Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Laurence H. Puch and Jennifer C. Puch v. Village of Glenwood

June 27, 2012

LAURENCE H. PUCH AND JENNIFER C. PUCH, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VILLAGE OF GLENWOOD, ILLINOIS; KEVIN WELSH, GLENWOOD CHIEF OF POLICE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; OFFICER TH. JOHNSON, GLENWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT,
INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, OFFICER JOE WILLETT, GLENWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; THE GLENWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT; OTHER UNKNOWN OFFICERS OF THE GLENWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT; AND OTHER UNKNOWN OFFICERS, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Defendants Joseph Willett and Thomas Johnson have moved for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) on Plaintiff Lawrence Puch's claims for false arrest, excessive force, and conspiracy under 42 U.S.C § 1983, and on Mr. Puch's claims for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") under Illinois law. For the reasons stated below, the court grants judgment on the pleadings as to Mr. Puch's false arrest claim, but denies the motion as to his excessive force, assault, conspiracy, and IIED claims.

I. BACKGROUND

On September 29, 2004, Officers Joseph Willett and Thomas Johnson of the Glenwood Police Department came to the home of Lawrence Puch and Jennifer Puch ("the Puches") in response to a 911 call in which the caller, a neighbor of the Puches, reported a screaming woman and a bleeding man in or near the Puches' home. Puch v. Vill. of Glenwood, Ill., No. 05 C 1114, 2008 WL 4442610, at *1(N.D. Ill. Sept. 25, 2008). After being refused entry to the home, the officers kicked in the door, entered the home, and arrested Mr. Puch. Id. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Puch requested medical treatment; he was taken to St. James Hospital, and then transferred to a mental health facility. Id. He now claims that he suffered an increase in the frequency of his nightmares and in suicidal thoughts, which he alleges were a consequence of this incident. Id. at *1, *10. The Puches filed this action against the Village of Glenwood, the Glenwood Police Department, Officers Johnson and Willett, and Glenwood Chief of Police Kevin Welsh. All of the individual defendants were sued in both their individual and official capacities. Mr. Puch claims that in the course of arresting Mr. Puch, Officer Johnson grabbed Mr. Puch, forced him to his knees, and handcuffed him. Id. at *6. The Puches' amended complaint contains claims against Officers Johnson and Willett for Fourth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (unlawful entry, false arrest, excessive force, and conspiracy), assault and IIED; a claim against Chief Welsh for negligent training and supervision; a Monell claim against the Village of Glenwood for maintaining an established practice of ignoring or failing to investigate complaints of false arrest and excessive force by Glenwood police officers, see Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); and respondeat superior, indemnification, and negligent training and supervision claims against the Village of Glenwood.*fn1

This court granted summary judgment to Officers Johnson and Willett on the unlawful entry claim, on Mrs. Puch's assault claim, and on Mrs. Puch's IIED claim; to Officer Willett on the excessive force claim and on both Mr. Puch's and Mrs. Puch's assault claims; to Chief Welsh as to the negligent training and supervision claim; and to the Village of Glenwood on the negligent training and supervision claims, as well as the Monell claims.*fn2 As a result of these decisions, Mrs. Puch no longer has any remaining claims in the suit, and Chief Welsh is no longer a defendant in any of the remaining charges. The defendants' motion for summary judgment on the false arrest claim was withdrawn without prejudice, and no motions for summary judgment were brought as to the respondeat superior or indemnification claims, as resolution of those two claims necessarily depends on the outcome of other surviving claims.*fn3 Only the conspiracy and IIED claims against Officer Johnson and Officer Willett and the excessive force and assault claims against Officer Johnson survived summary judgment.

At summary judgment, the court also took note of the fact that on May 29, 2009, Mr. Puch had been found guilty by an Illinois jury of resisting or obstructing a peace officer in violation of 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/31-1 (2009) in connection with his actions on September 29, 2004. (See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. E, ECF No. 182.) Because Mr. Puch's conviction could have an impact on this case, given that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) bars any § 1983 claims that necessarily imply the invalidity of a previous criminal conviction, the court denied without prejudice Officer Johnson's motion for summary judgment as to the excessive force, conspiracy, assault, and IIED claims, and Officer Willett's motion for summary judgment as to the conspiracy and IIED claims, as far as each related to Mr. Puch. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. The court invited Officers Johnson and Willett to renew their motion for summary judgment with "a full record and briefing from the parties on the import of Heck." Puch, 2008 WL 4442610 at *5-6. Rather than renewing their motion for summary judgment, the defendants filed this motion for judgment on the pleadings.

II.LEGAL STANDARD

"[C]courts grant a Rule 12(c) motion only if 'it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief.' Thus, to succeed, the moving party must demonstrate that there are no material issues of fact to be resolved." N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998), (quoting Craigs, Inc. v. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp., 12 F.3d 686, 688 (7th Cir. 1993)). The court will view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. GATX Leasing Corp. v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., 64 F.3d 1112, 1114 (7th Cir. 1995). However, the court is not required to assign any weight to unsupported conclusions of law. R.J.R. Servs., Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 895 F.2d 279, 281 (7th Cir. 1989).

When deciding on a Rule 12(c) motion, in general, the court must make its decision based only on the facts set forth in the pleadings themselves. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). However, there exists a narrow exception allowing the district court to "take judicial notice of matters of public record," including the proceedings and findings of other courts. U.S. v. Wood, 925 F.2d 1580, 1581-82 (7th Cir. 1991).

III.ANALYSIS

The court declined to decide the defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Mr. Puch's excessive force claim against Officer Johnson, his assault claim against Officer Johnson, and his conspiracy and IIED claims against both officers, aware that the Heck issue might come into play in light of Mr. Puch's conviction for resisting or obstructing a police officer. See Puch, 2008 WL 4442610, at *5-11. In § 1983 cases involving a plaintiff who has been convicted of a crime, Heck v. Humphrey requires that a district court consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of the conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. But if the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed in the absence of some other bar to the suit.

Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. Heck therefore does not bar every § 1983 claim arising from an incident that also led to the plaintiff's criminal conviction; only those claims relying on facts which are incompatible with facts necessary to the plaintiff's criminal conviction are barred. See id.; see also Hardrick v. City of Bolingbrook, 533 F.3d 758, 763-64 (7th Cir. 2008).

Although the court invited "a full record and briefing from the parties" regarding Mr. Puch's trial and conviction, the record before the court is no more complete than it was at the summary judgment stage, and the "full factual basis for the criminal conviction for comparison with the allegations and record in this case" remains a mystery. Puch, 2008 WL 4442610, at *11. In their motion for judgment on the pleadings and their reply, the defendants refer only to the final guilty verdict of the jury and to the original misdemeanor complaint alleging that Mr. Puch "pushed away from Don Johnson during the arrest process." (See Defs.' Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 4 ("Defs.' R.12(c) Mot."), ECF No. 306; Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. B; Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. E.) The jury did find that Mr. Puch violated 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/31-1, and therefore necessarily found that he "knowingly resist[ed] or obstruct[ed] the performance of one known by [Mr. Puch] to be a peace officer . . . of any authorized act," but there is no evidence before the court to prove that the state's final case as submitted to the jury rested entirely on the allegation that Mr. Puch "pushed away from Don Johnson during the arrest process." (See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. B.) Therefore, the court does not take it as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.