434 F.3d 1006 (7th Cir. 2006), 04-3614, Sornberger v. City of Knoxville, Ill.

Docket Nº:04-3614.
Citation:434 F.3d 1006
Party Name:Scott SORNBERGER and Teresa Sornberger, individually and on behalf of their children, Claude Shinall and Kayla Bowden, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF KNOXVILLE, ILLINOIS, City of Galesburg, Rick Pesci, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:January 20, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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434 F.3d 1006 (7th Cir. 2006)

Scott SORNBERGER and Teresa Sornberger, individually and on behalf of their children, Claude Shinall and Kayla Bowden, Plaintiffs-Appellants,


CITY OF KNOXVILLE, ILLINOIS, City of Galesburg, Rick Pesci, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 04-3614.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

January 20, 2006

Argued Sept. 23, 2005.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 02 C 1224--Joe Billy McDade, Judge.

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Michael Kanovitz (argued), Jon Loevy, Arthur Loevy, Loevy & Loevy, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

James M. Kelly (argued), Peoria, IL, Elizabeth A. Knight (argued), Knight, Hoppe, Kurnik & Knight, Des Plaines, IL, Heidi A. Benson, Flack, McRaven & Stephens, Macomb, IL, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before, Posner, Ripple and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

Ripple, Circuit Judge.

Scott Sornberger ("Scott") and his wife Teresa Sornberger ("Teresa")1 spent approximately four months in jail while awaiting trial for their suspected involvement in the January 12, 2000 robbery of the First Midwest Bank ("First Bank"). Eventually, a man admitting to be the true bank robber came forward, and the Sornbergers were released. They then brought this federal civil rights action, see 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Rick Pesci, the Knoxville, Illinois chief of police, the City of Galesburg, Illinois and several Galesburg police officers. The complaint alleged that the Sornbergers had been arrested without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment, that Teresa had been coerced into confessing in violation

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of her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and that the defendants unlawfully had concealed evidence. The Sornbergers also brought claims on behalf of their children for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

At the close of discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment. Teresa cross-moved for partial summary judgment on her false arrest claim against Galesburg police officer Dennis Sheppard. The district court granted in full the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and correspondingly denied Teresa's motion for partial summary judgment. The Sornbergers appealed. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court with respect to the Sornbergers' concealment of evidence claim and the children's claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. With respect to Scott's claim for unlawful arrest, we affirm the district court's determination that Officers Sheppard and Riley cannot be found liable, but we reverse the entry of summary judgment in favor of Chief Pesci and Officer Clauge. Regarding Teresa's claim for false arrest, we affirm the determination of the district court that neither Chief Pesci nor Officer Clauge may be held liable, but we reverse and remand with respect to Officers Sheppard and Riley. On Teresa's claims related to her involuntary confession, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We also reverse and remand the district court's determination that Galesburg could not be found liable on a theory of municipal liability for Teresa's claims.



A. Facts

On January 12, 2000, First Bank was robbed by a perpetrator wearing a baseball cap. Only two First Bank employees got a first-hand look at the robber, and only Tracy Clevenger, the teller who handed money to the robber, caught a glimpse of the robber's face. Clevenger described the perpetrator as male, 5'9", approximately 160 pounds, dark complected, dark eyes, dark hair, clean shaven and in his thirties. Knoxville, Illinois Chief of Police Rick Pesci was the first law enforcement official to arrive at the scene. He took the robber's description from Clevenger and called the FBI to assist in the investigation.

Initially, no eyewitness nor any other First Bank employee was able to identify the robber. Shortly after the robbery, however, as three First Bank employees began reviewing bank surveillance video, Brent Dugan, a First Bank employee, remarked that the robber "looked like" Scott Sornberger, who was an acquaintance of Dugan and a former customer of First Bank. First Bank employees Diane Carter and Roger Schultz agreed that the perpetrator captured on video bore some likeness to Scott. After watching the same footage from a different angle, however, Dugan remarked that he was less sure of the likeness. Chief Pesci, who was present intermittently while the employees viewed the surveillance tapes, heard at least one of these comments on the resemblance of the robber to Scott.

Acting on this information, Chief Pesci proceeded to question the First Bank employees about Scott Sornberger. Chief Pesci learned that Scott and Teresa had been customers of First Bank, but that their account had been closed because of a zero or negative account balance. That evening, Chief Pesci sent Knoxville police officers to Scott's workplace to bring him to the police station for questioning. When the police found Scott, he stood 5'11", had blond hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion and a mustache. Despite the discrepancies

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between Scott's appearance and the description of the bank robber, the police proceeded to question Scott at the station house. They learned that the Sornbergers had experienced recent financial difficulties. Scott also told the officers that he had placed a call to Consumer Credit Counseling earlier in the day. The same evening, Knoxville officers brought Teresa to the police station for questioning. They interviewed her outside of Scott's presence. In the course of questioning, both Sornbergers offered consistent alibis: They were together at Scott's parents' home, using his parents' computer when the robbery occurred.

To assist in the robbery investigation, Chief Pesci obtained the services of City of Galesburg police officers Dennis Sheppard, Anthony Riley and David Clauge. All of these officers are named as defendants in this action. The day after the robbery, Officer Clauge brought still photographs from the bank's surveillance cameras along with digital photos of Scott to show Illinois State's Attorney Paul Mangieri. Mangieri declined to seek an arrest warrant for Scott, but successfully obtained a search warrant for the computer in Scott's parents' house to allow Officer Clauge to confirm Scott's alibi. Later that day, Officer Clauge met again with Mangieri, this time accompanied by Chief Pesci and FBI agent Jeff Jackson. Officer Clauge expressed to Mangieri his belief that the pictures of Scott presented a close match to the ones taken of the robber by the bank surveillance cameras. At the same meeting, Chief Pesci told Mangieri about the Sornbergers' financial problems and their closed account at First Bank. On the information provided by Clauge and Pesci, Mangieri told the officers that they had probable cause to arrest Scott for armed robbery. The officers decided to make the arrest during the execution of the search warrant for Scott's parents' computer. The officers also decided that Officers Sheppard and Riley would re-interview Teresa if she could be found at Scott's parents' home.

The day after the robbery, when Chief Pesci and Officers Clauge, Riley and Sheppard arrived at Scott's parents' house to execute the search warrant, only Teresa was present. The parties dispute whether the officers requested or instructed Teresa to accompany them to the Galesburg police station for questioning. In either case, she complied and was transported to Galesburg in the front seat of a police car, unrestrained by handcuffs. Chief Pesci stayed behind at Scott's parents' home and arrested Scott when he returned.

After Officers Sheppard and Riley arrived at the Galesburg Public Safety Building with Teresa, they conducted her to an interview room and began to question her. This interview resulted in a verbal and eventually a written confession from Teresa in which she admitted that she had assisted her husband in robbing First Bank. Although the existence of the statement is undisputed, exactly what occurred during Teresa's interview is the subject of intense dispute between the parties. According to Teresa, she was told immediately after arriving in Galesburg that she was a suspect in the robbery. Teresa claims that she was then psychologically coerced into confessing by Officer Sheppard who allegedly (1) falsely informed her that witnesses placed her at the scene of the robbery; (2) "repeatedly told her to think about her kids"; (3) "yelled at her and accused her of lying"; (4) falsely promised her that, if she implicated her husband, she would not be charged with any crime; (5) "threatened to call the [D]epartment of Children and Family [S]ervices" ("DCFS") to take her children away if she continued to maintain her innocence; and (6) "[r]efused to honor her request to speak with an attorney." R.122 ¶ 30. Teresa also

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maintains that she did not receive Miranda warnings until asked to repeat her oral confession to the Galesburg police stenographer.

According to the defendants' version, Teresa required little prodding before she voluntarily began to "tell her 'story.' " R.110 ¶ 33. The officers claim that they told Teresa that they believed that Scott had committed the robbery, asked Teresa about a witness who had seen Teresa at the bank on the day of the robbery and implored Teresa to tell the truth and to think of her children rather than protecting Scott. The defendants also maintain that Officer Sheppard advised Teresa of her Miranda rights before she orally confessed to the robbery.

After hearing Teresa confess, Officer Sheppard brought Chief Pesci into the interrogation room and asked Teresa to repeat her...

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