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Kaplan v. City of Chicago

March 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge United States District Court

Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber


Before the Court is Defendant City of Chicago's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Defendant's Motion is granted.


At the outset, the Court notes that Plaintiff's Memorandum in opposition to the pending Motion for Summary Judgment is rife with allegations and conclusions that lack any evidentiary support. Such a response is insufficient and, to the extent Plaintiff's allegations are unsupported by the record, the Court ignores them for purposes of the pending motion. Local Rule 56.1(b); see Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir., 1993)(mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material). This is because summary judgment "is the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events." Steen v. Myers, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir., 2007). The Court now turns to the undisputed facts.

Plaintiff, Shelley Y. Kaplan, was employed as an officer of the Chicago Police Department (the "CPD") from January 1991 until March 2006. On March 24, 2006, the CPD terminated Plaintiff because, according to the CPD, she refused to comply with a direct order. Both before and after her termination, Plaintiff initiated numerous grievances and lawsuits against the CPD and the City of Chicago (the "City") on various grounds, including discrimination based on her Jewish faith. On April 22, 2008, this Court dismissed certain portions of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint on res judicata and statute of limitations grounds. The only claims remaining before the Court are Plaintiff's claim that prayer which occurred during certain meetings organized pursuant to the CPD's Community Alternative Policing Strategy ("CAPS") program violated the First Amendment and her related claim that the CPD discriminated against her when she complained about prayer at CAPS meetings.

The CAPS program, which the CPD implemented in 1993, brings the community, police, and other City agencies together to identify and solve problems of crime and neighborhood disorder and to improve the quality of life in Chicago's neighborhoods. As part of the CAPS program, beat community meetings ("beat meetings" or "CAPS meetings") are held on a monthly or quarterly basis in each of the 281 police beats in the City. Beat meetings offer an opportunity for police and community members to meet, exchange information, and identify and discuss crime and disorder problems on the beat.

Beat meetings are held in public locations on the beat, but may not be held in private homes or locations that derive their primary source of income from the sale or consumption of alcohol. Beat meetings typically are held at police stations, schools, parks, banks, libraries and churches. Beat meetings are conducted jointly by members of the CPD and the local community ("community co-chairs") and attendance is open to the public. The CPD encourages the participation of community members in beat meetings and community co-chairs may assist in leading each beat meeting and establishing the meeting's agenda. However, the ultimate responsibility for beat meetings rests with the CPD as CPD General Order 96-03-05 states that "responsibility for establishing the agenda and ensuring that the meeting runs smoothly rests with the beat team officers and cannot be delegated." G.O. 96-03-05 also lists various items that normally appear on a beat meeting agenda such as "welcome and introduction of participants," "identification/analysis of new problems," and "discussion of strategies and coordination of responsibilities." G.O. 96-03-05 says nothing about prayer at beat meetings.

The CPD assigns one "primary officer" from each of the three watches, or shifts, to attend beat meetings. If that officer is unable to attend, the district's CAPS lieutenant assigns a relief officer from the same watch to attend in the primary officer's place. Because CAPS meetings occur in the evening, officers from the first and second watches are entitled to receive overtime pay for their time spent attending beat meetings.

Plaintiff was assigned to the CPD's Sixth District, and the various beats located within it, from 1992 to 1993 and then again from February 1999 until February 2005. As part of her duties in the Sixth District, Plaintiff attended approximately five CAPS meetings from January to April 2004, a couple of which she volunteered to attend "to review community concerns regarding crime problems and crime patterns in the neighborhood."

Plaintiff claims that each of the beat meetings she attended opened and closed with Christian prayer. While Plaintiff did not participate in these prayers she remained present during them because, she claims, "the intimacy of the meetings did not permit unobtrusive escape." Plaintiff claims that at one meeting on an unknown date, an unidentified male asked her to lead the meeting and start with a prayer. Thinking the request was a joke, Plaintiff refused. Someone else led the prayer at that meeting and the CPD District Commander, who was present, participated in the prayer.

Plaintiff submitted a document that she claims is the agenda for the April 22, 2004 beat meeting and it includes items entitled "Prayer" and "Closing" but Plaintiff does not know who prepared the document. Plaintiff led the April 22, 2004 beat meeting at which there was prayer but Plaintiff does not recall who initiated the prayer or whether it was a CPD member or a civilian.

Plaintiff complained to several other CPD members about prayer at the beat meetings she attended, including her direct superior, Lieutenant Bruce D. Lipman. Lt. Lipman told Plaintiff that she was free to excuse herself from beat meetings during prayer, that it would not be held against her, and that if anyone challenged Plaintiff for excusing herself during prayer he would tell that person that prayer is not required. Lt. Lipman also offered to change ...

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