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Hileman v. Ehler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 12, 2019



          Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Chief U.S. District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 30) filed by Defendants Josh Ehler, Jason Leek, Scott Rice, and City of Anna, Illinois. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The facts of this case are undisputed.[1] On the evening of July 19, 2015, Officer Josh Ehler observed Roderick Hileman holding a beer can and standing in the parking lot of a liquor store in Anna, Illinois (Doc. 30, Ex. 1). Hileman was intoxicated and belligerent and eventually threatened Ehler, telling him he was going to “beat” his “f***ing ass” (Id.). Ehler attempted to take Hileman into custody, but Hileman resisted and fled (Id.). Ehler chased Hileman and apprehended him after using a taser (Id.).

         Hileman was charged under Illinois law with one count of escape, three counts of obstructing a peace officer, and one count of aggravated assault (Doc. 30, Ex. 3). Hileman proceeded to a jury trial on November 15, 2017, and was found guilty on all five counts (Id.).

         On February 6, 2018, Hileman filed a Complaint in this district court, alleging he was sitting on rocks in a parking lot on July 19, 2015, when Ehler drove up in his patrol vehicle and became verbally combative (Id. at p. 2). Hileman alleges Ehler exited the vehicle, shocked him with a taser, and severely beat him (Id.). Hileman asserts he had not violated any law, and there was no probable cause for his arrest (Id.). Hileman brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) for unreasonable seizure (Count I); false arrest (Count II); excessive force (Count III); failure to intervene (Count IV); and supervisor liability (Count V) (Doc. 1). The Court has federal question jurisdiction over the Section 1983 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Hileman also brings claims under Illinois state law for indemnification (Count VI); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VII); battery (Count VIII); willful and wanton conduct (Count IX); false arrest (Count X); and respondeat superior (Count XI) (Id.). The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         On March 6, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing Hileman's Section 1983 claims are barred by the Heck doctrine, and the Court should refuse to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims (Doc. 31). Alternatively, Defendants argue they are entitled to qualified immunity, and Hileman has not produced any evidence to support his claims (Id.).

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary Judgment is only 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.” Spurling v. C & M Fine Pack, Inc., 739 F.3d 1055, 1060 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a)). Once the moving party has set forth the basis for summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who must go beyond mere allegations and offer specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986). The nonmoving party must offer more than “[c]onclusory allegations, unsupported by specific facts, ” to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. Bennington v. Caterpillar Inc., 275 F.3d 654, 658 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A “court may not assess the credibility of witnesses, choose between competing inferences or balance the relative weight of conflicting evidence . . . .” Reid v. Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, 749 F.3d 581, 586 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423 F.3d 763, 769 (7th Cir. 2005)).


         Defendants argue that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars Hileman's Section 1983 claims. In Heck, the plaintiff was convicted of manslaughter and subsequently brought suit under Section 1983 for malicious prosecution. Id. The Supreme Court held the claim was not cognizable under Section 1983 because Heck would have to prove that his underlying criminal prosecution was terminated in his favor, which would amount to a collateral attack on his conviction. Id. at 484-86. The Court held,

[W]hen a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. But if the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed, in the absence of some other bar to the suit.

Id. at 487 (emphasis in original).

         I. False Arrest and ...

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