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Danny Britt v. Peoria County

February 6, 2013

DANNY BRITT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PEORIA COUNTY, DEPUTY LEE HOFFMAN, DEPUTY BRET MERNA, DEPUTY TYLER MCCOY, DEPUTY ADAM KENNY, DEPUTY DANIEL CORPUS, AND TWO UNIDENTIFIED DEPUTIES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James E. Shadid Chief United States District Judge

E-FILED

1:11-cv-01034-JES-JAG # 52 Page 1 of 7 Thursday, 07 February, 2013 11:49:57 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on Defendant Deputy McCoy's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [48] is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In what remains before the Court, Plaintiff, Danny Britt ("Britt") alleges a Fourth Amendment claim arising out of a traffic stop at approximately 11:56pm on August 3, 2010. Britt was pulled over for the stated reason of not having a properly functioning rear registration light on his truck but was not ticketed. He did not immediately pull over after seeing that Deputy McCoy had turned on his red and blue lights, but rather continued for approximately 15 seconds before stopping.

Deputy McCoy approached the passenger side of the vehicle, which is the side away from oncoming traffic. The dash camera of the squad car was activated; although the driver's side of the vehicle is visible on the recording, it did not capture Deputy McCoy's actions at the passenger door of the vehicle. There is also no audio for the first minute and 50 seconds of the recording. Britt contends that during the approximately seven minutes and 10 seconds that his vehicle was stopped on the side of the road, Deputy McCoy conducted an unlawful search of his vehicle for about two minutes, including the passenger seat, under the passenger seat and the center console. During this time, Britt further alleges that Deputy McCoy placed something under his passenger seat.

Britt subsequently filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Department and then brought this suit. Deputy McCoy has moved for summary judgment. Britt has filed his response, and this Order follows.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment will be granted where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of material facts by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 2553. However, a plaintiff's uncorroborated testimony or subjective belief standing alone is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 939 (7th Cir. 1997); Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Group, Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 401 (7th Cir. 1997). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp., 106 S.Ct. at 2553. This Court must then determine whether there is a need for trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may be reasonably resolved in favor of either party. Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2511; Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).

ANALYSIS

Section 1983 imposes liability where a defendant acts under color of a state law and the defendant's conduct violated the plaintiff's rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a cause of action under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege: (1) that the defendant has deprived him of a federal right, and (2) that the defendant acted under color of state law. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). As a deputy with the Peoria County Sheriff's Department, it is undisputed that McCoy was acting in his capacity as a state actor and therefore the only remaining issue is whether Britt has adequately presented proof of a deprivation of a constitutional right. Britt claims violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment provides that the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." U.S. Const. Amend. IV. "The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness." United States v. Jackson, 598 F.3d 340, 346 (7th Cir. 2010), citing Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248, 250 ...


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