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Ferrell v. Soto

February 5, 2008


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


In their ten-count Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs Mark Ferrell and Cynthia Johnson-Ferrell allege that Defendant Police Officers William Soto, John Keane, and an unnamed Police Supervisor, as well as the City of Chicago,*fn1 violated their constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiffs also allege state law claims of replevin, assault, battery, and negligence based on the Court's supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiffs' summary judgment motion and grants Defendants' summary judgment motion as to Plaintiffs' constitutional claims in Counts II, III, IV and V. Because Plaintiffs' constitutional claims against the individual police officers fail, Plaintiffs' constitutional claims against the City also fail. See Treece v. Hochstetler, 213 F.3d 360, 364 (7th Cir. 2000) (municipality's liability for constitutional injury predicated on individual officers' liability). Last, the Court declines to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state law claims as alleged in Counts VI through X because the Court is dismissing Plaintiffs' claims over which the Court has original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Because both Plaintiffs and Defendants move to strike certain statements of facts, the Court first turns to Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1. When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). The parties' statements must contain short numbered paragraphs including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials. See id.; see also Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817.

The purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006). The types of evidentiary material available to support Local Rule 56.1 statements are numerous, but the most common materials include affidavits, deposition transcripts, and business documents. Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e), supporting and opposing affidavits must show that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters at hand, and the affidavit must contain facts that would be admissible into evidence. Markel v. Board of Regents of the Univ. of Wis., 276 F.3d 906, 912 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997) ("hearsay is inadmissible in summary judgment proceedings to the same extent that it is inadmissible in a trial").*fn2

A litigant's failure to respond to a Local Rule 56.1 statement results in the Court admitting the uncontroverted statement as true. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006). In addition, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. Finally, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C. 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005); Brasic v. Heinemann's Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1997). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

Plaintiffs Mark Ferrell and Cynthia Johnson-Ferrell reside at 9921 S. Lowe Street in Chicago, Illinois, and own and operate a commercial business at 10632 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. (R. 183-7, Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 3, 11.) Plaintiffs' business is a used car sales lot that is partially surrounded by a chain-link fence and has a trailer on it. (Id. ¶ 20; R. 183-6, Pls.' Exs. #22, #23; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 14.) Plaintiffs owned two Rottweiler dogs -- Max and Candy Lady -- who were at the used car lot on March 26, 2006. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 10, 22, 40.) That same day, Officer Soto was detailed to the Animal Abuse Control Team and Sergeant Steve Brownstein was working with Officer Soto as his supervisor. (R. 190-1, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, ¶¶ 4, 5.) According to Officer Soto's deposition testimony, Officer Soto and Sergeant Brownstein responded to a call from the City's Department of Animal Care and Control about a complaint concerning two dogs in duress at Plaintiffs' used car lot.*fn3 (Id. ¶ 6.)

After Officer Soto and Sergeant Brownstein arrived at the car lot, Officer Soto saw a male dog on the trailer's porch. (Id. ¶ 10.) Officer Soto and Sergeant Brownstein then walked onto Plaintiffs' used car lot to look at the dog. (Id. ¶ 11.) The police officers entered the car lot without a search warrant. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 12, 30.) Thereafter, Officer Soto saw the male dog sitting with his hind quarters and backside on a higher step of the trailer's porch and his front paws on a lower step. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 15.) To Officer Soto, the male dog appeared to be uncomfortable because he had little freedom of movement. (Id. ¶ 16.) Officer Soto also observed the female dog on the porch. (Id. ¶ 18.) He noticed that both dogs had chains around their necks instead of collars. (Id.) Officer Soto then approached the dogs and saw signs of abuse related to the dogs being restrictively chained -- such as abrasions around their necks and the fact that the dogs had trouble breathing. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 33.) Moreover, Officer Soto testified that he had seen injuries similar to these in other animal abuse cases. (Id. ¶ 36.) Officer Soto further testified that he saw dried feces on the porch indicating that the dogs had been in that condition for a while. (Id. ¶ 26.)

Mark Ferrell then arrived at the car lot and told Officer Soto that he was the owner of the dogs, after which Officer Soto arrested him. (Id. ¶¶ 39, 40.) After arresting Mark Ferrell for violations of cruelty to animals under Illinois statute 510 ILCS 70/3.01, Officer Soto signed two criminal complaints against Mark Ferrell. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 14, 15; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 45.) Officer Keane of the Chicago Police Department's Animal Abuse Control Team was also at the scene of the arrest. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 41, 42.) The parties, however, dispute Officer Keane's role in Mark Ferrell's arrest. The police officers seized the dogs and the City's Department of Animal Care and Control then took the dogs. (Id. ¶ 48; Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 12.) Animal Care and Control subsequently euthanized Plaintiffs' dogs. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 29.)


Summary judgment is proper 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). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, ...

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