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Sandra Rosario v. City of Chicago

April 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:


Sandra Rosario has sued the City of Chicago and seven Chicago police officers, claiming that the officers arrested her without probable cause and made false statements that caused her to be charged with a crime. Rosario has asserted two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and four state-law claims against the officers. She has also asserted the state-law claims against the city via the doctrine of respondeat superior. All of the defendants now seek summary judgment in whole or in part. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants defendants' motion in part and denies it in part.


On a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes all facts favorably to the nonmoving party and makes reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Eaton v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 657 F.3d 551, 552 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court takes the following facts from the parties' memoranda of law and statements of uncontested facts.

Although the parties vigorously contest the details of what occurred, they agree on the following outline of the events at issue. On the evening of August 11, 2010, Rosario and Eduardo Gonzalez ("Eduardo") went to a restaurant near the intersection of Armitage and Sawyer in Chicago. At some point after leaving the restaurant, Rosario saw and confronted Maribel Gonzalez ("Maribel").*fn1 Rosario and Gonzalez then got into Rosario's car and drove away. They were soon stopped by several Chicago police officers, who arrested both of them and took them to the Fourteenth District police station, where Rosario was strip searched. Rosario was then taken to a different police station and held overnight. The next morning, she was taken to the Cook County Criminal Court and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. She posted bond and was released. The charge against her was later amended to a charge of possession of a controlled substance. At a preliminary hearing on September 2, 2010, the charge was dismissed.

1. Rosario's description of the events

According to the testimony of Rosario and Eduardo, the events were as follows. Immediately upon leaving the restaurant, Rosario saw Maribel, who she believed owed money to her sister. The two had an argument, but Rosario did not touch Maribel. Rosario then got in her car with Eduardo and drove several blocks before being stopped by multiple police cars. Several officers, including Rafael Magallon, pulled her out of the car. Magallon, while ostensibly patting her down, groped her breasts and buttocks. He then handcuffed her and put her in a car with Officers Angeilly Lopez and Jason Bala, who took her to the police station.

After arriving at the station, Rosario was placed in a room with a metal bench. After about fifteen minutes, Magallon and Lopez walked into the room. Lopez was carrying a baseball bat. The officers told Rosario to let them know if she was carrying any contraband and that she was about to be strip searched. Magallon and Lopez then left the room, and Officer Angelique Casey-Martinez entered. She told Rosario to disrobe, which Rosario did. Casey-Martinez also told Rosario to remove the tampon she was wearing because she was menstruating. The officer performed a visual cavity search during which she did not touch Rosario. She then left the room (presumably after Rosario had put her clothes back on), carrying Rosario's tampon, and she told Magallon and Lopez that Rosario did not have any drugs on her.

Rosario then waited in the room for approximately two hours with her hands cuffed behind her back. She eventually banged on the door because she was anxious about missing work in the morning. At that point, Magallon and Lopez opened the door and came into the room. Rosario testified that Magallon grabbed her by the arms and "flung me on the bench and told me to sit the fuck down, to shut the fuck up, that I knew the motherfuckin' system; and he grabbed his hand and he slapped me so hard across my face." Rosario Dep. at 66:4-8. Lopez, still carrying a bat, watched this occur but did not touch Rosario. The officers then left her alone for another period of time, after which Lopez took her out of the room to be fingerprinted by an officer whose name she did not know but later determined to be William Crawford. They then transported her to another facility that had overnight accommodations for women, where Officer Elaine Vabakos was responsible for her. In the morning, Rosario was taken to the criminal court building.

2. Defendants' description of the events

Magallon and Lopez testified that they were patrolling in the Fourteenth District when a person who "wished to remain anonymous" told them that a Hispanic female and a bald male in a car were engaging in a narcotics transaction near the intersection of Armitage and Sawyer. The person described the car and gave the officers a license plate number. Magallon testified that he and Lopez got into an unmarked vehicle and drove to the intersection. They soon saw a car arrive that matched the description. Lopez testified that he witnessed a situation involving the car's occupants that looked to him like a narcotics transaction, but the portion of his deposition included in the record does not make clear precisely what he contends he saw.

The officers testified that they then saw Rosario exit the car, approach Maribel while yelling at her, and slap her on the face. Rosario then got back in the car and drove away. Believing that a battery had occurred, Magallon followed her in his unmarked vehicle and radioed Bala, who was patrolling nearby along with Officer William O'Brien. Once their car was behind Rosario's, O'Brien and Bala activated their siren, and Rosario stopped her car.

At that point, Magallon and Lopez drove back to Armitage and Sawyer, picked up Maribel, and drove her to Rosario's car for a "show-up." When they arrived, Magallon saw that Rosario and Eduardo were bent over the hood of O'Brien and Bala's car and that Bala was standing behind Rosario. Maribel identified Rosario as the woman who hit her, and Magallon radioed this to O'Brien and Bala without getting out of his car. He drove Maribel to the Fourteenth District police station, where she signed a complaint, and then drove her back to Armitage and Sawyer.

After dropping Maribel off, Magallon returned to the station and found Rosario in a processing room. He told her that she had been arrested for battery and the suspect narcotics transaction. Bala told him that narcotics had been recovered from her belongings. Magallon and Lopez then filled out paperwork to process the arrests of Rosario and Eduardo, who was in an adjacent holding room. Magallon filled out and later filed complaints for both battery and narcotics. At some point, Casey-Martinez searched Rosario. After the search, Casey-Martinez told Magallon that she did not find any drugs on Rosario's person.

Magallon testified at Rosario's preliminary hearing. At the hearing, the narcotics charge against Rosario was dropped upon a finding of no probable cause. Magallon later testified at his deposition that Rosario could not be charged with battery because the arresting officers did not include the battery in the arrest report.


Summary judgment is appropriate where the record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Lexington Ins. Co. v. Rugg & Knopp, Inc., 165 F.3d 1087, 1090 (7th Cir. 1999); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). "The nonmoving party must offer something more than a 'scintilla' of evidence to overcome summary judgment . . . and must do more than 'simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Roger Whitmore's Auto. Servs. v. Lake County, 424 F.3d 659, 667 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).

Rosario has asserted claims against the individual defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for wrongful arrest and failure to intervene. She has asserted state-law claims against all defendants for battery, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

At the outset, the Court notes that Rosario's complaint contains no allegations of misbehavior by Elaine Vabakos, the officer who handled Rosario's overnight stay. Rosario agreed at her deposition that Vabakos did not do "anything inappropriate to [her]" and "act[ed] professionally at all times." Rosario Dep. at 72:6-10. She also admitted that "Vabakos did not touch Plaintiff, and was never present in the 14th District." Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 32. Rosario's brief and statement of uncontested facts do not mention Vabakos by name. Her response to defendants' statement of facts suggests that "Officer Vabakos was made aware of plaintiff's complaints of misconduct by the other officers" and failed to report them. Id. ¶ 43. Rosario cites to no evidence, however, that indicates that this is true, nor does she provide any argument that this would provide a basis to hold Vabakos liable. The Court concludes that Vabakos is entitled to summary judgment on all claims.

Similarly, Rosario's only allegations of misconduct by Crawford are that he failed to report Rosario's alleged mistreatment when he took her fingerprints after she was taken out of the holding room. She offers no argument or evidence that Crawford was involved in any of the alleged misconduct, had the opportunity to do anything about it while it was occurring, or can be held liable on any of her claims based on his alleged ...

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