Ravenna v. Vill. of Skokie

Decision Date07 June 2019
Docket NumberNo. 17 C 5685,17 C 5685
Citation388 F.Supp.3d 999
Parties Joan RAVENNA, Plaintiff, v. VILLAGE OF SKOKIE and Officer J.R. Veenhuis, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Kenneth N. Flaxman, Joel A. Flaxman, Kenneth N. Flaxman, P.C., Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

James Gillan McCarthy, Village of Skokie Office of Corporation Counsel, Michael M. Lorge, Village of Skokie, Skokie, Il, David Allen Shapiro, McKenna Storer, Laura Lee Scarry, James L. DeAno, DeAno & Scarry, LLC, Chicago, IL, for Defendants.


Honorable Thomas M. Durkin, United States District Judge

Joan Ravenna alleges that the Village of Skokie violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act in their decision to, and in the manner in which, it arrested her. The parties have cross moved for summary judgment. R. 101; R. 102; R. 105. Those motions are denied.1

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) ; see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The Court considers the entire evidentiary record and must view all of the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from that evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Horton v. Pobjecky , 883 F.3d 941, 948 (7th Cir. 2018). To defeat summary judgment, a nonmovant must produce more than a "mere scintilla of evidence" and come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Johnson v. Advocate Health and Hosps. Corp. , 892 F.3d 887, 894, 896 (7th Cir. 2018). Ultimately, summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).


As early as August 2014, Ravenna began to call the Skokie police department to complain that her next-door neighbor had broken into her house. R. 118 ¶ 1. The record reflects that Skokie police either responded to calls from Ravenna or had conversations with her at her home on at least 41 separate days (on some days more than once) through August 1, 2015. See R. 118. The frequency of these interactions increased, with 23 occurring between June 1 and August 1, 2015. See id.

The police never found any evidence to support Ravenna's allegations against her neighbor. Rather, the police reports note that Ravenna's claims were "delusional," see , e.g. , id. ¶ 8, frequently involving Ravenna claiming either that her dog "told" her that the neighbor was entering the house, or that the dog had opened the door for the neighbor. For instance, in a report of a visit with Ravenna on May 28, 2015, the responding officer reported:

Ravenna then continued to explain how her dog (Leyla) has conversations with [the neighbor] and that Leyla gives items such as clothing, jewelry, and food to him. Ravenna stated Leyla knows how to unlock the dead bolt lock on the door and turn the door knob to let [the neighbor] in when Ravenna is not in the residence.

R. 118 at 5.

At her deposition Ravenna denied making many of the statements recorded by Skokie police. But she stood by her report of May 25, 2015, see R. 118 at 10, that her neighbor had anally raped her dog:

Q. Did you ever see [the neighbor] rape your dog?
A. I saw him run out of the house the day of the rape. It was Mother's Day that year, May—the third Sunday in May, I think.
Q. Of 2015?
A. Yes.
Q. You saw him run out of the house?
A. He ran out the back while I pulled in the driveway.
Q. So you never saw him rape your dog?
A. No. I came in and she wouldn't walk.
Q. Who is she?
A. My dog.
Q. What is your dog's name?
A. Leila.
Q. Do you still own Leila?
A. Yes.
Q. And she wouldn't walk.
A. She didn't want—she wouldn't get up to eat which was highly unusual and I asked her—we have some communication. She's responsive to me. If I ask her a question and it's a yes answer, she'll wag her tail. And I asked he if she was hurted [sic], and she said yes. She indicated yes, and I said okay I'm going to pretend to be a doctor and I'm going to poke around and see what's bothering you. I don't—there must be a reason you're not moving. And I got to her tail and I lifted it up and—she's very furry. She's a border collie mix, and her entire back end was covered with blood.
Q. Did you—did you ask your dog whether she had been raped?
A. I said who hurt you, do you know. I said do you know who hurt you. She nodded and wagged her tail, and she pointed to [the neighbor's] house with her paw.
Q. And did you ask your dog if [the neighbor] had raped her?
A. If he hurt her. She doesn't know what rape means.
Q. Okay. And her response she wagged her tail? [sic]
A. Yes. And she nodded which she does sometimes.

R. 105-1 at 13-14 (52:15–54:7). The corresponding police report described the incident as follows:

[Ravenna] believes that her neighbor ... is stealthily breaking into her home at all [hours] and raping her dog, Layla. Ravenna told SPD dispatch that the dog was kidnapped, but Layla was present and appeared normal. Ravenna stated that the dog is constantly and repeatedly anally raped and sodomized by the neighbor, and that there is blood everywhere. When I asked to see the blood, Ravenna claimed that the neighbor cleaned it up just prior to SPD arrival and that [the neighbor] is very sneaky. She also told me that part of Layla's tail was removed for "easier access." The tail appeared normal.

R. 118 at 10.

The police reports contain many notations that officers believe Ravenna was suffering from mental illness and required medical attention. See R. 116 at 11-12 (citing records). Several reporting officers requested that their reports be forwarded to a social worker employed by the police department. See , e.g. , R. 103 at 22, 26, 28, 30. On May 22, 2015, the Skokie Police Chief and the social worker visited Ravenna. They told her that her neighbor was not breaking into her house and unsuccessfully tried to convince her to go to the emergency room. R. 118 at 18.

On August 2, 2015, matters came to a head when Ravenna's neighbor called the police because Ravenna was banging on his windows and doors and standing in his yard telling him to return sunglasses she believed he had stolen. R. 118 at 18. After responding to the neighbor's call and watching a video recording of Ravenna's actions, defendant Officer Veenhuis concluded that there was probable cause to arrest Ravenna for disorderly conduct. Id. The neighbor told Officer Veenhuis that he would be willing to sign a complaint against Ravenna. Id. Officer Veenhuis did not arrest Ravenna because she was not home at the time. Id. Officer Veenhuis had been the responding officer for Ravenna's call on June 11, 2015, which was one of the instances when she claimed her neighbor had entered her house and raped her dog, and that the dog had "told" Ravenna about this. See R. 103 at 58.

About four days later on August 6, Ravenna called the police at 1:07 a.m. and again at 1:34 a.m. to report that her neighbor had been in her house earlier in the day and had stolen her medicine. R. 118 at 19. Officer Veehuis, another officer, a sergeant, and Commander Robert Libit arrived at Ravenna's house at 2:30 a.m. Id. The officers knew that the neighbor had made a complaint against Ravenna on August 2, and that Officer Veenhuis believed there was probable cause to arrest Ravenna. Id. In a subsequent report to the Police Chief, Commander Libit noted that this incident with Ravenna was "another unfounded complaint due to delusions," see R. 103 at 166, implying that the Skokie Police Department was well aware of Ravenna's prior history of claims and believed her claims to be a product of mental illness.

Upon arrival, Officer Veenhuis spoke with the neighbor who said he still wanted to sign a complaint against Raveena. R. 118 at 20. The officers asked Ravenna to come outside her house. Id. Ravenna eventually exited her house and the officers sought to arrest her. Id. The facts regarding the arrest are disputed. The officers testified that Ravenna resisted arrest. Id. at 21. Ravenna testified that she did not resist and the officers "knocked [her] over." Id.

Ravenna was arrested even though Illinois law authorizes (but does not require) commencement of a misdemeanor prosecution with a "summons" or "notice to appear." R. 118 at 23 (¶ 23). But the Police Chief, who has been an officer for 37 years, testified that the Skokie Police Department only initiates misdemeanor prosecutions with arrests. Id. (¶ 24). Yet, a Skokie Police Department General Order instructs officers to "not threaten [a mentally ill] person with an arrest," but to "explain first that you need to talk to them further at the police station." Id. at 24-25 (¶¶ 27-28).

Ravenna was taken into custody at the Skokie police station. She appeared before a judge that afternoon (August 6), and was released later that day. Id. ¶ 22.


Ravenna claims that Skokie's conduct violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provides:

no qualified individual with a disability shall by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.

42 U.S.C. § 12132. The Act defines "public entity" to mean, in relevant part:

(A) any State or local government; [or]
(B) any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government....

42 U.S.C. § 12131. Only "public entities," and not individuals, are proper defendants under this statute. See City & County of San Francisco v. Sheehan , ––– U.S. ––––, 135 S. Ct. 1765, 1773, 191 L.Ed.2d 856 (2015) ("Only public entities are subject to Title II[.]"); Walker v. Snyder , 213 F.3d 344, 346 (7th Cir. 2000) ("Under ...

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