Seventh Circuit Affirms Kunz v. City

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 Today the Seventh Circuit  affirmed the district court’s judgment in its entirety in Kunz v. City.

"On March 22, 1999, Jeremy Kunz spent the afternoon and evening in a bar watching March Madness and consuming a few Guinnesses....Kunz left [to run an] errand—which turned out to be the delivery of some drugs—he grazed a parked car and kept driving. His actions prompted a 911 call from a witness; Officer DeFelice and his partner responded. Despite the flashing lights on the police car, Kunz kept driving, with the police in pursuit. [the car he was driving was reported stolen]. When Kunz finally stopped the car, he got out and tried to flee on foot...[and toss his drugs]."  

"As he was being handcuffed, multiple police officers kicked Kunz, eventually causing a sharp pain later diagnosed as a broken rib. The police then dragged the injured and restrained Kunz to their squad car and took him back to the station, where they placed him in a room on a stool, still cuffed and facing DeFelice. DeFelice repeatedly punched Kunz in the face hard enough to make him pass out several times. "

Kunz plead guilty, severed his time, and then brought a lawsuit.

Kunz prevailed, winning jury verdicts against Officer DeFelice for $10,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 (later reduced to $90,000) in punitive damages, as well as a verdict against the City for another $15,000 in compensatory damages. 

The parties cross-appealed. 

The Court affirmed keeping out a retail theft conviction and affirmed the exclusion of James O'Donell, the toxicologist.   Judge Zagel excluded O'Donell because his testing was not based on a sound methodology.  Moreover, the Seventh Circuit held noted that  "O’Donnell was a 
singularly unimpressive witness. His credentials were weak, at best: his degree is called a Pharm.D.; he earned it after one year of classes, only one of which was in pharmacology. Despite the title, his Pharm.D. is not actually in pharmacology, and O’Donnell admitted elsewhere to advertising falsely that it was.

The Seventh Circuit also affirmed the exclusion of witnesses as Zagel barred their testimony  as a discovery sanction under FED. R. CIV. P. 37.  DeFelice claimed that named were in the police reports, "but with nothing to signal that they had anything useful to add. The district court found that it would place an excessive burden on the plaintiff to require him to sift through every single name turned over in discovery."

On the cross-appeal, Kunz challenged the granting of summary judgment on his unlawful detention and malicious prosecution.  Specifically, Kunz challenged the district court's denial of his theory that "the coercive force DeFelice used proximately caused his extended detention and ensuing damages...under the Fourth or Fifth Amendment.  However, Kunz did not develop his fifth amendment his "novel legal theory" at the district court level and therefore it was waived. 
 
Joseph Roddy represented Officer DeFelice, Jon Loevy represented Kunz.
 

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.