Judge Hibbler Rules No Constitutional Violation in Loevy's Car Accident Case

"On May 19, 2004, 8 year old Gregory Jones and 11 sufficent year old Dantondra Mitchell were struck by an unmarked police car.  Both children were gravely injured and Jones died the next day.  The plaintiffs - parents of the children - allege the officers' reckless driving deprived the victims of their substantive due process rights.  In response, the officers moved for summary judgment and assert vehicular accidents cannot support a finding of constitutional liability. " Judge Hibbler, citing US Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit cases, agreed.  

 
The Court explained:
"The threshold question of any substantive due process challenge is whether the behavior of a state actor 'is so egregious, so outrageous that it may fairly be said to shock the contemporary conscience.'"
 
"Ultimately the [Supreme Court] held the police officers' conduct did not deprive the plaintiff of substantive due process: 'high speed chases with no intent to harm...do not give rise to liability under the Fourteenth Amendment" ...As there was no time for reflection or deliberation it cannot be said the officer's conduct was deliberately indifferent.
 
The Court also discussed the relevant Seventh Case on point, Hill v. Schobe:
In Hill, the officer - who was not chasing a suspect or responding to an emergency call - was driving over the speed limit, and failed to turn on his lights or sirens even though it was after midnight.  Subsequently, the officer ran a red light and struck and killed Robert Hill.  The Seventh Circuit held, "the officer must have knowledge of the danger so the court can "infer he intended to inflict the injury" - He must have known it "was imminent but consciously and culpably refused to prevent it." The key word is accident - "if the vehicular collision was accidental - there is no constitutional liability. "
 
As such, summary judgment was granted in favor of defendants.  
 
Jon Loevy, Arthur Loevy, Douglas Shreffler, Amanda Antholt, Michael Kanovitz, Samantha Liskow, Loevy & Loevy for plaintiffs 
 
Liza Franklin, Steve Borkan, Stellato & Schwatrz, George John Yamin, Jr., Jordan Marsh, Scott Jebson, City of Chicago , for Defendants.

Jones v. City of Chicago 04 C 3742

 

 

 

Judge Kendall Rejects Plaintiff's "Class of One" Equal Protection Claim

Plaintiff was arrested on February 18, 2005 and charged with unlawful use of a weapon... According to plaintiff, "Holden, he was frightened when a male police officer pulled up behind him in a police car while he was urinating in an alley and yelled a racial epithet at him. He ran, scaled two gates, ran through a gangway and jumped onto Pulaski Avenue where he surrendered to two male police officers who arrived in a second marked police car.  Plaintiff further claims, "[o]ne of the two arresting officers grabbed Holden's leg and “snapped it in half,” making an audible noise, while Holden was lying on the sidewalk. The officer then threw him into the open door of the police car, slammed the car door against his head several times and punched his injured leg and eye.  Plaintiff claims that the officers "decided to falsely accuse him of a robbery."  The Officers deny any force and claim they "apprehended Holden and transported him to the police station."
 
At issue on Summary Judgment was "Holden's claim that he was treated differently than other individuals who have had interaction with police officers. However, at his deposition, he could not identify another person treated differently. Holden, however, suggests that some of the actions taken against him and statements made by the officers to him establish differential treatment.
 
Specifically, "Holden argues that he suffered discrimination as a “class of one” in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. He asserts that he was discriminated against because the officers abused him, did not send the allegedly recovered weapon for fingerprinting, and did not file a tactical report even though Department regulations require that weapons be fingerprinted and officers file tactical reports when they use force."
 
The Court rejected this claim and ruled: 
"To succeed on a "class of one" equal protection claim, the plaintiff must prove that: 1) he was intentionally treated differently from other individuals similarly situated; and 2) there was no rational basis for the difference in treatment or the cause of the differential treatment was “totally illegitimate animus” by the defendant." 
 
The Defense argued "that this case is ill-suited to Equal Protection analysis and that in any case, Holden has failed to adequately demonstrate that similarly situated individuals were treated differently. Generally, whether individuals are similarly situated is a question of fact for the jury, but courts may grant summary judgment when no reasonable jury could find that this requirement has been met.  To meet the similarly situated requirement, plaintiffs must prove “that they were treated differently than someone who is prima facie identical in all relevant respects.”
 
The Court held that "[s]pecific evidence of similarly situated individuals is necessary in class of one claims because individuals must be compared on a very detailed level to determine if they are in fact prima facie identical."  As such, the Court granted defendants' partial motion for summary judgment.  
 
Abbas Badruddin Merchant, Amanda Sunshine Yarusso, Blake Wolfe Horwitz, Horwitz, Richardson & Baker LLC, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.
 
Christopher A. Wallace, Liza Marie Franklin, Thomas Howard Freitag, George John Yamin, Jr., Thomas Jon Aumann, City of Chicago , for Defendant.

Holden v. A. Carey 2008 WL 4006753 N.D.Ill.,2008 (Kendall, J).