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Marvin Pierce v. City of Chicago and Officer Lawrence Stuckert

February 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.,


Plaintiff Marvin Pierce has sued the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Officer Lawrence Stuckert for violations of state and federal law stemming from his arrest on March 10, 2008. Plaintiff's five-count complaint asserts claims for 42 U.S.C. § 1983 false arrest (Count I), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unlawful search (Count II), malicious prosecution (Count III), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV); and claims against Defendant City of Chicago for respondeat superior and indemnification (Count V). Defendants have moved for summary judgment [62] on all counts. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment [62].

I. Background*fn1

A. Facts

On the evening of March 10, 2008, Plaintiff Marvin Pierce was outside near 5219 S. Paulina. According to Plaintiff's testimony, he was taking out the trash at his sister's house at 5227 S. Paulina. He brought the trash out to the alley, and then walked through a parking lot onto Paulina toward the front of the house. According to Plaintiff's testimony, he had a garbage can in his hands when hewalked onto Paulina. A police car was parked near Plaintiff on Paulina. According to Chicago Police Officers Stuckert and Bubacz, they observed Plaintiff on the sidewalk on Paulina, exited the vehicle, and approached Plaintiff to conduct a field interview. Plaintiff threw his hands in the air. The officers testified that they observed Plaintiff drop a clear plastic bagcontaining a white, rock-like substance to the ground. According to the officers, they were approximately six to ten feet away from Plaintiff at this time. The officers also testified that Officer Bubacz recovered the item that Plaintiff allegedly dropped. Officer Stuckert stated in his arrest report that Plaintiff stated that he was buying "one rock" for his brother to smoke. Plaintiff denies making that statement.

During their depositions, Plaintiff and his brother, Raymond Pierce, described one officer as the taller officer and one officer as the shorter officer. According to Plaintiff and Raymond Pierce, the shorter officer had his gun drawn. The taller officer asked Plaintiff, "What did you throw?" The taller officer then handcuffed Plaintiff, searched him, and put Plaintiff in the car, while the shorter officer stayed by the car near Plaintiff. According to Plaintiff's deposition testimony, after the taller officer placed him in the vehicle, the taller officer began searching the ground around the car and in the parking lot that Plaintiff had walked through on his way from the backyard to Paulina. He bent down into the grass and then approached Plaintiff in the car. According to Plaintiff, when the taller officer returned to the car, he had a small, clear plastic bag containing a hard, white, rock-like substance in it. According to Plaintiff, the taller officer who held the bag asked him, "Is it yours?" Plaintiff denied that the bag was his and maintains that never threw anything when the officers approached him.

Officer Bubacz testified that he observed Plaintiff drop the bag and he then recovered the bag without losing sight of it. The Vice Case Report states: "without losing sight of the object P.O. Bubacz recovered (1) small clear knotted bag containing white rock like substance suspect crack cocaine." Plaintiff was placed under arrest and taken to the 9th District Station. The plastic bag containing the substance was inventoried under inventory number 11242724 and tested positive for cocaine. Plaintiff was charged with possession of cocaine; however, Plaintiff denies possessing the plastic bag containing the white rock like substance. The drug possession charges that flowed from the arrest were dismissed on April 3, 2008.

B.Procedural History

On March 3, 2009, Plaintiff filed his five-count complaint that named the City of Chicago and Officer Lawrence Stuckert as defendants. On July 22, 2009, Defendants produced their Rule 26(a)(1) initial disclosures to Plaintiff. The Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures included the arrest report for the March 10, 2008, incident, which identified both Officer Stuckert and Officer Bubacz as the arresting officers and states that Officer Bubacz recovered narcotics from the scene of Plaintiff's arrest. On July 6, 2010, Plaintiff moved for leave to file his first amended complaint, seeking to add Officer Bubacz as a defendant. The Court denied the motion, concluding that the proposed amendment did not satisfy the relation-back requirements of Rule 15(c)(1), was time-barred, and would not survive a motion to dismiss.

Then, on December 3, 2010, Plaintiff filed a second motion for leave to amend his complaint, seeking once again "to add Officer Bubacz as the Defendant Officer to this matter in place of his partner, Defendant Officer Stuckert." Second Mot. to Amend at 1. In the motion, Plaintiff stated, "clearly, based on the Arrest Report of Plaintiff Marvin Pierce dated March 10, 2008 * * * it is Chicago Police Officer Bubacz who is the Chicago Police Officer liable for Plaintiff's injuries and damages." Id. at 4. Similarly, in Plaintiff's reply brief in support of the motion, Plaintiff noted that he sought "to replace Officer Babacz for Defendant Officer Stuckert" and that "Officer Bubacz is the proper Defendant to this matter, rather than Defendant Officer Stuckert, as Officer Bubacz was the Chicago Police Officer who claims that he observed Plaintiff Marvin Pierce drop narcotics to the ground and retrieved those alleged narcotics, not actions attributable to Defendant Officer Stuckert." Reply at 2, 7. Finally, Plaintiff stated that "it is Chicago Police Officer Bubacz who is the Chicago Police Officer liable for Plaintiff's injuries and damages." Reply at 4. The Court denied the motion for leave to amend, reiterating that Plaintiff's claims against Officer Bubacz were time-barred.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Factual disputes that are irrelevant to the outcome of the suit "will not be counted." Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks and citations omitted).In determining whether there is a genuine issue of fact, the Court "must construe the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). To avoid summary judgment, the opposing party must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is proper against "a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. The non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In other words, the "mere existence of ...

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