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D'Allesandro v. Brumbaugh

October 22, 2008

STEVE D'ALLESANDRO, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JAMES BRUMBAUGH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment and Plaintiffs' partial motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment and we grant in part and deny in part Plaintiffs' partial motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs allege that in September 2006, Plaintiff Tyler D'Allesandro ("Tyler") was 12 years old and was enrolled in the 7th grade at Indian Trail Junior High School ("Indian Trail"), which was overseen by Defendant Board of Education of Addison Elementary School District 4 ("District"). According to Plaintiffs, on Friday, September 22, 2006, Tyler left the school grounds after school, accompanied by one of his friends ("Friend") as well as an 8th-grade student that Tyler did not know ("Eighth-grader"). Plaintiffs allege that Tyler opened his book bag and realized that he was carrying a utility knife ("Knife") that he put in his bag on a prior occasion when he made a trip to his father's workshop. According to Plaintiffs, Tyler showed the Knife to his Friend and let his Friend hold the Knife. The Eighth-grader allegedly then took the Knife from Tyler's Friend and ran at another student, brandishing the Knife in a menacing manner. The Eighth-grader allegedly then returned the Knife to Tyler and Tyler and Tyler's Friend both left the area.

Plaintiffs allege that on Monday, September 25, 2006, a parent of the student that the Eighth-grader allegedly menaced with the Knife complained to Defendant James Brumbaugh ("Brumbaugh"), the Dean of Students at Indian Trail. Brumbaugh then allegedly had Tyler removed from class and questioned Tyler about the incident. According to Plaintiffs, Brumbaugh then conferred with Defendant Terry Sliva ("Sliva"), the Building Principal for Indian Trail. Brumbaugh and Sliva allegedly decided that Brumbaugh should remove Tyler from school and drive Tyler to his home. Brumbaugh then drove Tyler to his residence ("Residence"). Once at Tyler's Residence, Brumbaugh allegedly ordered Tyler to let him into the Residence to search for the Knife. Brumbaugh allegedly found the Knife in the Residence and then took the Knife and Tyler back to school. Plaintiffs allege that neither of Tyler's parents, Plaintiff Steve D'Allesandro ("Steve") or Plaintiff Kelly D'Allesandro ("Kelly") were contacted or gave permission to Brumbaugh to take Tyler out of school and drive him to their Residence. Plaintiffs also contend that neither Steve nor Kelly gave permission for the search of the Residence. In addition, Plaintiffs claim that Indian Trail never informed Steve or Kelly of the search of the Residence and that they only became aware of the search when Tyler returned home from school at the end of the school day and told them. Plaintiffs also claim that during the search of the Residence, Kelly was at home taking a shower, and that Brumbaugh was aware of that fact, but did not wait to speak with Kelly before leaving the Residence.

On September 27, 2006, Tyler was allegedly suspended for 10 days for the Knife incident. Steve and Kelly allegedly complained about the incident and the actions of the school officials. Plaintiffs allege that, in retaliation for the complaints, Defendant Donald Hendricks ("Hendricks"), the Superintendent of the School District, increased Tyler's punishment to a transfer from Indian Trail to an alternative educational program. Plaintiffs contend that Steve and Kelly continued to complain about the actions of the school officials and, in retaliation, Tyler's punishment was again increased, this time to a recommendation for expulsion.

In the complaint, Plaintiffs also make reference to an action in the Circuit Court of DuPage County. Plaintiffs contend that on February 20, 2007, the court in that matter determined that the search of their Residence allegedly orchestrated by Sliva and Brumbaugh violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights.

Plaintiffs include in the complaint in the instant action individual and Monell First Amendment retaliation claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") (Count I), Section 1983 Fourth Amendment individual, conspiracy, and Monell claims (Count II), Section 1983 due process individual, conspiracy, and Monell claims (Count III), state law false imprisonment individual and conspiracy claims (Count IV), and a state law indemnity claim (Count V). Defendants moved to dismiss all the claims.

On December 12, 2007, we granted Defendants' motion to dismiss the Fourth Amendment conspiracy claims (Count II), the due process conspiracy claims (Count III), and the false imprisonment conspiracy claims (Count IV). We denied the motion to dismiss the individual First Amendment retaliation claim (Count I), the individual Fourth Amendment claims (Count II), the individual due process claims (Count III), and the individual state law claims (Count IV). Finally, we denied the motion to dismiss the Monell claims (Counts I -III). Defendants move for summary judgment on the remaining claims and Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment on Count II.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment, the moving party must 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)(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact 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); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. Individual Fourth Amendment Claims (Count II)

Both sides move for summary judgment on the individual Fourth Amendment claims (Count II). Plaintiffs argue that under clearly established law, Sliva and Brumbaugh violated the Fourth Amendment with the search of the Residence and that Tyler could not have possessed even apparent authority to consent to such a search. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs cannot prevail on the individual Fourth Amendment claims since neither Sliva nor Brumbaugh conducted a search under the Fourth Amendment. Defendants also contend that regardless, Brumbaugh and Sliva are entitled to qualified immunity as to the individual Fourth Amendment claims.

A. Whether Defendants Conducted a Search

Defendants argue that Brumbaugh did not conduct a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment offers protection "against unreasonable searches and seizures." United States v. Grogg, 534 F.3d 807, 810 (7th Cir. 2008). The Fourth Amendment protections prevent "'unreasonable government intrusions into their legitimate expectations of privacy.'" United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 706-07 (1983)(quoting United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 7 (1977)). It is undisputed that the ...


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