United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee, United States District Judge.
Christel Van Dyke is the maternal grandmother and former
foster parent of K.C., a minor. In 2013, employees from
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (“LSSI”) and
the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
(“DCFS”) came to Plaintiff's home and removed
K.C. from the home.
upon these events, Plaintiff, now proceeding pro se,
has sued Defendants Linda Fultz and Melissa Johnson, two LSSI
employees. Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for violations of the Fourth and First Amendments,
alleging that Defendants unreasonably entered her home to
remove K.C. and retaliated against her for exercising her
right to free speech. Defendants have moved for summary
judgment. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants'
motion is granted.
is the former foster mother and maternal grandmother of a
minor named K.C. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 1, ECF
No. 180. At the time of the events in question, Defendant
Fultz worked as a case worker for LSSI, id. ¶
3, and Defendant Johnson worked as a manager for LSSI,
id. ¶ 4.
took protective custody of K.C. in November 2011, after K.C.
became the subject of juvenile court proceedings in the
Circuit Court of Winnebago County, Illinois. Id.
¶ 7. DCFS contracted with LSSI to provide child welfare
services to K.C. and his family. Id. ¶ 8.
Accordingly, LSSI placed K.C. in foster care with Plaintiff
in December 2011. Id. ¶ 9. At that time,
Plaintiff signed a Relative Caregiver Placement Agreement,
which forbade Plaintiff from, among other things, allowing
K.C.'s birth parents to reside in Plaintiff's home
without DCFS's knowledge and approval, or arranging
medical treatment for K.C. without approval. Id.
¶ 11. In January 2012, Plaintiff also signed the Foster
Parent Placement Agreement, which stated that LSSI reserved
the right to remove K.C. from Plaintiff's home if it were
deemed to be in the child's best interests. Id.
alleges that, during the time K.C. was under her foster care,
he reported to her that his biological father, R.C., was
sexually abusing him during his court-ordered visitation
hours. Id. ¶¶ 14-15; 4th Am. Compl. ¶
13, ECF No. 115. Plaintiff reported this alleged sexual abuse
to Defendants, the DCFS child abuse hotline, and the police.
Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 15. Plaintiff refused
to permit further required visits between K.C. and his
father,  but the juvenile court ordered her to
allow the visits to continue. Id. ¶ 16.
Plaintiff then petitioned the juvenile court to suspend
R.C.'s visitation rights. Id. ¶ 17.
Plaintiff failed to appear with K.C. at the February 2013
hearing to address Plaintiff's compliance with R.C.'s
visitation rights. Id. ¶ 18. Soon thereafter,
Defendant Johnson determined to remove K.C. from
Plaintiff's foster care. Id. ¶ 20.
on February 26, 2013, Fultz went to Plaintiff's residence
to remove K.C. from Plaintiff's care, and Plaintiff
answered the door. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Whether
Plaintiff then gave Fultz permission to enter her residence
remains unclear. Plaintiff suggests that she cracked the door
open slightly and that Fultz then pushed the door and entered
without consent. Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3)
Stmt. ¶ 27. Defendants deny that Fultz entered without
consent. Defs.' Resp. Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 26, ECF No.
point, two Tinley Park Police Department officers were called
to the scene. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 28. In
their depositions, the officers stated that, upon their
arrival, Plaintiff did not complain of any unprofessional
conduct on Fultz's part and that the officers did not see
any signs of a forced entry into Plaintiff's apartment.
Id. ¶¶ 30-32.
during Fultz's visit to Plaintiff's home, Fultz
provided Plaintiff with a notice of Change of Placement of
K.C., id. ¶ 33, and Fultz eventually left
Plaintiff's residence with K.C., id. ¶ 35.
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). To survive summary judgment, the
nonmovant 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), and instead must “establish
some genuine issue for trial such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict in her favor.” Gordon v.
FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir.
evidence considered for summary judgment “must be
admissible if offered at trial, except that affidavits,
depositions, and other written forms of testimony can
substitute for live testimony.” Malin v. Hospira,
Inc., 762 F.3d 552, 554-55 (7th Cir. 2014). In
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court gives the
nonmovant “the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and
reasonable inferences that could be drawn from it.”
Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, LLP, 719
F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013).
Rule 56 “requires the district court to grant a motion
for summary judgment after discovery ‘against a party
who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.'” Silverman v. Bd. of Educ. of City of
Chi.,637 F.3d 729, 743 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).
The moving party has the initial burden of establishing that
there is no genuine issue of material fact. See
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Once the moving party has
sufficiently demonstrated the absence of a ...