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Mandis v. City of Belleville

April 29, 2008

NICK MANDIS, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF EVELYN MANDIS, DECEASED, AND MICHAEL MANDIS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF BELLEVILLE, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND MATT EISKANT, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before this Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 50), accompanied by their supporting memorandum (Doc. 50). The Defendants are the City of Belleville ("Belleville") and Matt Eiskant ("Officer Eiskant") (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiffs Nick Mandis, as Administrator of the Estate of Evelyn Mandis, and Michael Mandis have filed their opposing Response (Doc. 51), to which Defendants have filed a Reply (Doc. 55). Plaintiffs, the third-party victims of a high-speed automobile chase, have brought this § 1983 action alleging that Defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from the deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of the law. Though the Court sympathizes with Plaintiffs, for the reasons discussed herein, the law does not provide a means to impose liability upon Defendants in this case.

II. BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiffs filed this suit against Officer Eiskant, a Belleville police officer, in his individual capacity, and against the City of Belleville, Illinois (Doc. 33, p. 1, ¶ 1). Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 33) alleges the following four Counts:

Count I In Count I, Plaintiff Evelyn Mandis claims damages against Officer Eiskant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of her Fourteenth Amendment rights and for injuries sustained by the collision (Doc. 33, ¶ 24).

Count II In Count II, Plaintiff Nick Mandis, as Administrator of the Estate of Evelyn Mandis, claims damages for the wrongful death of Evelyn Mandis and for other damages against Officer Eiskant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Illinois Wrongful Death Statute (Doc. 33, ¶ 25).

Count III In Count III, Plaintiff Michael Mandis claims damages against Officer Eiskant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights and for injuries sustained by the collision (Doc. 33, ¶ 27).

Count IV Count IV alleges that Belleville violated Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to supervise and train its officers (Doc. 33, ¶¶ 30-32).

On or about September 29, 2003, at approximately 8:04 p.m., Michael Mandis was driving his 1998 Mazda on Illinois Route 157, at or near its intersection with West Main Street, when a vehicle being pursued by Officer Eiskant collided with Michael Mandis' vehicle (Doc. 33, ¶ 4, 8). As a result of the collision, Michael Mandis was injured and his mother, Evelyn Mandis, who had been riding in the passenger's seat, was killed (Doc. 50, pp. 4-5).

Prior to the collision, Officer Eiskant had been on patrol, traveling eastbound on the 9800 block of West Main Street (Doc. 33, ¶ 9). While on patrol, he observed a silver Oldsmobile pull out of a parking lot at 9618 West Main Street (Doc. 33, ¶ 10). Allegedly, the driver of the Oldsmobile failed to turn on his headlights (Doc. 33, ¶ 11). Officer Eiskant followed the driver for several blocks until the driver switched on his headlights, turned onto South 89th Street and parked his car (Doc. 33, ¶ 11). South 89th Street is a dead-end street (Doc. 33, ¶ 11). Officer Eiskant continued eastbound on West Main Street (Doc. 33, ¶ 13). At some point, allegedly after learning from Dispatch that the Oldsmobile's license plate was expired and was instead reported registered to a 1986 Ford (Doc. 50, p. 2), Officer Eiskant turned around, pulled into a vacant lot around the 8900 block of West Main Street and waited for the Oldsmobile to emerge from South 89th Street (Doc. 33, ¶ 13).

As Officer Eiskant had apparently anticipated, the same Oldsmobile eventually appeared at the intersection of South 89th Street and West Main Street. The driver of the Oldsmobile then proceeded to turn right onto West Main Street, heading eastbound; Officer Eiskant again followed the vehicle for three blocks (Doc. 33, ¶ 13, 14). Officer Eiskant activated his overhead lights and, in response, the driver of the Oldsmobile made a U-turn, thereby heading westbound on West Main Street (Doc. 33, ¶ 14). Officer Eiskant gave chase; the pursuit allegedly reaching speeds of approximately 75 miles per hour (Doc. 33, ¶ 14).

Plaintiffs claim that "the high speed pursuit was initiated by [Officer Eiskant] after having the luxury of time and reflection before initiating the chase" (Doc. 33, ¶ 15). Plaintiffs believe that instead of calling for backup when the suspect was parked on South 89th Street, which may have avoided any pursuit, Officer Eiskant, with deliberate indifference, invited and initiated the high-speed car chase by waiting for the driver to turn onto West Main Street (Doc. 33, ¶ 16, 17). Plaintiffs allege "Patrolman Eiskant knew that the vehicle was about to leave the city limits of Belleville, knew the vehicle was approaching a heavily traveled intersection, and yet continued his high speed chase . . . essentially running the vehicle through a red light where it collided with the vehicle operated and/or occupied by plaintiff" (Doc. 33, ¶ 19). Plaintiffs claim Officer Eiskant's actions were not justified and, as a result, violated Plaintiffs' constitutional rights (Doc. 33).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal ...


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