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Darrell Cannon v. Former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge

September 19, 2011

DARRELL CANNON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FORMER CHICAGO POLICE LT. JON BURGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Darrell Cannon ("Cannon") alleges that certain City of Chicago employees and the City itself (hereinafter "the City Defendants") violated his civil rights by torturing him during interrogations held at the Chicago Police Department's Area 2 Detective Division under the direction of Former Chicago Police Lieutenant Jon Burge. More specifically, Cannon alleges that on November 2, 1983, Defendant Chicago Police Officers Jon Byrne, Peter Dignan, and Charles Grunhard tortured and coerced him into confessing to his involvement in the murder of Darrin Ross. His constitutional claims against the City Defendants include: (1) deprivation of the right to a fair trial (Count I); (2) false arrest and false imprisonment (Count II); (3) torture and physical abuse (Count III); (4) coercive interrogation (Count IV); and (5) a Monell policy claim (Count VI). See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Cannon's state law claims against the City Defendants include: (1) false arrest and imprisonment (Count VII);

(2) malicious prosecution (Count VIII); (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IX); (4) conspiracy (Count X); (5) respondeat superior (Count XI); and (6) indemnification (Count XII).

Before the Court is the City Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b).*fn1 After the parties completed their briefing, the Court conducted oral argument on September 1, 2011. The Court also asked the parties for additional briefing concerning Plaintiff's unconscionability defense. Based on the parties' briefs, the record, and oral argument, the Court grants the City Defendants' summary judgment motion as discussed in detail below.

BACKGROUND

On October 26, 1983, Darrin Ross was shot and killed, and on November 2, 1983, Chicago police officers arrested and charged Cannon in connection with Ross' murder. (R. 361, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 12, 13.) Cannon claims that Defendant Chicago Police Officers Byrne, Dignan, and Grunhard tortured and coerced him into confessing to the Ross murder by performing mock executions, attempting to suspend him in the air while handcuffed, and by using an electric cattle prod, among other methods. (Id. ¶ 14; R. 381, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶¶ 1, 2, 4.) On November 7, 1983, Cannon lodged a complaint with the Office of Professional Standards ("OPS") after which OPS opened an investigation into Cannon's allegations of torture and abuse.*fn2 (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 15; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.)

In the meantime, attorney Ronald Himel represented Cannon in his criminal proceedings and filed a motion to suppress Cannon's confession. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 16, 18.) At the March 1984 suppression hearing in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Defendant Officers Byrne, Dignan, and Grunhard denied that they participated or witnessed Cannon's abuse and torture. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) Thereafter, the trial court denied Cannon's motion to suppress, after which a jury convicted Cannon of Ross' murder and the trial court sentenced him to natural life in prison. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 7; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 23.) That same year, Defendants Byrne, Dignan, Grunhard, Michael Bosco, and Ray Binkowski provided statements to OPS denying participating or witnessing Cannon's torture and abuse. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.)

In September 1986, Cannon filed a pro se complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Officers Byrne, Dignan, and Grunhard alleging violations of his constitutional rights in connection with their use of excessive force on November 2, 1983. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 9; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 34.) In his pro se complaint, Cannon sought $15,000 in damages, as well as "such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper." (R. 391-3, Ex. 5, Compl.) The presiding district court judge, Judge William T. Hart, appointed attorney Paul Lanphier to represent Cannon in his 1986 federal lawsuit. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 9; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 38.) Lanphier conducted written discovery and took the depositions of Defendants Byrne, Dignan, and Grunhard, along with the deposition of Chicago Police Officer Daniel McWeeny. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 9; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 42.) When deposing Byrne, Dignan, Grunhard, and McWeeny, Lanphier never questioned these officers about other allegations of torture at Area 2. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 43.)

In January 1988, Lanphier sent Cannon a letter recommending that Cannon accept a settlement offer of $3,000 to which Cannon agreed. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 12, 13; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 48.) Lanphier explained to Cannon that the likelihood of success in his case was nonexistent due to witness credibility, namely, that a jury would not accept his version of the facts because Cannon had a criminal record. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 12.) On February 8, 1988, Cannon entered into a settlement agreement and stipulation ("1998 Stipulation") accepting $3,000 in exchange for dismissing the excessive force action. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 14; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 50.) The 1998 Stipulation provided in relevant part:

Plaintiff agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the City of Chicago, its officers, agents and employees including, but not limited to, the remaining Defendant, from any claims, losses, damages or expenses incurred or which may be incurred, by reason of the incident which was the basis of the litigation....

Plaintiff understands, upon advice of his counsel, and agrees that such Judgment is a final and total settlement of all claims he has, or may have in the future, arising either directly or indirectly out of the incident which was the basis of this litigation, and that such finality is applicable to the remaining Defendant, the CITY OF CHICAGO, its officers, agents and employees. (Defs' Stmt. Facts ¶ 51.) It is undisputed that Cannon testified that he knew when he signed the 1988 Stipulation that he was agreeing to the settlement, that the lawsuit would be ending, and that no one forced him to sign it. (Id. ¶ 53.) Pursuant to the 1988 Stipulation, Judge Hart entered judgment in favor of Cannon and against Defendants on February 8, 1988. (Id. ¶ 56.)

Meanwhile, on appeal from his criminal conviction, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the denial of Cannon's motion to suppress, but remanded his case for a hearing on the State's use of peremptory challenges. See People v. Cannon, 150 Ill.App.3d 1009, 104 Ill.Dec. 82, 502 N.E.2d 345 (1st Dist. 1986). After holding a Batson hearing, the trial court ordered a new trial at which Cannon moved to suppress his confession arguing that Area 2 police officers tortured not only him, but other suspects into confessing. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 69, 71; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 22.) The trial court did not revisit the question of whether Cannon's confession was voluntary at the 1994 re-trial. See People v. Cannon, 293 Ill.App.3d 634, 635, 227 Ill.Dec. 1000, 688 N.E.2d 693 (1st Dist. 1997). Thereafter, the jury found Cannon guilty of Ross' murder and the trial court sentenced Cannon to natural life in prison. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 24.)

On appeal from the 1994 conviction, the Illinois Appellate Court vacated Cannon's conviction and sentence and remanded his case to the trial court for a hearing on the voluntariness of Cannon's confession. See Cannon, 293 Ill.App.3d at 635. The State ultimately dismissed the ...


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