a neighbor to the north of the Whitehouse residence, but no one had heard or seen anything. Id. at *5.

Chief Shaughnessy, Sergeant Lehmacher, and Officer Moranda each prepared independent police reports of the incident, and Whitehouse conceded that Lehmacher's report was accurate. Id. at *4-5. Whitehouse also admitted that he and his attorney and friend, Richard Kling, were able to read Lehmacher's report at the police station on the evening of February 25, 2005, though pursuant to standard police procedure they were not allowed to have a copy. Id. at *5. Notably, Whitehouse declined to write down his personal account of the incident at that time, and he admitted issuing a press release that inaccurately accused the police of refusing to take a police report. Id. at *5, 6.

The Lemont police sent copies of their reports to Peter Troy and Joseph Magats of the State's Attorney's Office, who concluded that there was no basis for any felony charges against Piazza. Whitehouse on his own contacted Cook County Assistant State's Attorneys Tom Bilyk and Robert Podlasek and asked them to investigate Chief Shaughnessy's actions in "calling off" the 911 call; failing to interview a child witness; and conducting the investigation despite his status as an "interested" witness. Id. at *6. After investigating the allegations, Bilyk agreed with Troy and Magats that there was no evidence to support any felony crime of obstruction or conspiracy between the police department and Piazza. Id. As for the misdemeanor allegations, Bilyk told Whitehouse that he could have the Bridgeview or Markham courthouses issue a summons for Piazza to appear on his complaints. Id.

Unsatisfied with this response, Whitehouse filed this federal lawsuit against Piazza, Shaughnessy, and the Village of Lemont alleging that Defendants retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment right to political speech, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Whitehouse also brought charges against Piazza for assault, battery, and trespass and, without informing his wife, named his children as Plaintiffs to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"). Id. at *7. On February 28, 2007, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the First Amendment retaliation claim; found no merit to the IIED claim; and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the assault, battery, and trespass claims. Id. at *7-12.

Defendants now seek to recover their costs of defending Plaintiffs' lawsuit, and Piazza additionally seeks attorneys' fees for all claims and Rule 11 sanctions for the IIED claims.

DISCUSSION

I. Motions for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.