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Adams v. City of Chicago

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

June 10, 2014

SENECA ADAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,


CHARLES R. NORGLE, Sr., Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant City of Chicago's (the "City") motion for remittitur, or, in the altemative, for a new trial on damages. For the following reasons, the motion is granted as to Plaintiff Sicara Adams ('oSicara"). Her damages are remitted from $300, 000 to $125, 000. The motion, as it pertains to Plaintiffs Seneca Adams ("Seneca") and Tari Adams ("Tari") (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), remains under advisement.


A. Facts

Now thirty-years-old, Sicara is employed as a security guard after taking college criminal justice courses. She was twenty when these events occurred. As relevant here, on September 14, 2004, twenty-year-old twins Seneca and Sicara shared an apartment with their eighteen-year-old brother, Tari, and Sicara's four-year-old daughter, Ciara, in a neighborhood where they had lived their entire lives. Their mother lived a short distance away. At the time, Sicara was four months pregnant with her second daughter, Tyler. Sicara's boyfriend lived with them periodically.

At about 8:00 p.m. on September 14, 2004, hearing commotion outside, Tari and Sicara, who were inside the apartment at the time, decided to go outside to see what was happening. Tari left through the back door. Sicara left through the front door. Once outside, she saw Seneca in a police car being beaten by one of the Defendant Officers.[1] Many spectators were present. Shortly thereafter, the police cars drove away from the scene with Seneca in custody. Sicara testified that she was worried because it did not look like the officers were driving in the direction of the police station. Sicara and Tari then called their aunt and their mother to let them know what was happening. After locking the apartment and checking on Ciara, Sicara and Tari got into Sicara's car and Tari drove in the direction that the officers had gone in an attempt to find Seneca. Sicara sat in the passenger seat.

Tari drove towards 26th and Sacramento, where they came upon a number of police cars and officers huddled outside of their cars. Sicara testified that she saw Seneca in the back of one of the police cars, crying with a swollen and bloody face. She then rolled down her window and yelled to the officers, asking them what they were doing with Seneca. After that, "a police officer came around to the driver's side and punched Tari in the face and tried to grab the gears of the car." Tr. of Pl. Sicara Adams's Testimony at 15, ¶¶ 5-7 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 19, 2014) [hereinafter Sicara Tr.]. Sicara testified that they feared for their lives so Tari drove away and headed back towards their apartment building. Tari stopped for a red light while waiting to turn left. They were Jerked" and felt a "big bang" and saw that a police car had hit the driver's side of their car. Id. at 17, ¶¶ 3, 7. Sicara testified that this made a "hole" in her car. Id. at 18, ¶ 1. Neither Sicara, nor her unborn child, suffered any physical injuries from this collision. Tari then drove off towards their community. Once the vehicle came to a stop on 25th Place, Sicara said that they were hit again from the back by a police car. The City disputes that that the car was ever hit in the back, and admits only that the car was struck at the driver's side door. Notwithstanding this dispute, no injuries were sustained from any collision.

Sicara and Tari then exited the car. Eventually, Sicara was escorted to a police car, but she was never placed in handcuffs. Along the way, she watched as Tari was punched and kicked by officers. The officers transported Sicara to the police station located at 21st and Damen. She was then placed in a room with a bench and a couple of desks. She said that she was scared at the time-for herself, for her daughter Ciara, and for her unborn child, whom she feared she may have to give birth to in jail. She was four months pregnant. Sicara was also worried because, at the time, she did not know what was happening to her brothers. Sicara just sat there. Hours later, Seneca was brought into the room with Sicara. Sicara said that his face looked unrecognizable-Seneca's face and lips were swollen, he had cuts and bruises, and had received nine stiches. An hour or two later, Tari was brought into the room with Sicara and Seneca. Sicara said that his face looked hurt and that he was wearing a hospital gown with some blood on it.

The next morning, Sicara was transported to a different police station, located at Harrison and Kedzie where she was placed in a cell. This time, Sicara was fingerprinted, photographed, and processed, which she found degrading. She did not know what charges were being brought against her. Sicara testified that she did not receive any food or water, but she did not say whether she had asked for any. She said that she felt sick because "when you're pregnant, it's-it's hard. You're hungry all the time and you're sick." Sicara Tr. at 24, ¶¶ 18-20. Sicara testified that she was uncomfortable from the "steel, hard, cold bench" and that she "couldn't eat." Id. at 24, ¶¶ 21-22. Sicara was once again asked if she was given food or water at the station and she testified that "[a]fter hours of complaining my mother came to visit me, and I let her know how hungry I was, how weak I was from not eating, and she complained, and eventually, hours after that, they eventually gave me water and a sandwich to eat." Id. at 25, ¶¶ 1-4. Sicara was released in the early morning hours on September 16, 2004. In total, Sicara spent slightly over twenty-four hours in the room and in jail. She was released on her own recognizance (no cash bond).

On the morning that Sicara was released from jail, she and her mother watched Seneca and Tari's bond hearing. Seneca and Tari appeared through a video monitor. Sicara said that she felt helpless looking at her brothers, and she watched as her mother cried and collapsed to the floor. Following the hearing, Seneca and Tari were transported to the Cook County Jail, where they remained in custody for 204, and 46 days, respectively.

Later that day, a friend drove Sicara back to her apartment where her boyfriend--who lived there periodically-was waiting for her. Sicara testified that she went to sleep for a couple of hours, but when she awoke she did not feel safe in the apartment anymore, so she gathered some of her belongings and moved in with her mother. Over time, she moved the rest of her things to her mother's apartment. Her mother lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Sicara and Ciara slept on an air mattress in the living room. During this time, both Sicara and Ciara suffered from nightmares, which did not stop until her brothers were released from jail, and sometimes she still has nightmares about the events that occurred the evening of September 14, 2004.

After she was released from custody, Sicara returned immediately to her job at Nordstrom's, where she worked as a sale's associate and cashier. She said that she did this to keep herself busy and to save bond money for Seneca and Tari. At the time of her release, Sicara said that she still did not know the charges against her, but she did receive a summons. She was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Sicara complied with the summons and appeared in a courtroom in the back of a police station on the appropriate date. Sicara testified that when she went to court, she signed her I-bond, and when her case was called, she walked up to the judge, and her case was immediately dismissed. She could not recall whether an attorney had represented her in the matter. Nothing indicates that she hired one.

Sicara also attended the court dates set for her brothers' criminal cases. She said that on each court appearance she hoped that the charges against them would be dismissed as hers had been. Once Tari and Seneca were bonded out and released from the Cook County Jail, they were placed on house arrest for aperiod of time. In December of 2006, the charges against Seneca and Tari were dropped and their records were expunged. Sicara testified that, at some point, both Seneca and Tari left Chicago and moved to Arizona, where they currently reside.

Sicara testified how the events of September 14, 2004 chartged her. She said that she became more protective of her daughters and that Ciara often asked where her uncles were. At one point, Sicara took Ciara, her four-year-old child, to the jail to visit Seneca and Tari because she thought that it would help Ciara with her nightmares, and she wanted to provide emotional support to her brothers. Sicara also said that the incident destroyed her faith in the police department. Whenever she thought about her old neighborhood where this occurred it reminded her of how her family was broken and how her freedom had been questioned. See Sicara Tr. at 38, ¶¶ 15-16. Sicara stated, "I'll never forget feeling like we were less of a people because we weren't judged off our actions, we was judged off where we lived and the color of our skin. It was horrible." Id. at 38, ¶¶ 17-20. Sicara went on to explain how the events changed her brothers' personalities and how it caused them to move away to another state. She said that they used to be very close when they lived together and Seneca and Tari would often take care of Ciara when she worked evenings. However, Sicara said that their family unit was ...

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