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Adams v. City of Chicago

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

August 1, 2014

SENECA ADAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant

Page 772

For Seneca Adams, Sicara Adams, Tari Adams, and, Plaintiffs: Christopher Rudolf Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, Amanda C Antholt, Smith, Johnson & Antholt, LLC, Chicago, IL; James M. Baranyk, Smith, Johnson, & Antholt, LLC, Chicago, IL.

For City Of Chicago, Defendant: Geri Lynn Yanow, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Chicago, Department of Law, Individual Defense Litigation, Chicago, IL; Penelope Moutoussamy George, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Chicago, Department of Law, Chicago, IL; Terrence Michael Burns, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daniel Matthew Noland, Molly E. Thompson, Dykema Gossett PLLc, Chicago, IL.

For Margaret Hopkins, Star #5545, Defendant: Joseph Vincent Roddy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Joseph V. Roddy, Chicago, IL; Edith K. D. Holland, Law Offices of Joseph V. Roddy, Chicago, IL; Geri Lynn Yanow, City of Chicago, Department of Law, Individual Defense Litigation, Chicago, IL; Jonathan Clark Green, Chicago Corporation Counsel, Chicago, IL; Thomas Jon Aumann, City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

For Timothy McKeon, Star #7210, Jennifer O'Shaugnessy, Star # 16499, John Dahlberg, Star #13708, Matthew Riley, Star #11197, Defendants: Geri Lynn Yanow, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Chicago, Department of Law, Individual Defense Litigation, Chicago, IL; Jonathan Clark Green, LEAD ATTORNEY, Chicago Corporation Counsel, Chicago, IL; Colin B White, Illinois Attorney General, Chicago, IL; Nicholas Easton Siefert, City Of Chicago Department Of Law, Chicago, IL; Thomas Jon Aumann, City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

For Keith Herrera, Star #17289, Defendant: Eileen Ellen Rosen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Catherine Macneil Barber, John Joseph Rock, Silvia Mercado Masters, Stacy Ann Benjamin, Theresa Berousek Carney, Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC, Chicago, IL.

For John Hurley, Star # 17516, Defendant: Geri Lynn Yanow, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Chicago, Department of Law, Individual Defense Litigation, Chicago, IL; Colin B White, Illinois Attorney General, Chicago, IL; Nicholas Easton Siefert, City Of Chicago Department Of Law, Chicago, IL; Thomas Jon Aumann, City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Page 773

OPINION AND ORDER

Hon. CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs Seneca Adams (" Seneca" ), Tari Adams (" Tari" ) and Sicara Adams (" Sicara" ) (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ) proceeded to a jury trial on the issue of compensatory damages against Defendant City of Chicago (the " City" ) for: (1) false arrest, in violation of the Fourth Amendment as to all Plaintiffs; (2) excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment as to all Plaintiffs; (3) discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as to all Plaintiffs; and (4) malicious prosecution, in violation of Illinois state law as to Seneca and Tari. The jury returned a verdict in the amount of $2,400,000 for Seneca; $1,000,000 for Tari; and $300,000 for Sicara. The Court remitted Sicara's award to $125,000. Before the Court is the City's motion for remittitur as it pertains to Seneca and Tari. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The jury heard the following version of the facts from the sibling-Plaintiffs who testified in this case. The City of Chicago did not call any occurrence witnesses. The jury heard no evidence of what preceded the stopping of Seneca. On September 14, 2004, Seneca and Sicara, 20-year-old twins, shared an apartment with their 18-year-old brother, Tari, and Sicara's 4-year-old daughter, Ciara, in a neighborhood where they had lived their entire lives. Sicara's boyfriend lived with them from time to time. Their mother lived a short distance away. At approximately 8:00 p.m. that night, Seneca was running or jogging through the apartment

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complex when he heard, " Get down on the ground," and " Monkey, get down on the ground. Fuckin' nigger, get down on the ground." Seneca turned around and saw that Chicago police officers had their pistols drawn on him.[1] He got down to his knees and lay down with his face on the ground. An officer kicked him in the face. Seneca was then handcuffed and told to put his face down on the hood of the squad car. When Seneca turned around intending to inform the officer that the hood was too hot to comply, he was punched in the face, with a closed fist. According to Seneca, the officer was wearing weighted gloves.

Many spectators were present, including Seneca's niece, Ciara. Seneca asked the officer if he was going to beat him up in front of his niece. The officer stated, " I don't give a fuck about you or your nigger niece," and hit him in the face again. Seneca was bleeding from his mouth and eyes. He was then put inside the police car where the officer punched him repeatedly in the face with a closed fist, grabbed his hair and banged his head against the window, and elbowed him in face. He was driven to a secluded area where the officer continued to punch him and bang his head against the window. Seneca was bleeding from his lips, mouth, eyes, eardrum, and nose. Officers called him a " fuckin' monkey" and a " fuckin' nigger."

The officers then drove him back to his apartment complex and an officer told him to keep his head down or he would be sprayed with mace. He was left alone, with his head down, for some time. Seneca was bleeding, in pain, and uncontrollably crying. When the officers returned it was dark outside. The officers drove him to the back of the county jail at 26th Street and Sacramento. There, he saw " a lot of cop cars" and officers in a huddle. Seneca testified that he was scared and did not know what to expect, and that it felt like he had been hit hundreds of times. Seneca testified that the combination of racial slurs and beating was " crazy," " humiliating," and " savage." Eventually, Seneca was taken to Mercy Hospital where he received medical treatment, including 9 stitches. The medical personnel did not provide or prescribe any medication.

Tari and Sicara, who were inside the apartment at the time the incident began, heard the commotion outside and decided to go outside to see what was happening. Tari left through the back door. Sicara left through the front door. Once outside, they saw Seneca in a police car being beaten by a police officer. Shortly thereafter, the officers drove away from the scene with Seneca in custody. Tari and Sicara decided to find out what was happening with Seneca because it did not look like the officers were driving in the direction of the police station. Tari and Sicara first 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. 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 line of police cars and saw officers huddled outside of

Page 775

their cars. Sicara testified that she saw Seneca in the back of a police car, 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. In response, an officer walked to the driver's side of the car and tried to shift the gears of the car into park, but could not reach the gear. The officer then punched Tari in the face. 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. Tari testified that, while waiting at the red light, a police car " slammed into the driver's side of my door. Glass flew in my face and fiberglass from the door." Sicara testified that the collision left a hole in the door of her car. Immediately thereafter, Tari drove away towards their apartment complex. He got out of the car, through the passenger side door, and was tackled by police officers. He was handcuffed, punched in the back of the head, and placed in the back of a police car. Tari testified that he was scared and sat in the police car for " [c]lose to hours." Tari was then driven around and beaten by 3 officers. Tari said that " it was like three maniacs just, you know, doing whatever they wanted to with me." Tari was initially taken to St. Anthony's Hospital, but after a few minutes there, he was driven to Mercy Hospital to receive medical treatment. While en route to Mercy Hospital, he was punched again by 2 officers. Tari testified that he tucked his head between his legs to protect his face from being hit, and made wheezing sounds to get them to stop. He had swollen eyes and lips, scratches and scrapes all over his face, and pain everywhere.

Other officers transported Sicara to the police station, located at 23rd and Damen. Hours later, Seneca was brought into the room with Sicara. Sicara testified that his face looked unrecognizable--Seneca's face and lips were swollen, he had cuts and bruises. An hour or 2 later, Tari was brought into the room with Sicara. Sicara said that his face looked hurt and that he was wearing a hospital gown with some blood on it. Tari was processed and taken to a basement area where he was placed in a cell with Seneca. Tari testified that he was devastated and angered by seeing Seneca with worse damage to his face.

The next morning, Sicara was transported to a different police station, located at Harrison and Kedzie where she was placed in a cell. In total, Sicara spent slightly over 24 hours in the room and in jail. She was never taken to the Cook County Jail. She was released on her own recognizance (no cash bond). Her case was immediately dismissed when she appeared in court on the issued summons. 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 testified that her brothers " looked so sad and abused." Sicara said that she felt helpless looking at her brothers, and she watched as her mother cried and collapsed to the floor. Seneca was charged with 4 counts of aggravated battery and unlawful use of a deadly weapon. Tari was charged with 4 counts of aggravated assault and 2 counts of aggravated battery. At a bench trial, a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County found them guilty of misdemeanors.

Following the hearing, Seneca and Tari were transported to the Cook County Jail, where they were subjected to a routine strip search during the intake process. Seneca testified that he felt humiliated, and Tari testified that the experience was " very degrading." Seneca and Tari remained in custody at the Cook County Jail for ...


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