Judge Castillo grants, in part, summary judgment in Warfield

Warfield v. City 2008 WL 2764862 (July 16, 2008) Judge Castillo granted in part summary judgment in Warfield v. City 05 C 3712. The Court ruled that plaintiffs, like an innocent bystanders, cannot recover for be shot by police, under a Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment theory. Under the Fourth, since plaintiff were "not the intended targets of the officers' bullets. In Bublitz v. Cottey, for example, a family was killed after their vehicle collided with the car of a fleeing felon when police officers used a tire-deflation device to stop the felon's car. 327 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir.2003). In that case, the Seventh Circuit reasoned that just because the officer intended to stop the felon's car, it does not follow that he therefore intended to stop any other car that could potentially become involved in a subsequent collision. Id. The Court held that the family's suffering was an "accidental and wholly unintended consequence;" because the family "was simply not the intended object" of the defendant officers' attempts to seize the fleeing criminal. Id. Therefore, the Fourth Amendment was not implicated and could not provide the basis for a Section 1983 claim. Id. Similarly, in the instant case, Plaintiffs were not the intended object of the officers' attempts to seize Smith, and so the Fourth Amendment is not implicated here." Under the Fourteenth: The Court explained that "[O]nly the most egregious official conduct can be said to be 'arbitrary in the constitutional sense...." Bublitz, 327 F.3d at 490. When officers are faced with a "dangerous, fluid situation, in which they were forced to make decisions in haste, under pressure," their conduct does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment unless it "shocks the conscience." Schaefer, 153 F.3d at 797-98 (citing Lewis, 523 U.S. at 846-47). In these cases, "even precipitate recklessness fails to inch close enough to harmful purpose to spark the shock that implicates the concerns of substantive due process." Id. "The sine qua non of liability" in these cases is "a purpose to cause harm." Id. In Schaefer, the defendant officers fired their weapons at a husband who was holding his wife hostage, and accidentally fatally shot the wife. Id. at 798-99. The Seventh Circuit held that the officers' conduct did not "shock the conscience" because the officers did not intend to shoot the wife. Id." The Court applied that same standard in this case where the officers "were in the type of "dangerous, fluid situation" to which the shocks the conscience standard applies. Smith had just pointed a gun at Officers Chatman and Collier, and the officers were giving chase. To "shock the conscience," the officers must have intended to cause harm to Plaintiffs. Schaefer, 153 F.3d at 798-99. Although the parties dispute whether the officers knew Plaintiffs were in the vestibule when the officers fired their guns, there is no evidence of any intention or purpose on the part of the officers to cause harm to Plaintiffs." After finding that no 4th or 14th amendment violation occurred from the shooting, Judge Castillo granted summary judgment on plaintiff's IIED claim explaining: "Plaintiffs have not presented evidence that they suffered sever emotional distress...the innocent bystander shot during Officers Chatman's and Collier's pursuit of Smith, is not a plaintiff in this case. In essence, all that remains are Plaintiffs' complaints of "fright, horror, grief, shame, humiliation, [and] worry," which are not sufficient to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress." However, Judge Castillo denied summary judgment on plaintiff's unlawful detention claim and explained that a question of fact existed as to whether plaintiffs who were brought to the police station for questioning were free to leave. Trial will be set on the remaining unlawful detention and false imprisonment claims of the multiple plaintiffs. Eileen Rosen of Rock Fusco and Andrew M. Hale of Andrew M. Hale & Associates represent the CIty of Chicago and the police officers. Jon Loevy of Loevy and Loevy represent the plaintiffs.
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