April 17, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15-cv-02407 -
Andrea R. Wood, Judge.
Manion, Sykes, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Vergara, Carlos Ruiz, and Jose Garcia filed a civil-rights
lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police
Officers John Dal Ponte, Boonserm Srisuch, and Perry Nigro.
The defendants moved to dismiss the suit as untimely. The
plaintiffs asked the district judge to equitably estop the
defendants from raising the limitations defense, claiming
that the officers intimidated them into silence.
judge dismissed the suit in a minute order saying she would
later file an opinion explaining her reasons. The promised
opinion came almost two years later, and the plaintiffs then
appealed. Under the Rules of Appellate Procedure, however,
entry of judgment for appeal purposes occurred 150 days after
the judge's minute order, see Fed. R. Apr P.
4(a)(7)(A), and the 30-day time to file a notice of appeal
ran from that date, see Walker v. Weatherspoon, 900
F.3d 354, 356 (7th Cir. 2018). The appeal was therefore
defendants noted the untimeliness problem in their docketing
statement, but this filing too was quite late. Our
circuit's rules require the appellee to identify errors
in the appellant's docketing statement within 14 days.
7th CIR. R. 3(c)(1); see Hamer v. Neighborhood Hous.
Sews, of Chi., 897 F.3d 835, 839 (7th Cir. 2018). The
defendants missed that deadline by about six months.
disentangling this procedural web, we decline to dismiss the
appeal. The defendants' objection to the Rule 4(a)
violation came too late under Circuit Rule 3(c)(1). But the
suit is untimely, and our precedent forecloses the
plaintiffs' equitable estoppel theory. We affirm.
case comes to us from a dismissal on the pleadings, so we
accept the following facts from the plaintiffs' complaint
as true. See Price v. City of Chicago, 915 F.3d
1107, 1109 (7th Cir. 2019). In September 2011 Chicago Police
Officers Dal Ponte, Srisuch, and Nigro stopped and searched
the plaintiffs without justification and took them to Homan
Square, a notorious police warehouse that was later exposed
as a den of police misconduct. There the officers
interrogated the plaintiffs for eight or nine hours, omitting
Miranda warnings and ignoring their repeated
requests for an attorney. The plaintiffs were denied food,
water, and access to a bathroom, and the officers tried to
coerce false confessions from them. The officers also
threatened to file false charges against the plaintiffs if
they told anyone about their mistreatment at Homan Square.
plaintiffs were released only after they agreed to keep quiet
about what had happened. Over the next two weeks, the
officers told the plaintiffs they "were watching"
them. Fearing for their safety, the plaintiffs did not seek
legal redress for this police misconduct.
early 2015 the Guardian newspaper ran an expose on
Homan Square, and at that point the plaintiffs felt secure
enough to speak to an attorney. In March they sued the City
and the three officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging a
raft of constitutional violations. But the suit came three
and a half years after their detention, so the defendants
moved to dismiss it as untimely under the applicable two-year
statute of limitations.
March 31, 2016, the district judge issued a minute order
dismissing the suit "[f]or the reasons stated in the
Memorandum Opinion and Order to follow." The judge
issued her opinion almost two years later, on January 31,
2018, together with a Rule 58 judgment. See Fed. R.
Civ. R 58(a). On February 6, 2018, the plaintiffs filed their
notice of appeal and docketing statement.
then, however, the time to appeal had long since expired. A
notice of appeal is due 30 days after entry of the judgment
or order appealed from, but when the district court omits a
separate Rule 58 judgment, "entry" occurs 150 days
after the judgment or order is entered on the court docket.
See Fed. R. Apr P. 4(a)(7)(A). Here the judge
dismissed the case by minute order entered on March 31, 2016.
By operation of Rule 4(a)(7)(A), that order was deemed