United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA M. KENDALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Victor Rayas, a veteran of the United States Armed Forces,
was arrested for battery after an altercation with an officer
in the parking lot of the Jesse Brown Veterans Administration
hospital. He was tried for misdemeanor battery, but a state
court granted a motion for a directed finding in Rayas's
favor. Rayas now brings this suit under the Federal Tort
Claims Act (“FTCA”), alleging malicious
government has moved for summary judgment, arguing that Rayas
has failed to establish three required elements of his claim:
lack of probable cause, malice, and favorable termination.
(Dkt. 25). Because a genuine dispute of material fact remains
in this case and the government has not shown that the
underlying criminal case was not terminated in Rayas's
favor, the Court denies the government's Motion for
January 18, 2017, Rayas took his father to the Jesse Brown
Veterans Administration Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. (Dkt.
30 ¶ 3). Around 4:00 p.m., while his father was still
inside, Rayas went outside to smoke a cigarette and to get
his car from the parking garage so that he could pick his
father up at the building entrance. (Id. at ¶
4). Rather than walking in the covered pedestrian walkway
that leads from the hospital entrance to the parking garage,
Rayas walked outside of the walkway, by the traffic circle,
while smoking his cigarette. (Dkt. 26 ¶¶ 5, 9). He
denies, however, that he was walking in the roadway. (Dkt. 30
¶ 9). When Rayas arrived at the parking garage, he
ducked under a chain demarcating the traffic circle from the
pedestrian area at the entrance to the parking garage, still
holding his cigarette. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 10).
VA Police Sergeant Carlos Echeverry, who was dressed in his
police uniform at the time, saw Rayas cross these chains.
(Id. at ¶ 11). From this point, the
parties' accounts of what happened diverges.
to Rayas, when he entered the garage, he was met by Sgt.
Echeverry. (Dkt. 32 ¶ 8). Sgt. Echeverry told Rayas that
the chains were there for a reason, Rayas said he understood
and proceeded to his car. (Dkt. 30 ¶ 12). Sgt. Echeverry
blocked Rayas's path and moved to continue blocking Rayas
as he walked. (Dkt. 32 ¶ 9). When Rayas attempted to
walk around him, Sgt. Echeverry bumped into Rayas's chest
and pushed Rayas. (Id. at ¶ 13). Sgt. Echeverry
continued to act aggressively towards Rayas and ultimately
handcuffed and arrested Rayas. (Id. at ¶ 14).
to the government, Sgt. Echeverry heard Rayas curse as Rayas
approached the chains. (Dkt. 30 ¶ 12). Sgt. Echeverry
went up to Rayas and told Rayas that the chains were there
for safety reasons. (Id. at ¶ 12). After Rayas
crossed under the chains, Sgt. Echeverry put his hand up and
told Rayas to stop. (Dkt. 26-2 at 9). Rayas cursed in
response and bumped his chest into Sgt. Echeverry. (Dkt. 30
¶ 14). Sgt. Echeverry continued to obstruct Rayas's
path, and Rayas forcefully bumped Sgt. Echeverry for the
second time, at which point Sgt. Echeverry pushed Rayas back.
(Id. at ¶ 20). Rayas continued to try to force
past Sgt. Echeverry, and Sgt. Echeverry grabbed Rayas by the
arm and told him to put his hands on the wall. (Id.
at ¶¶ 21-22). Rayas refused to drop his cigarette
or put his hands behind his back, so Sgt. Echeverry called
for backup. (Id. at ¶ 23).
back to the undisputed facts, Sgt. Echeverry signed a
complaint against Rayas for battery in violation of 720 ILCS
5/12-3(a)(2). (Dkt. 30 ¶ 25; Dkt. 32 ¶ 15). The
complaint alleged that Rayas “[b]ecame belligerent when
Sergeant Echeverry attempted to stop him for smoking in a non
smoking area and [b]umped his chest into the chest of
Sergeant Echeverry in an attempt to get past Sergeant
Echeverry.” (Dkt. 26-2 at 87).
April 6, 2017, Rayas proceeded by bench trial in state court.
(Dkt. 30 ¶ 26). At the close of the State's case,
defense counsel moved for a directed finding. (Id.
at ¶ 29). Defense counsel argued that the State had not
shown that Rayas made the insulting or provoking contact
required for battery under 720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2). (Dkt. 26-2
at 20). The court granted Rayas's motion and found Rayas
not guilty. (Id. at 20-21). The court stated that
there was “no testimony that there was any bodily harm,
nor was there any testimony of an insulting or provoking
nature.” (Id. at 21). The judge also observed
that there was “no element in the complaint itself as
to the insulting or provoking nature” and thus, it was
a defective complaint. (Id. at 21). After Rayas
exhausted the required administrative remedies, he filed this
FTCA action seeking damages for malicious prosecution. (Dkt.
30 ¶ 34).
judgment is proper when “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); see, e.g., Reed v. Columbia St.
Mary's Hosp., 915 F.3d 473, 485 (7th Cir. 2019). The
parties genuinely dispute a material fact when “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Daugherty v.
Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact
exists, the Court must take the evidence and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the
motion. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see also
Zander v. Orlich, 907 F.3d 956, 959 (7th Cir. 2018).
prevail on a malicious prosecution claim under Illinois law,
a plaintiff must show: “(1) he was subjected to
judicial proceedings; (2) for which there was no probable
cause; (3) the defendants instituted or continued the
proceedings maliciously; (4) the proceedings were terminated
in the plaintiff's favor; and (5) there was an
injury.” Martinez v. City of Chicago, 900 F.3d
838, 849 (7th Cir. 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted).
If the plaintiff fails to prove even one of these five
elements, his claim fails. Holland v. City of
Chicago, 643 F.3d 248, 254 (7th Cir. 2011).
government argues that it is entitled to summary judgment
because Rayas cannot establish three of the five elements:
lack of probable cause, malice, and ...