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Nathan C. Johnson and Dorothy J. Johnson v. Matthew P. Franks

March 4, 2011

NATHAN C. JOHNSON AND DOROTHY J. JOHNSON, PLAINTIFFS
v.
MATTHEW P. FRANKS, IBRAHIM M. RAMIREZ, AND CITY OF ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Gorman United States Magistrate Judge

E-FILED

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

Friday, 04 March, 201101:26:59 PM

ORDER and OPINION

The parties have consented to have this case heard to judgment by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and the District Judge has referred the case to me. Now before the court are three motions for summary judgment (#36, 37 and 38), one filed by each Defendant. Those motions are fully briefed and I have carefully considered the arguments and evidence. As stated herein, the motions are GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

JURISDICTION

This case asserts claims arising under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The case was originally filed in state court in Rock Island County, Illinois. It was removed by the Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1441(b), which allows removal without regard to the citizenship of the parties of any case founded on a claim or right arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States. This case, being such a case, is properly before this Court.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GENERALLY

The purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment should be entered if and only if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Jay v. Intermet Wagner Inc., 233 F.3d 1014, 1016 (7th Cir.2000); Cox v. Acme Health Serv., 55 F.3d 1304, 1308 (7th Cir. 1995). In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court may not weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact; disputed facts must be left for resolution at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). The court's role in deciding the motion is not to sift through the evidence, pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to believe. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir.1994). The court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.

The court is to examine all admissible facts, viewing the entirety of the record and accepting all facts and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant, Erdman v. City of Ft. Atkinson, 84 F.3d 960, 961 (7th Cir. 1996); Vukadinovich v. Bd. of Sch. Trustees, 978 F.2d 403, 408 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 844 (1993); Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 331 (7th Cir. 1990); DeValk Lincoln-Mercury, Inc. V. Ford Motor Co., 811 F.2d 326, 329 (7th Cir. 1987); Bartman v. Allis Chalmers Corp., 799 F.2d 311, 312 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1092 (1987), and construing any doubts against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970); Trotter v. Anderson, 417 F.2d 1191 (7th Cir. 1969); Haefling v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 169 F.3d 494, 497 (7th Cir.1999).

The existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," or "some metaphysical doubt," however, does not create a genuine issue of fact. Piscione v. Ernst & Young, L.L.P., 171 F.3d 527, 532 (7th Cir.1999). "Inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion." McDonald v. Village of Winnetka, 371 F.3d 992, 1001 (7th Cir. 2004). The proper inquiry is whether a rational trier of fact could reasonably find for the party opposing the motion with respect to the particular issue. See, e.g., Jordan v. Summers, 205 F.3d 337, 342 (7th Cir.2000).

The parties must identify the evidence (i.e. those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, affidavits, and documents) that will facilitate the court's assessment. Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 922. Thus, as Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 56(e) makes clear, a party opposing summary judgment may not rely on the allegations of her pleadings. Rather:

[T]he adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party. See, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). See also, Local Rule CDIL 7.1(D).

Neither the moving party nor the responding party may simply rest on allegations; those allegations must be supported by significant probative evidence tending. First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 290 (1968). See also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)(when the moving party has met its burden, non-moving party must do more than show some "metaphysical doubt " as to material facts). A scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is not sufficient to oppose successfully a summary judgment motion; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

If the undisputed facts indicate that no reasonable jury could find for the party opposing the motion, then summary judgment must be granted. Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995), citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, then summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 920.

UNDISPUTED FACTS

The following statement of the undisputed facts in this case is taken from the parties' statements of undisputed facts, the responses and replies thereto, and the evidence submitted in support and in opposition thereto.

Plaintiffs, Nathan and Dorothy Johnson are a married couple who, at the relevant time, lived on 15th Street in Rock Island. They had resided in Rock Island for over 30 years. Nathan, a black man, is now 64 years old. At the time of the events leading up to this lawsuit, he had no criminal record and had never been arrested. He owned two guns, a .380 automatic and a .45 automatic, grey and black in color, on May 13, 2007. The car he owned was a 1994 black Buick Regal.

On May 13, 2007, Nathan found Johnnie Henderson sitting on a couch in front of the TV in his home. Henderson, an acquaintance of Nathan's daughter, called Nathan a name, and Nathan ordered him to leave the house.

At about 2:30 in the afternoon on that same day, Nathan drove his car from his residence to a Walgreens pharmacy, located near the intersection of 11th and 31st. On his way there and again on his way back home, he drove past a residence on 12th Street. Both times, he saw Johnnie Henderson on the porch of that residence (which he believed to be Henderson's mother's home) with three other people*fn1 . Nathan did not know any of the other people. As Nathan neared that residence on his trip back home, he saw Henderson throw his hands up. Nathan gestured at Henderson, flicking his hand or pointing his finger.

The individual Defendants, Matthew Franks and Ibrahim Ramirez, are police officers employed by the City of Rock Island's Police Department. On May 13, they were notified by the dispatcher of a report that there was a man with a gun in the vicinity of 12th Street and 12th Avenue in Rock Island. The following description of the ensuing events may not be in precise chronological order, as the ...


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