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Dianne Coleman v. City of Chicago and Officer Erick Grady

April 22, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Feinerman

Badge #17129,


Plaintiff Dianne Coleman brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law against the City of Chicago, Chicago Police Sergeant George Owen, Jr., and Chicago Police Officer Erick Grady, alleging that she was wrongfully arrested on September 26, 2008, without probable cause and with excessive force. Owen has been has been voluntarily dismissed, and Grady and the City have moved for summary judgment. Coleman concedes that she cannot prevail on her § 1983 Monell claims against the City. As to the remaining claims, summary judgment is granted as to the § 1983 false arrest and state law false imprisonment claims, and denied as to the § 1983 excessive force and state law battery claims.


According to Coleman, whose account of the facts must be accepted at this stage of the proceedings, she was sitting on the porch outside Dorothy Hosey's residence the afternoon of September 26, 2008. Hosey is the aunt of Carry Williams, Coleman's boyfriend. Coleman helped to take care of Hosey, who suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia, and occasionally collected mail for Hosey and Eleanor Sapp, a tenant in the building, because Hosey had developed a habit of hiding the mail upon receiving it. When Coleman went that afternoon to bring Eleanor her mail, Monique Johnson, the girlfriend of Edna Sapp-Eleanor's daughter, who also resided in building-demanded that Coleman give her Eleanor's mail. According to Coleman, Johnson and Edna on occasion had absconded with Eleanor's benefit checks.

Coleman refused to give Johnson Eleanor's mail, and Johnson attacked her, striking her in the face, tearing her shirt, and scratching her chest. Coleman backed up the stairs in an attempt to escape; according to her deposition testimony, Coleman never pushed, hit, or kicked Johnson. Coleman called 911, and Officer Grady and some colleagues arrived on the scene, at which point Coleman was on the porch and Johnson inside. While Coleman was speaking with two detectives, Eleanor and Johnson came to the porch. The detectives left, and Coleman told Grady that she had called 911 and wanted to make a report against Johnson. Grady asked Coleman, "Do you want to go to jail?" and ignored her thereafter. Grady then spoke with Johnson outside of Coleman's hearing. Coleman says that Grady "acted as if he knew" Johnson.

Coleman went inside, obtained a pen and paper, stepped back out, and asked Grady for his name and badge number. Grady repeated, "Do you want to go to jail?", and then grabbed Coleman by the arm, twisting it around her back. A second officer grabbed Coleman's other arm, and she was placed in handcuffs. Coleman told Grady that she suffered from back and shoulder spasms and that being handcuffed was causing her pain, and asked that the handcuffs be applied in front, but the request was denied. While in Grady's squad car on the way to the station, Coleman again told him that she was suffering from painful back spasms due to the handcuffs. At the station, some time later, another officer released Coleman from the handcuffs after she again called attention to the spasms.

Officer Grady testified that he received a 911 dispatch call reporting a disturbance at Hosey's address. He arrived, heard considerable noise inside, and rang the bell. During his conversation with Johnson, Johnson told him that Coleman had kicked her. As noted above, Coleman was not privy to Grady's conversation with Johnson, so his testimony on that point stands unrebutted. Coleman and Johnson each swore out complaints for battery against the other. Coleman was released on bond late that evening, and the charges against her were dismissed on October 15, 2008.

About two days after the arrest, a doctor examined Coleman's wrists. Coleman saw the doctor because "I wanted to be on record that I had . scars from them handcuffing me." Doc. 80 at 4. Coleman did not mention any injury to her shoulders or back, and did not seek any other medical attention for the harms she allegedly suffered. Coleman testified at her deposition that she still experiences pain in her shoulders due to the incident.

In a notarized September 29, 2008, letter to the Chicago Police Department, Coleman complained about the way she was treated during the arrest, and stated-contrary to her testimony at deposition-that she "kick[ed] [Johnson] with my foot" to defend herself from Johnson's attack. Doc. 82-1 at 2. Coleman also filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority. The complaint included a summary prepared by her interviewer, which stated that Coleman "kicked Johnson away from herself" after Johnson attacked her. Coleman signed the statement, which affirmed, "Having had the opportunity to review the summary statement above and having made any corrections, additions, and/or deletions necessary, I find it to be true and accurate summary of the statement I gave to [the investigator]." Doc. 82-2 at 1-2.


With Coleman having conceded summary judgment on her Monell claims against the City, four claims remain for disposition: (1) a false arrest claim against Grady under § 1983; (2) an excessive force claim against Grady under § 1983; (3) a state law false imprisonment claim against Grady and the City; and (4) a state law battery claim against Grady and the City.

I. Section 1983 Claims

Grady contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity on Coleman's § 1983 claims. "The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials from liability for civil damages when their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." McAllister v. Price, 615 F.3d 877, 881 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009)). "When confronted with a claim for qualified immunity, [the court] must address two questions: whether the plaintiff's allegations make ...

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