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Dagens v. Village of Wonder Lake

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

February 10, 2015

Christopher Dagens, Plaintiff,
v.
Village of Wonder Lake, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

PHILIP G. REINHARD, District Judge.

For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion for partial summary judgment [67] is denied. Prior to the preparation of the final pre-trial order, the attorneys are to arrange for a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Johnston within the next 60 days.

STATEMENT-OPINION

On September 30, 2013, plaintiff Christopher Dagens filed a four-count amended complaint against the Village of Wonder Lake, Wonder Lake Police Chief Larry Mason, and Wonder Lake Police Officer Timothy Harding (collectively "defendants"). [18]. In his amended complaint, plaintiff asserted two excessive force claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (counts I and II), a claim for malicious prosecution (count III) and a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (count IV). After the court granted defendants' motions to dismiss, the only claims that remained were counts I and IV, plaintiff's excessive force claim against defendant Harding and his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against defendant Harding and the Village of Wonder Lake. See [39]. Wonder Lake Police Chief Larry Mason was dismissed from the suit entirely. See id.

The parties that remain have completed discovery and defendants have filed a motion for partial summary judgment. See [67]. In their motion, defendants argue plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress fails because plaintiff has not demonstrated that he suffered from severe distress. Defendants also claim they are entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's excessive force claim if plaintiff bases this claim on the fact that he was handcuffed in an unreasonable manner. See id.

On summary judgment, the court construes all facts and draws all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Schepers v. Commissioner, Indiana Dept. of Corrections, 691 F.3d 909, 913 (7th Cir. 2012). The court does not weigh evidence or determine the credibility of witness testimony. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). Instead, the court only grants 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). However, Rule 56 "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

Prior to addressing the merits of defendants' motion, the court notes that plaintiff has responded to defendants' motion with a supporting memorandum, but has failed to file a response to defendants' Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material Fact and has failed to provide the court with his own Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material Fact. See [69]. Local Rule 56.1 governs summary judgment motions in the Northern District of Illinois. The Rule requires the party opposing summary judgment to respond to each of the moving party's statements and provides that "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Services, Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(b)).

The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held that a district court "is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1." Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817 (citing Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000); Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994)). This court expects such compliance. As a result, the court will proceed to the merits of defendants' motion, but will assume all well-supported facts set forth in defendants' Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material Fact are admitted. See id.

Plaintiff's case concerns an arrest that occurred at his home in the early morning hours of January 10, 2012. See [66] ¶ 26. On January 9, 2012, plaintiff was attending a party and began drinking in the afternoon. [66] ¶¶ 2, 4. Later that evening when he returned home, plaintiff and his girlfriend got into an argument. Allegedly, plaintiff's girlfriend was attempting to wake him up and after she did, plaintiff slapped her in the face "a couple of times." [66] ¶ 12. After this, plaintiff's girlfriend called her mother who then came to the house and called the police.

Officer Tim Harding reported to plaintiff's home at approximately 2:30 a.m on the morning of January 10. [66] ¶ 26. When Harding arrived, he saw plaintiff and asked him to come outside. [66] ¶ 28. Shortly thereafter, officer Harding told the women in the house to stay in the bedroom and subsequently, an altercation between plaintiff and officer Harding ensued. [66] ¶¶ 29-30. While the facts concerning the altercation are largely disputed, officer Harding admits that during the course of the arrest he sprayed plaintiff in the face with pepper foam. [66] ¶ 34. Plaintiff also claims Harding threw him to the ground, struck him with an object and handcuffed him with the intent to cause injury, but Harding denies these facts along with others. See [66] ¶¶ 35-36.

Plaintiff contends officer Harding attacked him and claims that the attack and arrest caused him severe emotional distress. He believes that officer Harding and the Village of Wonder Lake are liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff has testified that his distress consists of depression and "three or four bad dreams." See [66] ¶¶ 38-40. Plaintiff also claims that officer Harding is liable under Section 1983 for excessive force.

In their motion for summary judgment, defendants argue that plaintiff's distress is not severe enough to sustain a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. They further argue that summary judgment is warranted on plaintiff's excessive force claim to the extent plaintiff bases this claim on being handcuffed too tightly.

Plaintiff disagrees. He claims that he has set forth sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that the distress he suffered was severe. Plaintiff further argues that summary judgment is inappropriate on plaintiff's excessive force claim because his improper handcuffing is only one of many factors that a jury should consider to determine ...


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