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Armon v. McHenry County

December 29, 2008

DALE ARMON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MCHENRY COUNTY, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frederick J. Kapala District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

FREDERICK J. KAPALA, District Judge

In this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff, Dale Armon, claims that defendants, McHenry County; the McHenry County Board of Health; Patrick McNulty, the Public Health Administrator of the McHenry County Department of Health; Dr. Edin Mehanovic, the administrator of McHenry County Animal Control; Sean Graf,*fn1 an inspector for McHenry County Animal Control; and Jerry Rivard, the manager for McHenry County Animal Control, violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as a result of an illegal search of her farm and seizure of several animals found on the premises. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. As discussed below, because there is no genuine issue of material fact concerning the validity of the search warrant in this case, the court concludes that defendants are entitled to summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The following, relevant facts are undisputed. At all relevant times, plaintiff resided on a large piece of farm property located in Hebron, Illinois. On September 8, 2005, Graf, an inspector for the Animal Control Division of the McHenry County Department of Health, filed a complaint for an administrative search warrant in which he requested the issuance of a search warrant for plaintiff's farm. According to the complaint, on August 3, 2005, Animal Control received a call from Claudia Dunn, who complained about the care of the animals residing at plaintiff's farm. Specifically, Dunn stated that she had been to the plaintiff's home that day and witnessed the "horrible conditions" in which the animals were being kept. Dunn also stated that plaintiff had no electricity or gas, and that plaintiff did not have enough money to pay her bills or buy food for the animals.

According to the complaint, Graf and Mehanovic went to plaintiff's home on August 3, 2005, in response to Dunn's complaint. After entering the home with the consent of plaintiff, they observed the following:

(1) A strong smell of animal feces and urine.

(2) Eight to ten cats in cages in the kitchen with litter boxes full of feces and urine.

(3) Five of the cats stood out as being extremely sick with upper respiratory infections.

(4) Five more cats located in a room of the home with litter boxes full of feces and urine, with feces running down the walls.

(5) A 12' by 13' in size room with 30 plus cats, with feces and urine running down the walls. The cats in this room appeared very thin with signs of infections.

(6) The garage on the premises housed at least 15 dogs. The dogs' kennels are dirt floored and there was a strong smell of urine, and had no water.

(7) What appeared to be a wolf-hybrid in the pool house located on the premises. She claims it was not a wolf-hybrid and had not [sic] registration of vaccination papers for the wolf.

On August 8, 2005, Graf returned to the residence for a follow up visit, at which time plaintiff stated that two of the cats had died due to their health. Graf further stated in the complaint that "[a]ll of the cats were emaciated and had mucus crusted on their faces," an iguana was found that was "very thin and covered in ...


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