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Sommerfield v. City of Chicago

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

February 21, 2017



          Joan B. Gottschall United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Detlef Sommerfield (“Plaintiff”), a patrol officer in the Chicago Police Department, brought this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 against the City of Chicago (“the City”) and Sergeant Lawrence Knasiak (“Knasiak”). Plaintiff alleged that Knasiak repeatedly harassed and otherwise discriminated against him on the basis of his race, religion, and national origin, and that Knasiak retaliated against him after he complained about the harassment. In 2009, the court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the City as duplicative of his claims in an earlier-filed lawsuit against the City. Sommerfield v. City of Chi., No. 08 C 3025, 2009 WL 500643, Feb. 26, 2009. In 2014, a jury returned a $540, 000 verdict in this case against Knasiak for punitive damages. (See ECF No. 366 at 1.)

         Two motions filed by Plaintiff are before the court. In the first, Plaintiff asks the court to reconsider the portion of the order entered August 14, 2015, (“the August 2015 order”) denying his request for prejudgment interest. The second is titled “Motion for Judgment” and asks the court to enter a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 judgment enumerating all of the categories of damages (and retaining jurisdiction) to which the plaintiff believes himself entitled.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The court's prior orders and opinions amply cover the long and winding procedural path this case has taken. (See, e.g., ECF No. 469 at 2-4.) Briefly, and as relevant here, the parties agreed before trial to leave the calculation of back pay for the court, if necessary, after the jury trial. The trial ended more than two-and-a-half years ago, yet the wrangling over those issues has not abated.

         Plaintiff filed a “Motion For Ruling On Certain Issues With Calculation To Follow After Court's Ruling” (“Motion for Ruling”) on October 17, 2014. (ECF No. 397.) He argued that he was entitled to various forms of relief, including, but not limited to, reimbursement for the five days of pay that he lost when he was wrongfully suspended, back pay from December 16, 2006, through the date of judgment, compensation for the monthly stipend of $175 that he would have received if he had been promoted to the position of canine handler, promotion to the “D2 position” of canine handler, and prejudgment interest, among other things. After the motion was fully briefed, plaintiff sought and obtained leave to supplement that motion in February 2015. (ECF No. 410.) He sought leave to supplement a second time in July 2015, but the court denied his request. (See ECF No. 435 (denying motion to supplement, ECF No. 431).)

         In an August 14, 2015 decision, the court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Ruling, concluding that he had failed to show that he was entitled to the relief he sought, given that the City had already agreed to provide Plaintiff with more relief than he could obtain from the court. The court declined to opine on whether Plaintiff was entitled to receive compensation for lost wages/back pay and front pay from Knasiak, given that the City had already agreed to make Plaintiff whole.

         Plaintiff moves to reconsider that ruling. He also asks the court to enter a judgment listing as damages against Knasiak the sums attributed to back pay the city has paid him on Knasiak's behalf. In March 2016, the court entered an order denying Plaintiff's request to amend his complaint to add an indemnity claim against the City. (ECF No. 469 at 4-5 (finding claim would be moot).) The court stated it understood that if any dispute remained outstanding, it pertained to the amount of overtime wages Plaintiff would have been paid had he been promoted to canine handler in 2008. (Id. at 4.)


         “Motions for reconsideration serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Keene Corp. v. Int'l Fidelity Ins. Co., 561 F.Supp. 656, 665 (N.D. Ill. 1982)). The losing party's disappointment with the outcome does not demonstrate manifest error. Oto v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000).

         The August 2015 order reads in pertinent part:

Plaintiff did not seek prejudgment interest in his complaint. See Compl. ¶ 145 (prayer for relief). Nor did Plaintiff identify prejudgment interest as a remedy he was seeking in the motion pending before the court. Indeed, the words, “prejudgment interest, ” did not appear in connection with Plaintiff's present motion until Plaintiff filed his second supplement in support of the motion. And in this document, Plaintiff identified prejudgment interest as one remedy in a list of remedies he would like to receive, without providing citations to authority to support any of them. What is more, Plaintiff does not clarify whether he is seeking prejudgment interest (a) on the damages that the jury awarded him or (b) on the sum he is seeking from Knasiak for lost wages.
As the court sees it, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, used his Second Supplement to list in scattershot fashion every possible form of relief he hopes to receive, including prejudgment interest on a sum he fails to identify. Plaintiff's unsupported request for prejudgment ...

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