United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ROBERT BLAKEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wozniak, Robert Wozniak Jr., and their four minor children
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) allege that their
eviction from an apartment in the Village of Justice gave
rise to: (1) various unconstitutional deprivations of their
civil rights (Counts 1-4); (2) precipitated a series of
common law torts, including conversion, trespass, and
negligence (Counts 9-13); (3) constituted a breach of their
contract with their landlord, Defendant Jan Zielinski
(“Zielinski”) (Count 14); and (4) created a claim
for promissory estoppel (Count 15). First Am. Compl. 
¶¶ 39-105. Plaintiffs further allege that the
Village of Justice is ultimately responsible for any
ostensible constitutional violations (Counts 5-8).
Id. ¶¶ 65-70. Federal jurisdiction arises
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because Plaintiffs have multiple
claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section
1983”); and this Court has supplemental jurisdiction
over Plaintiffs' state law claims under 28 U.S.C. §
William R. Conrad, Barclay Murphy, Joseph Bonkowski
(collectively, the “Officer Defendants”), the
Justice Police Department, and the Village of Justice
(collectively, with the Officer Defendants, the
“Village Defendants”) move for summary judgment
on all counts pending against them. Village Defs.' Mot.
Summ. J. . Zielinski moves for summary judgment and to
join the summary judgment motion filed by the Village
Defendants. Zielinski Mot. To Join and Summ. J.
. Plaintiffs also filed a motion for summary
judgment on all counts, excepting their claims for breach of
contract and promissory estoppel. Pls.' Mot. Summ. J.
respective motions are granted in part and denied in part. As
explained below, the claims over which this Court is
empowered to exercise original jurisdiction are dismissed
with prejudice. In light of the nature of the remaining state
law claims, their ease of resolution, and the procedural
posture of this case, the Court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the same; accordingly,
Plaintiffs' state law claims are dismissed without
Plaintiffs began renting an apartment (the
“Apartment”) from Zielinski on or around
September 1, 2012. PSOF ¶ 7. Around April 23, 2013,
Zielinski filed an eviction suit in the Circuit Court of Cook
County against Mr. and Mrs. Wozniak. Id. ¶ 24.
The state court in that case entered an Agreed Order for
Possession (the “Order”), signed by Robert
Wozniak, on May 7, 2013. Id. In that Order, the
court found that Zielinski was “entitled to the
possession of” the Apartment, and ordered that he
“have and recover” the Apartment from Robert and
Amanda Wozniak. DSOF Ex. 2. The court stayed the enforcement
of the Order until May 27, 2013, and Plaintiffs agreed to
leave the apartment by that time. Id.; PSOF ¶
point prior to May 28, 2013, Amanda Wozniak and her children
left the Apartment and began to stay with her mother. DSOF
Ex. 3 at 19-20. During this time, Amanda would periodically
return to the Apartment to gather their belongings in order
to bring them to her mother's home. Id.
Additionally, there is some dispute regarding a conversation
that allegedly occurred prior to May 27, 2013, between some
combination of Robert Wozniak, Amanda Wozniak and Zielinski.
According to Robert, he spoke with Zielinski in the basement
of the Apartment, and Zielinski said the Wozniaks could have
a little more time to move out-but no more than two weeks.
PSOF Ex. C at 20-21. Robert did not remember, however, if
that conversation occurred before or after May 23, 2013.
Id. at 21. Amanda described a similar conversation
in her deposition, but claimed that it took place in the
laundry room, between herself and Zielinski. PSOF Ex. B at
75-76. In that conversation, which Amanda said happened at
some time “before the date [they] were supposed to get
out” of the Apartment, Amanda told Zielinski they
needed “more time, ” and he said “only two
more weeks.” Id.
Events of June 2, 2013
2, 2013, at approximately 2:46 PM, Frank Zielinski (Defendant
Zielinski's son) contacted the Justice Police Department
(“JPD”) concerning the Apartment. PSOF ¶ 27.
Officers Conrad and Bonkowski responded to the call, and were
met by both Zielenskis upon arriving at the Apartment.
Id. ¶¶ 27-28. Frank Zielinski showed the
officers the Agreed Order for Possession, and asked that they
do a premises check to determine if the Plaintiffs were still
living at the property. Id. ¶ 28. Defendant
Zielinski provided a key to the Apartment, but it is unclear
who exactly opened the door. Compare PSOF Ex. E at
27 (“We [ambiguous in original] cracked the door
open.”) with DSOF ¶ 21 “([T]he
Landlord and his son then opened the door with their
key.”). Before entering, the officers knocked twice on
the door and announced “Police Department. Is anyone
home?” Id. ¶¶ 19-20. After the door
was opened, the officers announced “Justice Police
Department, is anybody home? Answer now if there's
anybody home and let us know.” Id. ¶ 22.
After once again getting no response to their calls, the
officers entered the unit. Id. ¶ 23.
entry, it was discovered that no one was present in the
Apartment. PSOF ¶ 30; DSOF ¶ 24. According to a
contemporaneous police report, the officers “observed
the apartment uninhabitable due to the extremely deplorable
conditions . . . observed dirty clothes, garbage, old food,
dirty dishes, broken furniture, broken toys and doors off
hinges, throughout the living room, kitchen, kitchen table,
kitchen counter, both bedrooms, hallway and bathroom, as if
the apartment had been abandoned . . . no clean linens on the
mattresses which were cluttered with clothes and closet
doors, and clothes and toys in the crib . . . two dogs in a
cage in the kitchen and a guinea pig in a cage in a rear
bedroom. The dogs did not have tags, food, or water, but the
guinea pig did.” PSOF Ex. I at 1-2. Further, both
Conrad and Bonkowski testified that the Apartment smelled of
urine or feces. PSOF Ex. E at 29-30; Ex. G at 40.
descriptions given by Conrad and Bonkowski match the
photographs of the Apartment submitted by the Defendants as
part of Exhibit 10 to the DSOF. Those photographs show:
• A dining table and kitchen counter piled high with
garbage and miscellaneous personal items, such that the
surface is barely visible.
• A crib in the second bedroom overflowing with plastic
bags, stuffed animals, and miscellaneous belongings. In that
same bedroom the floor is covered with clothes and personal
belongings, and the closet was missing its doors.
• In the first bedroom there is a bunk bed frame with no
mattresses, and the floor is completely covered by garbage
bags, toys, a cage and other possessions. Both closet doors
are off the tracks, and propped up haphazardly throughout the
• The living room has no furniture, and there is debris
scattered across the floor.
• The bathroom has towels, clothes and miscellaneous
items scattered on the floor, across the back of the toilet,
and on top of the vanity.
in the kitchen there were two dogs in the same cage. DSOF
¶ 29. The dogs had no collars, tags, food, or water.
Id. Officer Conrad testified, however, that he did
not observe any urine or feces in the dog cage. PSOF Ex. E at
29:16-23. When asked if the animals appeared to be uncared
for, Conrad testified “Yes, ” given the lack of
food or water. PSOF Ex. E at 49. He also said, however, that
the dogs did not appear to be sick. Id. at
upon the condition of the Apartment and their determination
that the Apartment was abandoned, the officers decided that
the two dogs and guinea pig should be taken to animal
welfare. DSOF ¶ 41; DSOF Ex. 13 at 44-45. The officers
did not take any other property from the Apartment. DSOF
¶ 42. While attempting to load the dogs into their
cruiser, one of the dogs escaped. Id. ¶ 43.
After trying to catch the dog for 5-10 minutes, the officers
lost sight of the dog. Id. ¶ 44. Officer
Bonkowski then went back on patrol while Officer Conrad
transported the second dog and guinea pig to animal welfare.
DSOF ¶ 45. Due to the condition of the Apartment,
Officer Conrad put the animals on confiscated hold, which
required the owners to contact him before retrieval was
permitted. Id. ¶ 46. Upon intake, the second
dog's condition was listed as “normal.” PSOF
around 5:00 p.m. Officers Bonkowski and Conrad returned to
the Apartment. DSOF ¶ 48. The officers were approached
by the Wozniaks, who were upset that their dogs were missing
and asked to speak to a supervisor. Id. ¶ 49.
It is unclear from the record what exactly Mrs. Wozniak told
the officers regarding her living situation during this
encounter. According to Mrs. Wozniak, she told the officers
“they couldn't do that, they had no right to do
that, we still lived there.” PSOF Ex. B at 61:1-3.
According to Officer Conrad, Mrs. Wozniak “advised that
they were in the process of moving out despite the-it was
apparent that there was no moving equipment, no moving boxes
or trucks or vans that would lead me to believe they are
moving out. She also said they were not-her and the children
were not living in the apartment.” PSOF Ex. E at
62:10-16. According to the police report, the tenants
“claim they, and their children, were not living in the
apartment for ‘several days' and furthermore
claimed to be moving out despite no moving boxes or
organization to the foulness inside the apartment . . .
[they] claimed they had spoken with [the landlord] after
[August 27] and supposedly advised him they were moving out
this weekend.” PSOF Ex. I at 2.
speaking with Amanda Wozniak, Officer Conrad called animal
welfare and released the confiscated hold on the animals.
DSOF ¶ 50. At that time, around 5:00 p.m., the Wozniaks
entered the Apartment. Id. ¶ 53. Corporal Zima
also arrived around 5:00 p.m. in response to the
Wozniaks' request for a supervisor, and was given
permission by the Wozniaks to enter the Apartment.
Id. ¶ 54. When he entered, the Apartment
smelled like animal feces mixed with rotten food.
Id. ¶ 55. Corporal Zima observed dog feces on
the floor that had been there for a while, along with the
various pieces of personal property previously described.
Id. ¶ 56. After touring the Apartment, and
hearing what Officers Conrad and Bunkowski had done, Zima
informed the officers that they had made the correct
decision. PSOF Ex. E. at 67:11-17; Ex. M at 34:16-21.
Conrad contacted the Department of Child and Family Services
regarding the condition of the Apartment, but the Department
told him it could not investigate without proof that children
were living in the Apartment. DSOF ¶¶ 57-58. The
missing dog was found at Davern's Tavern while Corporal
Zima was on the premises of the Apartment, so he accompanied
Amanda Wozniak to retrieve the dog. PSOF ¶ 48. After the
dog was found, Officers Bonkowski and Zima left the scene.
DSOF ¶ 59.
approximately 9:30 p.m., Jan and Frank Zielinski returned to
check on the Apartment. Id. ¶ 60. The
Zielinskis then called the police because they saw a light on
in the Apartment and found the front door hanging off its
frame, connected by a chain lock. Id. ¶ 60.
Officer Lenos, Officer McNamara, and Sergeant Schuerg
responded to the Zielinskis' call for a premises check
and met Frank Zielinski in the parking lot. Id.
¶ 61. After Zielinski showed them the original Agreed
Order for Possession of the Apartment, the officers went up
to the Apartment and reported that no one was inside the
premises. Id. ¶ 62. After the officers left,
Zielinski and his son returned to their home, retrieved a new
pair of locks, and installed the same at the Apartment to
secure the premises. Id. ¶63. According to
Zielinski, this was something the “police” told
them to do. PSOF Ex. D at 69:23; 72:12-21; 74:21-23.
Lenos, Officer McNamara, and Sergeant Schuerg admit to being
on the scene on June 2, 2013. PSOAF ¶7. McNamara and
Schuerg testified they would not have advised a landlord to
change the locks. Id. Regarding whether he informed
the Wozniaks about the changed locks, Zielinski said:
“No. We didn't call them because at the prior times
or earlier days we called and nobody ever answered the phone.
We didn't have any contact with them whatsoever. We
didn't know if they lived there or not, if they are still
there or not. That's why we called the police.”
PSOF Ex. D at 73:17-22.
Events of June 3, 2013
3, 2013, Plaintiffs returned to the Apartment to attempt to
retrieve the rest of their property. PSOF ¶ 54. The
Plaintiffs then drove to Zielinski's home where they
spoke to Frank Zielinski. Id. ¶ 55. Plaintiffs
demanded access to the Apartment to pick up their belongings.
Id. Frank Zielinski told Plaintiffs the locks had
been changed, and their personal belongings were in the
garbage. Id. Defendant Zielinski, through his son
Frank, also refused Amanda Wozniak's demand for a key to
the new locks. Id.
Events of June 4, 2013
4, 2013, Amanda Wozniak returned to the Apartment with her
grandmother and two of her children. PSOF ¶ 56. On the
ground outside of the apartment building there were several
items of personal property which belonged to the Plaintiffs.
Id. ¶ 57. Additionally, Amanda Wozniak saw
Zielinski's wife and daughter throwing Plaintiffs'
property out of the third floor window. Id. ¶
58. Amanda Wozniak demanded access to the Apartment, and the
Zielinski family refused. Id. ¶ 60. Amanda
Wozniak then called the Justice Police Department, and
Defendant Murphy was sent to the scene for a stand-by
“keep the peace” call. PSOF ¶ 61; DSOF
¶ 64. Upon the arrival of Defendant Murphy,
Amanda Wozniak complained that the Zielinskis had unlawfully
entered the Apartment and removed her belongings. DSOF ¶
65. Murphy testified, however, that he did not believe that
Amanda Wozniak asked for his assistance in going up to the
apartment. PSOF Ex. F at 26:21-23. At some point, Amanda
Wozniak asked Murphy if he could sign a criminal complaint
for trespass to residence by Zielinski. PSOF ¶ 62.
Murphy declined, as he thought Zielinski lacked the requisite
criminal intent. PSOF Ex. F at 30-32.
Murphy eventually spoke to Frank Zielinski, who provided the
Agreed Order for Possession, signed by Robert Wozniak,
stating that the Plaintiffs were to vacate the property by
May 27, 2013. DSOF ¶ 66. Officer Murphy then mediated an
agreement between Plaintiffs and Zielinski whereby the
Wozniaks were allowed to access the Apartment and gather the
rest of their belongings. Id. ¶ 67. During this
exchange, Officer Murphy never went inside the Apartment, and
he left five minutes after the agreement was reached.
Id. ¶ 69. Plaintiffs claim that, during this
exchange, they asked Officer Murphy to stop Zielinski's
wife and daughter from going into the Apartment, but he would
not do so. PSOF ¶ 66; PSOF Ex. B at 130:24-131:7. The
Defendants deny this assertion, but the evidence they offer
does not contradict Plaintiffs' claim. See PSOF
Ex. F at 25-26, 29.
that same afternoon (June 4, 2013), Officer Murphy was
dispatched back to the Apartment so that the Wozniaks could
actually gather their belongings from the Apartment. DSOF
¶ 70. He retrieved the key to the Apartment from
Zielinski and gave it to the Wozniaks, who began the process
of moving the rest of the belongings out of the residence.
Id. ¶ 71. Murphy stood by while the Wozniaks
opened the Apartment to grab their belongings. Id.
¶ 72. Officer Murphy stayed for another five minutes
after the Wozniaks received access to the Apartment, and then
left the scene. Id. ¶ 73. Throughout the entire
ordeal, Plaintiffs did not see any Justice Police Department
officers remove any property from the Apartment. Id.
Defendants' Policies & Practices
the Officer Defendants received formal training or
instruction regarding the eviction process in Cook County,
Illinois. PSOF ¶ 15. The Officer Defendants also have
not received formal training “regarding the
validity” of court orders; however, the Officer
Defendants are generally familiar with court orders through
their experience as law enforcement agents. Id.
¶ 16. The Village Defendants have no formal policy for
handling calls from landlords, nor do the Village Defendants
have a formal policy regarding ...