IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION
December 17, 2012
JOSHUA TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
Included among the motions noticed up for presentment during this Court's motion call today was one by the City of Chicago ("City") in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") action seeking alternatively (1) to compel discovery or (2) to obtain entry of what City's counsel referred to as its "Certificate of Indemnification." That motion is typical of those in which City has been targeted as a Section 1983 defendant and wishes to assure plaintiffs of its agreement to pay any judgment for compensatory damages or to provide related relief (but not punitive damages) against any of City's police officers for their violations of plaintiffs' constitutional rights -- and the thrust of such motions is to avoid the expenditure of needless time and effort to impose direct liability on City's part under Monell principles.
This Court and its colleagues have frequently granted motions that provide the relief contemplated in the second of the two alternatives referred to earlier, and this Court sees no difficulty in doing so here. There is however one respect in which the proposed order submitted by City's counsel is flawed, and that relates to the use of the term "indemnification," rather than employing the concept of a simple guaranty in which the obligee (here the plaintiff) need not pursue its remedy against a defendant officer, who in turn would look to City for indemnification. City's proposed form speaks in terms of indemnifying a defendant officer (who is thus the party to whom City owes its obligation), rather than its enforceable obligation running to the successful plaintiff.
Accordingly this Court recommends that the "Certificate of Indemnification" be redrafted to specify that each obligation (compensatory damages, including the potential for a nominal award, and attorney's fees and expenses) will be paid directly by City, to plaintiff, without any need on plaintiff's part to pursue or exhaust remedies against the individual defendant officers. If City's counsel wish to provide a proposed form of order to that effect to this Court for its approval, it will be pleased to do so.
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