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Rick L. Holland v. Pat Richter

June 17, 2011


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

E-FILED Friday, 17 June, 2011 12:35:28 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


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 is the motion for summary judgment (#27) by Plaintiff as to Counts I and II of the Complaint, and the cross motion for summary judgment by Richter and Carlson (#31). The City of Rock Island has adopted (#32) the cross motion as well as the response and reply filed by Richter and Carlson. The motions are granted in part and denied in part as stated herein.


This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this dispute pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 1331, because the suit alleges violations of the United States Constitution and is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983..

Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 1391(b), because all of the events giving rise to the claims occurred within Rock Island County, Illinois, which is within the Rock Island Division of the Central District of Illinois.


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 following facts are taken from the parties' statements of fact and the responses and replies thereto, as well as from the evidence they have submitted in support or in opposition.

One Saturday in September of 2007, a theft complaint was lodged at the Rock Island Police Department. The location of the theft was at Apartment 4 at 723 20th Street in Rock Island, where one Tom Jones resided. He reported that a friend of his, Thomas Felton, had stolen his air conditioner and had hit him in the face.

Police officer Pat Richter responded to that complaint. Richter spoke with Jones, who ultimately told Richter he did not want to press charges but he did want his air conditioner back. Richter could see that Felton was sitting on the air conditioner on a balcony outside of the apartment next door. He could also determine, after he spoke with Felton, that Felton was intoxicated. Richter also talked to a Sean Cook, who was in Jones' apartment and had witnessed the incident. He confirmed that Felton had tried to hit Jones and provided some other details. Richter ran Cook's name via radio and learned that there was an arrest warrant outstanding for Cook. Richter cuffed and arrested Cook. He called for assistance, since someone would have to take custody of Cook while he continued his investigation of the theft incident. Two officers responded, one of them defendant Richard Carlson. The second officer took control of Cook; Carlson remained to assist Richter.

In addition to speaking to Jones, Felton and Cook, Officer Richter also interviewed Debra Hawkins, an African American woman who lived with plaintiff Rick Holland in apartment 5, next door to Jones' apartment. At the time of the interview, Holland, an African American man, was not at home; he had been at a barbeque at his parent's house and was on his way home. When he arrived, he walked upstairs carrying a pan of leftovers from the barbeque. In order to get to his apartment, it was necessary for him to walk past Apartment 4. He noticed the commotion - there were already 5 to 7 people present in addition to police officers in front of apartments 4 and 5 - and he observed a guy sitting on an air conditioner in front of his door.

Holland testified that he was unable to open the door to his apartment because of the location where Felton was sitting on the air conditioner. He stated that he asked Felton to move, but Felton "indicated" that the officer had told him to remain where he was. How ...

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