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Pierce v. Ruiz

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

October 28, 2016

Cedric N. Pierce, Plaintiff,
v.
J. Ruiz, Badge No. #5143, Chicago Police Officer, S. Whitehead, Badge No. #12097, Chicago Police Officer Defendants.

          David T. Hartmann Assistant Corporation Counsel

          DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW AS TO PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM FOR FAILURE TO INTERVENE

          EDMOND E. CHANG JUDGE.

         Defendants Julio A. Ruiz and Stephen G. Whitehead (“Defendants”) move this Honorable Court for judgment as a matter of law in favor of Defendants on the Plaintiff's claim for “Failure to Intervene.”

         Introduction

         Under Rule 50(a), a Court may “enter judgment against a party who has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial if a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue.” Schandelmeier-Bartels v. Chicago Park Dist., 634 F.3d 372, 376 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal citation omitted). This Court should grant judgment as a matter of law in favor of Defendants on the Plaintiff's claim for failure to intervene, because Plaintiff has failed to establish a legally sufficient evidentiary basis for the jury to find in his favor on that issue.

         Pursuant to Order of Court, Plaintiff was permitted to - at the least - include a jury instruction regarding failure to intervene, and - at the most - he was granted leave under Rule 15(a)(1) to amend his complaint to include a separate claim for failure to intervene. (ECF No. 176.) Though this Court ostensibly granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint, Plaintiff has not actually filed a Second Amended Complaint with the Court. Nonetheless, for the purposes of this motion and to preserve the record, Defendants are proceeding as if Plaintiff currently has pending before the Court a separate claim for failure to intervene.

         Discussion

         In the present case, Plaintiff Cedric Pierce has alleged that Defendants failed to intervene when the Defendants allegedly lifted Plaintiff off of his feet by his handcuffed hands in a application of excessive force. Plaintiff's testimony on this issue has been inconsistent. At his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he was unable to see behind him and, therefore, could not identify which Defendant Officer placed hands on him. However, during his testimony before the jury, Plaintiff testified to the extent that both Defendants allegedly used excessive force on him; namely, that each Defendant allegedly grabbed Plaintiff by the wrists, one officer per arm, and proceeded to lift him off the ground. Though Plaintiff maintained that he was unable to see behind him, he testified unequivocally:

“Then he -- then the next things I knew, I felt both of their arms on my -- like around my wrist area, the handcuffs, and I was off -- I was pulled up off my feet for like 20, 30 seconds, then they put put me back down.”
“It was several times that they held me up in the air and let me down.”
“They went up hard and -- I had cuffs, they went up other -- the other happened went across to my wrist, write there, the other -- the same thing -- this is what one partner was doing, this partner has their arm, the other partner had the same hold on my other arm, and they picked me up off the ground (indicating).”[1]

         Pursuant to Pattern Civil Jury Instruction No. 7.16, Plaintiff must prove each of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

1. That Defendant A used excessive force on Plaintiff;
2. That Defendant B knew that Defendant A was actually or was about to use ...

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