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Gholson v. Lewis

November 19, 2008

WILFORED GHOLSON AND KATRINA REESE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OFFICER MARK LEWIS, 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. For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs allege that on April 23, 2006, Plaintiff Wilfored Gholson ("Gholson") was inside of his apartment when police officers employed by Defendant Village of Riverdale ("Riverdale") gestured through his window for him to come outside. Plaintiffs claim that Gholson complied and when he stepped outside he was immediately surrounded by several police officers including Defendant Officer Mark Lewis ("Officer Lewis"). Plaintiffs allege that the officers, including Officer Lewis, began to push Gholson back and forth. According to Plaintiffs, Gholson responded by sitting down on the pavement to avoid further contact with the officers. Plaintiffs allege that the officers then instructed him to return to his apartment, which he did.

Plaintiffs claim that a short time after Gholson returned to his apartment another officer knocked on his door and Plaintiff Katrina Reese ("Reese"), who also resided in the apartment with Gholson, answered the door. Plaintiffs allege that officers then entered the apartment, put handcuffs on Gholson, and placed him under arrest. Plaintiffs claim that Gholson was taken to the police station, processed and detained before being released on bond. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant Officer Frank Nowaski ("Officer Nowaski") drafted a complaint against Gholson falsely alleging that Gholson committed a battery against Officer Lewis. Plaintiffs claim that Gholson was prosecuted on the charge of battery and that the charge was resolved in Gholson's favor.

Plaintiffs initially brought an action in 2006 against Defendants, which was dismissed without prejudice for want of prosecution. Plaintiffs then refiled the instant action in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Gholson brings a claim alleging false arrest and excessive force in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") against Officer Lewis, Officer Nowaski, and Defendant Officer David Demik ("Officer Demik") (collectively referred to as "Defendant Officers") (Count I) and a claim alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution in violation of Illinois state law against the Defendant Officers (Count II). Gholson and Reese also bring a Section 1983 claim for warrantless entry into their apartment in violation of the Fourth Amendment against the Defendant Officers (Count III). Finally, Gholson brings a Section 1983 Monell claim against Riverdale (Count IV). Defendants removed the instant action to federal court. On April 29, 2008, we denied Defendants' motion to dismiss. Defendants answered Plaintiffs' complaint and raised affirmative Defenses. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all claims.

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 Transp. Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. Section 1983 False Arrest and Excessive Force Claims (Count I)

Gholson brings claims under Section 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they falsely arrested him and used excessive force in arresting him. Defendants move for summary judgment on these claims arguing (1) that the undisputed facts establish that Officer Lewis had reasonable grounds to believe that Gholson committed the offense of battery, (2) that the undisputed facts establish that Officer Nowaski and Officer Demik were not the arresting officers and cannot be held liable for false arrest, (3) that the undisputed facts establish that none of the officers used excessive force against Gholson, and (4) that Officer Lewis, Officer Nowaski, and Officer Demik are entitled to qualified immunity on Gholson's Section 1983 claims.

A. Section 1983 False Arrest Claim

Gholson's Section 1983 false arrest claim names all of the Defendant Officers. As an initial matter, the undisputed facts establish that Officer Nowaski and Officer Demik did not arrest Gholson, did not place Gholson into custody, and did not sign a criminal complaint against Gholson. (RSF Par. 3-8). Thus, there is no evidence that Officer Nowaski and Officer Demik participated in any fashion in Gholson's arrest and they cannot be liable for Gholson's Section 1983 false arrest claim. See Jenkins v. Keating, 147 F.3d 577, 583 (7th Cir. 1998)(stating that "'an individual cannot be held liable in a § 1983 action unless he caused or participated in an alleged constitutional violation'" and finding that an officer who did not arrest the plaintiff could not be liable for false arrest)(quoting Wolf-Lillie v. Sonquist, 699 F.2d 864, 869 (7th Cir. 1983)(emphasis omitted)). The undisputed facts establish that Officer Lewis was the arresting officer who signed the criminal complaint against Gholson for misdemeanor battery to a police officer. (RSF Par. 1-2). Defendants argue that Officer Lewis is ...


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