Martin v. Marinez et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable Amy J. St. Eve on 1/5/2017:Mailed notice(kef, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
CITY OF CHICAGO, DAVIS MARINEZ #15460,
SOFIA GONZALEZ # 17298, ARMONDO
CHAGOYA # 19938, ELVIS TURCINOVIC
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
AMY J. ST. EVE, United States District Judge:
Defendants City of Chicago and Officers Davis Marinez, Sofia Gonzalez (Arellano),
Armando Chagoya, and Elvis Turcinovic (collectively, “Defendants”) have moved the Court for
partial summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (R.36). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants’ motion.
Plaintiff Sherard Martin (“Martin”) commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 to
redress alleged constitutional violations committed by Defendants. In particular, Martin alleges
that Defendants illegally stopped him, falsely arrested him, and unlawfully searched his person
and his vehicle. (R.1, Compl. ¶¶ 7-24). He brings claims for false arrest (Count I), unlawful
search (Count II), and for respondeat superior liability against the City of Chicago (Count III),
requesting a damage award “sufficient to compensate him for the injuries he suffered,” in
addition to punitive damages and fees and costs. (Id.). Acknowledging the existence of disputed
factual issues related to Martin’s initial stop and search claims, Defendants now seek partial
summary judgment on Martin’s claims “related to their conduct after the Defendant Officers
discovered narcotics and an illegal firearm in [Martin’s] possession, which provided probable
cause to arrest or to continue detaining [Martin] from that point forward.” (R.37, Opening Br. at
2) (emphasis added). Martin opposes the motion but does not dispute any fact as set forth in
Defendants’ Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement. See Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420
(7th Cir. 2014) (“A party filing a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure must file a statement of material facts as to which the moving party
contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of
law”) (citing L.R. 56.1(a)(3)). The relevant facts are as follows.
Around 7:00PM on May 24, 2013, Martin was driving near the intersection of E. 90th
Street and S. Burley Avenue in Chicago, when Officers Marinez and Gonzalez pulled him over.
(R.38, Rule 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. Facts ¶ 6). According to Martin, he had not committed any traffic
violations prior to being pulled over. (Id.).1 Office Gonzalez then approached Martin’s car,
requesting his driver’s license and insurance. Martin could not produce his license, however,
stating that he “had his license taken for a ticket.” (Id. ¶ 7). Officers Gonzalez and Marinez then
asked Martin to step out of his car, at which point Officers Turcinovic and Chagoya arrived. (Id.
¶ 8). According to Martin, the police officers forced him out of the car, handcuffed him,
conducted a pat-down search of his person, and placed him inside a police vehicle. The officers
then searched his car. (Id. ¶ 9).2 During the search of Martin’s car, the officers recovered a 9
According to Defendants, Officers Marinez and Gonzalez pulled him over because the taillights and brake lights
on his car were not working. (Id.).
According to Defendants, when Martin stepped out of his car, the officers saw a gun between his legs and
immediately placed him into custody. Officer Chagoya then searched Martin’s car prior to impound, and found a
plastic baggie containing crack cocaine and $400.00. (Id.).
mm semiautomatic handgun and a plastic baggie containing crack cocaine. (Id. ¶ 10). On scene,
Officer Marinez noticed that the serial number on the handgun had been defaced. (Id.).
After searching Martin’s car, the police officers transported him to the station for
processing. At the police station, Officer Marinez printed Martin’s rap sheet and discovered that
he had previous convictions on felony charges for first-degree murder and unlawful use of a
weapon by a convicted felon. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12). Martin was later transferred to the Cook County
Jail, and charged with four felonies: (i) being an armed habitual criminal in violation of 720
ILCS 5/24-1.7(a); (ii) being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 720 ILCS
5/24-1.1(a); (iii) being in possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number in violation of 720
ILCS 5/24-5(b); and (iv) being in possession of cocaine in violation of 720 ILCS 570/402.
Martin also received traffic citations pursuant to Chicago Municipal Code Section 9-76-050
(relating to the operation of taillights) and 625 ILCS 5/6-112 (relating to the requirement to carry
a driver’s license). (Id. ¶¶ 11, 13).
Martin was incarcerated from May 24, 2013 through July 29, 2013 in connection with his
May 24, 2013 arrest. (Id. ¶ 14).3 During the course of criminal proceedings, Martin filed a
motion to suppress the evidence, which the trial court granted on November 7, 2014. (Id.). As a
result, the State dismissed the charges through a nolle prosequi motion. (Id.). Martin now seeks
$65,000 in civil damages for his incarceration, calculated at a rate of $1,000 per day for 65 days
(May 24, 2013 – July 29, 2013). He also seeks to recover lost business income of $700 per day
for 65 days—a total of $45,500—in relation to his automobile dealership. (Id. ¶ 15). Defendants
argue that such damages are not recoverable in this Section 1983 action.
On July 29, 2013, a different court revoked Martin’s bond after he was convicted in an unrelated criminal case.
(Id.). He remained incarcerated in connection with that case.
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). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, courts “must view the record in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and give the benefit of reasonable inferences to
the non-moving party.” Chaib v. Geo Grp., Inc., 819 F.3d 337, 341 (7th Cir. 2016). After “a
properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255
(quotation omitted); Life Plans, Inc. v. Sec. Life of Denver Ins. Co., 800 F.3d 343, 349 (7th Cir.
In his false arrest claim, Martin alleges that he “was stopped and seized without a
warrant, without probable cause, and without reasonable suspicion” in violation of the Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendments. (R.1, Compl. ¶ 16). He further alleges that he was “unlawfully
and maliciously arrested . . . and wrongfully detained[.]” (Id. ¶ 17). His unlawful search claim,
meanwhile, asserts that “Defendant Officers searched [his] person and his car without a search
warrant and without probable cause to believe [he] was committing or had committed a crime” in
violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Id. ¶ 20).
In seeking partial summary judgment, Defendants argue that Martin “can only proceed on
his claim related to his brief detention on scene before the handgun and drugs were found, the
search of his person, and the search of his vehicle.” (R.37, Opening Br. at 9).4 According to
Defendants, once the police officers discovered the handgun and cocaine in Martin’s car,
probable cause existed to arrest Martin, precluding him from recovering damages related to his
65-day incarceration on felony charges. After reviewing the summary judgment record and
applicable precedent, the Court agrees.
The Existence of Probable Cause for Weapons and Drug-Related Offenses
“Probable cause to arrest is an absolute defense to any claim under Section 1983 against
police officers for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution.” Mustafa v.
City of Chicago, 442 F.3d 544, 547 (7th Cir. 2006). Where the underlying facts are undisputed
in a false arrest case, the court can determine whether probable cause supported the arrest at the
summary judgment stage. See Abbott v. Sangamon Cty., Ill., 705 F.3d 706, 714 (7th Cir. 2013).
Here, it is undisputed that, on May 24, 2013, Martin was in possession of an illegal
handgun and cocaine in violation of various penal statutes, including 720 ILCS 5/24-1.7(a), 720
ILCS 5/24-1.1(a), 720 ILCS 5/24-5(b), and 720 ILCS 570/402. (R.38, Rule 56.1(a)(3) Stmt.
Facts ¶¶ 9-10, 12-13). By failing to refute these facts (and Defendants’ related arguments) in
response to the present motion, Martin has effectively conceded that—once the Defendant
Officers recovered contraband in his car—probable cause existed for his May 24, 2013 arrest.
See Holmes v. Vill. of Hoffman Estate, 511 F.3d 673, 679 (7th Cir. 2007) (“A police officer has
probable cause to arrest an individual when the facts and circumstances that are known to him
reasonably support a belief that the individual has committed, is committing, or is about to [ ]
commit a crime”).5 The fact that Defendants only later learned about Martin’s criminal history
Defendants recognize that “Plaintiff’s claims related to his initial stop, handcuffing, the search of his person, and
the search of his vehicle” depend on “disputed facts.” (R.52, Reply Br. at 1).
In addition, Martin has developed no argument that “the initial seizure was the arrest, and not merely an
investigatory detention,” such that post-seizure observations “would not factor into the probable-cause inquiry.” See
(as relevant to two of the felony charges) does not vitiate the probable cause determination,
where the officers recovered on scene a handgun with a defaced serial number and a plastic
baggie containing crack cocaine. See id. at 682 (“probable cause to believe that a person has
committed any crime will preclude a false arrest claim, even if the person was arrested on
additional or different charges for which there was no probable cause”); Abbott, 705 F.3d at 715
(“an arrest can be supported by probable cause that the arrestee committed any crime, regardless
of the officer’s belief as to which crime was at issue”).
Similarly, in this Section 1983 action, the fact that Martin prevailed on a suppression
motion related to the initial traffic stop does not vitiate the probable cause determination with
respect to the discovered contraband. The Seventh Circuit’s recent opinion in Vaughn v.
Chapman is instructive on this issue. In Vaughn, an Illinois state trooper stopped the plaintiff—a
felon then living in Arizona—for purported traffic infractions while he was driving through
Illinois. See No. 16-1065, 2016 WL 5944726, at *1 (7th Cir. Oct. 13, 2016). After learning that
Vaugh “was driving on a suspended license and was wanted on a warrant from Wisconsin[,]” the
trooper called for a drug-sniffing dog. Another Illinois state trooper then arrived, who—
according to Vaughn—“‘signaled’ the dog to give a false alert so that the troopers would have an
excuse to search the car.” The troopers found a pistol in the trunk of the car. Id. They then took
Vaugh to county jail and contacted Arizona authorities, learning that “Vaughn was suspected of
committing an armed robbery and aggravated assault a few days earlier.” Id. The state
prosecutor later charged Vaught with possession of a firearm as a felon in violation of 720 ILCS
Gutierrez v. Kermon, 722 F.3d 1003, 1007 n.1 (7th Cir. 2013); cf. Ramos v. City of Chicago, 716 F.3d 1013, 1018
(7th Cir. 2013) (“The proliferation of cases in this court in which ‘Terry’ stops involve handcuffs and everincreasing wait times in police vehicles is disturbing, and we would caution law enforcement officers that the
acceptability of handcuffs in some cases does not signal that the restraint is not a significant consideration in
determining the nature of the stop”).
5/24–1.1(a). Id. Vaughn remained in custody from August 2013 through December 2014, when
the prosecutor dismissed his case to allow the Arizona prosecution to proceed. Id. Vaughn then
brought suit against “everyone involved in the criminal case,” including a claim against the
individual troopers for malicious prosecution. Id. at *1-2.
In relevant part, the Seventh Circuit noted that, “[u]nder both federal and state law, the
existence of probable cause is a complete defense to malicious prosecution[.]” Id. at *2 (citing
Johnson v. Saville, 575 F.3d 656, 659 (7th Cir. 2009)). The Seventh Circuit then held:
Here the troopers had discovered a firearm in the trunk of the car Vaughn was driving
and learned from a records search that Vaughn is a felon. They also learned from
authorities in Arizona that Vaughn was a suspect in an aggravated assault and armed
robbery involving a weapon of the same caliber. This was sufficient [to establish
Although Vaughn alleges that this evidence was the fruit of an illegal search of the car,
this would not undermine its relevance to the question of probable cause. The
exclusionary rule does not apply in a § 1983 suit against police officers. See Lingo v.
City of Salem, 832 F.3d 953, 958-959 (9th Cir. 2016); Black v. Wigington, 811 F.3d 1259,
1267-68 (11th Cir. 2016); Townes v. City of New York, 176 F.3d 138, 145 (2d Cir. 1999);
Wren v. Towe, 130 F.3d 1154, 1158 (5th Cir. 1997) . . . Thus, regardless of whether
Troopers Chapman and Howell had justification for searching the trunk of the car that
Vaughn was driving, their discovery established probable cause for the charge and thus
defeated any claim of malicious prosecution. See Johnson, 575 F.3d at 664.
Id. at *2-3.
In this case, even assuming that the recovered contraband constituted “the fruit of an
illegal search of [Martin’s] car,” such a fact does not “undermine its relevance to the question of
probable cause.” See id. In other words, “regardless of whether [the Defendant Officers] had
justification for searching . . . the car that [Martin] was driving, their discovery established
probable cause for the charge[s] and thus defeated any claim” of false arrest under Section 1983.
See id. As other Circuit Courts have recognized, “The lack of probable cause to stop and search
does not vitiate the probable cause to arrest, because (among other reasons) the fruit of the
poisonous tree doctrine is not available to assist a § 1983 claimant.” See Townes v. City of New
York, 176 F.3d 138, 149 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Lingo v. City of Salem, 832 F.3d 953, 960 (9th
Cir. 2016) (rejecting the suggestion that “probable cause to arrest may be supported only by
information that was obtained in accordance with the Fourth Amendment”); Black v. Wigington,
811 F.3d 1259, 1268 (11th Cir. 2016) (“We now join our sister circuits and hold that the
exclusionary rule does not apply in a civil suit against police officers”); Hector v. Watt, 235 F.3d
154, 157-61 (3d Cir. 2000) (same); Wren v. Towe, 130 F.3d 1154, 1158 (5th Cir. 1997) (same).
District courts, too, have recognized that the exclusionary rule does not apply to Section
1983 claims. See, e.g., Williams v. Edwards, No. 10 C 1051, 2012 WL 983788, at *5-7 (N.D. Ill.
Mar. 22, 2012) (“The court concludes that the undisputed evidence of Williams’s drug use and
possession establishes probable cause for his ultimate arrest regardless of whether the initial stop
was constitutionally valid”); Dyson v. Vill. of Midlothian, No. 12-CV-7632, 2015 WL 778850, at
*7 n.7 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 18, 2015) (“While in a criminal case the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’
doctrine might render the arrest in this case tainted by the possible constitutional infirmity of the
initial stop, no such doctrine extends to civil cases for false arrest”); Swanigan v. Trotter, No. 7
C 4749, 2011 WL 658156, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2011) (same); Colbert v. Willingham, No. 13CV-2397, 2015 WL 3397035, at *5 n.5 (N.D. Ill. May 26, 2015) (same); Rivera v. Burke, No.
06C0734, 2008 WL 345612, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2008) (same); Bradshaw v. Mazurski, No. 03
C 2074, 2004 WL 170337, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 15, 2004) (same); Williams v. Carroll, No. 08 C
4169, 2010 WL 5463362, at *4-5 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 29, 2010) (same); Cannon v. Christopher, No.
1:06-CV-267, 2007 WL 2609893, at *4 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 6, 2007) (“Several federal courts in the
Seventh Circuit have adopted the Townes principle and applied it to dismiss cases where
probable cause existed despite an allegation of an improper initial stop and search”).
In this case, disputed facts exist with respect to the reasonableness of the initial stop and
search of Martin and his car. If such conduct was unjustified, Defendants “may be liable for
false arrest for an improper investigative detention[,]” see Edwards, 2012 WL 983788 at *7, and
Martin may be entitled to nominal damages resulting from such Fourth Amendment violation.
See Townes, 176 F.3d at 145 (“Here, the only actionable violations of that [Fourth Amendment]
right are the stop of the taxicab and the associated seizure and search of Townes’s person, which
alone might at most support slight or nominal damages”). Based on the undisputed facts,
however, probable cause existed to arrest Martin for weapons and drug-related offenses on May
24, 2013. The existence of probable cause “defeat[s] any claim” of false arrest following the
contraband discovery. See Vaughn, 2016 WL 5944726 at *3; Mustafa, 442 F.3d at 547.
Accordingly, Martin cannot “recover for his [65-day] incarceration before the charges against
him were dropped.” See Edwards, 2012 WL 983788 at *8; see also Carroll, 2010 WL 5463362
(“Having determined that probable cause emerged at least as early the discovery of the guns and
I.D.s, there can be no recovery for false arrest under § 1983 after that point”); Townes, 176 F.3d
at 149 (“Neither may Townes recover compensatory damages for his arrest and pre-arraignment
detention . . . Ultimately, [his] only possible damage claim would be limited to the brief invasion
of privacy related to the seizure and initial search of his person”).
Martin’s Response Brief
Instead of addressing authorities such as Townes, Carroll, and Edwards, Martin urges the
Court to examine the damages available to a Section 1983 litigant—including for incarceration,
legal fees, and/or emotional distress—by reference to principles of proximate causation. In
particular, he argues: (i) that the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Kerr v. City of Chicago, 424 F.2d
1134 (7th Cir. 1970), is dispositive and allows recovery here, as does a district court decision
from the District of New Mexico; and (ii) that, in any event, whether independent intervening
actors—such as Martin himself—caused his incarceration damages is a question for the jury, not
for summary judgment. Ultimately, however, Martin’s arguments do not convince the Court to
deviate from the above-discussed precedent.
Kerr v. City of Chicago
The Court first addresses the import of Kerr v. City of Chicago. In Kerr, the plaintiff
alleged that the Chicago police had violated his constitutional rights by, inter alia, obtaining an
involuntary confession through the use of physical force, and using that unlawful confession to
detain him for 18 months. 424 F.2d at 1138. The Seventh Circuit observed, without further
explanation, that “[a] plaintiff in a civil rights action should be allowed to recover the attorneys’
fees in a state criminal action where the expenditure is a foreseeable result of the acts of the
defendant.” Id. at 1141. Given case law developments since the Seventh Circuit decided Kerr
almost 47 years ago, and factual differences from Kerr, however, this Seventh Circuit statement
does not convince the Court to deny partial summary judgment here.
In particular, Kerr does not address whether alleged damages resulting from detention or
prosecution pursuant to a lawful arrest—i.e., where probable cause supported the arrest—are
recoverable in a Section 1983 false arrest action. Contra id. at 1140 (“an arrest without a
warrant and without probable cause [is] unlawful”). To the contrary, Seventh Circuit precedent
supports that such damages are not recoverable—as a matter of law—insofar as “[p]robable
cause is a bar to claims of false arrest under 42 U.S.C. § 1983[.]” Huon v. Mudge, 597 F. App’x
868, 877 (7th Cir. 2015); Holmes, 511 F.3d at 679-80 (“If the officer had probable cause to
believe that the person he arrested was involved in criminal activity, then a Fourth Amendment
claim for false arrest is foreclosed”).6 Without a showing of liability on a false arrest theory
following the contraband discovery, the Court need not determine Martin’s corresponding
entitlement to damage recovery. Contra Borunda v. Richmond, 885 F.2d 1384, 1389 (9th Cir.
1988) (“A plaintiff who establishes liability for deprivations of constitutional rights actionable
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is entitled to recover compensatory damages for all injuries suffered as a
consequence of those deprivations”).
In this case, the existence of probable cause defeats any claim for compensatory damages
for Martin’s arrest and pre-arraignment detention.7 See Townes, 176 F.3d at 149. As the Second
Circuit observed in Townes:
Although the common law tort of false arrest (or false imprisonment) allows plaintiffs to
seek damages from “the time of detention up until issuance of process or arraignment, but
no more,” Keeton et al., supra, § 119, at 888, the existence of probable cause defeats
any such claim. The individual defendants here lacked probable cause to stop and search
Townes, but they certainly had probable cause to arrest him upon discovery of the
handguns in the passenger compartment of the taxicab in which he was riding…
Ultimately, Townes’s only possible damage claim would be limited to the brief invasion
of privacy related to the seizure and initial search of his person.
Id. (citation omitted). The Court finds this reasoning both persuasive and applicable. Given the
Seventh Circuit’s positive citation of Townes in Vaughn, see 2016 WL 5944726 at *3, the Court
As the Supreme Court has explained, the tort of false imprisonment remedies a “sort of unlawful detention” –
specifically, one “without legal process.” See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 389 (2007). The tort of malicious
prosecution, meanwhile, remedies unlawful detention stemming from the wrongful institution of legal process –
beginning, for example, when the individual “is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges.” Id. at 389-90;
see also Serino v. Hensley, 735 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2013) (“when the arrest takes place without a warrant, the
plaintiff only becomes subject to legal process afterward, at the time of arraignment”). Martin has not asserted a
malicious prosecution claim here.
As the Seventh Circuit has recognized, even if an arrest lacks probable cause, an individual seeking relief under a
false arrest theory “is entitled to recover only for injuries suffered from the time of arrest until his arraignment.”
Wallace v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2006), aff’d sub nom. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007)
(citing Wiley v. City of Chicago, 361 F.3d 994, 998 (7th Cir. 2004 (“[W]e have held that the scope of a Fourth
Amendment claim is limited up until the point of arraignment”) and Gauger v. Hendle, 349 F.3d 354, 362-63 (7th
Cir. 2003) (“[T]he interest in not being prosecuted groundlessly is not an interest that the Fourth Amendment
protects”)). As noted above, Martin has not asserted a malicious prosecution claim based on post-arraignment
conduct. Even if he had, “[p]robable cause to arrest is an absolute defense to any claim under Section 1983 against
police officers for . . . malicious prosecution.” See Mustafa, 442 F.3d at 547.
declines to interpret Kerr as setting forth a broad rule that “a plaintiff whose constitutional rights
have been violated . . . is entitled to recover damages for incarceration, legal fees, and/or for
emotional distress caused by an unlawful detention or search.” (R.46, Response Br. at 7).
Train v. City of Albuquerque
The Court acknowledges, nonetheless, a district court decision from the District of New
Mexico, which held that a plaintiff who raises a “constitutional claim based on [an] illegal
search” may be entitled to recover damages for post-indictment proceedings, assuming that the
constitutional deprivation proximately caused the asserted damages. See generally Train v. City
of Albuquerque, 629 F. Supp. 2d 1243 (D.N.M. 2009) (“Train II”). In so concluding, the Train
court looked to the Tenth Circuit’s guidance “about the interests that the Fourth Amendment
protects,” including “liberty, property, and privacy interests—a person’s sense of security and
individual dignity.” Id. at 1252 (citing Holland ex rel. Overdorff v. Harrington, 268 F.3d 1179,
1195 (10th Cir. 2001)). The district court then reasoned:
According to the Tenth Circuit’s guidance on the Fourth Amendment, any damage award
available for a Fourth-Amendment violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 should be tailored to
compensating losses of liberty, property, privacy, and a person’s sense of security and
individual dignity. While it may not be an evil to uncover crime, the drafters obviously
did not think uncovering crime was a higher value than protecting and securing a
person’s home from unreasonable searches. Federal criminal charges, federal detention,
and all of the negative consequences of those charges and attendant to federal custody
implicated Train’s interest in liberty and his sense of security and individual dignity.
That imprisonment occasioned economic losses. Such losses should be compensable,
given that they implicate the interests that the Tenth Circuit has explained the Fourth
Id. The Train court further noted the existence of “evidence from which a reasonable jury might
infer that the Defendants’ actions proximately caused” such damages. Id. at 1253, 1255.
After reviewing applicable precedent, however, the Court declines to follow the
reasoning in Train. As an initial matter, the Train court deemed itself “not bound to adhere to
the common-law contours” of the tort of false arrest, insofar as the plaintiff had brought a
“constitutional claim based on [an] illegal search” rather than a Section 1983 false arrest claim.
See id. at 1255; see also Train v. City of Albuquerque, No. CIV08-0152JB/RLP, 2009 WL
1330095, at *2 (D.N.M. Apr. 13, 2009) (“Train I”) (“Train brought this lawsuit in state court for
violations of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The
Defendants filed a notice of removal, removing this case to federal court”). Here, by contrast,
Martin has plainly brought a Section 1983 false arrest claim. (R.1). Accordingly, the Court is
bound by precedent such as Gauger v. Hendle, 349 F.3d 354, 362-63 (7th Cir. 2003), limiting
available damages “to the harm [the criminal defendant] incurred from the false arrest before he
was charged.” See Gauger v. Hendle, 349 F.3d 354, 362-63 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 484 (1994), Townes, 176 F.3d at 145-48, and Hector, 235 F.3d at 15761), abrogated on other grounds by Wallace v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421 (7th Cir. 2006).
Indeed, in this case, the existence of probable cause to arrest means that Martin cannot recover
even for pre-indictment damages following the contraband discovery. See Townes, 176 F.3d at
149. The Train court, by contrast, did not purport to examine whether probable cause existed to
arrest the plaintiff following the discovery of a firearm in his apartment. See Train I, 2009 WL
1330095 at *10 (“Ultimately, Pettit and Simmons did not have a sound basis to conduct a
warrantless search of the apartment”); Train II, 629 F. Supp. 2d at 1246 (“The Court has already
found that the search of Train’s apartment was unlawful and granted summary judgment in
Train’s favor on that issue”). For these reasons, Train is not instructive here.
Furthermore, although the district court in Train rejected a series of “policy arguments”
regarding the non-compensability of post-indictment damages stemming from an unlawful
search, see Train II, 629 F. Supp. 2d at 1253-54, more recent Circuit Court cases have
entertained and affirmed such arguments. As the Ninth Circuit, for example, recently observed:
“[I]n a § 1983 suit, the need for deterrence is minimal. Here, application of the
exclusionary rule would not prevent the State from using illegally obtained evidence
against someone, but instead would prevent state actors merely from defending
themselves against a claim for monetary damages. Exclusion of evidence in this context
would not remove any preexisting incentive that the government might have to seize
evidence unlawfully. It would simply increase state actors’ financial exposure in tort
cases that happen to involve illegally seized evidence. In effect, § 1983 plaintiffs would
receive a windfall allowing them to prevail on tort claims that might otherwise have been
defeated if critical evidence had not been suppressed. Even if such application of the rule
might in some way deter violative conduct, that deterrence would impose an extreme cost
to law enforcement officers that is not generally countenanced by the doctrine.
Lingo, 832 F.3d at 958–59. The Eleventh Circuit, too, recently observed:
The cost of applying the exclusionary rule in this context is significant: officers could be
forced to pay damages based on an overly truncated version of the evidence. And the
deterrence benefits are miniscule. Police officers are already deterred from violating the
Fourth Amendment because the evidence that they find during an illegal search or seizure
cannot be used in a criminal prosecution—the primary “concern and duty” of the police.
Moreover, plaintiffs can still sue a police officer for the illegal search or seizure,
regardless whether the officers can rely on illegally obtained evidence to defend
themselves against other types of claims. This threat of civil liability will adequately
deter police officers from violating the Fourth Amendment, whether or not the
exclusionary rule applies in civil cases.
Black v. Wigington, 811 F.3d at 1268 (citations omitted). The Seventh Circuit, in turn, has cited
both Lingo and Black with approval. See Vaughn, 2016 WL 5944726 at *3.
In the Section 1983 context, “the rules governing compensation for injuries caused by the
deprivation of constitutional rights should be tailored to the interests protected by the particular
right in question.” Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 258-59 (1978). In this case, Martin invokes
his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. A disconnect
exists, however, between the alleged constitutional violation and the injury for which Martin
now seeks a recovery – that is, his 65-day incarceration on felony charges. In view of this
disconnect, the Court agrees with the reasoning of Townes: “Victims of unreasonable searches
or seizures may recover damages directly related to the invasion of their privacy . . . but such
victims cannot be compensated for injuries that result from the discovery of incriminating
evidence and consequent criminal prosecution.” See Townes, 176 F.3d at 148; accord Hector,
235 F.3d at 157 (“the damages incurred in [the post-indictment legal] process are too unrelated to
the Fourth Amendment’s privacy concerns”) (discussing Carey). Although the Seventh Circuit
has not expressly adopted this principle regarding compensability, courts in this District have
applied it. See, e.g., Carroll, 2010 WL 5463362 at *4-5; Edwards, 2012 WL 983788 at *7-8.
Given this reasoning, and given the Seventh Circuit’s positive citation of Townes and Hector in
Gauger and Vaughn, the Court is likewise persuaded. Accordingly, the Court declines to follow
the reasoning set forth in Train.
The Proximate Cause Inquiry
Contrary to Martin’s suggestion, moreover, the Court need not undertake a causation
analysis in determining the present motion.8 Although the Train court left the proximate cause
inquiry to the jury, it did so in light of disputed “evidence.” In relevant part, the Train court
The parties in this case dispute causation. Train has evidence of injuries, including legal
costs, lost wages, and emotional distress, which a reasonable jury might find were a
foreseeable consequence of the constitutional deprivation and which would not have
occurred absent the constitutional deprivation. A reasonable jury might infer from the
evidence that the constitutional deprivation proximately caused Train’s asserted losses.
On the other hand, Simmons and Pettit have evidence that other parties, including
possibly Train himself, his criminal defense attorney, and the grand jury that returned an
indictment against him, proximately caused the asserted injuries. In light of the evidence,
the Court believes proximate cause in this case is appropriately left to a jury.
Even applying traditional causation principles, it seems that—while “ordinary principles of tort causation” apply
with respect to Martin’s initial stop and search claims—the “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine is not available to
elongate the chain of causation” with respect to his false arrest claim following the contraband discovery, including
his $110,500 damage claim for a 65-day incarceration. See Townes, 176 F.3d at 146; see also id. (“allowing this and
other § 1983 actions to proceed solely on a fruit of the poisonous tree theory of damages . . . would distort basic tort
concepts of proximate causation”); accord Edwards, 2012 WL 983788 at *7 (noting the same).
See Train II, 629 F. Supp. 2d at 1253. In this case, however, regardless of whether an
“intervening judgment” by a judge or grand jury broke the causal chain between Defendants’
conduct and Martin’s 65-day incarceration, Martin “is foreclosed from recovery for a second,
independent reason: the injury he pleads (a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable searches and seizures) does not fit the damages he seeks (compensation for
his [incarceration]).” See Townes, 176 F.3d at 146-47; see also Hector, 235 F.3d at 161 (“Given
that the cases on intervening causes are legion and difficult to reconcile . . . and that we have
other, sufficient grounds for resolving this case, we will not reach the issue of intervening
causation”). Following the reasoning of Townes and Hector—which the Train court explicitly
declined to follow—the Court does not reach the issue of intervening causation.
Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment. While
Martin’s Section 1983 case may proceed as to the initial stop and search of his person and car on
May 24, 2013—before Defendants’ discovery of the illegal firearm and crack cocaine—he may
not seek damages based on Defendants’ post-discovery conduct, including damages related to his
65-day incarceration. See Townes, 176 F.3d at 149 (“Ultimately, Townes’s only possible
damage claim would be limited to the brief invasion of privacy related to the seizure and initial
search of his person”); see also Edwards, 2012 WL 983788 at *8 (“while Williams might be
entitled to damages for harm he suffered as a result of being unlawfully removed from the car at
gunpoint, he would not be able to recover for his fourteen-month incarceration before the
charges against him were dropped”); Carroll, 2010 WL 5463362 at *5 (“Having determined that
probable cause emerged at least as early the discovery of the guns and I.D.s, there can be no
recovery for false arrest under § 1983 after that point”).
For the forego
oing reasons the Court grants Defen
ndants’ moti for partia summary
Dated: January 5, 2017
AM J. ST. EV
Unit States District Court Judge
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