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Plevritis v. City of Chicago

September 17, 2007

JOHN PLEVRITIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND CHICAGO POLICE OFFICERS KENNETH STOPPA, DAVID KUMIEGA, AND MARK KUSHINER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marvin E. Aspen, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The Plaintiff, John Plevritis ("Plaintiff"), filed a seven-count amended complaint against the Defendants, the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers Kenneth Stoppa, David Kumiega, and Mark Kushiner, alleging various federal and state law claims. Before us are the Defendants' joint motion for summary judgment on all counts and Plaintiff's request to "withdraw" certain claims. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's request is construed as a motion for voluntary dismissal and granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The undisputed facts are as follows. Plaintiff John Plevritis is a Chicago resident. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 1.) In 2002, Plaintiff met Stephanie Stobiecki ("Stobiecki"), who is not a party to this action, and the two began dating shortly thereafter. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Subsequently, Stobiecki often stayed at Plaintiff's home, located at 2814 North Meade. (Id.) Stobiecki had a key to the house, knew the code for the burglar alarm, and kept many of her belongings there. (Id.; Def. Statement of Facts at ¶ 11.)

Since 2001, Stobiecki has owned and operated Lasko's, a bar located in Chicago. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 2.) Defendant Kenneth Stoppa ("Stoppa"), a Chicago police officer, was a regular at Lasko's and a friend of Stobiecki's. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3.) On multiple occasions, Stoppa gave Stobiecki rides to Plaintiff's house after she closed the bar, and the two would often sit in his car talking for twenty minutes or more. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Further, Stoppa would perform "other little favors" for Stobiecki. (Id.)

Plaintiff's relationship with Stobiecki ended approximately three months before the June 22, 2004 incident giving rise to this litigation. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 4.) At some point thereafter, Plaintiff changed the locks on his house and the code on the burglar alarm, and informed Stobiecki that she was not welcome to visit. (Id.) Subsequently, Stobiecki began living with a new boyfriend, Gianni Pincente ("Pincente"). (Id.) On June 20, 2004, Plaintiff was arrested at Lasko's in connection with an alleged assault and battery against Stobiecki. (Def. Statement of Facts at ¶ 13.) The following day, Plaintiff and Stobiecki agreed to meet on June 22 so that she could remove her property from Plaintiff's house. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 4.) Stobiecki then contacted Stoppa, who agreed to meet her at Plaintiff's home to deter any potential problems with Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 5.)

Stoppa testified that he arrived at Plaintiff's house at about 12:25 PM the following day, and that he had to wait approximately twenty minutes for Stobiecki to arrive. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 7.) When she finally did arrive, Stobiecki was accompanied by her new boyfriend, Pincente, and Dave Langley, who she employed as a bouncer at Lasko's. (Id. at ¶ 6.) The four had to wait for Plaintiff to arrive, as Stobiecki did not have a key to the house. (Id. at ¶ 8.)*fn1 Stoppa told Stephanie that he was unable to wait much longer, so she repeatedly called Plaintiff several times demanding that he come immediately so that she could retrieve her belongings. (Id.)

Rather than continuing to wait for Plaintiff to arrive, Stobiecki broke into the house through a window by cutting a screen and having Pincente hoist her into the house. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.) This triggered the burglar alarm, which produced both a localized, audible alarm and also remotely alerted the alarm company to the break-in. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-14.) Stobiecki then called Plaintiff and informed him that she had broken into the house. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff, in turn, called 911 to report the break-in and proceeded to his house. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 17.) At about 1:05 PM, the alarm company called Plaintiff's home number to inquire about the alarm; Stobiecki answered the phone and informed them that she was Plaintiff's ex-girlfriend and that she had broken into the house. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Accordingly, the alarm company informed Stobiecki that they were going to call the police. (Id.) Stobiecki then tore the alarm unit from the wall and proceeded to start moving her belongings out of the house. (Id. at ¶ 14.) During this course of events, Stoppa's squad car was parked in an alley adjacent to the window that Stobiecki entered. (Id. at ¶10.) Because of the 911 calls placed by both Plaintiff and the alarm company, the police issued a radio call. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Subsequently, Stoppa called two of "his guys," Officers David Kumiega ("Kumiega") and Mark Kushiner ("Kushiner"), who subsequently arrived at the scene. (Id. at ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff arrived to find Stobiecki and Stoppa in his living room, at which point he asked what Stoppa was doing in his house and inquired as to why he was not arresting Stobiecki. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 18.) Stoppa responded that Stobiecki had given him permission to search the house, prompting Plaintiff to inform him that she did not live there. At that point, Stoppa said that they would "let the judge decide" the issue. (Id.; Def. Statement of Facts at ¶ 29.) Officers Kushiner and Kumiega then confronted Plaintiff, forcing him to sit down on his couch while they proceeded to search his house without a warrant, over his objections. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 19, 21.) During the search, Stobiecki went into Plaintiff's back yard and started the motor on a boat that Plaintiff had stored in his back yard, causing damage to it. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Plaintiff complained to Stoppa, asking "why he let [Stobiecki] do that," and Stoppa responded that "it's her house, she can do what she wants." (Def. Statement of Facts at ¶ 31.) However, the officers later ordered Stobiecki to stay out of the house. (Id.)

Plaintiff made several cell phone calls while the officers were searching his house. (Pl. Statement of Factsat ¶ 24.) Specifically, Plaintiff called a friend to complain that he was being mistreated by police officers; consequently, that same friend dialed 911 to request that a superior officer be dispatched. (Id.) Based on these calls, OEMC called Plaintiff's house, and Plaintiff answered the phone while the Defendant-Officers were nearby. They instructed him to tell the operator that everything was fine. According to Plaintiff, he felt threatened, and so complied with their requests.

At some point, the officers handcuffed Plaintiff, placed him in a squad car, and did not allow him to use his cell phone. (Id. at ¶ 25.) At some other point, the Defendant officers uncovered 234 grams of marijuana, five firearms, and ammunition. (Def. Statement of Facts at ¶ 43.) The officers informed Plaintiff of the guns and drugs that they found, and only then had him sign a blank consent-to-search form. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 27.) After Plaintiff signed the consent-to-search form, the Defendant-Officers called in a canine unit to further search the house. (Id. at ¶ 28.) Plaintiff was transported, processed, and ultimately charged in relation to the marijuana and firearms taken from his residence. (Id. at ¶ 47.) Ultimately, however, Plaintiff prevailed on a motion to suppress evidence based on the illegal search of his house, and the criminal case was in turn dismissed. (Pl. Statement of Facts at ¶ 36.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is proper when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. A genuine issue for trial exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). This standard places the initial burden on the moving party to identify "those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotations omitted).

Once the moving party meets this burden of production, the nonmoving party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading" but, rather, "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine ...


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