T.S. v. Twentieth Century Fox Television

Decision Date10 June 2021
Docket NumberNo. 16 C 8303,16 C 8303
Citation548 F.Supp.3d 749
Parties T.S. and Q.B., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION, Fox Broadcasting Co., Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., The County of Cook, Illinois, and Leonard Dixon, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Adam J. Pessin, Pro Hac Vice, Fine, Kaplan and Black, RPC, Philadelphia, PA, Stephen H. Weil, Jonathan I. Loevy, Mariah Esperanza Garcia, Michael I. Kanovitz, Sarah Copeland Grady, Loevy & Loevy, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff A Minor.

Jeffrey S. Jacobson, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, New York, NY, Christina Rae Chapin, Justin O'Neill Kay, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LlP, Chicago, IL, for Defendants Twentieth Century Fox Television, Fox Broadcasting Company, Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.

Danielle Mikhail, Francis J. Catania, Marissa D. Longoria, Cook County State's Attorney Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendant The County of Cook, Illinois.

Francis J. Catania, Lyle Kevin Henretty, Patrick Daniel Morris, Cook County State's Attorney Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendant Leonard Dixon.

Hal Dworkin, Michael T. Dierkes, Office of Illinois Attorney General, Chicago, IL, for Defendant The Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.


REBECCA R. PALLMEYER, United States District Judge In the summer of 2015, Plaintiffs T.S. and Q.B. were pretrial detainees at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center ("JTDC"). During three short intervals that summer, Defendant Twentieth Century Fox and other Fox entities (collectively, "Fox Defendants") filmed scenes for the television show Empire at the JTDC. Plaintiffs allege that Empire filming disrupted the normal operations of the JTDC in ways that harmed them and other juvenile detainees. They further allege that Defendant Leonard Dixon (the Superintendent of the JTDC), and Cook County, Illinois (collectively, "County Defendants"), lacked a legitimate government purpose for imposing certain conditions of confinement to facilitate the filming. In this proposed class action, Plaintiffs assert claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various supplemental state law theories. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a). The court previously denied Plaintiffsmotion for class certification without prejudice. T.S. v. Twentieth Century Fox Television , 334 F.R.D. 518, 541 (N.D. Ill. 2020).

Before the court are four motions: Plaintiffsmotion to amend their complaint to add H.C. as a class representative [365], Plaintiffs’ renewed motion for class certification [351], the County Defendantsmotion for summary judgment [411], and the Fox Defendantsmotion for summary judgment [409]. For the reasons below, the court grants Plaintiffsmotion to amend their complaint; grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffsmotion for class certification; and grants in part and denies in part Defendants’ respective motions for summary judgment. Because the court grants summary judgment with respect to Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims, the only remaining claims arise under state law. In light of this case's long procedural history and the substantial expenditure of judicial resources, the court will exercise its discretion to retain jurisdiction of the remaining claims. See, e.g. , Timm v. Mead Corp., 32 F.3d 273, 276–77 (7th Cir. 1994) (upholding district court's retention of jurisdiction over state claims after granting summary judgment on only federal claim in the case).


The JTDC is a five-story juvenile detention facility in Cook County, Illinois that housed more than 300 youth in the summer of 2015. (Defs.’ SOF [415] ¶ 1; PSOAF [421-3] ¶¶ 1–2.) These detainees were awaiting trial or other court proceedings and typically remained at the JTDC for around 10 days, though some stayed far longer. (Pls.’ Ex. 10 [422-10] (hereinafter "Kraus Rpt."), ¶ 20). There is conflicting evidence on the range of detainee ages, but the parties agree that no detainee was younger than 12 or older than 21. (Compare Pls.’ Ex. 4 [422-4] (hereinafter "Dunlap Rpt.") ¶ 27, with Defs.’ Ex. 3 [412-3] (hereinafter "Klemke Dep."), at 22:16–24.) Detainees at the JTDC live in units called "pods" which contain rooms for individual residents that open to an enclosed common area. (PSOAF ¶ 1.)

1. Fox and the JTDC

In May 2015, the Fox Defendants were looking for a prison-related backdrop for two episodes of Empire , a television show set in New York City but filmed in Chicago. (See PSOAF ¶ 12; Fox Summ. J. Mot. [410] at 9.) Fox's "location scout" Jonathan Klemke was part of the team that first came across the JTDC. (Klemke Dep. at 19:3–5.) Klemke testified that a friend found the JTDC on Google Maps and recommended he look into it. (Id. at 19:6–19.) Klemke "follow[ed] up on" the recommendation by "call[ing] and g[etting] in touch with" Dixon. (Id. ) Dixon expressed interest, and Klemke drove over to the JTDC to meet with him that same day. (Id. at 23:18–24:3.)

Once at the JTDC, Klemke toured portions of the facility; the extent of the tour is not clear from the record. (Klemke Dep. at 27:18–24, 81:19–82:12.) Klemke took photos, including two pictures of the outdoor yard that appear to be taken from a window on the fourth or fifth floor of the facility.1 (Defs.’ Resp. to PSOAF [430] (hereinafter "Resp. to PSOAF"), ¶ 18; Pls.’ Ex. 19 [422-19]; Pls.’ Ex. 20 [422-20].) At some point during the tour, Klemke saw groups of 15 to 20 detainees being transported in the hallways but did not know why they were moving about the hallways at the time. (Klemke Dep. at 25:11–26:2, 69:8–11.) Klemke saw that the classrooms on the second floor were empty during his tour. (Id. at 69:17–70:12.) He was surprised the classrooms were empty, but he testified that Dixon explained the kids at the JTDC were "off during the summer." (Id. ) Dixon himself testified that there is summer school at the JTDC, and, thus, he "couldn't have told [Klemke] school was out for the entire summer ...." (Defs.’ Ex. 5 [412-5] (hereinafter "Dixon Dep.") at 71:8–19.)

Klemke admitted that, based on his tour, he understood that the yards were the only place that the detainees could go outdoors. (Klemke Dep. at 110:1–14.) Klemke testified, however, that Dixon told him there were alternative indoor locations that would allow the detainees to exercise. (Id. at 109:1–12.) Likewise, Klemke testified that Dixon assured him that visitors only use the visitation room "on certain days and that we would be able to use the [visitation] room on off days." (Id. at 100:24–101:9.) At the time, Klemke raised these questions because "part of the initial scouting is to determine whether a facility can continue its operation while also accommodating a film crew." (Id. at 103:23–104:18.) Klemke testified that he did not "really know about running a prison," so he trusted the JTDC to ensure that "filming at the detention center [did not] interfere[ ] with the day-to-day existence of the juveniles held there ...." (Id. at 67:8–68:7.)

On June 2, 2015, five days later, Klemke emailed Dixon to follow up on their visit. (Pls.’ Ex. 16 [422-16] (hereinafter "Klemke Follow-up Email").) Klemke explained that if filming were to proceed at the JTDC, Fox would want to use "a pod, the yard, the medical center, and the visitation room." (Id. ) Fox expected to make "extensive use of several parts of the facility over the course of two days or so," likely for about 12 hours per day. (Id. ) Klemke wrote that Fox could "attempt to limit the personnel in the facility to only the most essential," dropping their numbers from the usual 80 crew members to "closer to 30 people total." (Id. ) And "the two largest segments of filming would be in the visitation room and the yard, which hopefully makes our presence less of an impact." (Id. ) Klemke noted, "Obviously your schedule would take precedence over ours, and we would discuss a way of making sure that we don't interfere with your day to day operations too badly." (Id. ) When asked why he made that offer, Klemke testified, "My intention in writing that was to give Superintendent Dixon an opportunity to tell me that he wasn't comfortable with the things that I had suggested." (Klemke Dep. at 36:19–37:8.) Klemke explained that his understanding was that "a film crew would not be normal but [would] not necessarily [be] a hindrance." (Id. at 36:8–17.)

On June 5, 2015, Klemke forwarded this email to his supervisor Brady Breen, Fox's Location Manager. (Klemke Follow-up Email.) Over the next couple of weeks, Breen toured the JTDC, as did creator of Empire Lee Daniels and other members of the Empire production team. (Defs.’ Ex. 7 [412-7]; Defs.’ Ex. 8 [412-8].) Daniels testified that his tour did not include any of the indoor gyms or other recreational areas. (Defs.’ Ex. 2 [412-2] (hereinafter "Daniels Dep."), at 93:7–11.) The parties point to little other evidence concerning these tours.

On June 12, 2015, Breen emailed Dixon's assistant, Yvonne Akins, formally requesting permission to film at the JTDC. (Defs.’ Ex. 8.) On June 17, Dixon, Akins, and JTDC's Acting Project Director Gene Robinson met with Breen and other Fox representatives to discuss the logistics of Fox's plan to film. (Defs.’ Ex. 12 [412-12] (hereinafter "Akins Dep.") at 21:22–25:10; Defs.’ Ex. 7.) There was no discussion about "any changes to the schedules of residents that would need to occur in order to facilitate the filming." (Akins Dep. at 25:6–10.) Breen explained that "there was a lot of conversation about how can we accomplish the work that we want to accomplish and be respectful of what's going on in the building, and those guidelines were set very clearly by the team that works at ... the juvenile detention facility." (Defs.’ Ex. 4 [412-4] (hereinafter "Breen Dep.") at 111:7–21.)

On June 18, 2015, Breen and Cook County's Director of Real Estate Management Anna Ashcraft signed a contract to allow Fox to film at the JTDC. (Defs.’ Ex. 1 [41...

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2 cases
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    ...granted the Fox Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on state law claims against them. T.S. v. Twentieth Century Fox Television , 548 F.Supp.3d 749, 786 – 91 (N.D. Ill. June 10, 2021). The court also granted in part and denied in part the County Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, a......
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