United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. ALONSO United States District Judge.
Stephen Tracy filed a five-count second amended complaint
alleging that defendants Officer Michael Hull and the City of
Naperville violated Tracy's constitutional rights under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. In November 2015, the Court dismissed
three of plaintiff's claims and set an October 2016 trial
date on the remaining claims for unreasonable search and
indemnification. After re-deposing plaintiff, defendants
filed a motion for summary judgment, and the trial date was
stricken. For the reasons set out below, the Court grants
defendants' motion for summary judgment.
alleges that his Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable searches was violated when Officer Hull entered
his home without permission in October 2014. (2d Am. Compl.
¶¶ 7-18.) In March 2014, plaintiff began leasing an
apartment at 12 North Main Street in Naperville, Illinois
from landlord Michael Marks. (Defs.' SOMF ¶
On October 22, 2014, plaintiff was given proper notice of the
landlord's intention to inspect the apartment plaintiff
had been renting from him. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.)
On October 24, 2014, the landlord arrived at plaintiff's
front door to inspect and take photos of the apartment for an
appraisal. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) When the
landlord arrived, plaintiff stepped onto the front porch to
speak to him. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Officer Hull
was with the landlord, and after plaintiff stepped onto the
porch, Hull moved behind him. (Id. ¶¶
16-17.) The landlord entered the premises and Hull
positioned himself in the doorway facing out, but did not
enter the home and never touched plaintiff. (Id.
¶¶ 18-27, 31.) The door to the premises remained
open throughout the duration of the landlord's ten- to
fifteen-minute inspection. (Id. ¶¶ 20,
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In considering such a motion, the court
construes the evidence and all inferences that reasonably can
be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See Kvapil v. Chippewa Cty., 752
F.3d 708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014). “Summary judgment should
be denied if the dispute is ‘genuine': ‘if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Talanda v.
KFC Nat'l Mgmt. Co., 140 F.3d 1090, 1095 (7th Cir.
1998) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986)); see also Bunn v. Khoury Enters.,
Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2014). The court
will enter summary judgment against a party who does not
“come forward with evidence that would reasonably
permit the finder of fact to find in [its] favor on a
material question[.]” Modrowski v. Pigatto,
712 F.3d 1166, 1167 (7th Cir. 2013).
argue that plaintiff's claim fails because Officer Hull
never entered the premises and the landlord had express
permission to enter the premises. (Defs.' Mem. at 3.)
Plaintiff contends that even though he admits that Hull did
not go through the home with the landlord, there is a
question of fact as to whether Hull unlawfully entered the
premises. (Pl.'s Resp. at 2.) In their reply, defendants
assert that courts have repeatedly held that an open doorway
constitutes “outside” for purposes of the Fourth
Amendment and that Officer Hull did not cross the threshold
of plaintiff's home. (Defs.' Reply at 1, 3.)
Fourth Amendment . . . provides that ‘[t]he right of
the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall
not be violated[.]'” Bleavins v. Bartels,
422 F.3d 445, 450 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting U.S. Const. amend.
IV). “A search occurs when the government invades a
person's reasonable expectation of privacy . . . or
physically intrudes into a constitutionally protected area in
order to obtain information.” United States v.
Correa, No. 11 CR 750, 2015 WL 300463, at *2 (N.D. Ill.
Jan. 21, 2015) (citing United States v. Jacobsen,
466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984) and United States v. Jones,
132 S.Ct. 945, 951 (2012)). “The touchstone of Fourth
Amendment inquiry is reasonableness, a standard measured in
light of the totality of the circumstances and determined by
balancing the degree to which a challenged action intrudes on
an individual's privacy and the degree to which the
action promotes a legitimate government interest.”
Green v. Butler, 420 F.3d 689, 694 (7th Cir. 2005).
reasonable juror could find that Officer Hull conducted an
unreasonable search. Plaintiff testified that the entry to
his apartment had a wooden exterior door and a screen door.
(Defs.' SOMF, Ex. 2, Tracy Dep. at 27 ll. 17-23.) When
the landlord arrived, the wooden door was open, and plaintiff
heard pounding on the screen door. (Id. at 26 ll.
1-2; 28 ll. 1-3.) Plaintiff came to the door and saw his
landlord through the screen door and walked “fully out
onto the front porch.” (Id. at 29 l. 23-30 l.
1.) According to plaintiff, Hull “slipped” behind
him and “stood in [the] doorway[.]” (Id.
at 31 ll. 17-19.) The screen door did not close, and the
landlord entered the apartment behind Hull. (Id. at
32 ll. 16-23.) Plaintiff testified that Hull was standing
“inside the screen door area” and
“believe[d]” the officer was positioned where the
wooden door would have been if it were shut. (Id. at
41 ll. 21-22; 42 ll. 3-5.) Hull stood in the doorway facing
outward, blocking plaintiff from entering while the landlord
inspected the apartment. (Id. at 47 ll. 4-13.) The
inspection lasted ten to fifteen minutes, and plaintiff was
neither arrested nor detained.
is no evidence before the Court to suggest that Officer Hull
entered the apartment to conduct a search, or that his mere
presence in the doorway of the apartment was a violation of
plaintiff's reasonable privacy expectations when he knew
the landlord was coming to inspect the apartment. The wooden
door was open before Hull and the landlord arrived and
plaintiff willingly stepped out onto the porch. Accordingly,
the Court grants Hull's motion for summary judgment.
See Simmons v. Catton, 764 F.Supp.2d 1012, 1018-19
(C.D. Ill. 2011) (granting summary judgment to officer when
his “presence on Plaintiff's property did not
represent a significant intrusion into Plaintiff's
privacy” because the officer did not enter
plaintiff's home and at most looked into plaintiff's
window and around the yard); Stepney v. City of
Chi., No. 07 C 5842, 2010 WL 4226525, at *4 (N.D. Ill.
Oct. 20, 2010) (granting summary judgment to officer who was
standing in plaintiff's backyard and did not conduct a
search); Johnson v. City of Prospect Heights, No. 05
C 5715, 2008 WL 4379043, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 21, 2008)
(holding that defendant officer did not conduct an
unreasonable search and stating even though officer may have
stood in the doorway of plaintiff's home, “[t]here
[were] no allegations or any factual evidence that [the
officer] went beyond [this] very minimal intrusion”).
Because the Court has found that there is no issue of
material fact as to whether a constitutional violation
occurred, summary judgment in favor of the City will be
entered on the indemnification count. See Askew v. City
of Chi., No. 04 C 3863, 2005 WL 1027092, at *10 (N.D.
Ill. Apr. 6, 2005) (granting summary judgment in favor of the
City on indemnification when summary judgment was granted in
favor of the officer defendants).
reasons set forth above, defendants' motion for summary
judgment  ...