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Crandle v. Fox

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

July 17, 2014

LAWRENCE CRANDLE (A-81245), Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIE FOX, JOSEPH PATE, T. WILLIAMS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RONALD A. GUZMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Lawrence Crandle, an Illinois prisoner currently confined at the Illinois River Correctional Center, initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Parole Officers Willie Fox, Joseph Pate, and T. Williams. Plaintiff alleges that, on October 22, 2008, Defendants Fox and Pate used excessive force while visiting Plaintiff at his home. Officer Williams allegedly witnessed the use of excessive force but did not intervene. Plaintiff was later convicted of two counts of aggravated battery based on events that occurred during Fox and Pate's visit and sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment.

Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. They argue that Plaintiff's § 1983 action is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). They also contend that Williams did not witness the use of any excessive force. Plaintiff has responded. For the reasons stated herein, the Court denies Defendants' summary judgment motion.

FEDERAL AND LOCAL RULES FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56(a), "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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." When determining the existence of a genuine issue of material fact, a court construes facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

The movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that judgment based upon the uncontested facts is warranted. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the movant meets this burden, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d 742, 748 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if a reasonable finder of fact could return a decision for the nonmoving party based upon the record. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 222.

Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, Defendants served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" as required by N.D.Ill. Local Rule 56.2. (R. 65.) In response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment and statement of facts, Plaintiff filed his own motion and statement of facts. Because Plaintiff's motion and statement of facts is actually a response to Defendants' motion, the Court has construed it as such. Considering the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements and summary judgment materials, the Court turns to the facts of this case.

FACTS

On October 22, 2010, Plaintiff was on mandatory supervised release ("MSR") after having served a term of imprisonment for burglary. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 10; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 10.) There are several rules associated with MSR, one of which is that the individual on MSR is subject to visitation by parole officers. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 11; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 11.)

Fox became Plaintiff's parole officer shortly before October 21, 2010. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 12.) According to Plaintiff, on October 21, 2010, his prior parole officer, Ms. Gillan, instructed him to contact Fox. (Pl.'s SOF ¶ 13.) Plaintiff states that he called Fox, identified himself, explained that he was told to contact him and asked what happened to Ms. Gillan. ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, Fox rudely told Plaintiff that he needed no explanation and informed him that Fox was scheduling a face-to-face meeting for the following day. ( Id. ) When Plaintiff replied that he was scheduled to work, Fox allegedly became angry and told Plaintiff that he would visit the next day but would not specify a time. ( Id. )

On the morning of the following day, October 22, 2010, Plaintiff called the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") to speak to a supervisor about Fox. (Pl.'s SOF ¶ 14.) The IDOC operator placed Plaintiff on hold, then returned to say that she had Plaintiff's parole officer on the line. ( Id. ) Plaintiff, however, did not want to talk to Fox and hung up upon hearing that he on was on the phone. ( Id. ) Fox and Pate visited Plaintiff forty-five minutes later. ( Id. )

At the time of Fox and Pate's visit, Plaintiff was living with Cheryl Shelton and her daughter Laressa Adams. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 8-9; Pl.'s SOF ¶¶ 8-9.) Shelton's apartment is on the second floor of a two-story building. To access the apartment, one must go through two doors, one at the street level and another at the landing of the apartment. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 15; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 15.) The apartment has three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a front room. (Pl.'s SOF ¶ 16.) Plaintiff was in the back bedroom, about 30 feet from the front door, when Fox and Pate arrived. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 16; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 16.)

According to Fox and Pate, a woman (Laressa Adams) answered the door and they told her they were looking for Plaintiff. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 17.) The woman yelled toward the back of the apartment, "Larry's people are here." ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, Adams testified at Plaintiff's criminal trial that she looked through the peep hole of the door, saw Fox and Pate, yelled out that "Larry's people" were there, and cracked opened the door to tell the officers that Plaintiff would let them in. (Pl.'s SOF ¶ 17; R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 169-71.) Adams testified that the officers pushed open the door, stating they were coming in. (R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 169-72.) Upon hearing that officers were there, Plaintiff exited the back bedroom and while approaching the front door, saw someone looking around the corner of the foyer wall. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 18; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 18.)

The parties differ as to what occurred next. Referring to Fox's testimony at Plaintiff's criminal trial, Defendants state that Plaintiff "aggressively approached by storming" toward Fox. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 24; R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 41.) Fox directed Plaintiff to stop but Plaintiff refused to comply, stated that the officers had no right to be there, and asked "What the fuck is this?" (Defs.' SOF ¶ 24.) Fox further testified that he instructed Plaintiff to turn around so he could be cuffed, but Plaintiff refused and instead drew his arm back and struck Fox in the chest with a closed fist. ( Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) According to Fox's trial testimony, he and Pate attempted to restrain Plaintiff who began punching, swinging, and kicking both officers. ( Id. ¶ 26; R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 45.) Fox testified that the officers told Plaintiff to calm down and stop resisting and held him against a wall to apply handcuffs, and while doing so, the three fell to the floor. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 27; R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 46.) Fox also testified that he felt a pinch on his right hand while it was near Plaintiff's mouth. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 28; R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 47.) According to Fox's trial testimony, the officers finally cuffed Plaintiff, Pate called for assistance, and as the officers and Plaintiff exited the apartment, they were met by Williams in the hallway of the building. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 29-30, R. 66, Ex. I, Trial Tr. at 46, 102.) According to Williams, ...


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