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Thomas M. Janusz, Jr. v. City of Chicago et al.

June 24, 2011

THOMAS M. JANUSZ, JR.
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL.



Name of Assigned Judge or Magistrate Judge John A. Nordberg Sitting Judge if Other than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

Defendants' motion for summary judgment [273] is denied in part and granted in part. The motion is denied as to the false arrest claim (Count XI), the vehicle search claim (Count XII), the conspiracy claim (Count V), the abuse of process claim (Count IV), and the malicious prosecution claim against defendants Lucas and George (Count III). The motion is granted on the apartment search claim (Count VII) but only as against defendant Liberti and granted on the malicious prosecution claim (Count III) but only as against defendants Mugavero-Lucas and Liberti. Plaintiff's motion for leave to file the Fourth Amended Complaint [324] instanter is granted.

O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.

STATEMENT

Introduction

Plaintiff Thomas Janusz was arrested on drug charges on December 6, 2001. The charges were later dropped after the state court judge found no probable cause for the arrest. Janusz then filed this case, asserting claims under § 1983 and state law for false arrest, abuse of process, conspiracy, and malicious prosecution. This case went through a long period of discovery in part because Janusz first tried a related civil case in state court against his employer. Now before the Court is defendants' summary judgment motion.

Factual Background

In 1998, Janusz began working as a manager for two Chicago-based funeral homes owned by Keystone Illinois, Inc. ("Keystone"). Keystone purchased one of the homes from Anthony and Daniel Morizzo who signed non-competition agreements as part of the sale. (Plaintiff's Statement of Material Fact ("PF") 1.) While working for Keystone, Janusz claims to have found evidence suggesting the Morizzo brothers were violating their agreements. Based on these observations, Keystone filed a lawsuit against the Morizzo brothers in October 2001. Janusz was to be one of the key witnesses. At the time, Janusz told Keystone's CEO that he was worried the Morizzo brothers would retaliate against him.

On December 6, 2001, Janusz met a woman named Paula Siragusa who he later took to a motel room. Janusz's testimony on how they met has evolved. Early on, at the hearing on his motion to quash his arrest, Janusz testified that he met Siragusa at a Bally's Health Club and asked her to lunch. (Defendants' Statement of Material Fact ("DF") 9.) However later in his deposition in this case, Janusz testified that he met her at a gas station parking lot near the "Six Corners" intersection in Chicago. (PF 5.) Janusz testified that Siragusa was dropped off by a man Janusz later identified as defendant Parris George and that Siragusa approached Janusz while he was at a pay phone. According to Janusz, even though Siragusa was "nice looking" and even though he was "no Robe Lowe by any means," Siragusa began flirting with him and asked for a ride. (Defs. Ex. H at 90-92.) Eventually, they ended up at a motel room. During this time, Siragusa received numerous calls on a pager. (PF 5.) In the early evening, they left and Siragusa allegedly told Janusz to drive to a certain gas station located at 1401 W. Roosevelt Road, just inside the township of Cicero bordering Chicago. (DF 4.)

As Janusz pulled up in the parking lot, three Chicago police officers -- defendants Alan Lucas, Parris George, and Gina Liberti -- were driving by. They happened to be in the area because they received an anonymous tip earlier in the evening that a person in a grey Toyota would be in the parking lot to make a narcotics transaction. (Defs. Ex. E at 59.) The officers noticed a black Toyota in the parking lot and saw Janusz get out of this car and put duffel bags on top of it and then observed him pacing back and forth as if he were waiting for something. (Id. at 58-69.) The officers parked across the intersection to observe him. At some point, they decided to approach and drove over to the lot. Sometime during this process, all three officers allegedly noticed that Janusz's license plate was expired. (DF 12.) The officers talked to both Janusz and Siragusa. According to Lucas, Siragusa described how she and Janusz spent the better part of the afternoon driving from one hotel room to another while Janusz ran up to the rooms with a duffel bag for a short period and returned to the car. Siragusa also allegedly told Lucas that Janusz smoked cocaine and had a plastic cup with cocaine in the front seat of the car. (Id. at 89-90.) The officers found $4,400 in cash inside the duffel bag. Janusz was placed under arrest. (DF 4.) Siragusa was not arrested, nor was a statement taken from her, nor did any of the three officers write down her address or phone number. (PF 14.) Instead, she was given $10 so she could get a ride home. In the later police report, the officers did not mention Siragusa's name nor identify her in any other way than referring to her as a "female passenger." (PF 25.) At the time, Siragusa was an admitted heroin addict who had been arrested several times. (Defs. Ex. F at 7, 38.) She also was doing drugs in the hotel that afternoon.

Janusz described the encounter differently. He testified that Lucas approached and said "I think you're a drug dealer" and then asked for the key to the motel room and asked where the gym bag was. (PF 12-13.) Because Lucas could not have known about these facts (the bag was inside the car, according to Janusz), Lucas must have learned this information from Siragusa. Janusz believes she was contacting Lucas during the afternoon with a pager to coordinate the arrest. When officers asked why he had so much cash in the bag, Janusz explained that cash payments were common in the funeral business. (PF 15.) Janusz claims that while sitting in the police car, he saw Lucas reach into his vest, remove a small plastic bag containing a white pebble-sized object which he flicked into a cup in the front seat of Janusz's car. (PF 16.) The officers did not issue Janusz a ticket for expired plates. (Id.)

Officers took Janusz to the 15th District police station. There, according to Janusz, he was handcuffed to an "O-ring" for an hour or more. (PF 17.) The three arresting officers were joined by a fourth, defendant Amy Mugavero-Lucas. Janusz alleges that Lucas coerced him into signing a consent form to search his apartment, which was above one of the two funeral homes he managed for Keystone. Janusz claims Lucas violently picked him up and told him something terrible would happen if he didn't cooperate. (PF 20.)

On the way to the apartment above the funeral home, Lucas allegedly turned around and said to Janusz something along the lines of: "Now, we wouldn't want this young man to end up in Cook County tonight with a bunch of spooky dos now, boys, would we?" (Pl. Ex. 2 at 417.) Janusz also claims defendant George admitted Siragusa had set him up. (PF 23.)

In their search of his apartment, the officers allegedly found crystal meth, cocaine, and illegal anabolic steroids. They also inventoried $17,810 in cash. (DF 30.) Janusz claims the officers stole $20,000 in cash and a $1,500 watch. (PF 24.)

Shortly after Janusz was arrested, a police officer named Grizzoffi made copies of Janusz's confidential police records. (PF 30.) Grizzoffi had previously worked part-time for Keystone and knew the Morizzo brothers. (PF 29.) Anthony Morizzo received these reports in the mail five days after the arrest. (PF 30.) Allegedly relying on these reports, the Morizzo brothers sought to settle the civil lawsuit against Keystone by arguing that the drug arrest made Janusz a ...


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