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Obrycka v. City of Chicago

July 5, 2011

OBRYCKA
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO



Name of Assigned Judge Amy J. St. Eve Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

The Court denies Defendant City of Chicago's Motion to Bar Lou Reiter [272].

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

Before the Court is Defendant City of Chicago's motion to exclude the expert testimony of Lou Reiter pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Defendant's motion.

INTRODUCTION

On April 30, 2007, Plaintiff Karolina Obrycka ("Plaintiff") filed the underlying lawsuit against Defendants City of Chicago ("City"), Anthony Abbate, Jr., Gary Ortiz, and Patti Chiriboga for violating her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.*fn1 Plaintiff also brings a Monell claim against the City. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). Plaintiff alleges that on the night of February 19, 2007, while working as a bartender/waitress at Jesse's Shortstop Inn in Chicago, Defendant Officer Abbate -- an off-duty Chicago police officer who had been drinking at the bar that evening -- approached Plaintiff after she refused to serve him additional alcoholic beverages. With no warning, Defendant Officer Abbate proceeded to viciously beat, kick, and punch Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges specific facts which, she contends, unequivocally demonstrate that the City conducted a sham investigation into the incident, in bad faith, and designed to protect Defendant Officer Abbate. She also alleges facts which, she argues, demonstrate that other City employees -- including other Chicago police officers -- conspired to prevent her from filing charges against Defendant Officer Abbate or from otherwise bringing the alleged misconduct to light.

Courtroom Deputy KF

Initials:

In Plaintiff's Monell claim, she contends, inter alia, that the City has de facto policies and practices of concealing officer misconduct, of failing to sufficiently investigate allegations of officer misconduct, and of investigating complaints against off-duty police officers differently than it investigates complaints against other citizens. In her Monell claim, Plaintiff also alleges that a "code of silence" exists within the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") whereby officers conceal each others' misconduct, in contravention of their sworn duties. Plaintiff claims that all of these policies, practices and customs, individually and collectively, encourage Chicago police officers -- and, specifically in this case, Defendant Officer Abbate -- to engage in misconduct with impunity and without fear of official consequences.

Plaintiff has proffered Lou Reiter to provide expert testimony in support of her Monell claim against the City. Reiter is a former member of the Los Angeles Police Department who now provides consultation services, audits, and training for law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. Plaintiff specifically retainer Reiter to opine on the existence and impact of a code of silence within the CPD, and to evaluate her case "from the point of view of the police Code of Silence and administrative investigations." (R. 272-1, Mot. to Bar Reiter-Ex. B ("Reiter Rept."), at 7.*fn2 ) Based on Reiter's "specialized knowledge, skills and training," coupled with his "continuous review of documents and testimony from the CPD over the past 20 years and the discovery in this case," he opines that "the CPD has created an organizational environment where the Code of Silence and deficient administrative investigations and disciplinary procedures are present and would allow police officers to engage in misconduct with little fear of sanction. This adverse environment . . . is the product of acts and/or omissions by the Police Department to conduct itself in a manner contrary to reasonable and generally accepted police practices." (Id.) Reiter also opines that the CPD has had "historical and ongoing problems in its complaint process, administrative investigations and discipline." (Id. at 10.) From the CR files Reiter analyzed in this case, he concludes that the City's administrative investigations "favored the officers and precluded any meaningful investigation and, ultimately, any discipline." (Id. at 16.) Reiter states:

"These observations were similar to those I've made in past cases involving the Chicago Police Department and have assisted me in creating an opinion that this is a historical, systemic deficiency. These deficiencies are contrary to the generally accepted practices for this essential aspect of police control, monitoring and accountability. The investigations appeared to be very pretextual with the apparent ultimate mission to discredit the complainant rather than conduct a reasonable search for the truth of the allegation(s). The deficiencies I observed within these files allow me to opine that any reasonable officer on the Chicago Police Department during this period of time would reasonably believe that they would not be disciplined or sanctioned in any meaningful manner for misconduct involving their actions with citizens." (Id.)

The City makes four arguments to challenge the admissibility of Reiter's opinions under Rule 702. First, it argues that Reiter's opinion about the City's administrative investigations is unreliable because he relies on a "de minimis sample" of Complaint Register*fn3 ("CR") files. Second, the City contends that Reiter's opinion as to the deficiencies in the City's administrative investigations is inadmissible because it is insufficient to prove Plaintiff's Monell claim. Third, the City contends that Reiter's conclusions about the existence and impact of a code of silence within the CPD are unreliable because they are based on insufficient data. Last, the City ...


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