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Rodriguez v. City of Chicago

December 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber


Pending before the Court is the Motion of Defendants City of Chicago and Chicago Police Officers Jason Wolanski and Stefan Zadura for summary judgment in their favor on Plaintiff's claims for unlawful seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, indemnification under 745 ILCS 10/9-102, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault under Illinois state law. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion is denied.


This suit relates to the arrest and seizure of Plaintiff Patricia Rodriguez by Wolanski and Zadura following Plaintiff's ejection from Manor nightclubs in Chicago during the early morning hours of December 12, 2007. The following facts are taken from the parties' Rule 56.1 Statements of Undisputed Facts but the Court notes at the outset that Defendants dispute much of Plaintiff's version of events.

Plaintiff went out to dinner with a friend on December 11, 2007, and she and her friend shared a bottle of wine with their meal. After dinner, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Plaintiff and her friend moved on to a work-related social event at a bar in Chicago where Plaintiff had two or three cocktails. Afterward, at approximately 11:45 p.m., Plaintiff and a few of her friends went to Manor, a Chicago nightclub that is also a Defendant in this action. Plaintiff testified at her deposition that she was feeling the effects of alcohol while at Manor and she would not have attempted to drive a car, but she was not drunk or stumbling.

Shortly after Plaintiff arrived at Manor, a group of Manor employees escorted Plaintiff outside for failing to pay for a drink, an accusation Plaintiff hotly disputed. At that point, both Plaintiff and a Manor employee called 9-1-1 and asked for police to respond. Police responded a short time later, including Defendants Wolanski and Zadura who were operating a police squadrol that night. Plaintiff was arrested for disorderly conduct, handcuffed, and placed in the back of Wolanski and Zadura's police squadrol alone.

While in the squadrol, Plaintiff managed to remove her hands from the handcuffs and pounded on the rear door of the squadrol in order to get the attention of the police. Plaintiff claims that a police officer standing outside the squadrol, who Plaintiff described at her deposition as approximately 6'2" or 6'3" with light brown hair, light features, and a thin build, apparently heard Plaintiff and opened the squadrol's rear door. This officer handcuffed Plaintiff's hands behind her back and secured her to a restraint bar in the squadrol. After handcuffing her in this manner, according to Plaintiff, the officer leaned in toward her and whispered in her ear, "It's going to be hard for you to swim with your hands behind your back." At the time the officer spoke, Plaintiff did not know what he meant by this remark and responded, "What?" The officer then shut the rear door and the squadrol, operated by Zadura and Wolanski, left Manor at approximately 12:06 a.m. on December 12, 2007, with Plaintiff as its lone detainee.

After Plaintiff's arrest, Officers Wolanski and Zadura transported her in the squadrol from Manor to the 18th District police station. The processing of Plaintiff at the 18th District was completed at approximately 12:45 a.m. on December 12, 2007, and Plaintiff was placed back into Wolanski and Zadura's squadrol. The officers subsequently transported Plaintiff to the 19th District police station where there is a female lockup facility. Plaintiff arrived at the 19th District at approximately 1:45 - 1:55 a.m.

Plaintiff maintains that at some point after she was arrested but before she arrived at the 19th District the officers drove the squadrol to the shore of Lake Michigan. When the squadrol reached the lake, Plaintiff claims she heard waves crashing and then the same officer who had threatened her earlier opened the rear door of the squadrol and stood by silently for several minutes so that Plaintiff could see the crashing waves. According to Plaintiff, it then became crystal clear what the officer's earlier statement meant: that he was going to kill Plaintiff by throwing her into the lake with her hands cuffed behind her back. Plaintiff testified at her deposition that she became terrified, urinated in her clothing, and began screaming, crying, and begging the officer to spare her life.

Plaintiff did not identify the police officer who she claims threatened her and opened the squadrol door in her complaint or at her December 5, 2008, deposition. During her deposition, Plaintiff consistently described the officer as 6'2" to 6'3" in height, with light brown or blond hair, light features and a thin build. She also testified at her deposition that she believed she could identify the officer in a photo array. Plaintiff viewed a photo array on March 13, 2009, and failed to identify Wolanski or Zadura as the officer who threatened her and instead identified a third person who apparently was not involved in the underlying events. Plaintiff submitted an affidavit with her response to the pending motion stating that she observed Wolanski at his deposition, which occurred after the photo array, on May 7, 2009, and is now able to identify him as the threatening officer.


A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Intern.-Indiana, Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir., 2000). In ruling on a summary judgment motion, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986), or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, ...

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