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Terry v. Talmontas

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

March 21, 2014

BOOKER T. TERRY, Plaintiff,


JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Booker T. Terry ("Terry") sued Steven Talmontas, a sergeant with the Will County Sheriff's Office, and Kevin Johnson, a police investigator with the Frankfort Police Department (collectively "Defendants"), alleging that Defendants omitted and misstated material facts in obtaining an arrest warrant against him for the alleged battery of a foster child. The arrest warrant was issued, and Terry was arrested, indicted, and held in prison awaiting trial before the State's Attorney dropped the charges, concluding there was inadequate evidence to support them.

Terry brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest and procedural due process violations and under Illinois law for malicious prosecution. The Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss Terry's procedural due process claim but allowed the other two claims to proceed. Defendants now separately move for summary judgment on Terry's remaining Section 1983 false arrest and state law malicious prosecution claims, arguing that his claims are time-barred, probable cause existed for both his arrest and prosecution, and Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants Defendants' motions for summary judgment on Terry's Section 1983 false arrest claim because it is time-barred. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law malicious prosecution claim.

Factual Background

On August 13, 2009, Plaintiff was at the house of his then estranged wife, Sherri Terry ("Sherri"), in Beecher, Illinois. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 1.) Sherri was a foster parent to three children - Matrianna, Matthew, and Sean. ( Id. )

When Plaintiff arrived to Sherri's house, Sherri was away at work while Sherri's mother and a certified nursing assistant, Sylvester Young ("Young"), were present. ( Id. ¶ 2.) In the early morning hours of August 14, Sherri returned home from work and found Matrianna lying unresponsive in her bed, and Matrianna appeared to be having a seizure. ( Id. ¶ 3.) After 911 was called, the paramedics arrived and found Matrianna in her bed, unresponsive, but with no visible injuries except for blood around her mouth. ( Id. ¶¶ 3-4.)

Later, Matrianna was transferred to Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois where she was examined by doctors and was found to have suffered a subdural hematoma (serious bleeding in the brain). ( Id. ¶ 5.) Medical personnel noted she had some bruises on her buttocks and back. ( Id. ) Matrianna then underwent surgery for the subdural hematoma. ( Id. ¶ 6.)

That evening, the Will County Sherriff's Office Major Crimes Task Force was enlisted to assist the Beecher and Frankfort police departments investigate the cause of Matrianna's head injuries. ( Id. ¶ 9.) Defendant Kevin Johnson ("Johnson"), a police investigator with the Frankfort Police Department, and Defendant Steven Talmontas ("Talmontas"), a sergeant with the Will County Sheriff's Department, were called in to assist in the investigation. ( Id. ¶¶ 11-12.)

The next day, Corporal Jeff Dopke ("Dopke") conducted a telephone interview of Dr. Christian DenOuden, one of Matrianna's treating physicians. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 8.) Dr. DenOuden believed Matrianna suffered blunt force trauma to the head that likely caused the subdural hematoma. ( Id. ¶ 9.)

On August 17, 2009, Defendant Johnson interviewed Young, who initially claimed that on August 14, 2009, he heard a thump and saw a black man entering Matrianna's bedroom. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 17.) Upon further questioning by Defendant Johnson, however, Young recanted his original story and admitted he had lied. ( Id. ¶ 18.) He then claimed that he had actually left Sherri's house around 11:00 p.m. on the evening of August 13, and that Plaintiff was the only adult in the house when he left. ( Id. )

Also on August 17, 2009, Defendant Talmontas and Corporal Dopke assisted with interviews of Sherri's foster children Matthew and Sean. ( Id. ¶ 21.) The interviews were led by a children's counselor and were videotaped. ( Id. ) The first interview with Matthew was not recorded due to technical difficulties. ( Id. ) In the second interview, Matthew claimed Plaintiff hit Matrianna a few days earlier downstairs, and then changed his account to state that Plaintiff hit Matrianna upstairs. ( Id. ¶ 22.) In contrast, Sean denied that any of the foster children were subjected to physical abuse. ( Id. ¶ 23.)

The next day, on August 18, 2009, Defendants Talmontas and Johnson met with Assistant State's Attorney Ken Chudwin ("Chudwin") to discuss the Terry investigation. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Chudwin accompanied Defendants to Will County Court to obtain an arrest warrant for Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶ 26.) That same day, Judge Daniel Rozak granted the arrest warrant, and on August 31, 2009, Plaintiff was arrested pursuant to the warrant. ( Id. ¶¶ 26-27.) At the time of his arrest, Plaintiff understood that police reports pertaining to his aggravated battery charge existed and contends that there was no basis for the charge. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 46.)

The following month, on September 23, 2009, a grand jury was convened in Will County, and Corporal Dopke was the only witness. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 28.) The grand jury indicted Plaintiff on September 24, 2009. ( Id. ¶ 32.) Between September 1 and September 29, 2009, Terry saw the criminal complaint against him, and he understood that Detective Johnson had charged him with aggravated battery to a child. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 49.)

While Terry was in prison, attorney James McCarron ("McCarron") filed an appearance on his behalf on September 29, 2009. ( Id. ¶ 50.) Terry claims that he requested to see the police reports from McCarron several times, but he was not given access to the reports. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 33.) About seven months later, McCarron was replaced by John Collins ("Collins") on April 28, 2010. (Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 51.) After Collins became Terry's counsel, Terry reviewed the police reports in the case and understood the allegations against him. ( Id. )[1] Prior to his release from prison, Terry also understood that the police reports listed the police officers involved with his arrest and the filing of his criminal ...

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