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Taylor-Doyle v. Poehls

February 9, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge


This matter is now before the Court on Defendants David Nelson ("Nelson") and the City of Peoria's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#92] is GRANTED.


The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 (a)(4), as the claims arise under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367.


On March 2, 2006, Defendant Nelson, a Peoria Police Detective, was informed that a student at Richwoods High School, S.T., accused her mother, Annestra Taylor-Doyle ("Taylor-Doyle"), of abuse. Earlier that morning, Taylor-Doyle and S.T. met with Richwoods High School Dean David Poehls ("Poehls") to discuss the option of alternative probation for S.T., who was returning from a five-day suspension for engaging in sexual intercourse on school property. Plaintiff admits that she used profanity while speaking to S.T. during the meeting, and Poehls noticed that S.T. appeared "very upset" and had "a very shaken look about her" after Taylor-Doyle departed. (Taylor-Doyle Dep at 60); (Poehls Dep. at 78: 12-18.) Poehls then asked S.T. if Taylor-Doyle abused her, and S.T. answered affirmatively, specifically stating that Taylor-Doyle hit her on the head with a shoe and dunked her head in water. After hearing S.T. repeat her statements to her high school counselor, Poehls alerted the campus police officer of S.T.'s allegations of abuse and called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") suspected abuse hotline.

Nelson was informed of S.T.'s allegations and went to Richwoods later that day to interview S.T. jointly with Steven Sizemore ("Sizemore"), an investigator with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"). During the interview, S.T. stated that Taylor-Doyle hit her on the head with a shoe, on the arm with an extension cord and on the back with either an extension cord or belt. Sizemore and Nelson both noticed a mark on S.T.'s forehead and marks on her neck and upper arm.

After interviewing S.T. at Richwoods, Nelson and Sizemore spoke with Taylor-Doyle on the evening of March 2nd at the police station. Taylor-Doyle denied physically abusing S.T. and stated that her son, Sh.T., inflicted the marks on S.T.'s body. Nelson and Sizemore also interviewed Plaintiff's husband, Gary Doyle, who stated that S.T. injured her forehead when she bumped into a kitchen cabinet. Although S.T. was interviewed earlier that day at her school, the Doyles brought her to the police station that evening, where she recanted the statements she made earlier. S.T. told Nelson that her brother, Sh.T., caused the marks on her neck and that she hit her head on the corner of a cabinet door; however, both Nelson and Sizemore questioned the credibility of S.T.'s recantation.

Over the course of the ensuing investigation, Sizemore and Nelson interviewed numerous members of S.T.'s family as well as one of her high school friends. S.T.'s younger sisters, all of whom resided at home at the time of the interview, stated that S.T. received the mark on her forehead from a kitchen cabinet, while one sibling stated that the mark on S.T.'s neck was the result of roughhousing with her brother Sh.T. Conversely, Sh.T, who was confined to a juvenile detention center on February 24, 2006, corroborated S.T.'s initial accusations, giving detailed accounts of the events which occurred at home in the days before his incarceration. Sh.T. specifically stated that he observed Taylor-Doyle strike S.T. in the face with a shoe, hit her with a jar of applesauce, slap her in the face, and forcibly dunk S.T.'s head in dishwater. Sh.T. also denied causing any marks on Sh.T. and stated that Taylor-Doyle threatens the children so that they will lie on her behalf. Finally, Nelson completed his investigation with interviews of M.C., a friend of S.T.'s, Dean Poehls, and Taylor-Doyle's sister, Rissa Taylor. Nelson made a probable cause determination and arrested Taylor-Doyle for endangerment of a child and domestic battery on March 21, 2006. The State's Attorney, however, did not file charges against Taylor-Doyle.

On March 2, 2007, Plaintiffs, Annestra Taylor-Doyle, individually, and as mother and next friend of S.T. and L.T., commenced this action against Poehls and District 150; Nelson and the City of Peoria, IL; Sizemore; Michael McCoy, Sheriff of Peoria County; Stephen Smith, Jail Superintendant of Sheriff of Peoria County; Peoria County, Illinois; and Jennifer Streitmatter, Director of Human Services for the Children's Home. Defendants McCoy, Smith, Streitmatter, and Peoria County have all been subsequently dismissed from this matter with prejudice. Also dismissed with prejudice was Plaintiff S.T. Remaining are Plaintiff's various constitutional and state law claims against Defendants Poehls and District 150, Nelson and the City of Peoria, and Sizemore. On July 17, 2009, Defendants Nelson and the City of Peoria filed the instant Motion. This matter is now fully briefed, and this Order follows.


Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party must demonstrate, through portions of the record or affidavits, the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all references drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). The Court will deny summary judgment if a reasonable jury ...

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