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Abdelnabi v. Cook County

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

January 13, 2017

COOK COUNTY, et al. Defendants.


          CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, United States District Court Judge

         Nahla Abdelnabi ("Plaintiff) brings this suit against Cook County, the Cook County Sheriffs Office ("Sheriffs Office"), Deputy Timothy Wilson ("Wilson"), Deputy Michael Morys ("Morys"), Deputy Quintin Bradshaw ("Bradshaw"), and Deputy Michelle Mentz ("Mentz") (the four deputies collectively referred to as "Deputy Defendants" or "Deputies" and all defendants collectively as "Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of Plaintiff s civil rights. Plaintiff also asserts a number of state law claims arising from the same interaction. Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         On May 17, 2013, Judge Laura Cha-Yu Liu in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County order, Approving Report of Sale and Distribution, Confirming Sale and Order of Possession, was issued for 8851 W. 100th St., Palos Hills, Illinois, a two-story single family home, where Plaintiff resided (the "Residence"). On December 5, 2013, an Order of Possession was entered in the Circuit Court of Cook County, which ordered the Sheriff to evict and dispossess any and all persons from the Residence. On April 10, 2014, the eviction was to be executed.

         On April 10, 2014, Defendants were given a number of evictions to execute; among them was the eviction for the Residence. Upon arrival, in law enforcement vehicles, at the Residence, Deputy Wilson spoke with a bank representative at the scene. Deputy Bradshaw retrieved tools, a crowbar and hammer, from the trunk of his squad car. At approximately 8:45 am, the uniformed Deputies approached the Residence, and Deputy Bradshaw knocked and loudly announced, "Cook County Sheriffs Department Eviction Unit. We [sic] here for an eviction, open the door."[2] Def.'s 56.1(A)(3) Statement of Material Facts in Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. B, Tr. Test. Quentin Bradshaw, p. 26:8-11.

         Plaintiff was upstairs in her bedroom asleep but was awoken by Deputy Bradshaw's knocking. Plaintiff was startled awake by the loud knocking and initially believed that the several individuals at the front door were burglars, only after she noticed their uniforms did she realize they were law enforcement officers. Once awake, Plaintiff responded to Deputy Bradshaw by saying "I'm coming[, ]" "I have to put something on[, ]" and "I'm in my pajamas." Def.'s 56.1(A)(3) Statement of Material Facts in Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. A, Tr. Test. Nahla Abdelnabi, p. 153:23-4. However, these responses were not yelled and instead spoken at a regular volume. Plaintiff searched for clothing to cover her pajamas and shortly thereafter made her way downstairs; there is some dispute as to whether Plaintiff started to walk down the stairs and then went back upstairs. Regardless, Plaintiff quickly made her way down stairs.

         There is some dispute between the parties as to how the events unfolded once Plaintiff was downstairs at the door. Plaintiff avers that once she was downstairs, she quickly made her way to the door and attempted to open the door to allow the Deputy Defendants entry, but she was unable to open the door. She claims that the lock was broken. Plaintiff avers, that at this time, she attempted to open the door and that she was visible to the Deputies through the door. Then, unable to open the door, after no more than ten seconds, Deputy Wilson kicked open the door and it struck Plaintiff in the head and face; according to Plaintiff she was clearly within both the sight of the officers and the path of the door. Plaintiff swears that the Deputies never identified themselves as law enforcement officers, but she was able to identify them as such because of their uniforms, that they never informed her that they were serving an eviction, and that they did not warn her that they were kicking in the door.

         Defendants, however, disagree with Plaintiffs account of the events in question. According to Defendants, once Plaintiff made her way down the stairs and approached the door, Deputy Bradshaw said "Cook County Sheriffs Department Evictions Unit, open the door for an eviction." Def.'s 56.1(A)(3) Statement of Material Facts in Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. B, Tr. Test. Quentin Bradshaw, p. 38:15-21. At this point Plaintiff disappeared inside the house, outside of Deputies Bradshaw and Mentz's line of sight. Once Plaintiff had disappeared inside her home, Deputy Bradshaw could not open the door and immediately attempted to force entry into the Residence, by wedging the crow bar between the door and frame, but to no avail. After unsuccessfully attempting to force the door open with a crowbar, Deputy Wilson yelled for anyone to move away from the door and successfully kicked the door open. Deputy Wilson and the rest of the Deputies testify that before Deputy Wilson kicked open the door, he loudly warned anyone inside to move away. None of the Deputies say that they either saw or heard Plaintiff behind the door when Deputy Wilson was preparing to kick the door open. Plaintiff does not say anything about the sounds of the crowbar.

         When Deputy Wilson kicked the door open, there is-once again-very little disagreement as to the events as they unfolded. Plaintiff was struck in the head and face by the moving door, resulting in a cut and bloody face. The Deputy Defendants entered the home with their guns drawn and saw Plaintiff bleeding from the face. Plaintiff then walked to the kitchen to get a towel to wipe the blood from her head and face and was then escorted upstairs by Deputy Mentz to change out of her bloody clothes. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance arrived, and Plaintiff was treated by paramedics. After her initial treatment she was placed under arrest, handcuffed, escorted from the Residence, placed in an ambulance, and brought to an area hospital-where she was given stitches for her head injury.

         After being released from the Hospital, Plaintiff was brought to Maywood lock-up by Deputies Mentz and Bradshaw and held for five hours. Plaintiff was charged with Obstruction of Service of Process in violation of 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/31-3. Plaintiff was prosecuted by Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Eric Wojnicki, and after a jury trial, she was found not guilty. Plaintiff filed the instant suit complaining of violations of her constitutional rights as well as other state law claims.[3] Plaintiff does not assert a basis for her interest in the Residence after Judge Cha-Yu Liu issued the order in the Chancery Court.


         A. Standard of Decision

         "Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Dunderdale v. United Airlines, Inc., 807 F.3d 849, 853 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Wells v. Coker, 707 F.3d 756, 760 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The Court views the evidence, and draws all reasonable inferences, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. The Court does not "assess the credibility of witnesses, choose between competing reasonable inferences, or balance the relative weight of conflicting evidence." Stokes v. Bd. of Educ. Of the City of Chi., 599 F.3d 617, 619 (7th Cir. 2010).

         But before the nonmoving party "can benefit from a favorable view of evidence, he must first actually place evidence before the courts." Montgomery v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 389 (7th Cir. 2010). Simply showing that there is "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" will not defeat a motion for summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (citations omitted); see also Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 732 (7th Cir. 2008). And "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "Summary judgment is appropriate if the nonmoving party 'fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential ...

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