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Mordi v. Zeigler

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 19, 2013

UCHE PHILLIP MORDI, Plaintiff,
v.
TODD ZEIGLER, NATHAN ZERRUSEN, ROB RICH, COREY RISTVEDT, MYRON PANSING, GREG CHANCE, GREGG HEALEY, RICHARD KAMMINGA, EDWARD DETERS, RALPH FOWLER, JOHN MONNET, JERRY DEVORE, EFFINGHAM COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, COUNTY OF EFFINGHAM, MARION COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, and COUNTY OF MARION, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Judge

Introduction and Procedural History

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Vienna Convention), Apr. 24, 1963, 21 U.S.T. 77, T.I.A.S. No. 6820, 596 U.N.T.S. 261, is a multilateral treaty to which both the United States and Nigeria are signatories. See Osagiede v. United States, 543 F.3d 399 (2008). The treaty governs relations between individual nations and foreign consular officials. Id. at 402 (quoting Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, 548 U.S. 331, 336 (2006) (Breyer, J., dissenting)).

Article 36 of the Vienna Convention imposes three obligations on an authority detaining a foreign national: (1) to inform the consulate of the foreign national’s arrest or detention without delay; (2) to forward communications from a detained national to the consulate without delay; and (3) to inform a detained foreign national of his rights under Article 36 without delay. Id. (citing Vienna Convention, art. 36(1)(b)).

Plaintiff Uche Phillip Mordi, a Nigerian national, was not informed of his Article 36 rights when the Illinois State Police arrested him during a 2009 traffic stop, and did not find out about those rights until 2010, when residing in federal prison. (In the interim, he had pled guilty to federal drug charges; Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in an Ohio Correctional Center that contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons). In 2011, and pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff sued myriad state and local officials, plus the Illinois State Police (“ISP”) and two local sheriff’s departments, on multiple constitutional and treaty-based theories. On 28 U.S.C. § 1915A threshold review, the undersigned dismissed all Plaintiff’s claims except for his allegations his Article 36 rights were violated by the state troopers who arrested him (Defendants Zeigler and Zerrusen), other individual officers along his chain of custody (Chance, Healey, Kamminga, Pansing and Rivstedt of the ISP; Rich, Fowler, and Monnet of the Effingham County Sheriff’s Department; and Sheriff Devore of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department), and two state prosecutors (Deters and Fowler). Plaintiff’s Monell claims against the sheriff’s departments of Effingham and Marion counties also survived screening.

All Defendants filed summary judgment motions in early 2013. Plaintiff filed his own summary judgment motion on March 18, 2013, and a cross motion for summary judgment in May 2013. The motions ripened, and on July 11, 2013, Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams submitted a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) via 28 U.S.C. § 636, in which he recommended the following:

1. Granting (Doc. 61) the Effingham County Defendants’ summary judgment motion;
2. Granting (Doc. 59) the Marion County Defendants’ summary judgment motion;
3. Denying as Moot (Doc. 76, Doc. 79, Doc. 80, and Doc. 81) Plaintiff’s cross motions pertaining to the Effingham and Marion County Defendants, as well as those Defendants’ motions to strike Plaintiff’s cross motions;
4. Denying (Doc. 64) Plaintiff’s Cross Motion for Summary Judgment as to Defendants Zeigler, Healey and Chance (all of them ISP Defendants);
5. Granting in part and denying in part (Doc. 55) the ISP Defendants’ collective summary judgment motion as follows:
a. Granting summary judgment to Defendants Pansing, Ristvedt, Zerrusen and Kamminga; and
b. Denying summary judgment as to Defendants Zeigler, Healey and Chance.

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and SDIL-LR 73.1(b), Judge Williams set a deadline for the parties to file objections to any or all of the proposed dispositive findings in his R&R.

Plaintiff filed three specific objections: (1) that Effingham Sheriff Monnet (who assumed custody of Plaintiff after the ISP) should be responsible for his subordinates’ failure to inform Plaintiff of his Article 36 rights, and that the lack of evidence regarding Monnet’s duty to inform Plaintiff of those rights precludes summary judgment; (2) that the Monell claims against Effingham County should therefore also survive; and (3) that he should have been granted summary judgment on his cross motion against Defendants Zeigler, Chance, and Healey.

ISP defendants Zeigler, Chance and Healey filed a sixteen-page Objection that rehashes five of the same points made in their summary judgment motion: (1) Plaintiff is not entitled to nominal damages; (2) Plaintiff has no evidence of evil motive / intent or reckless / callous indifference; (3) Plaintiff offers no evidence Defendant Zeigler knew Plaintiff was a Nigerian national; (4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (5) Plaintiff offers no evidence any Defendant was aware of Vienna Convention obligations.

The undersigned need only make de novo determinations of the portions of Judge Williams’ R&R to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 741 (7th Cir. 1999); Video Views, Inc. v. Studio 21, Ltd., 797 F.2d 538 (7th Cir. 1986). Accordingly, before proceeding to the substance of the parties’ objections, the Court ADOPTS in part Judge Williams’ R&R thusly, since none of the following recommendations drew an objection:

• The Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Jerry DeVore, the County of Marion, and the Marion County Sheriffs Department (Doc. 59) is GRANTED. Plaintiffs Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 79) against those Defendants, as well as the Defendants’ Motion (Doc. 81) to Strike that Cross Motion, are accordingly MOOT. The Clerk is DIRECTED to terminate Defendants Jerry DeVore, the Marion County Sheriffs Department, and the County of Marion from the docket.
• The ISP Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 55) is GRANTED IN PART. Summary judgment is granted as to Defendants Pansing, Ristvedt, Zerrusen and Kamminga, and the Clerk is DIRECTED to terminate those Defendants from the docket.
• The Effingham County Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 61) is GRANTED IN PART. Summary judgment is granted to Defendants Rich, Deters, and Fowler, and the Clerk is DIRECTED terminate those Defendants from the docket.

With those Defendants terminated, the Court can focus on the record as it pertains to the remaining parties: Plaintiff; ISP Officers Zeigler, Chance and Healey; and Effingham County Sheriff Monnet (along with Effingham County and its Sheriffs Department). The Court undertakes de novo review of the ...


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