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Lust v. Razzino

March 3, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge


On May 12, 2009, Plaintiff Brian Lust, by counsel,*fn1 filed a First Amended Complaint against Defendants Village of Oak Park ("Oak Park") and Oak Park Police Officers Anthony Razzino, James Valentine, and James Sperandio, as well as Sergeant Dina Vardal. Lust alleges claims of False Arrest (Count I), Excessive Force (Count II), and Failure to Protect/Intervene (Count III) pursuant to the Court's original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his First Amended Complaint, Lust also alleges state law claims of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV) based on the Court's supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion and dismisses this lawsuit.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Because Lust is now a pro se litigant, Defendants served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. The notice explains the consequences of failing to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment and statement of material facts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) and Local Rule 56.1.

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). In addition, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

Although courts must construe pro se pleadings liberally, see Johnson v. Hulett, 574 F.3d 428, 433 (7th Cir. 2009), a plaintiff's pro se status does not absolve him from complying with the federal and local procedural rules. See Greer v. Board of Ed. of City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); see also McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113, 113 S.Ct. 1980, 124 L.Ed.2d 21 (1993) ("we have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel."). Because Lust has failed to file a proper Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response to Defendants' Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Facts, the Court deems Defendants' supported factual assertions as admitted. See Rao v. BP Prods. N. Am., Inc., 589 F.3d 389, 393 (7th Cir. 2009); see also Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006) ("district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1.").

II. Relevant Facts

A. September 24, 2008 Incident

On September 24, 2008, Oak Park police officers James Valentine and Anthony Razzino were on duty working the day shift. (R. 36-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Specifically, Officers Valentine and Razzino were assigned to work together in an unmarked squad car in the south zone of Oak Park -- the area bounded by Harlem Avenue on the west, Austin Avenue on the east, Roosevelt Road on the south, and the Eisenhower Expressway on the north. (Id. ¶ 2.) The officers were assigned to be on the lookout in residential alleys in the south zone because a series of armed robberies had taken place by an assailant who accosted victims as they entered or departed their garages. (Id. ¶ 3.) The suspect was specifically identified as an African-American male, 5'8" to 5'10" tall, medium to heavy build, in his 20s, who used a weapon to rob people at their garages. (Id. ¶ 4.)

Officers Valentine and Razzino were driving in the vicinity of Fillmore Street between Lyman and Taylor Streets in Oak Park when they observed an individual matching the suspect's description running south in the Lyman-Taylor alley toward their car. (Id. ¶ 5.) There was no indication that anyone was chasing the subject. (Id.) Officer Valentine, who was driving, maneuvered the car and turned southbound into the alley facing the subject, who was later identified as Lust. (Id. ¶ 6.) When Officer Razzino opened the door and began to approach Lust, Lust immediately ran east out of the alley, into a gangway, and into backyards. (Id.) Officer Razzino identified himself as a police officer and ordered Lust to stop at least two times. (Id.) At that point, Officer Razzino was about 3 to 4 garage lengths away from Lust. (Id.) Officer Razzino then chased Lust on foot. (Id. ¶ 7.) Lust initially ran east, went into a yard of an adjacent home, and then doubled back at which point Officer Razzino lost sight of him. (Id.) Officer Razzino then radioed his location to other officers in the vicinity. (Id.)

While Officer Razzino was chasing Lust on foot, Officer Valentine pursued Lust in his car ending up at the 1100 block of South Humphrey -- approximately one block east and one-half block north of where the officers originally saw Lust. (Id. ¶ 8.) Thereafter, Officer Valentine engaged in a brief foot pursuit of Lust and closed in on him inside the front gate of a property located at 1122 South Humphrey. (Id. ¶ 9.) Officer Valentine then stated -- "Police, stop, get on the ground" -- after which Lust got on the ground. (Id.) Officer Valentine then handcuffed Lust, conducted a protective pat-down search, and found a plastic bag approximately six to twelve inches away from Lust. (Id.) The plastic bag contained adult videos, a pack of cigarettes, and other contents. (Id. ¶ 10.)

Officer Razzino arrived at the scene a couple of minutes later at which time Lust was already handcuffed. (Id. ¶ 16.) Officer Valentine asked Lust why he was running through the alley and Lust replied that he was being chased by five guys. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 16.) Thereafter, Officer Razzino searched the immediate neighborhood for evidence of a crime. (Id. ¶ 17.) In particular, Officer Razzino searched from garage to garage to make sure the doors were secured, but found no evidence of any crime. (Id.) Officers Razzino and Valentine then conferred with their supervisor, Sergeant Vardal, who agreed that Officer Razzino should issue Lust a ticket under the Oak Park ordinance for disobeying the direction of a police officer. (Id. ¶ 19.) Lust maintains that thereafter the police officers arrested him.

Meanwhile, the only injury that Officer Valentine observed was that Lust had a cut on his hand. (Id. ΒΆ 20.) Lust told Officer Valentine that he cut his hand as he jumped fences while being chased by the police officers. (Id.) Officer Valentine then ...

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