United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CINDY C. IRONS, Plaintiff,
VILLAGE OF DOLTON, a municipal corporation, MARLON HARRIS, LEWIS LACEY, and JOEL McQUEEN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. THARP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Cindy C. Irons sues the Village of Dolton and three of its
police officers in connection with her arrest at her
daughter's high school in April 2015. The Amended
Complaint alleges three Counts and seeks compensatory and
punitive damages. Though the Complaint itself does not
identify the bases for those Counts with perfect clarity,
Irons asserts in her Response brief-and language in the
Complaint supports her assertions-that Count I brings a state
law claim for false arrest and imprisonment against the three
officers (and the Village of Dolton based on the theory of
respondeat superior); Count II asserts a state law
claim for battery, again against the three officers and the
Village as their employer; and Count III brings a claim
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of her rights
under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against the three
officers only, both in their individual and official
capacities. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 15; Pl. Resp. at
2, ECF No. 56. Defendant Lewis Lacey seeks summary judgment
in his favor as to all three Counts. Defendant Marlon Harris
seeks summary judgment in his favor on Count II, and on the
excessive force component of Count III. Defendant Joel
McQueen seeks summary judgment as to Irons' false arrest
claims, and further argues that any claims Irons brings
against him in his official capacity must be dismissed as
redundant of Irons' claims against the Village.
issue of whether the police officer defendants had probable
cause to arrest Irons is riddled with material questions of
fact that impact all of Irons' claims. Because of that
pervasive factual problem, the defendants' Motions for
Summary Judgment largely fail. Lacey is granted summary
judgment only as to Count II and the excessive force
component of Count III. In all other respects, the Motions
story begins at Thornridge High School. On April 23, 2015,
Plaintiff Cindy Irons drove her daughter the school, dropping
her off between 7:00 and 7:15 a.m. Harris and Lacey's
Statement of Facts (“Defs. SOF”) ¶ 1, ECF
No. 49; see also McQueen SOF ¶ 1, ECF No. 46.
Shortly thereafter, Shavona called Irons in a panic to say
that other girls had “tried to jump on me” and
that she had just been involved in a fight. Irons Dep.,
18:7-10, Apr. 28, 2016, ECF No. 46-1; Defs. SOF ¶ 2;
McQueen SOF ¶ 3. Irons returned to the school, where she
met with Shavona and Steve Valant, a school administrator, in
Valant's office area. Defs. SOF ¶ 3. Irons'
daughter had previously told Irons, before Irons arrived back
at the school, that she had been suspended for ten days as a
result of the fight, and Irons asked Valant upon her arrival
why her daughter had been “suspended for defending
herself.” Irons Dep., 26-28; see also Defs.
SOF ¶ 3; McQueen SOF ¶¶ 5-6. While Irons was
talking to Valant, she also had her phone to her ear with her
own mother on the line. Irons Dep., 29:17-20; Defs. SOF
uniformed police officers-defendants Harris, Lacey, and
McQueen-then arrived and entered the inner office where
Irons, Shavona, and Valant were gathered. Defs. SOF ¶ 5.
Officer McQueen testified at his deposition in this case that
when he arrived at the school, he heard “[l]ots of
shouting, yelling, [and] profanities.” McQueen Dep.,
54:22-23, May 12, 2016, ECF No. 46-2; McQueen SOF ¶ 8.
Irons denies the accuracy of that description; she testified
at her own deposition that she was not angry when she asked
Valant about the suspension but that she then “got
angry when the police came.” Irons Dep. 28:20-22;
see also Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF ¶ 8, ECF No.
57. Lacey asked Irons for her name, to which Irons replied,
“Cindy, ” while she still had her own mother on
the phone. Defs. SOF ¶ 6. Irons then hung up with her
mother, saying she would call her back, and gave the officers
her last name. Defs. SOF ¶ 7. Irons and the officers
left Valant's inner office and moved into the
administrative outer office. Id. Lacey asked Irons
to step out into the hallway with Harris and McQueen, which
Irons did; Lacey, meanwhile, remained in Valant's office.
Defs. SOF ¶ 9; McQueen SOF ¶ 11. Irons began
complaining about the fact that Lacey and Valant were now in
the office meeting with Shavona without Irons. Defs. SOF
¶ 10. At some point, Irons resumed her phone
conversation with her mother and told her that,
“they've got her in there by herself and
they're questioning her and they've got me out here
in the hallway.” Id. ¶ 11; see
also Irons Dep. 41:2-5.
told Irons to get off the phone, but Irons instead stepped
into the girls' bathroom, where she continued her phone
conversation. Defs. SOF ¶ 12. When Irons came out of the
bathroom, Harris said to her, “Didn't I tell you to
hang up your phone?” Id. ¶ 14. Irons
responded that she did not have to hang up her phone, that
she was “grown, ” and that Harris did not pay her
bill. Id. Irons admits that she was probably
“pretty loud” when she told Harris, “You
don't pay my bill.” Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF; Irons
Dep. 46:22-23. At that point, while standing in the hallway
in front of the door to Valant's office area, Harris
grabbed Irons' arm and told her she was under arrest.
Defs. SOF ¶ 15. Harris began to handcuff Irons' left
arm while Irons held her phone in her right hand.
Id. ¶ 16. McQueen had been in the restroom
during the start of the arrest process, but now emerged from
the restroom, grabbed Irons' right arm and brought it
behind her, and said that Irons was resisting arrest, a point
Irons disputed. Id.; McQueen SOF ¶ 22; Irons
Dep. 48:15-22. McQueen also took Irons' phone out of her
right hand. Defs. SOF ¶ 19. Harris completed handcuffing
Irons' left hand, but Irons is not sure who completed
cuffing her right hand. McQueen SOF ¶¶ 23-24.
then came into the hallway, and Harris and McQueen walked
Irons down the hallway. Id. ¶ 25; Defs. SOF
¶ 21. Lacey never touched Irons. Defs. SOF ¶ 21.
Irons testified that there was nothing painful about
“what Harris was doing, ” but also testified that
McQueen was holding her right arm too tightly, and that
McQueen held her arm the entire walk from the school building
to the police squad car that was parked outside. Defs. SOF
¶¶ 23-24; Irons Dep. 56:5- 57:16. Irons testified
that McQueen exerted “[a] lot of pressure” and
that “[i]t was painful.” Irons Dep. 56:17-21. The
defendants all deny that McQueen exerted too much pressure or
caused Irons pain. McQueen Resp. to Pl. SOF ¶ 5, ECF No.
69; Defs. Resp. to Pl. SOF ¶ 5, ECF No. 67. Once outside
and near the squad car, Harris told Irons, “[Y]ou just
need to calm down, because your daughter is in there, you
need to get back to her.” Defs. SOF ¶ 25; Irons
Harris or McQueen asked Irons for her driver's license,
and after Irons indicated to that the license was in her
jacket pocket, Harris removed it and handed it to McQueen.
Defs. SOF ¶ 26; Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF ¶ 26. At
some point, Irons sat in the back of the squad car, with the
door left open and her feet still outside the vehicle. Defs.
SOF ¶ 27; Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF ¶ 27. Lacey then
joined the other officers and Irons, and instructed Harris to
remove the handcuffs from Irons, which Harris did. Defs. SOF
¶ 28; McQueen SOF ¶ 28. Lacey told Irons that she
needed to calm down, and that Harris was going to issue her a
ticket for disorderly conduct because she was “too
emotional.” Defs. SOF ¶ 29; Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF
¶ 29; McQueen SOF ¶ 29. Irons complained about
McQueen's conduct after Harris removed the handcuffs and
while Harris was writing out her ticket. Defs. SOF ¶ 30;
Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF ¶ 30. Irons testified that she
told Lacey that “he abused me” and that
“[h]e had my arm too tight, ” and testified that
she took her jacket off and showed Lacey that her arm was
red.” Irons Dep. 63:8-14; Pl. SOF ¶ 6.
was sitting in his squad as Harris wrote out the ticket, and
Lacey approached McQueen and spoke to him before McQueen
pulled off and drove away. Defs. SOF ¶ 31; McQueen SOF
¶ 30. Irons asked Lacey for McQueen's badge number,
which Lacey provided to her. Defs. SOF ¶ 32. Lacey and
Harris then left the scene, and Irons returned to the school
to retrieve her daughter and speak with Valant about the
terms of her suspension. Id. Irons then left the
school. Id. She went to the emergency room at
Ingalls Hospital, where she received an X-ray. Id.
¶ 33. A doctor told her at the hospital that she had a
“sprained [right] arm” in the area of “the
upper middle arm between the elbow and shoulder.” Irons
Dep. 67:8-15; Defs. SOF ¶ 33. Irons also had scratches
on her inner arm, and she testified that she believes those
scratches resulted from McQueen's hands and fingernails.
Irons Dep. 67:16-24; 68:1-7; Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF ¶
33. Irons had been wearing a thin jacket at the time of her
arrest. Irons Dep. 69:9-10. Irons also visited her own
regular physician a few days after the incident, and he told
her to continue using ice packs and to take the ibuprofen
pain pills that the hospital physician had prescribed for her
if she experienced pain. Id. 70:15-71:10. Irons
admits that Harris did not injure her. Pl. Resp. to Defs. SOF
¶ 35. She also admits that Lacey did not touch her, or
“initially place her under arrest, ” but argues
in her filings that he “ratified the charges placed by
Harris.” Id. ¶ 36.
village hearing officer found against Irons on the disorderly
conduct charge. Pl. SOF ¶ 15. Irons then pursued
administrative review in the Circuit Court of Cook County,
Sixth Municipal District, and a judge in that court found
that the charging document was “defective” and
that the Village had failed to prove its case at the hearing.
Id. ¶ 17. That court reversed the ruling
against Irons and vacated the $250 fine that the village
hearing officer had levied against her. Id.
judgment is appropriate “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.” EEOC
v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 809 F.3d 335, 339 (7th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). A genuine dispute as to a
material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Kvapil v. Chippewa Cnty., 752 F.3d
708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014). When considering a motion for
summary judgment, the Court construes the facts and makes all
reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Jajeh v. Cnty. of Cook, 678 F.3d 560, 566 (7th Cir.
2012). “[D]istrict courts presiding over summary
judgment proceedings may not weigh conflicting evidence . . .
or make credibility determinations.” Omnicare, Inc.
v. UnitedHealth Grp., Inc., 629 F.3d 697, 704 (7th Cir.
2011) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Rather, the
Court's role is “to determine whether there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Tolan v. Cotton, 134
S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014).