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).

 

Supreme Court Highlights Re: Statute Of Limitations In False Arrest Claims

Here are some highlights from the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Andrew Wallace v. Kato, et al regarding the statute of limitations in false arrest claims. First, the court noted that "[w]hile we have never stated so expressly, the accrual date of a 1983 cause of action is a question of federal law that is not resolved by reference to state law."  Second, the court stated that "limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends." Third, the court held that "a false imprisonment ends once the victim becomes held pursuant to such process - when, for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges." In the case of Andre Wallace, the Supreme Court concluded that "the statute of limitations on petitioner's 1983 claim commenced to run when he appeared before the examining magistrate and was bound over for trial." Since more than two years (Illinois statute of limitations for personal injury torts) had elapsed between the date when Wallace appeared before the magistrate and was bound over for trial and the filing of his suit, his action was time-barred.

False Arrest Claims - Statute of Limitations

The United States Supreme Court recently held oral argument in Wallace v. City of Chicago, a case which arose out of the arrest of Andre Wallace on charges of murder. After being released from custody in 2002, Wallace filed suit against the City of Chicago and two detectives, alleging, among other things, a false arrest claim. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the false arrest claim, finding the claim to be time-barred. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding the statute of limitations had begun to run on the false arrest claim at the time of arrest. Wallace filed a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, challenging the Seventh Circuit's determination that his false arrest claim was time-barred and noting that other federal appeals courts have held that the statute of limitations does not begin to run on a false arrest claim until the underlying charges are dismissed. The United States Supreme Court granted Wallace's petition and oral argument was held on November 6, 2006. A decision on this important issue is expected by the Spring of 2007.