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Hernandez v. City of Belleville

June 24, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge


REAGAN, District Judge

A. Introduction and Procedural Background

On December 31, 2008, Robert Hernandez filed suit against the City of Belleville and Parrish Marshall pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violation of his constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.*fn1 Specifically, Hernandez claims that Defendants discriminated against him because of his race (Latino or Hispanic) or nationality (Mexican)*fn2 , or retaliated against him for a complaint he made to the Mayor of Belleville about the lack of police responsiveness. He seeks compensatory damages, costs of suit and attorney's fees.

The case is set for trial on June 28, 2010. On April 26, 2010, Defendants filed a suggestion of death, notifying the Court that Hernandez passed away on April 16, 2010 (Doc. 19).

On June 21, 2010, an amended complaint was filed substituting Julie A. Hernandez, as Administrator of the Estate of Robert Hernandez, as the named Plaintiff.*fn3 Now before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment (Doc. 12). The matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

B. Applicable Legal Standards

Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Turner v. The Saloon, Ltd., 595 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2010); Durable Mfg. Co. v. U.S. Department of Labor, 578 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing FED.R.CIV.P.56(c). Accord Levy v. Minnesota Life Ins. Co., 517 F.3d 519 (7th Cir. 2008); Breneisen v. Motorola, Inc., 512 F.3d 972 (7th Cir. 2008). A genuine issue of material fact arises "if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party." Egonmwan v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., -- F.3d --, 2010 WL 1610077, *4 (7th Cir. April 22, 2010).

The non-movant cannot rest on his pleadings, though. Rather, the non-movant must provide evidence on which the jury or court could find in his favor. Maclin v. SBC Ameritech, 520 F.3d 781, 786 (7th Cir. 2008). As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals explained recently:

[T]he non-moving party must submit evidence that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Ptasznik v. St. Joseph Hosp., 464 F.3d 691, 694 (7th Cir. 2006). The existence of merely a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party.

Giant Screen Sports v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 553 F.3d 527, 531-32 (7th Cir. 2009).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, this Court must view in the light most favorable to the non-movant the evidence and all inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence. Reget v. City of La Crosse, 595 F.3d 691, 695 (7th Cir. 2010); TAS Distributing Co., Inc. v. Cummins Engine Co., Inc., 491 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2007).

In the case at bar, on Defendants' motion, the undersigned Judge must assess the evidence and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Hernandez. With these standards in mind, the Court addresses the February 17, 2010 motion, in which Defendants pray for summary judgment in their favor as to all claims brought against them by Hernandez.

C. Analysis

Hernandez alleges that Belleville police were deliberately indifferent to his crime reports and retaliated against him when he complained to Belleville's mayor by selectively enforcing an ordinance against him. More specifically, Hernandez claims that the police failed to undertake proper investigation of two reports he made: (1) on February 26, 2007, his trailer was burglarized and approximately $15,000 worth of tools were stolen*fn4 ; and (2) on March 3, 2007, persons trespassed on his property.*fn5 Hernandez claims that in spite of additional information he obtained regarding the identity of suspects in the burglary, the police refused to obtain a search warrant or otherwise act to identify, apprehend or prosecute the persons who burglarized his trailer.

On March 3, 2007, Hernandez complained to the Mayor of Belleville about the failure of the police to seriously investigate the February 27 theft. Hernandez alleges that, in retaliation for his complaining to the Mayor, Defendant Marshall notified him that he was in violation of a city ordinance regulating storage of inoperable vehicles, in that two trucks Hernandez owned and stored on his property were not registered or insured. Marshall told Hernandez that he was acting on a complaint by a neighbor and warned Hernandez that he would be cited for violating the ordinance if he did not dispose of the vehicles or get them registered and insured. According to ...

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