341 F.3d 600 (7th Cir. 2002), 01-2348, McCoy v. Harrison

Docket Nº:01-2348
Citation:341 F.3d 600
Party Name:McCoy v. Harrison
Case Date:August 22, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 600

341 F.3d 600 (7th Cir. 2002)

Tiffany McCOY, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Raymond HARRISON, in his individual capacity, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 01-2348.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 22, 2002

Argued March 1, 2002.

Page 601

Rene Hernandez (Argued), Rockford, IL, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Page 602

Diane M. Potts (Argued), Office of the Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before FLAUM, Chief Judge, BAUER and WOOD, JR., Circuit Judges.

HARLINGTON WOOD, JR., Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Tiffany McCoy ("McCoy") filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, against Raymond Harrison ("Harrison"), an animal welfare investigator for the Illinois Department of Agriculture ("IDA"), alleging a violation of the Fourth Amendment with Harrison's use of "excessive force." 1 McCoy now appeals the district court's order of summary judgment in favor of Harrison. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

We keep to the basic facts as presented by McCoy. McCoy has lived with her husband in Lee County, in northern Illinois, since 1996. Prior to that, she lived in Ogle County. At both places, she kept approximately thirty dogs, twenty-five 2 of which lived outside the house in separate kennels. McCoy maintains that the dogs at the Lee County residence were kept in private, non-commercial kennels on her property and were not used for commercial breeding or resale purposes. 3 In fact, McCoy did not have a license to run a commercial kennel or to professionally breed and sell dogs.

Harrison is an animal welfare investigator for the IDA and a member of the Lee County Board ("Board"). As an animal welfare investigator, Harrison regularly inspects breeding kennels, boarding kennels, and pet shops that are licensed by the State of Illinois. He also investigates complaints made to the IDA that relate to animals in both Lee and Ogle counties. 4

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Harrison first met McCoy in 1994 or 1995 5 in Ogle County when he and the animal control warden inspected her property for possible animal welfare violations. Harrison returned to the Ogle County property numerous times to inspect the dogs and kennels before McCoy moved to Lee County. In the course of his visits, Harrison had identified himself as being an animal investigator with the IDA, and on one occasion gave McCoy his business card and a book of IDA regulations on maintaining animals.

After McCoy moved to Lee County, Harrison visited the property several times between July 7 and November 7, 1996. He told the McCoys that they needed a variance or a zoning change to operate their kennel, that he was a member of the Lee County Board, 6 and that he would see they never received the necessary zoning. However, the McCoys never submitted an application for a zoning change and were never cited by Lee County for not having the proper zoning.

On August 27, 1996, the Lee County Animal Control Center received a call complaining about the condition of the dogs and kennels on the McCoy property. While the investigation of this complaint was ongoing, on November 7, 1996, 7 at approximately 8:00 a.m., Harrison walked onto the McCoy property. McCoy warned him several times to get off her property. Harrison proceeded to the side and back of the house towards the dog kennels, where he wanted to take pictures of the dogs and their living conditions.

According to McCoy, as Harrison attempted to open the gate of one of the kennels, she reached with her left hand to slam the gate shut, and "[t]hat's when he took his right hand and backhanded me on my face." McCoy fell to the ground and, when she looked up, Harrison was standing over her with "his hand dug into my right arm, four fingernail marks in my right arm just clenching his hand into my arm." After that, McCoy stated that "he let me go and just walked ... back down the driveway." Harrison left and McCoy called the police. Although Harrison was investigating McCoy's property as part of the complaint made in August, and stated that he took pictures on November 7, no citation was ever issued on or after November 7 against McCoy. Harrison's final contact with the McCoys was on April 2, 1997, when he returned to the property with a Lee County deputy sheriff, who inspected the kennels while Harrison remained in the car. The two left without incident and no one from the IDA has returned to the property since that date.

McCoy filed a two-count complaint against Harrison, suing him in his individual capacity as an Illinois official under count I and as a Lee County official in count II, alleging that he violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. On May 4, 2000, the district court denied summary judgment to Harrison on count I and granted summary judgment in Harrison's favor on count II. After further proceedings, on April 20, 2001, the court...

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