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Thomas M. Janusz v. City of Chicago

May 10, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall


Defendants the City of Chicago ("the City"), Alan Lucas, Parris George, Gina Liberti, and Amy Mugavero Lucas (collectively, "the defendants" or the "City defendants"), have filed a "renewed" motion for summary judgment attempting to limit Plaintiff Thomas Janusz's damages based on a prior state court judgment. In addition, the defendants have filed a motion to strike the affidavit of James P. Kenny or, in the alternative, to depose him based on alleged violations of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26 and 37. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants in part and denies in part the motion to strike, and grants the motion for summary judgment.


Janusz's allegations stem from an incident that took place in December 2001, when Janusz was arrested on drug charges.*fn1 The circumstances surrounding this arrest are unusual. Janusz had been managing two Chicago-based funeral homes for Keystone Illinois, Inc. ("Keystone") since 1998. Keystone had purchased one of the funeral homes from Anthony and Daniel Morizzo ("the Morizzos"). Janusz claimed to have uncovered evidence that the Morizzos had violated their non-compete agreement with Keystone, and Keystone filed suit against the Morizzos in October 2001. Janusz was expected to testify, and was concerned that the Morizzos would retaliate against him.

On December 6, 2001, Janusz met a woman named Paula Siragusa. The circumstances surrounding how they met are unclear-Janusz's telling has changed over time-but they eventually ended up in a motel room. Upon leaving the motel, Janusz drove Siragusa to a Cicero gas station. Three Chicago police officers-Officers Lucas, George, and Liberti-were driving by. They claimed to be in the area due to an anonymous tip about a drug transaction. The officers claimed to observe Janusz in the parking lot pacing back and forth with a duffel bag. They also said that they noticed that Janusz's license plate had expired. They approached, and according to Lucas, Siragusa told the officers that Janusz had smoked cocaine and had a plastic cup with cocaine in the front seat of his car. The officers found $4,400 in cash in the duffel bag, and placed Janusz under arrest. For whatever reason, they let Siragusa-an admitted heroin addict who had been doing drugs at the motel-leave the scene. Janusz's version is a bit different; he claims that Lucas approached Janusz stating that he thought Janusz was a drug dealer, and Lucas asked about the motel room and the gym bag. Janusz also says that he saw Lucas plant a small, white, pebble-sized object into a cup in the front seat of Janusz's car. (Later, the white substance was determined not to be cocaine.)

At the police station, Officer Mugavero (now Mugavero Lucas) joined the other officers. Janusz claims he was coerced into consenting to a search of his apartment, which was located above one of the funeral homes he managed for Keystone. Janusz also claims he was threatened by the officers, both with bodily harm and the threat of being gang-raped in jail. In the search of the apartment, the officers allegedly found crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, and illegal anabolic steroids, as well as $17,810 in cash. Janusz alleges that the officers stole money and jewelry during the search.

Officer Grizzoffi, who had worked for Keystone in the past and knew the Morizzos, made copies of Janusz's confidential police records. Anthony Morizzo got the records in the mail a few days later, and used them to settle the civil suit Keystone had filed by arguing that Janusz's arrest tainted him as a credible witness. Keystone settled the lawsuit, then fired Janusz on January 19, 2002. In May 2002, Janusz filed a motion in state court to quash his arrest. After a hearing, a judge found Officer Lucas's explanation of the events surrounding the arrest to be "unusual." The judge granted the motion, and the prosecution immediately moved to drop the charges against Janusz.

According to his amended state court complaint, Janusz had received good performance reviews throughout his employment with Keystone-including a positive review the day before his arrest. (See Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement, ECF No. 343, Ex. B.) But after his arrest, Keystone suspended Janusz's employment and Brian Durante took over as interim General Manager. On multiple occasions, both Durante and another employee, Thomas Kotrba, told Dorothy Reynolds (also a Keystone employee) that Janusz was "selling crystal meth," that a methamphetamine lab had been found in Janusz's apartment above the funeral home, and that Janusz stole funds from clients; Durante also told non-employees that Janusz was a drug dealer and that Janusz sold illegal drugs. Janusz learned of the statements from Reynolds in about September 2002.

Thereafter, Janusz filed two lawsuits. The first, the "Keystone case," was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Keystone, Durante and Kotrba ("the Keystone defendants"). Janusz alleged breach of his employment contract, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Janusz also filed his § 1983 and state law claims against the City and the City police officers in federal court. In his fourth amended federal complaint, he alleges, inter alia, *fn2 state law claims of malicious prosecution (Count III) and abuse of process (Count IV), and seeks compensation from the City under 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/9-102 (Count IX); he also alleges § 1983 claims for conspiracy (Count V), unlawful search of his residence (Count VII) and automobile (Count XII), and false arrest (Count XI); finally, he brings a general claim for respondeat superior (Count X).

There was extensive overlapping discovery between the Keystone case and this case. The Keystone case proceeded to trial first. At the trial, Janusz testified that each of the statements made by Durante and Kotrba were untrue, and that after people in the funeral industry heard the rumors, it was impossible for him to get a job. He argued that the Keystone defendants' behavior exacerbated his pre-existing bipolar disorder and ultimately contributed to giving him post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"). He testified to the loss of his normal life, including his inability to date, go out with friends, work, or participate in physical activities. Janusz's position at the trial was that the conduct of the police was a proximate cause of his disability, and that the Keystone defendants' conduct was also a proximate cause. Janusz's expert psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Wahlstrom, testified that Janusz's bipolar disorder worsened and became harder to treat as a result of Janusz's arrest, the termination of his employment, and his defamation. Dr. Wahlstrom also testified that the conduct surrounding Janusz's arrest did not cause an immediate onset of PTSD; instead, the events together created a "cascade of trauma" creating cumulative stress that led to PTSD. Janusz's labor economics expert, Dr. Malcolm Cohen, testified as to the value of the economic loss Janusz suffered as a result of Keystone's breach of his employment contract.*fn3 Dr. Cohen found that the total economic loss from Janusz never working again would be $3,527,862.

The jury received an instruction on proximate causation: a proximate cause "need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause. It is sufficient if it combines with another cause resulting in the injury." The jury also was instructed to reasonably and fairly compensate Janusz for the following elements of damages, both past and future, taking into consideration the nature, extent, and duration of the injury and the aggravation of any pre-existing ailment or condition:

- the value of earnings lost, - mental suffering experienced, - personal humiliation experienced, - impairment of personal and professional reputation and standing in the community experienced, and - the loss of a normal life experienced.

The jury ultimately awarded Janusz almost $3.2 million in damages. The damages were apportioned as follows: $177,500 for Janusz's claim that his employment contract was breached by his termination following his arrest; $250,000 in compensatory and $250,000 in punitive damages on his defamation claims; and $2,500,000 in compensatory damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Judgment was entered in accordance with the jury's verdict. After post-trial motions were filed and denied, both parties appealed. On September 29, 2009, while the appeal was pending, the trial court was informed that the parties had settled, that "Keystone ha[d] paid Plaintiff all monies due and owing to him as the result of the Judgment previously entered against Keystone," that Janusz had executed a Release and Satisfaction in Keystone's favor, and that the parties stipulated to dismissing the case under 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-183 and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 309. (See Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement, ECF No. 343, Ex. I.) The judge, finding that "the Judgment previously entered against Keystone in the amount of Three-Million One-Hundred and Seventy-Seventy Thousand Five-Hundred and 00/100s United States Dollars ($3,177,500.00) has been remitted and paid in full," dismissed the case with prejudice.

Meanwhile, the federal case was progressing. In April 2010 the City defendants moved for summary judgment, and Judge Nordberg granted in part and denied in part that motion. A few individuals were dismissed from particular counts, but most of Janusz's case will proceed to a trial on the merits. Relevant here, in their summary judgment briefs the parties raised the issue of damages: the defendants claimed that Janusz's claims to emotional damages, permanent disability and lost wages were barred under the single recovery rule and the doctrine of collateral estoppel based on the fact that Janusz had already collected a significant amount in the Keystone case, whereas Janusz ...

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