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Jason Cooper, Administrator of the Estate of Teresa Iacovetti, Deceased v. City of Chicago Heights

May 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall


Teresa Iacovetti's ex-boyfriend Allen Perkins allegedly murdered her after she repeatedly complained about Perkins' harrassment to the City of Chicago Heights ("the City") police department and Perkins' parole officer, Agent Bradley (together "Defendants"). Jason Cooper, as administrator of Iacovetti's estate, sued the City and Bradley, asserting that Defendants violated the equal protection clause because they gave inferior protective services to Iacovetti because she was a woman. The parties now move to bar certain testimony of each other's expert witnesses (see Docs. 170, 171 and 173), asserting the experts are either unqualified to give particular opinions or reached those opinions using faulty methodologies. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). For the below reasons, the Court grants the motions in part and denies them in part.


A. Plaintiff's Allegations and Equal Protection Claim

Cooper alleges that Iacovetti, a resident of the City, entered into a romantic relationship with Perkins, an Illinois Department of Corrections parolee, in 2006. After the relationship ended, Perkins harassed and abused Iacovetti. Iacovetti repeatedly complained to the City's police department ("CHPD") about that abuse. In November 2006, Iacovetti called 911 and told the operator that Perkins was yelling that he was going to shoot her. According to Cooper, City police officers offered Iacovetti advice on how to file a complaint but did not arrest Perkins.

On May 7, 2007, after several incidents of abuse and harassment that Iacovetti reported to the CHPD, Cooper alleges Iacovetti obtained an emergency protective order against Perkins instructing that he have no contact with Iacovetti, including phone calls, in-person visits, and third party contact. When Perkins violated this order of protection in May 2011, Iacovetti advised Bradley of Perkins's persistent abuse and harassment, but Perkins' parole was not revoked. On June 21, 2007, Perkins came to Iacovetti's home, struck her, and then shot her in the head. She later died.

As the Court has noted previously in this case (see Doc. 49), Cooper has not alleged a due process violation because "[g]enerally, there is no constitutional right, either in the due process clause or the equal protection clause, to be protected against being attacked . . . by a member of the general public." Lowers v. City of Streator, 627 F. Supp. 244, 246 (N.D. Ill. 1985); Sandage v. Bd. of Com'rs, 548 F.3d 595, 596 (7th Cir. 2008) ("there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.") However, Defendants would be liable under the equal protection clause via 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if Defendants "selectively denied [their] protective services to certain disfavored minorities." DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 197 (1987). Specifically, Cooper's complaint alleges that Defendants engaged in a policy, pattern and practice of treating domestic abuse reports from women with less priority than other crimes, and Iacovetti suffered and died as a result.

B. The Proposed Experts and Daubert Challenges.

Cooper offers two experts, one corresponding roughly to each element he must prove. First, Cooper offers William Allee, a purported police practice and policy expert, to opine that the CHPD and Bradley gave Iacovetti inferior police services. Allee spent 40 years with the New York City police department ("NYPD"), steadily moving up its ranks until he retired as Chief of Detectives-the supervisor of all 5,000 NYPD detectives-in 2003. During his time with the NYPD, he supervised officers in a wide variety of units and had various special assignments to high-crime areas of New York City. Allee's ultimate conclusions are:

* Iacovetti's murder would have been prevented if the CHPD had followed its own protocol;

* Bradley "did not do his job and take action" on Perkins' parole violations, which allowed Perkins to murder Iacovetti.

(See Doc. 177-3.) According to the City, the jury should not hear portions of Attlee's testimony because:

* his opinions concerning the steps the CHPD should have taken to further investigate Iacovetti's complaints are irrelevant;

* he cites nothing supporting his opinion that the City's domestic violence unit should not have been disbanded;

* his opinions do not consider Illinois criminal law, the division of labor in the CHPD or the CHPD's role with respect to the role of the prosecutor's office;

* he is not familiar with police practices in Illinois; and

* the jury does not need expert evidence to conclude the CHPD's failures "to connect the incidents with [sic] Perkin, attempt to revoke his parole, or conduct further ...

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