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Hiraldo v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

July 9, 2013

CARLOS HIRALDO, Individually and as President of La Familia Motorcycles, et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiffs have sued the City of Chicago and several known and unknown Chicago Police Officers for violations of state and federal law stemming from an incident that occurred at the La Familia Motorcycle social club on May 30 and 31, 2008. This case has been consolidated for all purposes with two additional cases arising out of the May 2008 incident at La Familia: Stavrou v. City of Chicago, et al., Case No. 09-cv-2615, and McGlade v. City of Chicago, Case No. 10-cv-3167. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all counts in all cases. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment [199] in its entirety and dismisses all remaining claims asserted by Plaintiffs in each of the three cases.

I. Background

A. Statements of Material Fact

Local Rule 56.1 requires that statements of fact contain allegations of material fact and that the factual allegations be supported by admissible record evidence. See L.R. 56.1; Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. at 583-85 (N.D. Ill. 2000). In this matter, Defendant filed a Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Material Facts. All of Plaintiffs' denials were made without citation to specific evidentiary materials justifying the denial-in other words, Plaintiffs objected to some of Defendants' fact statements, but did so without citing to any evidence to refute the fact or without attaching any documents to support the denial. Such denials are improper and insufficient to rebut a movant's factual allegations. See Madonia v. BP Prods. N. Am., 2012 WL 13519, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2012) ("Such "objections, " as Plaintiff styles them, with no evidentiary support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment; rather, a nonmovant must support each denial with specific citations to the record or to supporting materials or affidavits that support their denial."); see also McGuire v. UPS, 152 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 1998) ("An answer that does not deny the allegations in the numbered paragraphs with citations to supporting evidence in the record constitutes an admission.") (internal citations omitted).

Furthermore, Plaintiffs did not file a Statement of Additional Undisputed Facts, choosing instead to rely on allegations from their complaints and facts set forth in the response briefs. This is problematic in multiple respects. First, an unverified complaint is not "proper evidentiary support." Cf. Ford v. Wilson, 90 F.3d 245, 246-47 (7th Cir. 1996) (reversing summary judgment for defendant where plaintiff had relied on a verified complaint as evidentiary support; a verified complaint "converted the complaint * * * into an affidavit"). Second, citing additional facts, without having submitted a statement of additional facts, is not helpful to the court (see Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Services, Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 818 (7th Cir. 2004)), and is a practice that the Seventh Circuit repeatedly has criticized. Indeed, merely including facts in a responsive memorandum is insufficient to put the issue before the Court. Midwest Imports, Ltd. v. Coval, 71 F.3d 1311, 1313 (7th Cir. 1995); Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 594 (N.D. Ill. 2000). As the Seventh Circuit has stressed, facts are to be set forth in Rule 56.1 statements, and it is not the role of the Court to parse the parties' exhibits to construct the facts. Judges are not "like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs." United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir.1991). "Nor are they archaeologists searching for treasure." Jeralds ex rel. Jeralds v. Astrue, 2010 WL 4942161, at *7 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 8, 2010) (citing DiLeonardi, 181 F.3d 865, 867 (7th Cir. 1999)). It simply is not the court's job to sift through the record to find evidence to support a party's claim. Davis v. Carter, 452 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2006). Rather, it is "[a]n advocate's job * * * to make it easy for the court to rule in his client's favor * * *." Dal Pozzo v. Basic Machinery Co., Inc., 463 F.3d 609, 613 (7th Cir. 2006).

Plaintiffs accuse Defendants of "cherry picking" and including in their summary judgment materials only facts favorable to Defendants' arguments. What Plaintiffs seemingly fail to appreciate is that it is their burden to prove their claims, not Defendants'. As set forth explicitly in a recent Seventh Circuit decision, Plaintiffs misapprehend the nature of summary judgment and the parties' respective burdens at that juncture:

A party that does not bear the burden of persuasion may move for summary judgment "by showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If, after an adequate opportunity for discovery, "the non-movant does not come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in her favor on a material question, then the court must enter summary judgment against her." Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994) (emphasis in original) (citations omitted). This is not an onerous burden, yet "[d]espite the rudimentary nature of their task, parties served with summary judgment motions often misconceive what is required of them." Id. at 921. As this case aptly demonstrates, such misunderstandings can have harsh consequences for litigants.

Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, at *1 (7th Cir. Apr. 8, 2013). The court of appeals further held that Rule 56 "does not require the moving party" - here, Defendants-"to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim.'" Id. at *2 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (emphasis in original)). Rather, the movant's initial burden "may be discharged by showing' - that is, point out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. At that point, the nonmovant - here, Plaintiffs - must then "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case." Id. at 322. As both the Seventh Circuit and the Supreme Court have held, the nonmovant must "go beyond the pleadings" ( id. at 324) to demonstrate that there is evidence "upon which a jury could proceed to find a verdict" in her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986); Modrowski, 712 F.3d at *2.

Here, Defendants have provided the Court with a plethora of evidence pointing out that they did not violate any of the Plaintiffs' constitutional rights and also have pointed to the absence of any evidence in support of Plaintiffs' theories. At that point, Plaintiffs were obliged to respond with actual evidence demonstrating that Defendants violated their constitutional rights. As the Seventh Circuit clearly reaffirmed in Modrowski, this was Plaintiffs' burden, not Defendants', yet Plaintiffs have completely dropped the ball by failing to cite any evidence in response to Defendants' statement of facts and failing to file a statement of additional facts. As previously noted, merely including facts in a responsive memorandum is insufficient.

Adherence to Local Rule 56.1 gives the opposing party the opportunity to either admit or deny the statement of fact, and to provide record support for either assertion. By not following the rule, a party injects facts into the case that have not been subject to the opposing side's scrutiny, nor presented to the court for its review. The Seventh Circuit repeatedly has held that a district court is within its discretion to strictly enforce compliance with its local rules regarding summary judgment motions and the Court will do so here. See Patterson v. Indiana Newspapers, Inc., 589 F.3d 357, 359 (7th Cir. 2009); Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Because Plaintiffs failed to file their own Statement of Additional Undisputed Facts and failed to cite contrary evidence in support of their denials of Defendants' fact statements, the Court admits the relevant facts from Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. See Brasic v. Heinemann's Bakeries, Inc., Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1997); see also Jupiter Aluminum Corp. v. Home Insurance Company, 225 F.3d 868, 870-71 (7th Cir. 2000).

B. Facts

1. Procedural History

On October 2, 2008, Plaintiffs Carlos Hiraldo, Individually and as President of La Familia Motorcycles, Kip Whitaker, Lisette Chabolla, Veronica Montanez, Juan Gonzalez, Nicholas Castro, Jackie Wallace, Miosotis Batista, Soleida Flores, Luis Rodriguez, Filiberto Rodriguez, Eric Rodriguez, Sylvia Burgos, Delwin Sonera, Lavina Flores, Vanessa Roman, Sophia Colon, Alex Sierra, Sergio Sandoval and Bennett Gonzalez (collectively referred to as the "Hiraldo Plaintiffs") filed an amended complaint against the City of Chicago, Chicago Police Officers Darlin, Farrar, Hamilton, Bevenuti, Ozga, and Gibbelina, and various unknown officers, alleging that Plaintiffs' constitutional rights were violated under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law. Plaintiffs assert claims for unreasonable seizure (Count I), excessive force (Count II), illegal search (Counts III and IV), violation of substantive ...

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