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Petrovic v. City of Chicago

September 16, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Ronald A. Guzman United States District Judge

Judge Ronald A. Guzmán


Robin Petrovic has sued the City of Chicago, Officers James Chevas, Margaret Birkenmayer, Axel Velazquez, John Cruz, Theodore Magno and Sergeant Lawrence Sprandel for depriving her of constitutional rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as for malicious prosecution under state law. Before the Court is defendants' (sued in their individual capacity) motion for partial summary judgment and defendants' motion to strike certain responses and fact statements in Petrovic's summary judgment submissions. For the reasons provided herein, the Court grants in part, denies in part and strikes as moot in part defendants' motion for partial summary judgment and grants in part and denies in part defendants' motion to strike.

Defendants' Motion to Strike

As an initial matter, the Court grants in part and denies in part defendants' motion to strike certain responses and fact statements in Petrovic's summary judgment submissions. In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the Court routinely determines, without guidance from the parties, whether (1) a denial of a fact statement is supported by a citation to the record; (2) a denial is responsive to a particular fact statement; (3) additional facts provided in response to a particular fact statement that do not directly deny the fact statement should be ignored; and (4) whether fact statements raise material issues of fact. After having done so, the Court grants in part the motion and deems admitted the following paragraphs of defendants' fact statements for Petrovic's failure to comply with LR 56.1: 24, 41, 48, 55-56, 64, 67-69. The Court denies the motion to deem admitted paragraphs 26-37, 44-45 and 53 of defendants' fact statements because the Court holds that plaintiff's denials are properly supported.

Further, exercising its discretion, the Court declines to strike particular paragraphs of plaintiff's LR 56.1 statement of additional facts on the basis that they contain multiple sentences within one numbered paragraph. The Court will strike entire statements of fact when a party flouts the rule egregiously. This is not one of those cases. Accordingly, the Court denies defendants' motion to strike paragraphs 1, 3-6, 10, 17, 26, 28, 31, 38-39 of plaintiff's statement of additional facts. The Court denies the motion to strike paragraph 9 because it is properly supported by the record. The Court grants in part and denies in part the motion to strike paragraph 16 and strikes only that portion that states Petrovic left a message with the officers' badge numbers and changes it to the singular form, i.e., officer's badge number. The Court grants in part and denies in part the motion to strike paragraph 18 and strikes only the last two sentences because they are unsupported by the citation to the record.

Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment


At around 11:15 p.m. on July 23, 2005, Petrovic went with girlfriends to the Funky Buddha Lounge, after having met at one of their houses at which Petrovic drank one and three-fourths glasses of a fruit-blended vodka drink. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶¶ 8-10.) At the Funky Buddha, she ordered a beer and a girlfriend bought a lemon drop shot for her, and she drank both of them. (Id. ¶ 10.) After Petrovic and her girlfriends danced for a while, she sat down at a booth. (Id. ¶ 11.)

At some point, another bar patron told her to move or she would have Petrovic thrown out. (Id. ¶ 12.) A waitress told Petrovic that she was sitting in a reserved area. (Id. ¶ 13.) The waitress summoned a bouncer and, according to Petrovic, the bouncer hit Petrovic on the head with a flashlight without provocation. (Id. ¶ 14.) The bouncer threw Petrovic on her back and then lay his body on top of her. (Id. ¶ 18.) Two male bar patrons attempted to pull the bouncer off of Petrovic. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 5.) Petrovic reached for a nearby glass and hit the bouncer and then grabbed his testicles and squeezed them with all her strength. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 16.) The bouncer pinned Petrovic's arms behind her back and removed her from the Funky Buddha Lounge via the front door. (Id. ¶ 17.) Petrovic was upset and requested that the police be called. (Id. ¶ 18.)

Officers Birkenmayer and Velazquez were the first to arrive on the scene. (Id. ¶ 19.) Soon after, Sergeant Sprandel arrived to check the liquor licenses for the Funky Buddha Lounge, which is standard protocol when the police are summoned to an establishment that serves alcohol. (Id. ¶ 20.) Officers Magno and Chevas, who are partners, stopped at the scene for safety reasons and because the nightclub was busy. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Birkenmayer interviewed the bouncer and the manager of Funky Buddha Lounge. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 8.) After speaking to both of them, Birkenmayer told Petrovic that her story was checking out and that she was going to arrest the bouncer on Petrovic's complaint. (Id.) Birkenmayer then asked Petrovic to sign and swear to a blank complaint, which she said was her typical practice. (Id. ¶ 9; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 22.) Petrovic told Birkenmayer that she was not comfortable signing and swearing to a document without knowing its contents. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 10.) Petrovic offered to go to the police station with the officers while they filled out the form. (Id.) Birkenmayer told Petrovic that they had already wasted enough time on her. (Id. ¶ 11.)

Birkenmayer then told Petrovic to speak to Sergeant Sprandel, who also refused to fill out the complaint before Petrovic signed it and told her that she needed to sign the blank complaint if she wanted the bouncer arrested. (Id. ¶ 12.) When Petrovic asked Sprandel for his badge number, he gave it to her, but he refused to give Petrovic the badge numbers of any of the other officers at the scene. (Id. ¶ 13.)

Petrovic then walked over to Birkenmayer and asked her for her badge number, which Birkenmayer refused to provide. (Id. ¶ 14.) However, Petrovic was able to see the number and memorize it and after obtaining a cell phone from a passerby, Barry Mack, she left a message on her voicemail with Birkenmayer's badge number. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) Petrovic then tried to read Chevas' badge number, but he covered it up so she could not see it. (Id. ¶ 16.) The parties dispute whether Birkenmayer or Chevas then struck Petrovic from behind, whether Chevas grabbed her and spun her around and slammed her against a squad car, and whether Chevas threw her into the street, where she landed on her back near oncoming traffic. (Id. ¶ 17.) The parties also dispute whether Chevas, Birkenmayer and Magno lifted her body and each leg off of the ground. (Id. ¶ 18.) Petrovic then yelled out "I'm a teacher!" and "Freedom!" and it is disputed whether Chevas then shoved his hands into her mouth. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) While the parties do not dispute that Chevas' hand was injured, the dispute whether the injury was due to his shoving his hands in her mouth or Petrovic's unintentionally biting him while his hands were in her mouth. (Compare id. ¶ 19, with Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 27, and Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 27.) One or more of the officers placed Petrovic, who was handcuffed, in the squadrol. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 40.)

Though defendants dispute her version of events, Petrovic claims that: (1) Chevas later entered the squadrol, picked her up, slammed her face into the floor and kicked her in the head three times in the same spot (id. ¶ 42); (2) Petrovic then said "You win." (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 22); (3) Chevas then slammed his foot down on her ear, ground her ear into the squadrol floor with his boot causing her faced to be smashed between his boot and the floor, kicked her hard in the genitals and called her a cunt before exiting the squadrol (id. ¶ 24; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 42); (4) after leaving the squadrol, Chevas said through the holes on the squadrol, "We're going to get you cunt." (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 25); and (5) another male stated, "Would you let that bitch teach your kids?" (id.). It is undisputed that Petrovic had visible blood and lacerations on her face and back as well as bruising on her body. (Id. ¶ 27.)

Mack, the bystander who had lent Petrovic his cell phone and was arrested for obstruction of justice as a result, heard thumps coming from Petrovic's compartment of the squadrol while he was locked up in a separate compartment of the squadrol. (Id. ¶ 26.) He heard a male call her a "cunt," "white bitch," and "whore." (Id.)

Petrovic was transported to the 13th District police station. (Id. ¶ 28.) She asked Birkenmayer (in the presence of Velazquez) to take her to the hospital, but Birkenmayer said she had to do the paperwork first. (Id.) At the station, Mack saw that Petrovic had bruises on her face and arms. (Id. ¶ 27.)

On July 24, 2005, Birkenmayer submitted and signed a case report that stated that Petrovic had battered Chevas and Magno, and Sprandel signed off on the report. (Id. ¶ 29.)

At approximately 8:50 a.m., or six hours after she was arrested, Petrovic was taken to Area 4, where Cruz interviewed her. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 30.) She asked Cruz to take her to the hospital. (Id.) Cruz told her that if she went to the hospital, she would have to come back to the interrogation room afterwards and so she acquiesced to being interviewed. (Id.) Petrovic told Cruz that Chevas had beaten her up. (Id. ¶ 31.) Cruz knew that lockup would not take Petrovic into custody without her having seen a doctor because of ...

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