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Simmons v. Tarby

October 30, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge


Before the Court are numerous motions: Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Ryan Tarby and Robert Huston on March 22, 2007 [Doc. 43]; Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Gary Hartzell and Mark Skiles on April 5, 2007 [Doc. 49]; Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint filed by Plaintiff Kenneth Simmons on June 4, 2007 [Doc. 60]; Motion to Strike Response to Motion filed by Plaintiff on July 2, 2007 [Doc. 63]; and Motion to Dismiss filed by Plaintiff on September 11, 2007 [Doc. 64]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions for Summary Judgment are GRANTED IN PART [Docs. 43 and 49], the Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint is GRANTED IN PART [Doc. 60], the Motion to Strike Response to Motion is DENIED [Doc. 63], and the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED [Doc. 64].


The background facts of this case do not appear to be in dispute. On June 16, 2004, Plaintiff parked his 2000 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck ("2000 truck") in front of the residence of Robert and Mildred Stockstill. In the bed of the truck, Plaintiff placed a sign which made disparaging remarks about Robert Stockstill. According to Plaintiff, he then entered a 1990 GMC pickup truck ("1990 truck") driven by his wife and circled the block. Upon returning to the 2000 truck, he observed the Stockstills defacing and/or removing the sign. Naturally disturbed by these actions, Plaintiff called the police and requested that they arrest the Stockstills for trespassing on his property and damaging his truck.

The police officers dispatched to the scene were Tazewell County Deputy Officer Tarby and Village of Mackinaw Police Officer Skiles. Shortly after Officer Tarby's and Skiles' arrival, Mackinaw Chief of Police Hartzell arrived on the scene to assist. Officer Tarby's police report indicates that he spoke to Plaintiff about the damage to his truck. Plaintiff demanded that Officer Tarby get his sign from the Stockstills. As Officer Tarby was talking to Plaintiff, Chief Hartzell approached Plaintiff's wife, who was parked in the 1990 truck, in order to question her about the incident. Plaintiff became upset and, as he walked toward the pair, started yelling at his wife to not talk to Chief Hartzell. Officer Tarby ordered Plaintiff to return to his location, Plaintiff did not comply. Officer Tarby restrained Plaintiff and arrested him for obstructing their investigation. Plaintiff then told Officer Tarby that his back hurt and he was subsequently transported to Pekin Memorial Hospital where he was evaluated and released. He subsequently was convicted by a jury of obstructing a peace officer.

With respect to the trucks at issue, Chief Hartzell's police report indicates that Plaintiff's wife drove away from the scene. He further indicates that "#1 Simmons truck was towed from the scene." A fair assumption to be made from this information is that Plaintiff's wife, who was driving the 1990 truck, left the scene and that Plaintiff's 2000 truck was towed from the scene. Plaintiff also has presented evidence that the 2000 truck was towed. A "Report of Towed Vehicle" indicates that a Chevy S-10 pick-up truck was towed. [Doc. 55, Ex. 3]. Thus, there is no dispute that the 2000 Truck was the vehicle towed from the scene.

None of the police reports indicate exactly what happened to the sign.

On December 20, 2004, Plaintiff began serving his term of incarceration at the Tazewell County Jail. While at the jail, Plaintiff requested medical care for his back. He made two requests, one on December 20, 2004 and the other on December 22, 2004. The first request bears a signature from a jail official (which appears to be "Justin") with a "Star #" 6347. The document indicates that the request was "given to medical." The second request is harder to read. The staff response section contains writing but is unreadable and there does not appear to be a signature from an officer.


Familiarity with the procedural history of this case is presumed and will not be repeated in detail here. This case is proceeding on Plaintiff's original Complaint filed on June 15, 2006. In addition to the Defendants named above, Plaintiff named in the caption of the Complaint Tazewell County and the Village of Mackinaw*fn1 . Plaintiff alleges that Officer Tarby, in his official and individual capacities, violated his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him, seizing his sign, and seizing his truck*fn2 on June 16, 2004. Plaintiff further alleges a Fifth Amendment claim against Officer Tarby in addition to various tort claims. Plaintiff alleges the same Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment claims against Chief Hartzell and further claims that Chief Hartzell falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted him. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Skiles violated his Fourth Amendment rights by seizing his truck without a warrant or probable cause.

With respect to Sheriff Huston, Plaintiff alleges that he violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide adequate medical care in December 2004. Plaintiff also states that Sheriff Huston is "responsible for unidentified medical staff and correctional officers'" violations of his rights under a respondeat superior theory of liability. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, preventing these Defendants from committing these acts in the future, compensatory, and punitive damages.

In two orders entered in February of this year, this Court considered the first dispositive motions filed by the parties. Pursuant to those Orders, Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claims, his state law tort claims, his Constitutional tort claims, and his claims against Tazewell County and the Village of Mackinaw were dismissed. The only claims that remain are Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims against Officer Tarby (Counts 1 and 2), Chief Hartzell (Counts 3 and 4), and Officer Skiles,*fn3 and Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment Claims against Sheriff Huston and unknown officers (Count 5).*fn4

Now pending before the Court are Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Officer Tarby, Chief Hartzell, Officer Skiles, and Sheriff Huston. The Motions offer a similar argument: that Plaintiff's § 1983 Fourth Amendment claims are collaterally estopped as they have already been considered and decided by a state court. These Defendants argue that Plaintiff was convicted by a jury of obstructing a peace officer in relationship to the events which occurred on June 16, 2004. The Defendants further note that Plaintiff presented his Fourth Amendment Claims to Judge Purham of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois, Tazewell County, and that those claims were denied by Judge Purham. Additionally, Chief Hartzell and Officer Skiles argue that Plaintiff's claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Sheriff Huston argues that he had no personal knowledge of Plaintiff's medical needs nor did he have any contact with Plaintiff while he was incarcerated during December 20-22, 2004.

In addition to filing responses to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff seeks to amend his Complaint to include a claim that Officer Skiles seized, in addition to his truck, the sign at issue. Plaintiff also seeks to amend his Complaint by substituting the unknown officer in his Eighth Amendment claim with the name Schad Martin. In making these requests, Plaintiff alleges that "Defendant and others concealed the identities and actions of the aforementioned Defendants" in order to prevent Plaintiff from pursuing his claims. Plaintiff further seeks to strike Defendants' response to his Motion to Amend.

And, finally, Plaintiff seeks to "dismiss" the Tazewell County State's Attorney from this lawsuit. Plaintiff states that States Attorney Stuart Umholtz may be called as a witness in this case and that Plaintiff will be deposing him in relation to his underlying criminal case. Defendants oppose this Motion by noting that state law requires the States Attorney to represent the state actors Plaintiff has sued.



Summary judgment should be granted where "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). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court as to portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.

Once the movant has met its burden, to survive summary judgment the "non-movant must show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues on which [s]he bears the burden of proof at trial." Warsco v. Preferred Tech. Group, 258 F.3d 557, 563 (7th Cir. 2001); See also Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-24. "The non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; it must go beyond the pleadings and support its contentions with proper documentary evidence." Chemsource, Inc. v. Hub Group, Inc., 106 F.3d 1358, 1361 (7th Cir. 1997).

This Court must nonetheless "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). In doing so, this Court is not "required to draw every conceivable inference from the record -- only those inferences that are reasonable." Bank Leumi Le-Isreal, B.M. v. Lee, 928 F.2d 232, 236 (7th Cir. 1991). Therefore, if the record before the court "could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party," then no genuine issue of material fact exists and, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. McClendon v. Indiana Sugars, Inc., 108 F.3d 789, 796 (7th Cir. 1997) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). However, in ruling on ...

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