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Walters v. Thompson

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

October 12, 2016

JOYCE WALTERS and KIMBERLY ANN BULLARO, Plaintiffs,
v.
SGT. THOMPSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY J. ST. EVE United States District Court Judge.

         On March 10, 2015, Plaintiffs Joyce Walters and Kimberly Ann Bullaro filed a five-count First Amended Complaint alleging that Defendant DuPage County Deputy Sheriffs John Smith, [1] Frank DiCosola, and Sergeant Brian Thompson violated their constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment bringing claims of unlawful seizure (Count I), excessive force (Count II), and false arrest (Count III). See 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs also bring an Illinois malicious prosecution claim against the individual Defendant Officers (Count IV) and a state law indemnification claim under 745 ILCS 10.9-102 against DuPage County (Count V) pursuant to the Court's supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         Before the Court is Defendants' summary judgment motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) and Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' summary judgment motion. The only remaining substantive claim in this lawsuit is Plaintiff Walters' excessive force claim against Sergeant Thompson as alleged in Count II of the First Amended Complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1[2]

         “The purpose of Rule 56.1 is to have the litigants present to the district court a clear, concise list of material facts that are central to the summary judgment determination. It is the litigants' duty to clearly identify material facts in dispute and provide the admissible evidence that tends to prove or disprove the proffered fact.” Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 219 (7th Cir. 2015). Local Rule 56.1(a) “requires the party moving for summary judgment to file and serve a ‘statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Id. at 218 (citation omitted). “The non-moving party must file a response to the moving party's statement, and, in the case of any disagreement, cite ‘specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.'” Petty v. Chicago, 754 F.3d 415, 420 (7th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted); see also L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the non-moving party to file a separate statement of additional facts. See Thornton v. M7 Aerospace LP, 796 F.3d 757, 769 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Local Rule 56.1 statements and responses should identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts - not make factual or legal arguments. See Zimmerman v. Doran, 807 F.3d 178, 180 (7th Cir. 2015). “When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.” Curtis, 807 F.3d at 218 (quoting Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009)). The Seventh Circuit “has consistently upheld district judges' discretion to require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1.” Flint v. City of Belvidere, 791 F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Here, three of Plaintiffs' Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) responses to Defendants' Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Facts do not cite to the record as dictated by the local rule, and therefore, the Court deems those facts as admitted for purposes of the present summary judgment motion. See Curtis, 807 F.3d at 218. These paragraphs include ¶¶ 19, 20, and 21. In addition, certain citations to the record in Plaintiffs' Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts do not support the facts as stated, and thus do not comply with the local rule. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) (“statement of material facts did [ ] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture”). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

         II. Relevant Facts

         During the relevant time period, Plaintiffs Joyce Walters and Kimberly Ann Bullaro resided at 7 N 271 Briargate Terrace, Medinah, Illinois in DuPage County (“Medinah residence”) and Defendants Sergeant Thompson and Deputy DiCosola were sworn DuPage County Deputy Sheriffs. (R. 36, Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 2; R. 42, Pls.' Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 1.) On the morning of January 30, 2013, Defendant Officers were sent to the Medinah residence to determine if John Walters - who was wanted in connection with two felony warrants in Boone County, Illinois - was at the Medinah residence. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 3; Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.) Upon their arrival, the officers rang the doorbell and knocked on the door. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.) Plaintiff Bullaro, Joyce Walters' daughter, was at the Medinah residence when Defendant Officers arrived and later testified that, at that time, she heard Sergeant Thompson threatening to take down the door with a sledgehammer. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 11; Ex. 6, Bullaro Dep., at 20-21.) Tina Walters, also Joyce Walters' daughter, suggested that she would go outside and speak to Defendant Officers. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.) While outside on the driveway at the Medinah residence, Defendant Officers Thompson and DiCosola advised Tina that they were looking for John Walters explaining that he was wanted in connection with two felony warrants. (Id. ¶ 7.) Tina responded that John Walters' car was not in the driveway. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) Deputy Smith arrived at the Medinah residence while Defendant Officers were talking to Tina in the driveway. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 4.)

         At some point earlier, a DuPage County Sheriff's dispatcher called Joyce Walters to inform her that Defendant Officers were at her door, but that she did not know the nature of the officers' presence. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 39; R. 36-9, Ex. 8, Audio Recording, at 2-5.) During her conversation with the dispatcher, Walters told the dispatcher that she was having a heart attack. (Id. ¶ 9; Audio Recording, at 8.) The dispatcher relayed this information to Defendant Officers Thompson and DiCosola, after which the officers requested the dispatcher to notify the local fire department. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 9; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 11.) The dispatcher then contacted the Roselle, Illinois Fire Department to dispatch an ambulance in response to Walters stating that she was having a heart attack, after which the fire department responded. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 12, 13.) Two paramedics then arrived at the Medinah residence. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 8.)

         Further, it is undisputed that once dispatch notified Sergeant Thompson that Walters said she was having a heart attack, Thompson believed that the situation had become a medical emergency requiring medical assistance. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 10.) It is also undisputed that the Roselle Fire Department would not leave the Medinah residence until Walters agreed to a medical evaluation or refused any such treatment. (Id. ¶ 15.) Also undisputed is that Sergeant Thompson was aware that the Roselle Fire Department would not leave - up to and including forcing entry into the Medinah residence - until they examined Walters or she refused treatment. (Id. ¶ 14.) The dispatcher told Walters that the paramedics would force entry if she did not comply and open the door, but Walters repeatedly told the dispatcher that no one was allowed to enter her home. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 10; Audio Recording Tr., at 2, 6, 12.) In addition, it is undisputed that Walters told the dispatcher that she had knives in her house and if the police forced entry, she would kill them. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 17.) The record also contains evidence that the dispatcher relayed this information to Sergeant Thompson and Deputy DiCosola. (R. 36-2, Ex. 1, Thompson Dep., at 32.) Further undisputed is that Walters directly told Defendant Officers that she had guns and knives inside her house and that she would shoot. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 18.)

         Walters eventually opened the door for the paramedics to check on her medical condition, at which time Sergeant Thompson also entered the Medinah residence. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 19; Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 22; R. 36-7, Ex. 6, Bullaro Dep., at 22.) Upon entering, Walters slapped Sergeant Thompson across the face. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 20.) Deputy DiCosola witnessed Walters slap Sergeant Thompson, after which he entered the Medinah residence. (Id. ¶ 21.) Deputy Smith followed. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 4, 23.) Defendant Officers assert that Walters fell to the ground, but Bullaro testified that Sergeant Thompson threw Walters to the ground and Walters testified that Sergeant Thompson “pushed me down when he pushed open the door.” (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 22; Bullaro Dep., at 23-25; R. 36-6, Ex. 5, J. Walters Dep., at 27.)

         After Defendant Officers entered the Medinah residence, Deputy DiCosola arrested Bullaro and charged her with misdemeanor obstruction of an officer in violation of 720 ILCS 5/31-1. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 31; R. 36-11, Ex. 10; R. 36-3, Ex. 2, DiCosola Dep., at 47.) Sergeant Thompson arrested Walters and charged her with misdemeanor battery in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2). (Id. ¶ 26; R. 36-13, Ex. 12.) The Public Defenders' Office represented both Walters and Bullaro in their misdemeanor proceedings. (Id. ...


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