United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
26, 2014, two officers of the Joliet Police Department, James
Sinnott and William Busse, arrested Robert Iuffues Webb II on
several charges, including obstructing the officers in the
course of duty, a crime under Illinois law. The charge was
terminated through a nolle prosequi. Webb alleges
the officers and the City of Joliet violated his rights in
connection with the arrest and engaged in malicious
has filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule
12(c). The defendants have moved for summary judgment. The
Court denies Webb's motion and partially grants and
partially denies the defendants' motion.
events are central to Webb's claims: an initial
interaction on the street between Webb and the officers, a
subsequent encounter at Webb's house, and the events in
the courthouse leading to the entry of a nolle
prosequi on Webb's charge.
parties disagree about what prompted the initial encounter
between Webb and the officers. Webb, who is African-American,
claims that the officers stopped him because of his race and
his history of activism on behalf of African-American
residents. Sinnott and Busse argue that they approached Webb
during their patrol of his neighborhood because of his
concedes that the officers found him standing without shoes
on a public sidewalk while wearing torn and dirty clothing.
The defendants claim they encountered him staring into the
sky. Webb says he was surveying the area after leading a
officers approached Webb in their squad car. After Webb
refused to answer the officers' questions, one of the
officers exited the car to ask him his name and learn if he
was alright. Webb refused to answer. Webb claims that
Sinnott, while still asking him for his name or other
identification, placed his hands inside Webb's front and
back pockets. Sinnott denies this occurred.
then asked the officers why they were conducting what he
believed to be a Terry stop. The officers told Webb
that they were performing a "wellness check, " not
a Terry stop. Sinnott and Busse then approached a
neighbor to try to learn more about Webb.
Subsequent encounter at the house
the officers spoke with Webb's neighbors, Webb remained
at the location of his original interaction with the
officers. One neighbor provided the officers with Webb's
address, which was near the location of the original
interaction. The officers claim they wanted Webb's
address to find someone who could confirm his identity and
that he did not need aid. Once the officers learned
Webb's address and began to approach his house, Webb
started to run to the house.
sidewalk runs along the front of Webb's home, and a path
leads from the sidewalk to the front door of the house. Webb
intercepted the officers at the junction of the sidewalk and
the path and told them that they could not access his
property without trespassing. As Webb describes, "I . .
. posted myself in front of defendants Sinnott and Busse . .
. to block his movement onto the premises[.]" Compl.
¶ 27. Though the details differ, both parties agree that
Sinnott attempted to approach Webb's front door, but he
and Webb made contact on the path. They again made contact on
or near the steps leading to Webb's door. Sinnott and
Busse then arrested Webb for obstructing an officer.
says that after he was placed in the officers' squad car,
Sinnott went into his house and walked around indoors for
approximately ten minutes, coming out at one point to tell
Busse "you ought to see this." Webb Dep. at 69.
Sinnott says he only tried to find another party at the
residence; he denies entering Webb's house. The officers
eventually brought Webb to the police station for processing.
Webb was initially charged with several crimes, the only
charge remaining at the time of his scheduled January 2015
trial was for obstructing an officer. Webb appeared at the
courthouse and saw both officers outside the courtroom in the
morning. The prosecutor, Charlene Recio, told the officers
that Webb's case would not be heard in the morning. Webb
claims that Recio asked them to return at 1:00 p.m. Sinnott
disagrees with this account. He contends that the prosecutor
told him she would call him when it was time for trial to
begin. When the judge called Webb's case, however,
neither officer was present. The judge then re-scheduled
Webb's case for later in the afternoon. When the case was
called a second time, neither officer was present. The
prosecutor then entered a nolle prosequi, and
Webb's case was dismissed. The officers contend they were
attempting in good faith to return but did not have
sufficient time to travel to the courthouse.
December 2015, Webb filed suit against Sinnott and Busse and
the City of Joliet. His complaint includes thirteen claims.
Counts 1 through 5 are claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in
which Webb alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment for,
respectively, (1) the initial stop and search, (2) excessive
use of force, (3) false arrest, (4) false police reporting,
and (5) false imprisonment. In Count 6, Webb alleges a
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection
Clause. Count 7 is a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a) in
which Webb alleges the officers denied him the full and equal
benefit of all laws due to his race. Count 8 is a claim under
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) in which Webb alleges a conspiracy
to interfere with his civil rights. In Counts 9 through 11,
Webb alleges violations of the Illinois Constitution. Count
12 is a state-law malicious prosecution claim. Count 13 is a
section 1983 claim in which Webb alleges that the City of
Joliet is liable for its failure to train officers and for a
policy or practice of discrimination. The Court notes that
although Webb appears to allege in the body of his complaint
that Sinnott's entry into and search of his home was
improper, see Compl. ¶ 33, there is no count in
the complaint asserting a Fourth Amendment claim based on
that entry and search.
has moved for judgment on the pleadings for Counts 6, 8, 9,
and 12. The defendants have moved for summary judgment on all
of Webb's claims except for Counts 2 and 4.
has moved for judgment on the pleadings. Rule 12(c) permits
judgment on the pleadings if the moving party
"demonstrate[s] that there are no material issues of
fact to be resolved." N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor
Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452
(7th Cir. 1998). The Court may only consider the pleadings,
including the complaint, answer, and attached exhibits.
Id. "Although not typical, a plaintiff may
bring a motion under this Rule." Beattie v.
CenturyTel, Inc., 234 F.R.D. 160, 172 (E.D. Mich. 2006).
argues in his motion the Court should find that the
defendants should be deemed to have admitted paragraphs
56-64, 66, and 73-75 of his complaint. He contends that the
defendants should have conducted interviews and compiled
materials rather than claim inadequate information in their
answers to these paragraphs. As the defendants note, Webb
raised this argument in an earlier motion to strike.
See dkt. no. 14. The Court declines to deem these
allegations as admitted for the same reasons it cited in
overruling Webb's argument during the June 15, 2016
status hearing in this case.
defendants have moved for summary judgment. A party is
entitled to summary judgment if the party "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). There is no genuine dispute if "no
reasonable jury could find in favor of the non- moving
party." Smith v. Lafayette Bank & Trust
Co., 674 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2012). To decide a