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Thompson v. City of Chicago

March 12, 2009

TERRANCE THOMPSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, CARL SUCHOCKI, TIM MCDERMOTT, AND JOHN BURZINSKI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzmán

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Terrance Thompson ("Thompson") has sued Chicago police officers Carl Suchocki, Tim McDermott, John Burzinski ("the officers") and the City of Chicago pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating, conspiring to violate and failing to prevent the violation of, his due process rights (Counts II, V, VI and VIII) and for maliciously prosecuting, falsely arresting and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on him (Counts IX-XII ).*fn1 The case is before the Court on the parties' motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the defendants' motions and denies plaintiff's motion.

Background

On September 21, 2002, the officers, who were assigned to the Chicago Police Department's Special Operations Section ("SOS"), arrested plaintiff for unlawful aggravated use of a weapon. (Officers' Ex. D, General Offense Case Report.) Plaintiff says the charge was baseless, but he was convicted nonetheless. (Officers' Ex. K, Certified Statement Conviction/Disposition Pearson.*fn2

McDermott and Suchocki were the only witnesses who testified for the State during the trial. (City's Ex. Q, Trial Tr. of 10/7/03.)

Three years later, after Suchocki and other SOS officers had been indicted and the investigations into SOS' activities became public, plaintiff successfully moved to have his conviction vacated. (Pl.'s Ex. 12, Certified Statement Conviction/Disposition Suchocki; Pl.'s Ex. 4, Pet. Relief J.; Pl.'s Ex. 6, Order of 12/5/06.) Thereafter, he filed this suit.

Discussion

To prevail on a summary judgment motion, "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits [must] show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). At this stage, we do not weigh evidence or determine the truth of the matters asserted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). We view all evidence and draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment is appropriate only when the record as a whole establishes that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Id.

The Federal Claims

Defendants argue that the section 1983 claims for their alleged conspiracy to violate, failure to prevent the violation of and violation of plaintiff's due process rights, are untimely. All of these claims are based on the officers' alleged failure to disclose material exculpatory evidence to plaintiff. Because it is undisputed that the trial was held on October 7, 2003, defendants say that plaintiff's claims, which were not filed until February 2007, are untimely. See Williams v. Lampe, 399 F.3d 867, 870 (7th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) ("§ 1983 claims in Illinois are . . . governed by a two-year limitations period.")

Plaintiff does not quarrel with the time-line but contends that Heck v. Humphrey renders his claims timely. 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (holding that a constitutional claim that would "render a conviction . . . invalid" cannot proceed until the conviction has been invalidated). The officers say Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007), not Heck, applies to plaintiff's claims and establishes that they are time-barred.

The Court agrees with plaintiff. The issue in Wallace was whether a section 1983 claim for false imprisonment accrues when the tort is complete, i.e., "the victim becomes held pursuant to [legal] process," or as the Heck Court held with respect to section 1983 due process claims, when the conviction for the underlying crime is invalidated. 549 U.S. at 389-91 (emphasis omitted). The Wallace Court said it was the former:

[T]he Heck rule for deferred accrual is called into play only when there exists a conviction or sentence that has not been invalidated, that is to say, an outstanding criminal judgment. It delays what would otherwise be the accrual date of a tort action until the setting aside of an extant conviction which success in that tort action would impugn. . . .

What petitioner seeks . . . is the adoption of a principle that goes well beyond Heck: that an action which would impugn an anticipated future conviction cannot be brought ...


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