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David K. Cox, Jonathan Cox, and John L. Moreland v. City of Monticello

September 7, 2011

DAVID K. COX, JONATHAN COX, AND JOHN L. MORELAND, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF MONTICELLO, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND DAVID BALLARD, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge

E-FILED

Wednesday, 07 September, 2011 02:43:36 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

Plaintiffs David Cox, Jonathan Cox, and John Moreland filed a Complaint (#1-1) against Defendants City of Monticello and David Ballard in June 2009 in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Piatt County, Illinois. Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendants under § 1983 for violations of the Fourth Amendment.*fn1 In July 2009, Defendants removed the case to federal court (#1). Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.

In April 2011, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Officer David Ballard and City of Monticello (#17). Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs Response to Defendants Motion for Summary Juidgment [sic] (#19). Defendants filed Defendants' Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (#20). After reviewing the parties' pleadings, memoranda, and submitted evidence, this Court hereby GRANTS the Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Officer David Ballard and City of Monticello (#17).

I. Background

The following background is taken from the undisputed material facts.*fn2 Plaintiffs claim that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' constitutional rights when Officer Ballard entered Plaintiff David Cox's private law office, detained Plaintiffs, and searched the office.

The incident took place on June 23, 2007, on a Saturday afternoon. According to the undisputed material facts, Officer David Ballard and Officer Jason Shumard were on patrol as police officers for the City of Monticello. In response to a dispatch call, they arrived at First Mid Bank, where a bank alarm was going off. The entrance doors were locked, and so the officers called a bank employee known as a "key holder" to come to the bank. The bank employee arrived, unlocked the door, and shut the bank alarm off. Once in the bank lobby, the officers began searching the bank.

From there, the officers left the main bank area to continue their search. As discussed in more detail below, First Mid Bank shares walls with adjacent buildings, which contain other businesses and offices. Ultimately, the officers came upon the private law office of Plaintiff David Cox. Cox was in the office with his son, Plaintiff Jonathon Cox, and his law clerk, Plaintiff John Moreland. Officer Ballard approached the room where Plaintiffs were sitting, and looked in, pointing his service handgun. Throughout the search of the bank and building, the officers had their guns drawn. Officer Ballard asked David Cox for identification, and told him that the bank alarm was going off and they were looking for bank robbers. Further details of this interaction are in dispute, and discussed below.

II. Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must decide, based on admissible evidence, whether any material factual dispute exists that requires a trial. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). A factual dispute is material only if its resolution might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Id. The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing that no such issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Furthermore, the Court must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). However, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; rather, he must go beyond the pleadings and support his contentions with proper documentary evidence. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

III. Disputed Facts

The Court cannot grant summary judgment where there are genuine issues of material fact. As such, the Court will discuss the disputed facts, and consider whether they are material. There are two main areas in which the parties' versions of events are in dispute. First, parties at least nominally dispute details concerning the layout of the building, and the accessability of Cox's law office from the bank. Second, the parties dispute the details in the interaction between Officer Ballard and Plaintiffs in Cox's law office. The Court will consider each of these subjects in turn.

First, the Court will address details regarding the layout of the building, as Plaintiffs argue that these details are relevant to the reasonableness of Defendants' search. First Mid Bank is located among a cluster of buildings at 102-106 West Washington Street in Monticello's court house square. Some of the adjacent buildings share walls. The ...


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