Tracy v. Hull et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order. Defendants' motion for summary judgment 62 is granted. Civil case terminated. Signed by the Honorable Jorge L. Alonso on 7/19/2017. Notice mailed by judge's staff (ntf, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
OFFICER MICHAEL HULL and the
CITY OF NAPERVILLE,
No. 15 CV 5052
Judge Jorge L. Alonso
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Stephen Tracy filed a five-count second amended complaint alleging that
defendants Officer Michael Hull and the City of Naperville violated Tracy’s constitutional rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In November 2015, the Court dismissed three of plaintiff’s claims and
set an October 2016 trial date on the remaining claims for unreasonable search and
indemnification. After re-deposing plaintiff, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment,
and the trial date was stricken. For the reasons set out below, the Court grants defendants’ motion
for summary judgment.
Plaintiff alleges that his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches
was violated when Officer Hull entered his home without permission in October 2014. (2d Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 7-18.) In March 2014, plaintiff began leasing an apartment at 12 North Main Street in
Naperville, Illinois from landlord Michael Marks. (Defs.’ SOMF ¶ 6.)1 On October 22, 2014,
plaintiff was given proper notice of the landlord’s intention to inspect the apartment plaintiff had
Plaintiff has not responded to defendants’ statement of material facts or submitted any additional facts
pursuant to LR 56.1(b)(3). Accordingly, the Court deems all of defendants’ facts admitted. See Apex
Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013).
been renting from him. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) On October 24, 2014, the landlord arrived at plaintiff’s
front door to inspect and take photos of the apartment for an appraisal. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) When the
landlord arrived, plaintiff stepped onto the front porch to speak to him. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Officer
Hull was with the landlord, and after plaintiff stepped onto the porch, Hull moved behind him.
(Id. ¶¶ 16-17.) The landlord entered the premises2 and Hull positioned himself in the doorway
facing out, but did not enter the home and never touched plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 18-27, 31.) The door to
the premises remained open throughout the duration of the landlord’s ten- to fifteen-minute
inspection. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 28.)
“The court shall grant summary judgment 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). In considering such a motion, the court construes the evidence and all inferences
that reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See
Kvapil v. Chippewa Cty., 752 F.3d 708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014). “Summary judgment should be
denied if the dispute is ‘genuine’: ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.’” Talanda v. KFC Nat’l Mgmt. Co., 140 F.3d 1090, 1095 (7th
Cir. 1998) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)); see also Bunn v.
Khoury Enters., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2014). The court will enter summary
judgment against a party who does not “come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit
the finder of fact to find in [its] favor on a material question[.]” Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d
1166, 1167 (7th Cir. 2013).
The landlord was not acting on behalf of the Naperville police when he inspected the apartment. (Defs.’
SOMF ¶ 29.)
Defendants argue that plaintiff’s claim fails because Officer Hull never entered the
premises and the landlord had express permission to enter the premises. (Defs.’ Mem. at 3.)
Plaintiff contends that even though he admits that Hull did not go through the home with the
landlord, there is a question of fact as to whether Hull unlawfully entered the premises. (Pl.’s
Resp. at 2.) In their reply, defendants assert that courts have repeatedly held that an open doorway
constitutes “outside” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and that Officer Hull did not cross
the threshold of plaintiff’s home. (Defs.’ Reply at 1, 3.)
“The Fourth Amendment . . . provides that ‘[t]he right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated[.]’” Bleavins v. Bartels, 422 F.3d 445, 450 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting U.S. Const. amend.
IV). “A search occurs when the government invades a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy
. . . or physically intrudes into a constitutionally protected area in order to obtain information.”
United States v. Correa, No. 11 CR 750, 2015 WL 300463, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 21, 2015) (citing
United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984) and United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945,
“The touchstone of Fourth Amendment inquiry is reasonableness, a standard
measured in light of the totality of the circumstances and determined by balancing the degree to
which a challenged action intrudes on an individual’s privacy and the degree to which the action
promotes a legitimate government interest.” Green v. Butler, 420 F.3d 689, 694 (7th Cir. 2005).
No reasonable juror could find that Officer Hull conducted an unreasonable search.
Plaintiff testified that the entry to his apartment had a wooden exterior door and a screen door.
(Defs.’ SOMF, Ex. 2, Tracy Dep. at 27 ll. 17-23.) When the landlord arrived, the wooden door
was open, and plaintiff heard pounding on the screen door. (Id. at 26 ll. 1-2; 28 ll. 1-3.) Plaintiff
came to the door and saw his landlord through the screen door and walked “fully out onto the front
porch.” (Id. at 29 l. 23-30 l. 1.) According to plaintiff, Hull “slipped” behind him and “stood in
[the] doorway[.]” (Id. at 31 ll. 17-19.) The screen door did not close, and the landlord entered the
apartment behind Hull. (Id. at 32 ll. 16-23.) Plaintiff testified that Hull was standing “inside the
screen door area” and “believe[d]” the officer was positioned where the wooden door would have
been if it were shut. (Id. at 41 ll. 21-22; 42 ll. 3-5.) Hull stood in the doorway facing outward,
blocking plaintiff from entering while the landlord inspected the apartment. (Id. at 47 ll. 4-13.)
The inspection lasted ten to fifteen minutes, and plaintiff was neither arrested nor detained.3
There is no evidence before the Court to suggest that Officer Hull entered the apartment to
conduct a search, or that his mere presence in the doorway of the apartment was a violation of
plaintiff’s reasonable privacy expectations when he knew the landlord was coming to inspect the
apartment. The wooden door was open before Hull and the landlord arrived and plaintiff willingly
stepped out onto the porch. Accordingly, the Court grants Hull’s motion for summary judgment.
See Simmons v. Catton, 764 F. Supp. 2d 1012, 1018-19 (C.D. Ill. 2011) (granting summary
judgment to officer when his “presence on Plaintiff’s property did not represent a significant
intrusion into Plaintiff’s privacy” because the officer did not enter plaintiff’s home and at most
looked into plaintiff’s window and around the yard); Stepney v. City of Chi., No. 07 C 5842, 2010
WL 4226525, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2010) (granting summary judgment to officer who was
standing in plaintiff’s backyard and did not conduct a search); Johnson v. City of Prospect
Heights, No. 05 C 5715, 2008 WL 4379043, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 21, 2008) (holding that
defendant officer did not conduct an unreasonable search and stating even though officer may
have stood in the doorway of plaintiff’s home, “[t]here [were] no allegations or any factual
Plaintiff’s unlawful seizure claim was dismissed in September 2015 . Plaintiff’s false arrest claims
were dismissed in November 2015 .
evidence that [the officer] went beyond [this] very minimal intrusion”). Because the Court has
found that there is no issue of material fact as to whether a constitutional violation occurred,
summary judgment in favor of the City will be entered on the indemnification count. See Askew v.
City of Chi., No. 04 C 3863, 2005 WL 1027092, at *10 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 6, 2005) (granting summary
judgment in favor of the City on indemnification when summary judgment was granted in favor of
the officer defendants).
For the reasons set forth above, defendants’ motion for summary judgment  is granted.
Civil case terminated.
ENTERED: July 19, 2017
JORGE L. ALONSO
United States District Judge
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