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Rusinowski v. Village of Hillside

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 6, 2014

STEVEN RUSINOWSKI and JOSEPH RUSINOWSKI, Plaintiffs,
v.
VILLAGE OF HILLSIDE, a Municipal Corporation, JOSEPH LUKASZEK, ROBERT DiDOMENICO, DAVID ANDRESKI, and ELMHURST MEMORIAL HEALTHCARE, Defendants

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For Steven Rusinowski, Joseph Rusinowski, Plaintiffs: Justin J. London, Law Offices of Justin London, Chicago, IL.

For Village of Hillside, Joseph Lukaszek, Defendants: Howard P. Levine, LEAD ATTORNEY, Debra Ann Harvey, Emily Erin Schnidt, Laura Lee Scarry, DeAno & Scarry, LLC, Chicago, IL; James L. DeAno, LEAD ATTORNEY, DeAno & Scarry, Chicago, IL.

For Robert Didomenico, Defendant: Daniel Walker, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Cesario & Walker, Hinsdale, IL.

For David Andreski, Defendant: Charles Francis Redden, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rena A Ballard, Pretzel & Stouffer, Chtd., Chicago, IL.

For Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, Defendant: Ruth Virginia Enright, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ryan C Evans, Baker & Enright, Chicago, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber, United States District Judge.

Before the Court are four Motions for Summary Judgment and three Motions to Strike, all filed by Defendants.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Steven Rusinowski (" Steven" ) is (or at least was) an active user of " BattleCam.com," a website where users broadcast themselves on camera and role-play with other users in aggressive, intimidating, and combative scenarios. On this website, users expect to see pranks, threats, and unusual behavior. Steven's online role-playing overflowed into real life, leading ultimately to this nine-count lawsuit against five defendants.

The principal events took place on and shortly after March 4, 2011, but relevant background goes back somewhat further. Steven is twenty-nine years old, enrolled in classes at Elmhurst College, and lives with his father, Plaintiff Joseph Rusinowski, in Hillside, Illinois. On November 11, 2010, Hillside Police arrived unannounced at the Rusinowski home based on a " concerned citizen" report from a caller who claimed that Steven was suicidal. The Police entered the home and found Steven sleeping in his bedroom with no apparent suicidal thoughts. Joseph Rusinowski later learned from Hillside Police Chief Joseph Lukaszek (" Chief Lukaszek" ) that Defendant Robert DiDomenico (" DiDomenico" ) was the anonymous caller, though DiDomenico disputes that he placed the call.

A few months later (the exact date is unclear), Elmhurst College security received a call stating that Steven was bringing weapons to and selling drugs on campus. The College's security employees observed Steven on BattleCam.com and notified Elmhurst Police of their concerns about Steven.

This brings us to March 4, 2011. Starting around midnight, Steven was on BattleCam.com with DiDomenico, a user with whom Steven was acquainted. The two were online for more than eight hours

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straight. Steven was displaying a handgun, making lewd comments about other users, and drinking beer - all of which seem par for the BattleCam.com course. DiDomenico decided to call the Hillside Police - depending on whom you ask, DiDomenico was playing either a prank on Steven or concerned for Steven's safety and well-being. DiDomenico spoke with Chief Lukaszek and told him that Steven could be seen on BattleCam.com drinking, waving loaded weapons, and threatening himself and others. Chief Lukaszek later testified that DiDomenico told him that Steven was suicidal.

In response to the call, Chief Lukaszek drove to the Rusinowski house in his police vehicle. Once there, he stayed in his car and observed a live feed of Steven on BattleCam.com for 20-25 minutes. He saw Steven waving guns around, drinking, " acting obnoxious," and threatening someone named Alex who lives in North or South Carolina. Chief Lukaszek did not hear Steven threaten suicide, but based on the circumstances, Chief Lukaszek was concerned for the safety of Steven and others.

Chief Lukaszek called the Rusinowski house several times, but nobody answered. He then approached the house and knocked on the front door. Steven answered the door, but did not open it the entire way, apparently because the door sticks easily. Chief Lukaszek could see only one of Steven's hands, so he asked Steven to show both hands. Steven says that he complied with this order, but Chief Lukaszek contends that Steven refused eight commands to show both hands and responded with " why" and " but why" after each one. Lukaszek Dep. 87:13-88:14. Chief Lukaszek may have ordered Steven to get on the ground, but the record is unclear. The parties agree that, eventually, Chief Lukaszek grabbed Steven's arm and pulled him outside. Steven fell forward and scraped his hand on the concrete, and then he was secured and taken to the Hillside Police Department. Hillside Police Officers then searched the Rusinowski house and recovered two handguns, one of which was loaded. After spending some time at the police department (the witnesses' estimates range from thirty minutes to two hours), Steven consented to being transported to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

Events at the Hospital are disputed. Defendants contend that Steven was examined by Defendant Dr. David Andreski (" Dr. Andreski" ), but Steven insists that Dr. Andreski never examined him. Steven does not contest, however, that he was examined by Melissa Kroll, a clinician consultant, who concluded that Steven posed a danger to himself and others. Chief Lukaszek was called to the hospital, and once there he spoke with medical staff and filled out a petition to have Steven committed for mental health evaluation. Dr. Andreski signed a certificate that indicated that he had examined Steven and determined that Steven was a danger to himself or others. Steven was transferred to Madden Health, where he remained until March 10, 2011.

Steven testified that these events exacerbated his anxiety. In the wake of his involuntary commitment, he suffered from pain, anguish, difficulty sleeping, humiliation, and loss of appetite. He failed a midterm examination in one of his courses, and had to drop the class. Steven and his father brought this nine-count Amended Complaint, alleging a variety of federal and state claims, against Chief Lukaszek, the Village of Hillside, Robert DiDomenico, Dr. Andreski, and Elmhurst Memorial HealthCare. All Defendants have now moved for summary judgment, and have

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moved to strike portions of Plaintiffs' filings.

II. MOTIONS TO STRIKE

Defendants have filed Motions to Strike that take issue with Plaintiffs' response to Defendants' statements of material facts.

In this District, a motion for summary judgment must be accompanied by a " statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Local Rule 56.1(a)(3). The opposing party must respond to the movant's statement and support any disagreement with " specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). Local Rule 56.1 is supposed to facilitate this Court's adjudication of summary judgment motions " 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).

While some of Plaintiffs' answers comport with this requirement, others miss the mark completely. For example, the Village's Statement 32 asserts that DiDomenico told Chief Lukaszek that Steven had loaded weapons and was suicidal. Village of Hillside L.R. 56.1 Statement of Facts (" Village SOF" ) 32. The Village supports that statement with a citation to Chief Lukaszek's deposition, in which he testified that DiDomenico told him Steven threatened suicide. Lukaszek Dep. 308-09. As we will see, the content of DiDomenico's conversation with Chief Lukaszek is critical to whether Chief Lukaszek was justified in believing that Steven needed assistance because he was about to commit suicide.

Plaintiffs respond to Statement 32 not with any evidence that DiDomenico did not say that Steven was suicidal, but with the unhelpful declaration that " Plaintiff neither admits nor denies [statement 32] as Plaintiff lacks personal knowledge of what DiDomenico actually told the Hillside Police." Plaintiffs' L.R. 56.1 Statement of Facts (" Pl. SOF" ) 32. Of course Plaintiff lacks personal knowledge of the phone call - he was not a party to it. Plaintiff's response should have indicated what basis, if any, Plaintiff has to contest Chief Lukaszek's version of the phone call. If Plaintiff cannot marshal any evidence to show that DiDomenico did not tell Chief Lukaszek that Steven was suicidal, then the Court - whether on summary judgment or at trial - will have no choice but to rule on the basis of the evidence presented by the Village. In short, Plaintiff's non-response fails to show that there is a genuine factual dispute.

For many of Plaintiff's responses, Plaintiff has failed to provide evidence that controverts Defendant's statements. The Court need not, at this point, go through each contested paragraph to determine whether or not to strike it. Rather, the Court will address any insufficient statements when they arise in the summary judgment analysis. Dimmitt & Owens Fin., Inc. v. Superior Sports Prods., Inc., 196 F.Supp.2d 731, 737 (N.D. Ill. 2002). Therefore, the Motion to Strike is granted as discussed throughout the analysis, and denied without prejudice as to those paragraphs that do not arise in the summary judgment analysis.

III. MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court construes all facts and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving

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party. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 174 L.Ed.2d 490 (2009).

A. Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure - Count I

1. Seizure

Chief Lukaszek argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on the illegal seizure claim because he had probable cause. The parties appear to agree that this issue should be governed by the familiar rule that a police officer has probable cause to arrest an individual when the facts and circumstances that are known to him support a reasonable belief that the individual has committed, is committing, or is about to be commit a crime. Holmes v. Vill. of Hoffman Estates, 511 F.3d ...


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