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Anthony Manson v. City of Chicago

June 23, 2011

ANTHONY MANSON PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, KEVIN CUHLANE, CAROL MCGHEE, PATRICIA PERKOVICH, AND DANIEL STANEK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This civil rights suit stems from an incident in which several Chicago Police Department officers searched Plaintiff Anthony Manson's ("Plaintiff") house and arrested him for violating an Illinois law about animal owners' duties. Plaintiff brings the action against Defendants City of Chicago, Officer Kevin Cuhlane, Officer Carol McGhee, Officer Patricia Perkovich, and Officer Daniel Stanek (collectively "Defendants"). He alleges an unreasonable search, failure to intervene, false arrest, and malicious prosecution by the individual defendants, and asserts an indemnification count against Chicago. In response, Defendants have filed a motion for partial summary judgment, on the false arrest (Count III) and malicious prosecution (Count IV) counts of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

The incident that gave rise to this lawsuit occurred on May 23, 2006 at Plaintiff's house at 1118 North Mason Avenue in Chicago. DS*fn1 ¶¶ 7, 20. Although Plaintiff resided in the three-bedroom, single-family home, he also used it as a rooming house and had at least fourteen tenants living with him. DS ¶¶ 7--11. The residence also housed Plaintiff's four grown pit bulls. ¶ 12. The dogs were kept in cages in the basement. DS ¶ 17. The pit bulls were named Midnight, Nasty, Big Red, and Little Red. DS ¶ 12.

On May 23, 2006, Officers Cuhlane, McGhee, Perkovich, and Stanek (collectively "the Officers") conducted a search of Plaintiff's home pursuant to a valid search warrant. DS ¶ 20. The search warrant was for narcotics and the subject of the warrant was a man named John Wilson. DS ¶ 21. Plaintiff and his four pit bulls were present in the house during the search. DS ¶ 22. In the course of the search, the Officers observed Plaintiff's dogs. Although the pit bulls were full-grown, the cages found in the basement were puppy cages. DS ¶¶ 12, 27. In addition, the dogs' bowls lacked food or water, and the search revealed there was no dog food in the house. DS ¶¶ 23--25.

The Officers also assert that two of the pit bulls appeared to have fighting injuries. Defendants have produced pictures that appear to portray these fighting injuries. DX I, K. Evidence Technician Eric Szwed submitted an affidavit attesting that he took the photographs on May 23, 2006 at an Animal Care and Control center after they were removed from Plaintiff's home, and that they truly and accurately depict the dogs he photographed. Szwed Aff. ¶ 4, DX H. Tendered pictures of Midnight show a black pit bull with scars and open wounds covering its head and at least one front leg. DX I. A tendered picture of Big Red depicts a light brown pit bull with a torn ear and scars or open wounds on its head. DX K. At his deposition, Plaintiff admitted that both pit bulls in these pictures appeared to have fighting injuries. Manson Dep. 369, 372, DX G. Affidavits from three of the Officers also authenticate the photographs as pictures of the dogs they observed while searching Plaintiff's home. Stanek Aff. ¶ 5, DX P; McGhee Aff. ¶ 5, DX Q; Culhane Aff. ¶ 9, DX R.

Nevertheless, Plaintiff denies that the pictures accurately represent his dogs' condition at the time of the search. In his response to Defendants' statement of uncontested facts, Plaintiff "denies the photographs were of his dogs," and also denies that an evidence technician took the photographs. PR ¶¶ 26, 28. In support of his position, Plaintiff cites a passage of his own deposition testimony, at which Plaintiff was confronted with one of the alleged pictures of Midnight. After Plaintiff viewed the photograph, the following exchange took place:

Q. . . .

Which-that's your dog, right?

A. It looks like one of them.

Q. Okay. Which One is that?

A. It look like Midnight.

Q. Midnight?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Do you have any reason to believe that's ...


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