United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ruben Battle (“Battle”), formerly a Cook County
Sheriff's Deputy, has sued Chicago Police Officer Jacob
Alderden (“Alderden”) and the City of Chicago
(collectively, “Defendants”) pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his constitutional rights
under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Battle's claims arise from an incident in
which he refused to identify a suspect in a crime that
Alderden was investigating, following which Alderden
purportedly threatened him and then reported him to the
Sheriff's department for disciplinary action. Defendants
have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated
herein, Defendants' motion  is granted.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
noted. Battle was employed as a security guard at
a Walgreens store in Chicago on March 16, 2012. Defs.' LR
56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 1, ECF No. 113. He was concurrently
employed as a sheriff's deputy by the Cook County
Sheriff's Office (“Sheriff's Office”),
but he was not on duty in that capacity on March 16.
Id. ¶ 2. He was, however, wearing a vest
emblazoned with the sheriff's star that identified him as
a sheriff's deputy on that day. Id. ¶ 50.
working at Walgreens on March 16, Battle was standing outside
the store with Jerry McGhee,  a store clerk, when he saw a man
attempting to fire a gun at a moving vehicle. Defs.' LR
56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 9, 11-14. He then saw the man
hand the gun to someone else. Id. ¶ 16. Battle
went inside the Walgreens store to report what he had seen to
Jamal Wright, the store manager. Id. ¶ 18.
Alderden, a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department, was
notified of the issue and called to the scene. Id.
¶¶ 6, 19, 21.
told Alderden that the recipient of the gun had taken it into
a nearby park. See Id. ¶ 23. He also described
the clothing the individuals had been wearing. Id.
Specifically, Battle observed that the individual carrying
the gun into the park wore a jacket with “some
lettering in the back” that “was like a square
type of a[n] area.” Id., Ex. A, Battle Dep.,
at 51:23-52:1. Alderden proceeded to the park, recovered a
gun, detained certain individuals he found there, and
conducted a “show-up identification” with
witnesses who were still at the Walgreens store. Id.
¶¶ 25-27. During the show-up, Battle told Alderden
that he could only identify the individuals by their clothing
but suggested that McGhee might be able to provide a better
identification. See Id. ¶¶ 29, 30.
being concerned for his safety, McGhee participated in the
identification process. Id. ¶¶ 35-36.
McGhee identified two individuals as having been involved in
the attempted shooting. Id., Ex. C, Alderden Dep.,
at 37:11-15. After McGhee participated in the identification
process, another officer asked Battle whether he could
identify a specific individual as one of the suspects.
Id. ¶¶ 36, 38. Battle recognized the back
of the individual's jacket as bearing the same design as
the jacket the suspects had worn. Id. ¶¶
39, 41. He could not, however, identify the suspect by his
face. Id. ¶ 42.
then told Battle he would need to come to court and identify
the suspect. Id. ¶ 44. According to Battle, he
presumed that he would be asked to identify the individual by
face, rather than identifying the person by his jacket.
Id., Ex. A, Battle Dep., at 92:5-93:3. And so Battle
refused, explaining again that he had not seen the
suspect's face. Id. ¶ 45. In response,
Alderden asked Battle, “Have you ever testified in
court before? I'll tell you what to say. If you don't
know what to say, I'll tell you what to say.”
Id. at 93:12-18; id. ¶¶ 46, 47.
At that point, again assuming that Alderden did not want him
to simply identify the person by the clothes that he wore,
but also by face, Battle became “suspicious” that
Alderden was attempting to “set [him] up to identify
who that guy was.” Id., Ex. A., Battle Dep.,
at 92:5-93:3, 94:9-14. Despite this suspicion, however,
Battle did not ask Alderden what he meant by his statement or
what Alderden wanted him to say in court, and refused to
provide any testimony at all. Id. ¶ 48.
thereafter, Alderden asked Battle what he wanted Alderden to
put in his police report, and Battle said he could not tell
him what to say. Id. ¶¶ 54, 55. Alderden
told Battle that he knew people in “high places”
at Walgreens and that he would never work at Walgreens again
if he did not cooperate with the investigation. Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 3, 4, ECF No. 126;
Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt.
¶¶ 3, 4, ECF No. 140. Battle further claims that
Alderden was “loud and belligerent in tone and
manner” toward him, which Alderden denies. Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 5; Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 5.
Alderden made an official complaint to the Sheriff's
Office stating that Battle had failed to cooperate and had
recanted a prior identification. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3)
Stmt. ¶ 58. Alderden believed that because Battle was
a law enforcement officer, he had a duty to cooperate with
other law enforcement officers. Id. ¶
The Sheriff's Office then opened an investigation into
Battle based on two separate allegations: (1) whether he had
failed to cooperate with Alderden, and (2) whether he had
filed the proper secondary employment paperwork with the
Sheriff's Office with respect to his employment at
Walgreens. Id. ¶ 67. In his complaint, Battle
alleges that he was ultimately de-deputized because of his
lack of proper secondary employment paperwork. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 17, 20, ECF No. 48. As a result of the
de-deputization, he lost his secondary employment with
Walgreens. Id. ¶ 18.
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court gives “the non-moving
party the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and reasonable
inferences that could be drawn from it.”
Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rose & Maw, LLP, 719
F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013). In order to survive summary
judgment, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the nonmovant
“must establish some genuine issue for trial such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict in [his]
favor.” Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674
F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2012).
claims that Alderden's actions denied him equal
protection of the laws as a class of one under the Fourteenth
Amendment. In addition to prohibiting the government
from discriminating on the basis of certain “immutable
characteristics, ” the Equal Protection Clause also
protects against government actors irrationally
“singling out a person for arbitrary abuse.”
Brunson v. Murray, 843 F.3d 698, 705 (7th Cir.
2016). Such a “class-of-one” claim
requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that he has suffered
“intentional, irrational, and arbitrary
discrimination.” Bell v. Duperrault, 367 F.3d
703, 707 (7th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff's burden of proof
is “very significant.” Id. at 708.
class-of-one plaintiff must show that (1) he has been
intentionally treated differently from someone who is
similarly situated and (2) there is no rational basis for the
difference in treatment. Vill. of Willowbrook v.
Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000) (per curiam). It is the
plaintiff's burden to prove the lack of a rational basis
by excluding all possible rational explanations for the
government action. Fares Pawn, LLC v. Ind. Dep't of
Fin. Insts., 755 F.3d 839, 845 (7th Cir. 2014);
Smith v. City of Chi., 457 F.3d 643, 652 (7th Cir.
2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
similarly situated comparators who were treated differently
can be used to demonstrate the absence of a rational basis.
Fares Pawn, 755 F.3d at 845. Where the lack of a
rational basis can be proven through a pattern of
discriminatory harassment alone, however, the plaintiff need
not identify a similarly situated comparator.