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Mendoza v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 2, 2013

RICARDO MENDOZA and ALMA DELIA MENDOZA, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, THOMAS O'GRADY, and ANTHONY VILLARDITA, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

On April 23, 2012, Plaintiffs Ricardo Mendoza ("Mendoza") and his wife Alma Delia Mendoza (collectively "Plaintiffs') filed a Fourth Amended Complaint against Defendants City of Chicago, Chicago Police Detective Anthony Villardita, and Chicago Police Officer Thomas O'Grady alleging constitutional violations pursuant to the Court's original jurisdiction, and state law tort claims based on the Court's supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a). Before the Court is Defendants City of Chicago's and Detective Vallardita's motion for partial summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a).[1]

For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment as to Count II of the Fourth Amended Complaint and dismisses Count II with prejudice against both Defendant Officers Villardita and O'Grady. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims because the Court is dismissing - with prejudice - Plaintiffs' claim over which the Court has original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). Therefore, the Court dismisses Counts III, IV, and V of the Fourth Amended Complaint without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 "is designed, in part, to aid the district court, which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information, ' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

In general, the purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements and responses is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). "When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion." Cracco, 559 F.3d at 632. In sum, "[f]or litigants appearing in the Northern District of Illinois, the Rule 56.1 statement is a critical, and required, component of a litigant's response to a motion for summary judgment. The purpose of the local rule is to make the summary judgment process less burdensome on district courts, by requiring the parties to nail down the relevant facts and the way they propose to support them." Sojka v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., 686 F.3d 394, 398 (7th Cir. 2012). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

During the relevant time period, Plaintiff Ricardo Mendoza was a bus driver for the Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA"). (R. 191, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.) On September 12, 2009, shortly before 9:20 p.m., Defendant Officer O'Grady, who was off-duty at that time, and his girlfriend were biking on State Street in downtown Chicago. ( Id. ¶¶ 1, 17.) At that same time, Mr. Mendoza was driving a CTA bus traveling southbound on State Street. ( Id. ¶ 2.) As Mr. Mendoza approached the intersection of Madison and State Streets, he observed Officer O'Grady and his girlfriend near the intersection after which Mr. Mendoza honked his horn. ( Id. ¶¶ 3, 5.) Mr. Mendoza lost sight of the couple as he continued through the intersection, but then observed Officer O'Grady in his rearview mirror. ( Id. ¶ 6.) Thereafter, Officer O'Grady went around to the front of the bus and boarded the bus. ( Id. ¶ 7.)

When he boarded the bus, Officer O'Grady confronted Mr. Mendoza after which there was an altercation that two on-board surveillance cameras recorded. ( Id. ¶¶ 7, 8.) Also, two uniformed Chicago Police Officers, Alex Guerrero and Robert Cortez, were riding Mr. Mendoza's bus as passengers. ( Id. ¶ 9.) Upon witnessing the altercation, the police officers escorted Officer O'Grady off of the bus. ( Id. ) The police officers then called the First District supervisor, Sergeant Villalobos, for assistance. ( Id. ¶ 10.) Sergeant Villalobos took Officer O'Grady to the First District. ( Id. )

At approximately 11:15 p.m. on that same day, Defendant Detective Villardita and two other detectives were assigned to investigate the matter, after which they met with Mr. Mendoza at the First District. ( Id. ¶¶ 11, 12.) Mr. Mendoza's CTA supervisor was also present at the meeting. ( Id. ¶ 12.) At that meeting, Mr. Mendoza told Detective Villardita and the other detectives that during the altercation on his bus that evening, Officer O'Grady punched him two times - one punch striking him on his glasses and the other grazing off the left side of his head. ( Id. ¶ 13.) Mr. Mendoza also told Detective Villardita that he had been "examined and released at the hospital, and told to use eye drops for his eye." ( Id. ) It is undisputed that prior to his discussion with Detective Vallardita, an emergency room physician treated Mr. Mendoza for injuries around his left eye and concluded that Mr. Mendoza had "contusions to the left orbital region" and a "left subconjunctival hemorrhage." (R. 211, Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶¶ 24, 25.) Further, undisputed evidence shows that Mr. Mendoza returned to the emergency room on September 13, 2009 for pain in his head, neck, and shoulder and a brief loss of consciousness. ( Id. ¶ 32.)

Detective Villardita and the other detectives then interviewed Officers Guerrero and Cortez, who indicated that at the time of the altercation, they were seated at the back of Mr. Mendoza's CTA bus. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 16.) When the officers heard yelling at the front of the bus, they observed a white male yelling at the bus driver that the bus nearly struck him. ( Id. ) Both officers went up to the front of the bus and escorted the offender out, although they both stated that they never saw the offender strike the victim. ( Id. ) The detectives then interviewed Officer O'Grady at around 1:15 a.m. on September 13, 2009. ( Id. ¶ 17.) Officer O'Grady told the detectives that he was off-duty during the altercation and that he did not want to make a statement without a lawyer. ( Id. ) Thereafter, the detectives requested a copy of the CTA camera records which were not available until September 14, 2009. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

On September 15, 2009, Detective Villardita and the other detectives reviewed the CTA footage of the incident and saw no evidence of Officer O'Grady punching or striking Mr. Mendoza. ( Id. ¶ 20.) That same day, Detective Villardita and the other detectives interviewed Officer O'Grady's girlfriend, who stated that she and Officer O'Grady were riding bicycles in the southbound lanes on State Street. ( Id. ¶ 21.) She stated that a bus passed them on the left, but it cut them off and forced them into the curb. ( Id. ) Also on September 15, 2009, Detective Villardita and the other detectives interviewed Officer O'Grady, with his attorney present, at the Area Three police station. ( Id. ¶ 23.) During his interview, Officer O'Grady stated that while riding southbound on State Street with his girlfriend, a bus pulled along side of them and forced them to move over to the right and that he feared that the bus would hit them. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Officer O'Grady further stated that he wanted to confront the bus driver, but he denied making any contact with Mr. Mendoza. ( Id. ¶¶ 25, 26.)

On September 16, 2009, the detectives contacted the Felony Review Unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office requesting that an Assistant State's Attorney ("ASA") come to Area Three to participate in an interview with Mr. Mendoza. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Thereafter, ASA Mary Jo Murtaugh was dispatched to Area Three. ( Id. ) The detectives requested assistance because the incident had been on the news and they did not want any allegations of a cover-up. ( Id. ¶ 28.) ASA Murtaugh then interviewed everyone who was involved in the case. ( Id. ¶ 29.) At his interview, Mr. Mendoza told ASA Murtaugh that Officer O'Grady hit him between the eyes, after which he started to lose consciousness. ( Id. ¶ 30.) Mr. Mendoza also told ASA Murtaugh that Officer O'Grady hit him at least two more times on the side of the head and also struck him in the neck. ( Id. ) In addition, ASA Murtaugh interviewed Officer O'Grady with his attorney present. ( Id. ¶ 32.) At that time, Officer O'Grady's attorney stated that ...


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