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Judge Jorge Alonso in the Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of Village of New Lenox police officers in Lofgren v. Wojowski, et al., Case No. 14 C 7869, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134247 (N.D. Ill. September 29, 2016). An off-duty Chicago Police Officer, following his arrest for possession of controlled substances, alleged that he was arrested without probable cause, and that the New Lenox officers conspired to violate his Fourth Amendment rights. Prescription narcotics were found by New Lenox officers in a parking lot where the off-duty Chicago police officer had been standing following the arrest of his companion for driving under the influence. The Court found that the Plaintiff’s evasiveness during the investigation, his contradictory statements about the narcotics during questioning, and the circumstantial evidence of his possession of the recovered narcotics provided the officers with probable cause to arrest him. Furthermore, the Court found that the officers would have been entitled to qualified immunity for the arrest. Michael Bersani and Tony Fioretti defended the New Lenox Officers and the Village of New Lenox against the claims by the Chicago police officer.

Lofgren v. Wojowski

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Summary judgment was granted in correctional officer’s favor in Patterson v. Brown, et al., No. 15-cv-02002-SLD, where an inmate alleged that the force used against him was excessive. The inmate was tased after refusing to follow orders and moved into a defensive position towards the officers. The court found that the inmate was belligerent, cursed at the officers, repeatedly refused orders, and moved towards them. The court concluded that the officer acted reasonably in tasing him, finding that it was the only tactic left to the officer to enforce compliance with the officer’s orders. The court further held that the few hour delay between the use of the Taser and giving the inmate medical attention was de minimis and did not establish a claim for deliberate indifference. Michael Condon and Anthony Becknek represented the correctional officer.

Patterson v. Brown

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The Will County Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Village of Romeoville in Enbridge Energy, LP. v. Vill. of Romeoville, et al., No. 11 L 727 (Will Co. Aug. 10, 2016). Enbridge Energy sued the Village and a private property owner, Northfield Block, following a September 2010 oil spill. Enbridge alleged that a leaking water pipe, serving Northfield Block, caused the release of oil. The Court found that the Village was immune pursuant to the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act because the Village did not have timely notice of the condition that caused the spill. The Court also found that the Village was entitled to discretionary immunity for their decisions concerning preventative maintenance on the water line, and their decisions following notice of the water and oil leaks. Michael Bersani and Yordana Wysocki represented the Village in its defense against the claims made by Enbridge and Northfield Block.

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Federal Central District Judge Colin Bruce granted summary judgment in favor of correctional staff in Vazquez v. Wilson, et al., No. 14-2300 (C.D. Aug. 11, 2016). A jail inmate alleged that the jail nurse and correctional officer were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs following the removal of his wisdom tooth. He alleged that he did not receive the prescribed antibiotics for 56 hours following his oral surgery and that the officer refused to take him to the ER for further treatment several days later. The Court found no deliberate indifference in the 56-hour delay of prescription antibiotics and found no evidence that the officer ignored or interfered with the prescribed treatment or that the inmate demonstrated any objective conditions that would suggest he faced a life-threatening situation when he demanded to go to the ER. Thus, no constitutional violation occurred. Michael Condon and Anthony Becknek represented the defendant correctional staff.

Vazquez v. Wilson, et al.

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In Briseno v. Bukowski, et al., No. 14-2263 (C.D. Aug. 17, 2016), the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Sheriff and jail correctional staff, finding that the inmate failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The inmate was unable to demonstrate that he filed timely grievances with the correctional staff. The Court held a hearing pursuant to Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739 (7th Cir. 2008), and took evidence including the inmate’s testimony. The Court did not find the inmate’s testimony credible and entered judgment for the Defendants. Michael Condon and Anthony Becknek represented the defendant correctional staff.

Briseno v. Bukowski, et al.

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Chuck Hervas and Michael Bersani will be speaking at the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Civil Law Conference on September 30, 2016, on defending religious claims against jails and correctional staff under §1983, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

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Anthony Becknek is moderating a civil rights seminar/committee meeting on Prison Litigation for the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association on September 21, 2016, from 12:00-2:00 at the CBA Building. Jason Rose will be presenting on the defense bar panel.

For further information contact abecknek@hcbattorneys.com.

Christine Jordanov, our law clerk, starts law school this month! Join us in wishing her well.

7/20/16: Yordana Wysocki’s article on the impact of Kingsley v. Hendrickson on jail litigation was published in the July 2016 issue of For the Defense, a defense bar journal.

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7/12/16: Mike Bersani and Tony Fioretti won summary judgment in a police officer’s favor in Morris v. Smith, et al. Police responded to a call for domestic battery. The victim reported the battery and had visible injuries but no arrests were made. A few days later, the victim filed a citizen’s complaint against the responding officers for failure to make an arrest. Following her complaint, police arrested the plaintiff, who later sued for false arrest. The Court found that the victim’s report, coupled with her visible injuries, established probable cause for the offense of domestic battery and granted summary judgment in favor of the internal investigations officer. HC&B represented the officer, while Ancel Glink represented the Village.

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