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Slwia Marcinczyk v. Chicago Police Officer Slawomir Plewa

April 25, 2012

SLWIA MARCINCZYK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER SLAWOMIR PLEWA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant City of Chicago's (City) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Defendant Bogdan Mazur (Mazur) is allegedly Plaintiff Sylwia Marcinczyk's (Marcinczyk) former husband. At the time of the incident in question, Marcinczyk was allegedly engaged in divorce proceedings with Mazur, which involved the custody of their two minor children and their joint business. On or about April 1, 2007, Defendant Officer Slawomir Plewa (Plewa), an officer for the City police department (Department), and other City police officers allegedly stopped a vehicle (Vehicle) being driven by Marcinczyk. Plewa was allegedly acting based on a tip from an anonymous confidential source (Confidential Informant) indicating that illegal drugs and a weapon were in the Vehicle. The Vehicle was allegedly searched, a gun and illegal drugs were allegedly discovered in the Vehicle, and Marcinczyk was arrested.

Marcinczyk contends that Plewa conspired with Mazur to plant the gun and illegal drugs in the Vehicle. At Marcinczyk's criminal trial, Plewa allegedly testified that he had never met Mazur and that Mazur was not the Confidential Informant. Marcinczyk contends that the statements Plewa made at trial were not true.

Marcinczyk brought the instant action and includes in her complaint claims alleging unlawful seizure brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Section 1983) (Count I), Section 1983 false arrest/imprisonment claims (Count II), state law false arrest/imprisonment claims (Count III), state law malicious prosecution claims (Count IV), state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claims (Count V), claims brought against City supervisors and a Section 1983 Monell claim (Count VI), and indemnification claims (Count VII). The City, Defendant Philip Cline (Cline), Defendant Tisa Morris (Morris), and Defendant Debra Kirby (Kirby) moved to dismiss the supervisory liability claims and the Monell claim. On July 8, 2011, the court granted the motion to dismiss the claims brought against Cline, Morris, and Kirby, and denied the motion to dismiss the Monell claim. The City now moves for summary judgment on the Monell claim.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A "genuine issue" of material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "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 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

The City argues that Marcinczyk has failed to point to sufficient evidence for the Monell claim. A local governmental entity can only be held liable for an unconstitutional act "if the unconstitutional act complained of is caused by: (1) an official policy adopted and promulgated by its officers; (2) a governmental practice or custom that, although not officially authorized, is widespread and well settled; or (3) an official with final policy-making authority." Thomas v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir. 2010).

I. Weighing Merits of Case

The City argues that Marcinczyk has not presented evidence to show that any City policy or practice existed. According to the City, Marcinczyk "fails to adduce any evidence that th[e] alleged customs and practices exist. . . ." (Mem. SJ 9). However, the City's statement is contradicted by the record in this case. For example, in addition to other evidence, Marcinczyk has pointed to certain statistical records and public records, which are circumstantial evidence that support Marcinczyk's contention that certain customs and practices exist. In arguing that Marcinczyk has produced no evidence, the City discounts and discredits all the evidence produced by Marcinczyk and would thus have the court deem such evidence worthy of little or no weight. While the City may dispute the accuracy of the evidence presented by Marcinczyk, or the weight to be given to such evidence, it is nonetheless evidence. The Seventh Circuit has made clear that "at the summary judgment stage, 'the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Shaffer v. American Medical Ass'n, 662 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir. 2011)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249); Costello v. Grundon, 651 F.3d 614, 636 (7th Cir. 2011)(stating that "[o]n summary judgment, a court may not weigh the evidence or decide which inferences should be drawn from the facts"); A. Kelley's Garage, Inc. v. Village of Stone Park, 2005 WL 991768, at *4 (N.D. Ill. 2005)(explaining that "[a]t the summary judgment stage [the court] cannot act as the trier of fact and judge the case on the merits," and indicating that the court merely found "that there [were] sufficient genuinely disputed facts to proceed onward to trial"); see also Arias v. Allegretti, 2008 WL 191185, at *3 (N.D. Ill. 2008)(denying City's motion for summary judgment and noting that "[t]he City's argument that [certain] conclusions are unreliable because he relied on a de minimus sample goes to the weight of his testimony, not its admissibility"). Thus, in discounting the evidence pointed to by Marcinczyk, the City is improperly seeking through summary judgment to have the court act as the trier of fact and weigh the merits of Marcinczyk's Monell claim.

II. Materials Not Produced During Discovery

The City argues that certain evidence pointed to by Marcinczyk in opposition to the instant motion was not properly disclosed during discovery. The City argues that it is at a disadvantage because it could not adequately investigate matters relating to the newly disclosed evidence. The evidence at issue appears to be records that are all of public record and relate directly to the City. Marcinczyk has not been given an opportunity to respond to the City's accusations relating to discovery, since the City has not filed a proper motion to bar the introduction of such discovery. Had the City done so, the court would have set a briefing schedule and provided Marcinczyk with an opportunity to respond. In addition, the City has provided only a general statement that it might be disadvantaged because it might want to conduct additional discovery, "if necessary," based on the new evidence. (Reply 2-3). The City fails to identify any specific need to conduct additional discovery. Also, the evidence referenced by Marcinczyk is public record and there does not appear to be any reason why the City would be unaware of such evidence or be unduly surprised by the existence of such evidence. The ...


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