Argento v. Village of Melrose Park

Decision Date27 January 1988
Docket NumberNos. 86-1960,86-3131 and 86-3132,86-2080,s. 86-1960
Citation838 F.2d 1483
PartiesRobert ARGENTO, Joseph Sansone and Bennie Lenard, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. VILLAGE OF MELROSE PARK, Defendant-Appellant. Bennie LENARD, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert ARGENTO and Joseph Sansone, Defendants, and Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., Garnishee-Defendant-Appellant. Bennie LENARD, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. VILLAGE OF MELROSE PARK, Defendant-Appellant. Bennie LENARD, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert ARGENTO and Joseph Sansone, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Joshua G. Vincent, Hinshaw, Culbertson, Moelmann, Hoban & Fuller, Thomas D. Allen, Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, Stephen E. Sward, Rooks, Pitts & Poust, Chicago, Ill., for defendant-appellant.

Cecile Singer, Singer & Stein, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before CUMMINGS, COFFEY and MANION, Circuit Judges.

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

In January 1977, Bennie Lenard, a black man, was involved in a traffic accident in Melrose Park, Illinois. The Melrose Park police were called and Lenard was subsequently arrested and taken to the police station. While in police custody Lenard was severely injured and eventually spent thirty-nine days in a hospital recovering from the injuries. In 1977 Lenard filed suit against the Village of Melrose Park and four of its police officers. 1 The suit alleged various claims under 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1983 and 1985. In his first jury trial, Lenard was awarded $360,000 in damages and $181,000 in attorneys' fees. The jury, however, did not find any of the defendants liable under Sec. 1983 for beating Lenard. The defendants appealed and we reversed the judgment in most parts. Lenard v. Argento, 699 F.2d 874 (7th Cir.1983), certiorari denied, 464 U.S. 815, 104 S.Ct. 69, 78 L.Ed.2d 84 ("Lenard I "). The only claim remaining on remand was a Sec. 1985(3) claim against officers Robert Argento and Joseph Sansone, in their individual capacities, for "a conspiracy to deprive [Lenard] due course of justice and equal protection of the law," id. at 880, as well as a redetermination of an appropriate attorneys' fees award under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. Liability regarding the one remaining claim had been affirmed; only damages were tried to a jury on remand. This time Lenard obtained a $267,000 damages judgment that was not appealed. Argento and Sansone, however, appealed the district court's award of $327,000 for attorneys' fees. We recently vacated the attorneys' fees award and remanded the case for further proceedings to determine a new amount. Lenard v. Argento, 808 F.2d 1242 (7th Cir.1987) ("Lenard II ").

While the appeal in Lenard II was pending, Lenard continued to pursue various actions to collect the judgments he had obtained. In Appeal No. 86-1960 Lenard sought to collect from the Village of Melrose Park (hereinafter "the Village") the damages and attorneys' fees judgment against Argento and Sansone. The district court granted Lenard relief on his claim in the nature of mandamus based on Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 85, Sec. 9-102 (hereinafter "Sec. 9-102"). The court entered a judgment against the Village in the amount of both the damages and the fee award, but stayed execution of judgment as to the amount of attorneys' fees contested in Lenard II, which was still pending at the time. The court found it unnecessary to reach Lenard's other two claims in that action since they were only alternative means of obtaining the same relief. 2 In Appeal No. 86-2080 Lenard pursued a garnishment action against Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company (hereinafter "Hartford"), the Village's, and concomitantly the officers', insurer. The district court determined that the damages and the fee award obtained by Lenard were covered by the applicable insurance policy and entered a judgment in favor of Lenard and against Hartford for the amounts already awarded and all additional fees and costs obtained against the officers. In Appeal No. 86-3131 Lenard sought an award of costs and attorneys' fees incurred in obtaining the judgment against the Village. 3 The district court awarded $45,991 fees and $777 costs against the Village and in favor of Lenard. Lenard subsequently moved to amend that judgment to designate Argento and Sansone as the ones liable, but the district court denied that motion. In Appeal No. 86-3132 Lenard sought an award of fees and costs incurred in obtaining the judgment against Hartford. 4 Lenard was awarded $16,965 in attorneys' fees.

On appeal, the various appellants challenge the propriety of the judgments against them. There are no challenges to the calculations of the amounts awarded. We first consider the district court's jurisdiction in the cases before us and then separately consider the merits of each appeal.

I. Jurisdiction

All the cases before us contain final judgments over which we have appellate jurisdiction. See Barrington Press, Inc. v. Morey, 816 F.2d 341, 342 (7th Cir.1987); Exchange National Bank of Chicago v. Daniels, 763 F.2d 286, 291-293 (7th Cir.1985). Both below and on appeal the Village argues that the district court did not have jurisdiction in the cases underlying the Village's two appeals. Hartford and the two police officers do not contest the district court's jurisdiction over the cases underlying their respective appeals, but, since jurisdictional issues may be raised sua sponte and the issues are similar, we also consider the district court's jurisdiction in those two cases. 5 We will initially focus on the district court's jurisdiction in Appeal No. 86-1960. Resolving the jurisdictional questions in the other three cases will require little additional elaboration.

A. Appeal No. 86-1960
1. Supplementary Jurisdiction

We agree with Lenard that the district court had jurisdiction over the cases. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 69(a) provides in part:

Process to enforce a judgment for the payment of money shall be a writ of execution, unless the court directs otherwise. The procedure on execution, in proceedings supplementary to and in aid of a judgment, and in proceedings on and in aid of execution shall be in accordance with the practice and procedure of the state in which the district court is held, existing at the time the remedy is sought....

The judgments obtained by Lenard were in proceedings supplementary to and in aid of the initial civil rights judgment. But Rule 69(a) cannot be the end of our jurisdictional analysis since the Federal Rules neither create nor withdraw jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 82; Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 370, 98 S.Ct. 2396, 2400, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978); Blackburn Truck Lines, Inc. v. Francis, 723 F.2d 730, 732 (9th Cir.1984); Duchek v. Jacobi, 646 F.2d 415, 418 (9th Cir.1981). Rule 69(a), though, is a procedural mechanism for a court's exercise of its inherent jurisdiction to enforce its judgment in a supplemental proceeding. 6 Compare Blackburn, 723 F.2d at 732-733. Such jurisdictional authority has been long recognized.

[T]he rule is universal, that if the power is conferred to render the judgment or enter the decree, it also includes the power to issue proper process to enforce such judgment or decree.

... [T]he jurisdiction of a court is not exhausted by the rendition of the judgment, but continues until that judgment shall be satisfied.

Riggs v. Johnson County, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 166, 187, 18 L.Ed. 768 (1867), quoted in McKee-Berger-Mansueto, Inc. v. Board of Education of Chicago, 691 F.2d 828, 831 (7th Cir.1982). See also Root v. Woolworth, 150 U.S. 401, 412, 14 S.Ct. 136, 139, 37 L.Ed. 1123 (1893); Berry v. McLemore, 795 F.2d 452, 455 (5th Cir.1986); Blackburn, 723 F.2d at 732.

The Village argues, however, that such jurisdiction does not extend to separate actions against nonparties to the original suit. It argues that a basis of jurisdiction separate from that over the original action is necessary when nonparties are involved. 7 The Village cites Root which contains language applying supplementary jurisdiction to equity suits involving "the same parties." Root, 150 U.S. at 411-412, 14 S.Ct. at 138-139. But Root only states that the rule is well settled as to the same parties; in that case it was unnecessary to consider whether the rule applied to a nonparty and the Court nowhere discusses that question. Therefore Root is not controlling precedent in the Village's favor. Moreover, in the almost 100 years since Root was decided, ancillary jurisdiction has been greatly expanded by the courts. See C.A. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure Sec. 1444 at 219-220 (1971). The dissent, on the other hand, relies on H.C. Cook Co. v. Beecher, 217 U.S. 497, 30 S.Ct. 601, 54 L.Ed. 855 (1910). That case, decided over 75 years ago, is three paragraphs long containing a conclusion, but virtually no discussion. It has rarely been cited as precedent. Instead we rely on more recent and more complete explications of ancillary jurisdiction. Cf. Skevofilax v. Quigley, 810 F.2d 378, 385 n. 4 (3d Cir.1987) (en banc ), certiorari denied, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 1956, 95 L.Ed.2d 528.

Two recent appellate court cases, neither of which are cited by the parties, discuss the jurisdictional issue now before us. The Third Circuit, sitting en banc, held that a Sec. 1983 plaintiff, who had obtained a judgment against police officers in their individual capacities, could also obtain a judgment against the township employing the officers based on an indemnity provision in their collective bargaining agreement. A five-judge majority held "that the district court has ancillary jurisdiction to adjudicate a garnishment action by a judgment creditor against a nonparty to the original lawsuit which may owe the judgment debtor an obligation to indemnify against the judgment, or any other form of property." Skevofilax, 810 F.2d at 385. Three of the...

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