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Timothy Bronzino v. Officer David Sheldon

January 5, 2012

TIMOTHY BRONZINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER DAVID SHELDON, OFFICER BRIAN SHIELDS, AND THE CITY OF AURORA, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On February 18, 2009, Plaintiff Timothy Bronzino filed a ten-count Complaint alleging violations of his constitutional rights, along with state law claims, against Defendants City of Aurora and Aurora Police Officers David Sheldon and Brian Shields. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a), 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment as to Bronzino's Fourth Amendment false arrest claim (Count II) and the corresponding portions of Bronzino's Section 1983 conspiracy claim (Count VII), as well as Bronzino's state law claims of false arrest (Count III) and malicious prosecution (Count V). See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Timothy Bronzino ("Bronzino") resides at 3047 Derby Court, Aurora, Illinois, and is a hairdresser employed at Salon Bronzino, which is owned by his wife, Stacy Bronzino ("Stacy"). (R. 100, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts. ¶ 1.) The City of Aurora employs both Defendant Officers Brian Shields and David Sheldon as a police officers. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 3.) The City of Aurora is a municipal corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois. (Id. ¶ 4.)

Prior to the incident that is the basis of this lawsuit, Bronzino suffered -- and continues to suffer -- from bipolar disorder, cluster headaches, anxiety disorder, and depression. (Id. ¶ 5.) More specifically, in December 2007, Bronzino's primary care physician diagnosed him as having anxiety disorder, insomnia, and depression. (Id.) Around that same time, Bronzino was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder Type 1 and his physician placed him on several medications to control his behavioral and medical conditions. (Id. ¶ 6.)

On the morning of June 18, 2008, Bronzino woke up feeling tired and was suffering from a headache. (Id. ¶ 8.) He took his medications at or about 9:00 a.m., but he did not feel well enough to go to work that day. (Id.) Instead, he watched some television and went back to sleep. (Id.) When his wife Stacy left for work around 1:00 p.m., Bronzino was sleeping on the couch. (Id. ¶ 9.) Bronzino awoke at approximately 3:00 p.m. and still felt nauseous and tired. (Id.) Bronzino believes that he then took his medication a second time. (Id.) When Stacy came home around 5:00 p.m., Bronzino was sitting on the couch watching television and after Stacy asked him how he was feeling, he informed her that he had a migraine, was nauseous, and felt dizzy. (Id. ¶ 10.) At that time, Stacy observed that Bronzino's face was red and flushed. (Id. ¶ 11; R. 112, Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.) Stacy then asked him if he had taken his medications a second time and he told her that he had double-dosed. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 11; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 4.) Bronzino was only supposed to take his medications once a day, and thus Stacy called his primary care physician and spoke with the doctor's service between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on June 18, 2008. (Id. ¶ 12.)

Stacy then told her daughter to call Bronzino's mother, Lucille Wellman, to ask her to call for an ambulance. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 14, 15.) The daughter then called Wellman and asked her to call 911, telling her grandmother that something happened with Bronzino's medicine. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.) Stacy testified that she overheard her daughter say to Wellman: "Dad took too much medicine. We have to take him to the hospital. My mom wants you to meet us there." (Id. ¶ 18.) Wellman eventually called 911 and requested a police squad car to go to Bronzino's house stating that Bronzino was "going crazy." (Id. ¶ 23.) Meanwhile, Bronzino went outside around 8 p.m. to smoke a cigarette and Stacy went outside to talk to him. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 8; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 20.)

Officers Sheldon and Shields were dispatched to Bronzino's home at or around 8:15 p.m. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 25.) The dispatch instructed them to investigate a domestic violence situation at 3047 Derby Court. (Id.; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 10.) There is evidence in the record that dispatch also advised Defendant Officers that there was a possibility of a drug overdose. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 11.) When Defendant Officers arrived at Bronzino's home, they parked their squad cars across the cul-de-sac and observed a woman at the front door of the home and that a man was outside smoking a cigarette. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 27.) The parties dispute whether Bronzino then told the Defendant Officers to "Get off my property. I didn't call you. Get off my property." (Id.) The parties also dispute whether Officer Shields said: "We're here to investigate a domestic. We have to do our job." (Id. ¶ 28.) The parties do not dispute that Officer Sheldon approached Stacy and asked her if everything was okay to which Stacy responded yes. (Id. ¶ 30; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 16.)

Meanwhile, Officer Sheldon observed a pitcher and towels on the floor, as well as liquid on the wall, through the open front door. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 31.) Officer Sheldon then asked Stacy for the second time if she was okay to which she answered yes. (Id. ¶ 32.) Stacy testified that she assured Officer Sheldon that everything was fine, but that Bronzino had taken an overdose of his prescription medications and that they had called 911. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 17.) Defendant Officers dispute whether Stacy told Officer Sheldon this information.

Officer Shields then approached Bronzino, but the parties dispute whether Bronzino was agitated and angry and whether Bronzino stated: "What the fuck are you doing here?" (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 33.) In fact, the parties dispute the vast majority of Bronzino's interactions with Officers Shields and Sheldon. The parties do not dispute, however, that after Officer Shields talked to Bronzino, Bronzino began walking toward his home where Officer Sheldon was talking to Stacy. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 37.) Officer Shields testified at his deposition that he told Bronzino to stop or he would arrest him for obstructing his investigation into the alleged domestic dispute. (Id. ¶ 38.) Bronzino and Stacy testified otherwise.

Defendant Officers maintain that Bronzino then escalated the situation by clenching his right fist and yelling. (Id. ¶¶ 40, 41.) Bronzino and Stacy deny this happened. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 21-23.) Officer Shields then grabbed Bronzino's right arm and Officer Shields grabbed Bronzino's left arm, after which they allege that they ordered him to the ground. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 42.) Defendant Officers maintain that after Bronzino refused to go to the ground, they had to place him there. (Id. ¶ 43.) Stacy and Bronzino, on the other hand, testified that Officer Shields threw Bronzino to the ground. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 24.) The parties do not dispute that thereafter Defendant Officers lifted Bronzino and took him across the cul-de-sac to the patrol cars parked there. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27.)

In his Complaint, Bronzino alleges a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim (Count I); a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim (Count II); a state law false arrest claim (Count III); a state law battery claim (Count IV); a state law malicious prosecution claim (Count V); a Section 1983 conspiracy claim based on his Fourth Amendment excessive force and false arrest claims (Count VII);*fn1 a state law conspiracy claim (Count VIII); an indemnification claim against the City of Aurora (Count IX); and a respondeat superior claim against the City of Aurora. (Count X).

SUMMARY JUDGMENT 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). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d ...


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