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Johnson v. City of East Peoria

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

August 28, 2019

CITY OF EAST PEORIA, et al., Defendants.


          James E. Shadid United States District Judge.

         Now before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 34). Plaintiff has filed a Response (Doc. 37) and Defendants have filed a Reply (Doc. 42). The matter is therefore ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion (Doc. 34) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


         The following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff Douglas Johnson has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and partial symptomatic epilepsy, although the latter diagnosis came after the incident giving rise to this suit. (Docs. 42 at 3, 37 at 5-6). Prior to August 22, 2016, Plaintiff had suffered two seizures, at least one of which was related to head trauma. (Docs. 37 at 5, 42 at 6).

         On August 22, 2016, Plaintiff was doing schoolwork and watching television in his second-floor bedroom with his girlfriend, Ahna Ayler. (Doc. 42 at 17). Plaintiff began convulsing, foaming at the mouth, and making choking noises as his eyes became unfocused and rolled back in his head. (Doc. 42 at 2). Ayler called for Plaintiff's mother, Susan O'Neal, and telephoned 911, informing the operator Plaintiff was having a seizure. (Doc. 42 at 2, 8).

         Defendants Erick Duckworth, Grant Hangartner, Kim Riggenbach, and Sam Sauder are firefighters and emergency medical technicians. (Doc. 34 at 1). Along with Zachery Knaus, who is not a party to this case and was then an intern with the East Peoria Fire Department (Doc. 34-9 at 4), Defendants Duckworth, Hangartner, Riggenbach, and Sauder were dispatched to respond to the 911 call. (Doc. 37 at 1).

         The accounts begin to diverge at this point, but the broad outlines remain undisputed. Knaus, Defendant Sauder, and Defendant Hangartner approached the house and briefly spoke with O'Neal, before proceeding upstairs. (Doc. 37 at 6, 2). Defendants Duckworth and Riggenbach set up a cot outside of the house. (Doc. 37 at 2). The parties do not agree precisely what Plaintiff's condition was when the present Defendants and Knaus arrived in his room, but at minimum he was either not speaking or not speaking coherently and did not appear fully oriented. (Docs. 34 at 4, 37 at 6, 42 at 9). They then spoke with Ayler and O'Neal. (Doc. 37 at 7). Defendant Sauder instructed Plaintiff to walk to the cot outside; although Plaintiff needed to be directed, he walked under his own power down the stairs. (Docs. 34 at 5, 37 at 7-8).

         Between the bottom of the stairs and the front door, Plaintiff's pants began to fall down and Defendant Sauder attempted to pull them up. (Docs. 37 at 8, 42 at 10). Plaintiff turned at least the top half of his body in a manner Defendants Riggenbach and Sauder state they found aggressive. (Docs. 37 at 8, 42 at 10). He then ran out the front door, down the front steps, and into the driveway, falling three times as he ran. (Docs. 37 at 8-9, 42 at 10-11). Defendant Sauder and Knaus, along with at least one other Defendant-Defendants initially stated it was Riggenbach, which Plaintiff disputes, but admit it was Hangartner in their Reply-followed Plaintiff out and were able to catch up with him. (Docs. 37 at 9-10, 42 at 2). What happened next is disputed in large part, but the parties agree that Defendant Sauder bear-hugged Plaintiff, both Defendant Sauder and Plaintiff ended up on the ground, and Defendants Duckworth, Riggenbach, [1] and Sauder, along with Knaus, restrained Plaintiff on the ground. (Docs. 37 at 10, 42 at 11-12). What is disputed is whether Plaintiff was disoriented while running (Doc. 42 at 10-11), whether Plaintiff was behaving aggressively (Doc. 37 at 10), whether Plaintiff was prone or supine on the ground (Docs. 37 at 10-11, 42 at 11-12), and how Defendants restrained Plaintiff (Docs. 37 at 10-13; 42 at 11-12, 15). Defendants state, and Plaintiff disputes, that at some point Plaintiff struck Defendant Duckworth in the jaw. (Docs. 34 at 7, 37 at 12).

         Defendants called the police. (Doc. 37 at 13). Defendant Bradley Catton, an officer with the East Peoria Police Department, arrived and handcuffed Plaintiff. (Doc. 37 at 2). Defendant S.H. Gann, another police officer, arrived subsequently. (Doc. 37 at 14). Plaintiff was loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. (Doc. 37 at 2). At some point, Defendants Duckworth, Riggenbach, and Sauder told Defendant Catton that Plaintiff had struck Defendant Duckworth in the face. (Doc. 37 at 13). Plaintiff was arrested for aggravated battery by Defendant Catton five days later, with Defendant Catton having learned in the interim that Plaintiff had suffered a seizure, had taken off running and stumbling, and did not recall the relevant events; Defendant Catton believed Plaintiff might have been on drugs, and indeed, asked him if he was. (Doc. 42 at 2-3). The charges were dismissed by a Tazewell County Assistant State's Attorney. (Doc. 34 at 2). Plaintiff then filed the instant suit, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Illinois tort law.

         Legal Standard

         “The 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). This burden may be met by demonstrating “an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If it is met, the non-moving party must present specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Mere allegations do not suffice; rather, the non-moving party must present admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2); Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 309 (1996).

         At summary judgment, a judge's role is to “determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial, ” not to “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court therefore construes the record “in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.” Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003).


         Defendants have moved for summary judgment on five of Plaintiff's twelve claims: (1) a § 1983 claim against the individual Defendants for violating Plaintiff's due process rights by creating or increasing the risk of harm to Plaintiff when they took him outside, harming him in the act of restraining him, or failing to stop that harm (Count 3); (2) a claim under Title II of the ADA and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act against Defendant City of East Peoria for failure to train the individual Defendants to recognize and care for persons with Plaintiff's disabilities (Count 4); (3) a claim against Defendant City of East Peoria for the same failure to train brought under § 1983 (Count 5); (4) a § 1983 claim against Defendant Catton for false arrest (Count 6); and (5) a claim for malicious prosecution against Defendant City of East Peoria (Count 7). (Doc. 34 at 2). Defendants also seek the complete dismissal of Defendant John Knapp, Fire Chief, (Doc. 34 at 2) which Plaintiff concedes is warranted (Doc. 37 at 47); the motion will accordingly be granted as to that ground.

         I. Due Process Claim (Count 3)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his substantive due process rights by (1) attempting to move him outside, unsecured, in his allegedly postictal condition; (2) forcibly restraining him while he was in a post-seizure condition; and (3) those Defendants who “were aware of the beating and did nothing to stop it” and “acted with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk that Plaintiff would be harmed.” (Doc. 25 at 6). Defendants argue this due process claim is essentially identical to Plaintiff's excessive force and failure to intervene claims, and therefore cannot stand. (Doc. 34 at 25). In response, Plaintiff focuses on the state-created danger portion of his claim. (Doc. 37 at 42-44). He purports to decline to address the elements and instead address only the argument that the claim is duplicative (Doc. 37 at 42 ...

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