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Javon Patterson v. Hollis Dorrough

October 31, 2012


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


This matter is before the court on Defendants' motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motions for summary judgment are granted in part and denied in part.


Plaintiff Javon Patterson (Patterson) alleges that in January 2006, he was asked by an individual (Individual) to assist the Individual in stealing certain cocaine (Cocaine). Patterson contends that, although he refused to help the Individual, the Individual proceeded to steal the alleged Cocaine. According to Patterson, certain Defendants subsequently came looking for the alleged Cocaine and demanded that Patterson return the alleged Cocaine. Certain Defendants also allegedly threatened to frame Patterson for a crime if he did not return the alleged Cocaine. Patterson contends that the Individual was found murdered on April 8, 2006, and that Defendants conspired to falsely accuse him of a crime and arrested him on April 24, 2006. Patterson further alleges that certain Defendants provided false information in order to further the criminal prosecution against Patterson. It is undisputed that Patterson was ultimately convicted and that he served almost two and a half years in prison before his conviction was reversed and Patterson was awarded a Certificate of Innocence. Patterson includes in his complaint claims alleging violations of his due process rights brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Section 1983) (Count I), Section 1983 unlawful arrest and detention claims (Count II), Section 1983 conspiracy claims (Count III), Section 1983 malicious prosecution claims (Count IV), a Section 1983 Monell claim (Count V), state law malicious prosecution claims (Count VI), abuse of process claims (Count VII), intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) claims (Count VIII), state law conspiracy claims (Count IX), and indemnification claims (Count X).

Defendant City of Harvey (City), Defendant Keith Price (Price), Defendant Eric Kellogg (Kellogg), Defendant Jonathan Cook (Cook), and Defendant Sam White (White) (collectively referred to as "Harvey Defendants") moved to dismiss Counts II-IV, VI-VII, and IX, as to certain Harvey Defendants. Defendant Detective Hollis Dorrough Jr. (Dorrough) moved to dismiss Counts I-IV and VI-IX. The court granted the motion to dismiss all claims brought against White. The court also granted the motion to dismiss all Section 1983 malicious prosecution claims.

In addition, the court denied the motion to dismiss the Section 1983 unlawful arrest and detention claims, the Section 1983 conspiracy claims, the state law conspiracy claims, the state law malicious prosecution claims, and the abuse of process claims brought against Kellogg, Price, Cook, and Dorrough. Finally, the court denied Dorrough's motion to dismiss the Section 1983 due process claim and the IIED claim brought against him.

Kellogg, Price, and Cook subsequently filed a counterclaim against Patterson and Robert M. Stephenson (Stephenson), who is one of Patterson's attorneys in the instant action. The counterclaim includes a defamation per se claim brought against Patterson (Count I), a defamation per se claim brought against Stephenson (Count

II), a defamation per quod claim brought against Patterson (Count III), and a defamation per quod claim brought against Stephenson (Count IV). Counter-Defendants moved to dismiss all claims in the counterclaim, and on May 12, 2011, the motions to dismiss the counterclaim were granted. Defendants have now filed motions for summary judgment.


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).


I. Defendants' Challenge of Patterson's Evidence

Defendants' motions include several arguments challenging the evidence set forth by Patterson. Defendants argue, for example, that Patterson has not presented "credible evidence," and refer to what they believe is Patterson's "incredible deposition testimony." (Reply 3, 9). Defendants argue that the court should simply choose to disbelieve Patterson and that his deposition testimony should "not be considered." (Reply 3). However, Defendants have not shown Patterson's testimony to be factually impossible. Patterson's evidence consists of testimony as to events that he personally claims to have witnessed, such as his alleged meeting with Kellogg and Dorrough after his arrest, at which they allegedly demanded the return of the Cocaine allegedly belonging to Kellogg and then allegedly threatened Patterson. Defendants also claim that Patterson has a criminal past and that certain criminal charges are currently being pursued against Patterson. Defendants indicate that Patterson is not a "choir boy." (Reply 39). However, even if Defendants are correct regarding the criminal record of Patterson or pending criminal charges, such facts, while perhaps relevant in this case, would not render Patterson's testimony in this case inadmissible.

In the instant motions, Defendants repeatedly challenge the evidence put forth by Patterson, which clearly indicates that resolution at the summary judgment stage would be improper. For example, in response to Patterson's contention that after he was arrested, Kellogg and Dorrough demanded the return of the alleged Cocaine and threatened Patterson, Defendants respond that Kellogg denies that the incident ever occurred. (R SAF Par. 14). Patterson also claims that he did not have a firearm at the time of his arrest and that other witnesses at the scene will corroborate his position. Defendants dispute Patterson's position and respond that Harris testified at his deposition that he recovered a firearm from the person of Patterson at the time of his arrest. (R SAF Par. 10). Defendants also present in the instant motion their version of events, which they contend shows that Patterson would have been arrested and prosecuted for reasons unrelated to the alleged misconduct. Defendants also indicate that the court should make inferences in their favor, arguing that Patterson's "factual assertions must be taken with a large 'grain of salt.'" (Reply 1). However, for a summary judgment motion, reasonable inferences are made in favor of the ...

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