Wofford v. Celani

Decision Date28 January 2013
Docket NumberNo. 11 C 3543,11 C 3543
PartiesSTANLEY WOFFORD, Plaintiff, v. OFFICER CELANI, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Magistrate Judge

Jeffrey Cole


The pro se plaintiff, Mr. Wofford was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for second degree murder in August 2000, but only had to serve 9 years. As a condition of his release, he agreed to 2 years of rather stringent conditions under mandatory supervised release. He signed the mandatory supervised release on July 21, 2009. One of the conditions he agreed to was to "consent to a search of [his] person, property, or residence under [his] control." Not surprisingly, he also agreed to refrain from possession of controlled substances. (Defendant's Ex. D). A month after the plaintiff signed the mandatory supervised release agreement, he violated one of its terms, and a parole warrant was issued for his arrest on August 3, 2009. (Defendant's Ex. E). A couple of weeks later, Officer Celani and his colleagues pulled Mr. Wofford over on the South Side of Chicago. He was driving a Cadillac while wearing a bulletproof vest. He was also in possession of marijuana. The plaintiff was arrested pursuant to the warrant.

The plaintiff filed suit against Officer Celani, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Police Department. According to the plaintiff's complaint, Officer Celani and the two other unknownofficers stopped him and searched his vehicle for no reason other than harassment. They took his bulletproof vest, impounded his vehicle, and falsely charged him with possession of marijuana. The plaintiff claims the conduct violated his Constitutional right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. (Dkt. #23, Count I). He adds a second count charging an Officer John Doe with permitting a custom and practice of widespread unreasonable searches and seizures against young black males for no reason other than harassment. (Dkt. #23, Count II). Officer Celani has moved for summary judgment as to all claims against him.

Officer Celani filed his motion on July 20, 2012. The plaintiff had until August 31st to respond. (Dkt. # 56). When he failed to do so, the court on it own motion extended the deadline to September 21st, but cautioned the plaintiff that if he missed that deadline as well, a ruling would be made on Officer Celani's motion without a response from plaintiff. (Dkt. # 71). The plaintiff missed that deadline but it was discovered that Officer Celani had not provided the plaintiff with the required notice of the local rules pertaining to summary judgment motions. (Dkt. # 72). Officer filed and served the required notice on October 12, 2012 (Dkt. #73-74), and the plaintiff was then given until November 2nd to respond to Officer Celani's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. #75).

On October 15th, the plaintiff called into a status hearing to say that he had not received the notice or Officer Celani's summary judgment motion and memorandum. (Dkt. # 75). Officer Celani was directed to mail the materials to the plaintiff once again, and the plaintiff was granted another extension to November 30th to respond to the motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. # 75). He has missed that deadline as well and has not alerted the court that there was any additional trouble with Officer Celani's mailing, so a ruling will be made based Officer Celani's submissions alone

A.Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). While a party moving for summary judgment need not introduce evidence rendering its opponents' claims altogether impossible, the movant "always bears the initial responsibility" of showing "the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Seng-Tiong Ho v. Taflove, 648 F.3d 489, 496-97 (7th Cir. 2011); Stevens v. Housing Authority of South Bend, Indiana, 663 F.3d 300, 305 (7th Cir. 2011). This is done by "identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Logan v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 96 F.3d 971, 979 (7th Cir.1996) ("Only after the movant has articulated with references to the record and to the law specific reasons why it believes there is no genuine issue of material fact must the nonmovant present evidence sufficient to demonstrate an issue for trial."). Facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing all reasonable inferences in their favor. Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012); Ault v. Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir.2011).

Once "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made," the nonmoving party bears the burden to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Seng-Tiong, 648 F.3d at 496-97. Notably, any party asserting that a fact is or is not genuinely disputed must cite "to particular parts of materials in the record," or show that "an adverse partycannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Thus, "a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his pleading." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Seng-Tiong, 648 F.3d at 497. Additionally, a "court need consider only the cited materials." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

B.Summary Judgment Under Local Rule 56.1

In a summary judgment proceeding, the facts are drawn from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 submissions. "For litigants appearing in the Northern District of Illinois, the Rule 56.1 statement is a critical, and required, component of a litigant's response to a motion for summary judgment." Sojka v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., 686 F.3d 394, -, (7th Cir. 2012). Local Rule 56.1 requires a party seeking summary judgment to include with its motion "a statement of material facts as to which the ... party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the ... party to a judgment as a matter of law." Local Rule 56.1(a)(3); Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008). Each paragraph must refer to the "affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials" that substantiate the asserted facts. Local Rule 56.1(a)(3); F.T.C. v. Bay Area Business Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633 (7th Cir. 2005).

The party opposing summary judgment must then respond to the movant's statement of proposed material facts; that response must contain both "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement," Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B), and a separate statement "consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment," Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C); Ciomber, 527 F.3d at 643. Again, each response, and each asserted fact, must be supported with a reference to the record. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B); Cracco v. Vitran Exp.,Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009); Bay Area Business Council, Inc., 423 F.3d at 633. Importantly, responses and facts that are not set out and appropriately supported in an opponent's Rule 56.1 response will not be considered, see Shaffer, 662 F.3d at 442 (court need not consider any fact not contained in the parties' Rule 56.1 statements); Bay Area Business Council, 423 F.3d at 633 (court properly disregarded affidavits not referenced in 56.1 submission).

The district court is entitled to enforce strict compliance with its local rules regarding summary judgment motions and certainly with Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Yancick v. Hanna Steel Corp., 653 F.3d 532, 537 (7th Cir. 2011); Schmidt v. Eagle Waste & Recycling, Inc., 599 F.3d 626, 630 (7th Cir.2010). That goes for pro se litigants like Mr. Wofford as well. Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir.2006); Greer v. Bd. of Educ., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir.2001). Accordingly, Officer Celani's facts - to the extent they are properly supported - are deemed admitted. On-Site Screening, Inc. v. United States, 687 F.3d 896, 897 (7th Cir. 2012); Schmidt v. Eagle Waste & Recycling, Inc., 599 F.3d 626, 630-31 (7th Cir. 2010).

C.Factual Background

At about 9:45 pm on the evening of August 20, 2009, Officer Celani was one of three police officers on patrol. Officer Celani and his partners, pulled over the car Plaintiff was driving in the 7300 block of South Bell in Chicago. (56.1(a)(3) Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Def.St."), ¶ 8). Officer Celani gives no indication in his statement of facts what prompted him or his partners to pull the vehicle over. (Def.St., ¶¶ 8-15). He cites to page 1 of his arrest report in several of his statement's paragraphs, but that, too, gives no indication of why Mr. Wofford was pulled over.(Def.St., Ex. F, at 1)1 It merely states the location, the charges - issuance of warrant and possession of about $6 worth of cannabis. (Def.St., Ex. F, at 1). According to Officer Celani's statement, it was only during the course of the stop that he learned there was a warrant for Mr. Wofford's arrest. (Def.St., ¶ 10).

Mr. Wofford was arrested pursuant to the warrant. (Def.St., ¶ 11). The bulletproof vest he was wearing was confiscated (Def.St., ¶ 12; Ex. G), and the Cadillac he was driving was impounded. (Def.St., 13; Ex. H). According to Mr. Wofford, the vest belonged to his brother. (Def.St., ¶16; Ex. N, at 1). The Cadillac was registered to a Theodore Knighten, Jr. (Def.St., ¶23; Ex. N., at 51). Mr. Wofford was charged with possession of marijuana: a charge that was stricken with leave to reinstate on August 21, 2009. (Def.St., ¶¶ 14-15; Ex. I). Officer Celani gives no indication how this charge came about; in...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT