United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Castillo United States Chief Judge.
Ackerman ("Plaintiff) brings this civil rights action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Chicago Police Officers
James Allen and Mark Czapla (collectively "Defendant
Officers") and the City of Chicago, Illinois (the
"City") (collectively "Defendants").
Defendants now move to bifurcate and stay discovery on
Plaintiffs municipal liability claims pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(b). (R. 24, Mot. to Bifurcate at 1.) For the
reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted.
is a 59-year-old man who suffers from a variety of health
problems, including heart disease, diabetes, herniated and
bulging discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, temporomandibular
joint disorder, and an injury to his right shoulder that left
him without a rotator cuff and with limited range of motion
on that side. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 12.) As a result
of these conditions, Plaintiff has been prescribed oxycodone
since 2012. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) On June 23,
2014, Plaintiffs doctor issued him a new prescription for 30
mg tablets of oxycodone. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff
alleges that the prescription was valid and legal.
(Id. ¶ 18.)
that day, Plaintiff stopped at the Walgreens Pharmacy located
at 3019 West Peterson Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, to pick up
his 30 mg tablet prescription from the pharmacy.
(Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) After Plaintiff handed his
prescription to a Walgreens pharmacy employee, the employee
told him that the pharmacy did not have 20 mg tablets in
stock. (Id. ¶ 23.) The employee did not give
Plaintiff back his prescription. (Id.) Plaintiff
explained that his new prescription was for 30 mg tablets,
not 20 mg tablets, and asked if she would check again to see
if the correct dose was available. (Id. ¶ 24.)
Plaintiff alleges that the employee refused to look for the
medication and continued to retain Plaintiffs prescription.
Plaintiff asked to speak to a manager, he alleges that the
manager refused to look for the 30 mg dose of the medication
and asked Plaintiff to leave. (Id. ¶¶
25-26.) Plaintiff asked several times for his prescription,
but no one would return it to him. (Id. ¶¶
26-27.) Several minutes later, Defendant Officers arrived.
(Id. ¶¶ 28.) Plaintiff alleges that he
immediately approached Defendant Officers to seek their
assistance in getting his prescription back so that he could
take it to another pharmacy. (Id. ¶ 29.)
Officers explained that someone from Walgreens had called
them because Plaintiff would not leave the store.
(Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Officers accused him of having no prescription or of
attempting to fill his prescription three weeks early.
(Id. ¶¶ 31-32.) Plaintiff alleges that he
informed them that his prescription was valid and not early.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Officer Czapla suddenly
grabbed his wrist and pulled his arms behind his back,
without any warning that Plaintiff was being arrested.
(Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff alleges that he explained
to Officer Czapla that he had had shoulder surgery and that
if Officer Czapla persisted in twisting his arm, he would
break it. (Id. ¶ 35.) Officer Czapla allegedly
replied, "Good, we'll break both your arms."
alleges that Officer Allen then took Plaintiffs right arm and
continued to pull it back, while Officer Czapla began gouging
his thumb into the muscle of Plaintiff s inner left forearm.
(Id. ¶¶ 37-38.) Plaintiff claims that this
action severely injured his left arm, left it swollen and
bruised black, and dislocated his left elbow. (Id.
¶ 39.) Plaintiff alleges that Officer Czapla said,
"This is what we do to people who resist arrest"
before striking Plaintiffs dislocated elbow, while Officer
Allen broke his right elbow. (Id. ¶¶ 41,
43.) The pain caused Plaintiff to lose consciousness.
(Id. ¶ 42.) During the arrest, Officer Czapla
allegedly stated, "You don't get any rights."
(Id. ¶ 44.) Finally, Defendant Officers called
an ambulance, which took Plaintiff to Swedish Covenant
Hospital where only his left elbow was treated. (Id.
¶ 45.) Plaintiff was charged with trespass, battery, and
resisting arrest; the first two charges were dropped, while
Plaintiff was acquitted of resisting arrest at trial.
(Id. ¶ 48.)
14, 2016, Plaintiff filed his complaint, listing three counts
under Section 1983 against the Defendant Officers: excessive
force (Count I), conspiracy to use excessive force (Count
II), and failure to intervene to prevent the violation of his
constitutional rights (Count III). (Id. ¶¶
53-69.) Additionally, each count includes a
municipal-liability claim against the City under Monell
v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S.
658 (1978), as Plaintiff claims that his injuries stemmed
from the City's policy, practice, or custom of failing to
prevent such incidents. (See Id. at ¶¶ 58,
64, 69.) Defendant Officers and the City answered separately
on September 6, 2016. (See R. 16, Officers'
Answer; R. 17, City's Answer.) In their answer, Defendant
Officers raised three affirmative defenses: qualified
immunity, failure to mitigate damages, and contributory
negligence. (R. 16, Officers' Answer at 12.)
November 8, 2016, Defendants filed their joint motion to
bifurcate and to stay discovery on Plaintiffs Monell
claims. (R. 24, Mot. to Bifurcate.) Defendants argue that
bifurcating the Monell claims would result in more
efficient, streamlined litigation, would prevent undue
prejudice to Defendants, and would allow for more
concentrated discovery. (Id. at 3.) Additionally,
Defendants attached to their motion a limited consent by the
City to the entry of judgment against it if Plaintiff
prevails on the claims against the individual officers. (R.
24-3, Limited Consent.) The City would not admit any
wrongdoing or culpability under Monell, but it would
consent to judgment against it for compensatory damages and
attorney's fees (without requiring Plaintiff to prove the
City responsible under Monell) if either Defendant
Officer were found to have violated Plaintiffs constitutional
rights, even if the Defendant Officers were found not liable
due to qualified immunity. (Id. at 2.)
responded to the motion on December 9, 2016. (R. 27, Resp.)
Plaintiff argues that bifurcation would actually increase the
burden of discovery and would create a much greater burden on
the Court and Plaintiff, by requiring the parties to proceed
through two complete trials dealing with similar issues over
the course of years, (Id. at 4-12.) Further,
Plaintiff argues that proceeding to trial on all claims would
not substantially prejudice Defendants, as limiting
instructions are sufficient to counter any improper
inferences of guilt by the jury. (Id. at 9-11.)
Finally, Plaintiff argues that the limited consent would
provide Plaintiff no benefits he is not already entitled to
and would unfairly deprive Plaintiff of the opportunity to
hold the City publicly responsible for its policies and
practices, so it should not weigh in favor of bifurcation.
(Id. at 7-9.)
Rule 42(b), the Court has considerable discretion to decide
claims or issues in separate trials "[f]or convenience,
to avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(b); Krocka v. City of Chi., 203 F.3d
507, 516 (7th Cir. 2000) ("The district court has
considerable discretion to order the bifurcation of a trial,
and we will overturn this decision only upon a clear showing
of abuse." (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted)). A court may order bifurcation "if the
separation would prevent prejudice to a party or promote
judicial economy, " so long as bifurcating "will