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Carr v. Jehl

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

January 28, 2015

KEITH CARR, Plaintiff,


ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment [21] on Plaintiff's civil rights complaint. Plaintiff Keith Carr brings three counts that relate to his August 25, 2011 arrest in Chicago and subsequent prosecution for various firearm offenses that were later nolle prossed. Plaintiff alleges two counts pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Chicago Police Officers Eric Jehl and Rebecca Thuestad that are styled as unreasonable seizure (Count I) and unreasonable search (Count II) claims under the Fourth and/or Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff also alleges a supplemental state law malicious prosecution claim (Count III) against the Officers and the City of Chicago. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants summary judgment to Defendants on all three counts.

I. Background

A. Statement of Facts

The Court has taken the relevant facts from the parties' Local Rule ("L.R.") 56.1 statements. Rule 56.1 requires a party moving for summary judgment to submit a statement of material facts as to which the movant contends there is no genuine issue and which entitles the movant to judgment as a matter of law. As the Seventh Circuit has stressed, facts are to be set forth in Rule 56.1 statements, and it is not the role of the Court to parse the parties' exhibits to construct the facts. Judges are not "like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs." United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991). It simply is not the court's job to sift through the record to find evidence to support a party's claim. Davis v. Carter, 452 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2006). Rather, it is "[a]n advocate's job * * * to make it easy for the court to rule in [her] client's favor * * *." Dal Pozzo v. Basic Machinery Co., Inc., 463 F.3d 609, 613 (7th Cir. 2006).

It is the function of the Court to review carefully statements of material facts and to eliminate from consideration any argument, conclusions, and assertions that are unsupported by the documented evidence of record offered in support of the statement. See, e.g., Sullivan v. Henry Smid Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., 2006 WL 980740, at *2, n.2 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 10, 2006); Tibbetts v. RadioShack Corp., 2004 WL 2203418, at *16 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 29, 2004). Merely including facts in a responsive memorandum is insufficient to put issues before the Court. Midwest Imports, Ltd. v. Coval, 71 F.3d 1311, 1313 (7th Cir. 1995); Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 594 (N.D. Ill. 2000). In addition, L.R. 56.1 requires that statements of facts contain allegations of material fact and that factual allegations be supported by admissible record evidence. See L.R. 56.1; Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 583-85. Where a party improperly denies a statement of fact by failing to provide adequate or proper record support for the denial, the Court deems that statement of fact to be admitted.

B. Facts

On August 25, 2011, an unknown individual called 911 and reported that a "male just pulled a gun." [28], Defs.' Reply to Fact Stmt. at ¶ 9. The caller did not identify himself, but the 911 system recorded his telephone number. [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 11. The caller also stated that the male who had pulled the gun was in a garage in a gray Cadillac behind a Super Sub near Roosevelt and Pulaski streets. Id. at ¶ 10. The caller was screaming, yelling, and not answering questions. Id. Chicago Police Officers Eric Jehl and Rebecca Thuestad (the "Officers" or "Defendants") were patrolling the area approximately 30 to 40 feet from the intersection of Roosevelt and Pulaski when the call was made. Id. at ¶ 13. The 911 dispatcher forwarded the information from the 911 call to the Officers, [27], Pl.'s Fact Stmt. at ¶ 3, and they arrived at Plaintiff Keith Carr's garage located at 1212 S. Harding Avenue in Chicago, behind the Super Sub near the Roosevelt and Pulaski intersection, less than one minute later, [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶¶ 5, 14.

Plaintiff testified that he was cleaning out his garage when the Officers arrived. [27], Pl.'s Fact Stmt. at ¶ 4. Plaintiff owns a gray Cadillac, which was parked in his garage that day. Id. at ¶ 6. Plaintiff asserts that while he was cleaning out the garage, he found a closed Crown Royal bag in a milk crate that contained a revolver that belonged to his deceased father. Id. at ¶ 7. Plaintiff never opened the bag, but believed that it contained the revolver based on its weight. Id. Immediately after Plaintiff found the bag, he heard the Officers approaching and opened the garage door, which had been closed while he cleaned. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 8. Plaintiff put the still-unopened Crown Royal bag underneath the driver's seat of his Cadillac. Id. at ¶ 9.

Officers Jehl and Thuestad parked in front of Plaintiff's garage. Id. at ¶ 11. According to the Officers, Plaintiff was sitting in his car eating a cheeseburger when they arrived. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff maintains that he was standing outside of his car by the driver's side rear door when he saw the police car and heard Officer Jehl state, "there he is." Id. at ¶ 13. In any event, Officer Jehl told Plaintiff to get his hands up and exit the garage. [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff complied. Id. Jehl searched Plaintiff for about two minutes, or performed a "protective pat down, " according to Defendants, while Officer Thuestad pointed her weapon at Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 17; [27], Pl.'s Fact Stmt. at ¶ 15. Officer Jehl asked Plaintiff if he was in a confrontation with anyone, and Plaintiff stated that he was not. [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff also told the Officers that he did not have a weapon on his person; nor was a weapon in view while the Officers searched Plaintiff. Id. No weapons were found during the pat down. [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 18.

Officer Thuestad then stated: "I'm going to search that car." [27], Pl.'s Fact Stmt. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff told the Officers that they needed a warrant to enter his garage, but Thuestad entered the garage and searched Plaintiff's Cadillac for about 15 seconds, nonetheless, without Plaintiff's consent. Id. at ¶¶ 17-19. Thuestad found the Crown Royal bag and the gun inside. Id. at ¶ 19. Thuestad then removed five rounds of ammunition that the gun contained. [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 24. Thuestad ran a name check on Plaintiff, which indicated that Plaintiff had an address in Hinsdale, Illinois, which matched the address on Plaintiff's driver's license. Id. at ¶ 25. Jehl then placed Plaintiff under arrest. Id. at ¶ 27. Jehl drove Plaintiff's vehicle to the police station, while Thuestad transported Plaintiff there. Id. at ¶¶ 28-29.

At the station, the Officers learned that Plaintiff's Firearm Owner's Identification Card ("FOID Card") had been revoked and that Plaintiff previously had been arrested at the 1212 S. Harding address for trespass. Id. at ¶¶ 30-31. Plaintiff maintains that the trespass charges were dismissed. [25], Pl.'s Resp. to Fact Stmt. at ¶ 32.

Plaintiff initially was charged with three offenses: unlawful use of a weapon under 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), possession of a weapon with a revoked FOID Card under 430 ILCS 65/2-A-1, and possession of ammunition without a FOID Card under 430 ILCS 65/2-A-2.[1] [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 32. Officer Thuestad signed the criminal complaints, talked to the Assistant State's Attorney, and testified in criminal court. Id. at ¶ 33. Officer Jehl clerked the criminal complaints and prepared the original case incident report and the inventories for the items recovered. Id. at 34; [27], Pl.'s Fact Stmt. at ¶ 21.

The charges related to the revoked FOID Card were nolle prossed at the probable cause hearing. [22], Defs.' Fact Stmt. at ¶ 32. The unlawful use of a weapon charge was amended by the prosecutor to a felon in possession change under 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a). Id. This charge also was nolle prossed after the Cook County Circuit Court, on reconsideration, granted Plaintiff's motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. Id. at ¶ 37.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper 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). To avoid summary judgment, the opposing party must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation omitted). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is proper against "a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. The party opposing summary judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. ...

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