Bradford et al v. City of Chicago, a municipal corporation et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order: The Court acknowledges the unfortunate nature of the events in this case and empathizes with Bradford's family over the loss of Bradford's life. But even construing the facts and all reasonable inferences in Pl aintiffs' favor, there is no evidence to support that those events are legally attributable to Defendants' actions (or inaction). Accordingly, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in full, R. 198 , and this civil case is terminated. Signed by the Honorable Thomas M. Durkin on 3/31/2021. Mailed notice. (ecw, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
LINDA BRADFORD, Individually and as
Special Administrator of the Estate of
DEVELT BRADFORD, deceased,
No. 16 CV 1663
CITY OF CHICAGO, a Municipal
Corporation, CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER
PHYLLIS GILL, CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER
JOHN OTTO, and DETENTION AIDE
Judge Thomas M. Durkin
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
In this case concerning the suicide of Develt Bradford (“Bradford”) while in the
custody of the City of Chicago (the “City”), Plaintiffs are Bradford’s widow Linda
Bradford, both individually and as special administrator of Bradford’s estate.
Defendants are the City, Chicago police officers Phyllis Gill and John Otto, and
detention aide Darrin West (Gill, Otto, and West together, “the Individual
Defendants,” and the City and the Individual Defendants together, “Defendants”).
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are liable for Bradford’s suicide. Defendants have
moved for summary judgment. R. 198. For the following reasons, their motion is
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 (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 (1986).
Local Rule 56.1
Local Rule 56.1 requires parties moving for summary judgment to submit in
support of their motion a statement of material facts comprised of short numbered
paragraphs with citations to admissible evidence. L.R. 56.1(a)(3). The nonmovant
then must respond with particularity, providing citations to “specific references to the
affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon” in the case
of any disagreement. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). The nonmovant also may submit a statement
of additional facts, the obligations for which are “identical to the obligations imposed
on the movant’s statement of facts.” Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill.
2000); L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). If the nonmovant fails to controvert the movant’s facts in
the manner proscribed, the facts are deemed admitted. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C); Smith v.
Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). Indeed, the Court is “entitled to expect strict
compliance” with Local Rule 56.1, Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co. LLC, 401 F.3d 803,
809-10 (7th Cir. 2005), particularly where, as here, the parties are represented by
counsel, Pytell v. Bradley, 2010 WL 5110138, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 7, 2010) (“Strict
compliance with Local Rule 56.1 is required even of pro se litigants. Pytell, who is
represented by counsel, appears to have no excuse for failing to comply with the
rules.”) (internal citations omitted).
Those rules notwithstanding, a significant portion of Plaintiffs’ response to
Defendants’ Local Rule 56.1 statement is improper because it contains argument,
incorrect characterization of the evidence and/or speculation, denials without proper
citation to the record, and factual allegations beyond those set forth in the paragraph
to which Plaintiffs were responding. See, e.g., R. 221 ¶¶ 3-4, 7-8, 10-12, 14-23, 25, 2729, 31, 33-34, 36-37, 45-47, 61, and 70. And Plaintiffs’ statement of additional facts
suffers from many of the same issues. See, e.g., R. 217 ¶¶ 3-6, 8-10, 12-19, 21-26, 2935. 29-34. 1 Plaintiffs’ legal conclusions, speculation, unsupported or argumentative
denials and mischaracterization of the evidence are ignored. See Campbell v. City of
Chicago, 2018 WL 4637377, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 27, 2018) (“Purely argumentative
Plaintiff’s Rule 56.1 statement of additional facts contains paragraphs numbered
successively as follows: 1-21, 26-38, and 22. For purposes of clarification, the Court’s
references to those paragraphs are renumbered as Defendants’ responses to them are;
that is, from 1-35. See R. 224.
denials, legal conclusions, and unsupported general denials do not belong in Local
Rule 56.1 Statements.”); De v. City of Chicago, 912 F. Supp. 2d 709, 714 (N.D. Ill.
2012) (“Speculative assertions are improper under Local Rule 56.1.”); Taylor v. Cook
Cty. Sheriff’s Off., 442 F. Supp. 3d 1031, 1041 (N.D. Ill. 2020) (Local Rule 56.1
statements that mischaracterize the evidence violate that rule). The same is true for
the additional facts Plaintiffs submitted through their response. Cichon, 401 F.3d at
809-10 (affirming district court decision to ignore additional facts submitted in
response to movant’s 56.1 statement). Further, Plaintiffs’ “factual allegations not
properly supported by citation to the record are nullities.” Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 583
(“citations must include page (or paragraph) numbers, as opposed to simply citing an
entire deposition, affidavit, or other exhibit document”). 2
On the other hand, each of Defendants’ statements of fact are properly
supported. The Court thus credits Defendants’ version of the facts to the extent not
properly disputed in Plaintiff’s responses or by Plaintiffs’ own Local Rule 56.1
statement of additional facts and evidentiary materials, and deems the offending
portions of Plaintiffs’ responses to be admissions. Campbell, 2018 WL 4637377 at *1;
Aberman v. Bd. of Educ. of Chicago, 242 F. Supp. 3d 672, 677 (N.D. Ill. 2017). The
Court turns to the facts set forth and properly supported by the parties’ submissions
in accordance with Local Rule 56.1, which come primarily from Defendants’ filings.
Plaintiffs also cite to the operative complaint and to prior pleadings as evidence. See
id. ¶¶ 20, 21, 34, 35. But “mere allegations of a complaint are not evidence.” Tibbs v.
City of Chicago, 469 F.3d 661, 663 n.2 (7th Cir. 2006). And prior pleadings are of no
legal effect. See 188 LLC v. Trinity Indus., Inc., 300 F.3d 730, 736 (7th Cir. 2002) (an
amended pleading makes the prior pleading “functus officio”).
Waldridge v. Am. Hoescht Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994) (“[D]istrict courts
are not obliged . . . to scour the record looking for factual disputes.”).
Defendant Detective John Otto and non-party Detective Richard Sullivan
arrested Bradford without a warrant at his home early in the morning on November
15, 2011 based on information linking him to a recent armed robbery and murder. 3
Bradford was wearing pajamas at the time, but was given clothing, including his
sweatshirt, pants, and jacket. Bradford, who had been arrested ten times before that
on primarily drug-related charges, waived his Miranda rights and provided the
detectives with information regarding the alleged shooter. The detectives then drove
Bradford to the District 5 Police Station at 727 East 111th Street in Chicago and
brought him to Area 2 for questioning.
At approximately 2:48 a.m., Bradford was placed in Interview Room 2 at Area
2. Interview Room 2 contains an Electronic Recording of Interview (“ERI”) switch,
which was activated and recorded the audio and video of Detective Otto’s interview
Plaintiffs offer the June 15, 2020 affidavit of Bradford’s sister, Diane Bradford
Hyman, who lived in the same building as Bradford and was present when Bradford
was arrested. R 219, Ex. 3. In that affidavit, Ms. Hyman states among other things
that she “overheard the officers who came into the house scream ‘yeah, we have that
N—er now.’” R. 219, Ex. 3 ¶ 6. Defendants argue that this affidavit contradicts Ms.
Hyman’s October 17, 2014 deposition testimony, in which Ms. Hyman recounted her
conversations with the officers and the statements she heard them make, none of
which statements were similar to that alleged in her affidavit. See generally R. 224,
Ex. AA; McCann v. Iroquois Mem’l Hosp., 622 F.3d 745, 750-51 (7th Cir. 2010) (“a
plaintiff cannot manufacture an issue of fact by submitting an affidavit that
contradicts prior sworn testimony”). The Court agrees, but notes that this statement
is not relevant to the claims in the case.
with Bradford a few minutes later. Detective Otto read Bradford his Miranda rights
and began to discuss the shooting and robbery in question. Shortly thereafter,
Bradford asked to speak to a lawyer. Detective Otto ended the interview and left the
room. Around 4:20 a.m., Detectives Otto and Sullivan removed Bradford from the
interview room for processing and to complete his arrest report. Bradford was
continuously recorded by the ERI until that point.
Bradford was taken to the District 5 lockup around 7:00 a.m. Lockup personnel
noted during Bradford’s intake that he did not appear despondent or irrational, and
that he indicated when asked that he had not attempted suicide or serious harm
before, and had no serious medical or mental problems. Like Interview Room 2, the
lockup contained video cameras, but they were inoperable, as they had been for years.
Bradford was removed from lockup and taken back to Area 2 for lineups from
approximately 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on November 16, 2011, before being returned
to Interview Room 2, where he was once again recorded by the ERI. Around 11:16
a.m., Bradford indicated that he wanted to talk. He was then questioned by nonparties Detective Alfini and his partner after waiving his Miranda rights. During this
interview, Bradford supplied more information regarding his role in the robbery and
shooting, and regarding the alleged shooter. Before concluding the interview,
Detective Alfini and his partner asked Bradford “Are you ok?” Bradford responded
“hell no, I ain’t.” Detective Alfini then said “You know what I mean. For the
circumstances we’re in.” Bradford raised his hands palms up in response, shook his
head, and said “yeah.” Detective Alfini asked Bradford if he needed anything to eat,
offered to heat up the food that he had been eating, lit Bradford’s cigarette, and
promised (at Bradford’s request) to look for some better cigarettes for him.
Bradford was interviewed again by different detectives around 7:19 p.m. and
8:01 p.m. that evening regarding other robberies that he was involved in. Both
interviews were recorded by the ERI. When speaking to him at 8:01 p.m., the
detectives acknowledged that Bradford had “been here for a while” and had “talked
to a few different detectives.” The detectives then asked Bradford if he was “willing
to talk to [them],” and Bradford agreed. He was again read his Miranda rights, and
thereafter answered their questions.
Bradford did not indicate at any point during any of the recorded interviews
that he was in pain or having any medical issues, or that he was contemplating
suicide or self-harm. There likewise is no other evidence that he otherwise told jail
staff that he was considering self-harm.
Bradford was transported back to lockup at approximately 9:00 p.m., which
was the last time Detective Otto saw him. Detective Otto testified that Bradford
appeared to be doing fine at the time, and that he never did or said anything to make
Otto think that he might commit suicide. Otto went home around 12:30 a.m.
That night, the Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney approved first degree
murder and robbery charges against Bradford. At some point that evening, Bradford
received a court order in his cell indicating that his bond hearing would take place
the morning of November 17, which, due to the timing of his arrest and approval of
charges, was outside of the usual 48 hours after arrest.
Defendant Detention Aide West worked the lockup the evening of November
16-17, arriving for duty after Bradford had been transported there. Non-party Officer
Gregory Jones was also on duty at the lockup that evening. Between them, Jones and
West checked Bradford’s and the other arrestees’ cells every 15 minutes pursuant to
City policy and recorded those checks in a logbook. In addition to the 15-minute
checks, Jones and West also checked the cells while completing other tasks in the
vicinity. Bradford remained calm and quiet throughout that time. None of the checks
revealed any observable change in Bradford’s demeanor. But at 1:25 a.m. on
November 17, 2011, ten minutes after the last logged check, Jones found Bradford
suspended by his neck with a pair of pajama pants tied to the bars of his cell. 4 Jones
immediately yelled for West, who rushed to help open the cell door, and then worked
to cut the pajama pants loose while Jones held Bradford up to create slack. Jones
performed chest compressions, and West ran to call the front desk so that staff could
notify the watch commander and call an ambulance. West then returned to Jones and
Bradford. The paramedics arrived within five minutes, but were unable to revive
Bradford, who was pronounced dead at 2:03 a.m.
Defendant Lieutenant Phyllis Gill was working as watch commander that
night and was responsible for overseeing the lockup. Prior to his death, Gill saw
Bradford once while performing her lockup inspection. She did not get the impression
that he would harm himself, and nor had she received information to indicate that he
The record is silent as to how the pajama pants came to be in the cell.
Dr. Ariel Goldschmidt performed an autopsy on Bradford’s body at the Cook
County Medical Examiner’s Office at approximately 9:00 a.m. on November 17, 2011.
According to Dr. Goldschmidt’s report, Bradford died of a hanging. The report noted
no injuries to Bradford’s body that were outside of those associated with a hanging,
and Dr. Goldschmidt ruled Bradford’s death a suicide. A second autopsy requested by
Bradford’s family also found to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that
Bradford’s manner of death was suicide, with no contributory causes of death.
In the course of this case, Plaintiffs hired Dennis Waller, a private detective
with extensive experience in law enforcement and related training and education, as
an expert. Mr. Waller considered Bradford’s death a suicide, for which he suggested
that Bradford was at a high risk because of the change in his status from suspect to
an individual charged with murder, and because he was held “virtually
incommunicado for almost 48 hours.”
A few days after Bradford’s death, another detainee committed suicide by
hanging. Lieutenant Gill testified that she had not heard of anyone who died by
hanging in the Fifth District before Bradford, and while she had heard that there had
been suicides in the past, she was not aware of the specifics. Detention Aide West
testified that he was not aware of any successful suicides prior to Bradford’s. There
is no evidence that Otto was aware of any suicides before Bradford’s.
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in December 2011 in Illinois state court, alleging
state law claims of wrongful death and survival. Plaintiffs amended their complaint
several times before adding a Fourth Amendment claim against the Individual
Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants then removed the case to federal
court. Almost a year later, Plaintiffs sought leave to file the operative complaint,
which added a claim against the City under Monell v. Department of Social Services
of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1987). This Court granted that motion, and
subsequently bifurcated and stayed the Monell claim.
In all, the operative complaint sets forth: (1) Illinois state law claims against
the Individual Defendants under the Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180/0.01, et seq.
(Count I) and Survival Act, 755 ILCS 5/27-6, et seq. (Count II); (2) respondeat superior
and indemnification theories against the City (Counts V and VI, respectively); (4) a
Fourth Amendment claim against the Individual Defendants (Count III); and 5) a
Monell claim against the City (Count IV). R. 44. Defendants move for summary
judgment on all counts.
Fourth Amendment (Count III)
In Count III, Plaintiffs assert that the Individual Defendants acted in an
objectively unreasonable manner in failing to supervise and prevent Bradford’s death
while in custody. Claims related to conditions of confinement are governed by
different constitutional amendments depending on the individual’s status within the
criminal justice system. The Fourth Amendment governs where, as here, the
individual is under arrest but has not yet received a judicial determination of
probable cause. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 464 F.3d 711, 719 (7th Cir. 2006).
The Seventh Circuit distinguishes between claims concerning a failure to
provide medical care, and those pertaining to conditions of confinement, but in each
case applies the Fourth Amendment’s “objectively unreasonable” standard. See
Currie v. Chhabra, 728 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2013). There is some confusion over
the theory Plaintiffs assert in this case. 5 But as explained below, Plaintiffs fail to
present evidence to support either theory, and the video and other evidence runs
contrary to both.
Courts look to four factors to determine whether an officer’s response to an
arrestee’s medical need—here, suicidal ideations—is objectively unreasonable: (1)
notice of the medical need; (2) seriousness of the medical need; (3) nature or scope of
the requested treatment; and (4) police interests involved. Florek v. Vill. of
Mundelein, Ill., 649 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2011). But “officers must receive some
form of notice of suicide risk before their failure to prevent an arrestee’s suicide can
be considered objectively unreasonable.” Buford v. City of Chicago, 2009 WL 4639747,
at *3 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 3, 2009). Indeed, “[o]bjective reasonableness is not . . . measured
by whether an officer should have had notice of a medical condition, but whether an
officer having actual notice of an arrestee’s medical condition acted reasonably.”
Saucedo v. City of Chicago, 2015 WL 3643417, at *4 (N.D. Ill. June 11, 2015). An
officer may receive such notice “by word . . . or through observation of the arrestee’s
operative complaint purports to allege a conditions of confinement claim,
whereas Plaintiffs’ response brief states that Count III concerns medical care.
physical symptoms.” Florek, 649 F.3d at 600 (quoting Williams v. Rodriguez, 509 F.3d
392, 403 (7th Cir. 2007)). Defendants contend that none of the Individual Defendants
had notice that Bradford was prone to suicide, so none can be liable. The Court agrees.
There is no evidence that Bradford suffered from mental health issues, threatened or
engaged in self-harm in the past, or had suicidal ideations prior to his suicide, let
alone that any of the Individual Defendants knew that he had. And as explained
further below, Plaintiffs cannot side-step this failure of evidence.
Otto. Plaintiffs argue that Detective Otto is liable because: (1) he knew
Bradford from prior arrests and that he “was on heroin and cocaine,” and if he did
not, Bradford “made it clear to him during the interrogation on video when he said ‘I
used my proceeds of the robbery to buy heroin’”; and (2) he was “trained to recognize
heroin withdrawal symptoms;” and “knew that Bradford was exhibiting these
symptoms.” R. 220 at 16. But Plaintiffs fail to substantiate that Otto was aware of
Bradford’s past or current troubles with illicit substances. And even if he was,
Plaintiffs offer nothing but speculation that Bradford was in withdrawal and that
Otto knew it. Moreover, Plaintiffs’ characterizations of Bradford’s “symptoms” are an
exaggeration in any case, and no reasonable jury could conclude otherwise. Indeed,
Plaintiffs contend that the ERI recordings show Bradford “shivering, sneezing and
sweating, all at the same time, pulling tissues out of a box and continuing to wipe his
brow,” and that he “look[ed] to be in pain” and was “twitching.” R. 220 at 7; R. 221 ¶
8. But the Court’s review of the recordings reveals that while Bradford did
occasionally use tissues, sneeze, and wipe his brow, there is no visible twitching or
shivering, and nothing to indicate that he was in pain. Even if there were, Plaintiffs
cite no authority to indicate that signs of pain or withdrawal are enough to give notice
of a suicide risk. And the Court is dubious of such a contention. See Pulera v. Sarzant,
2019 WL 2476978, at *5 (E.D. Wis. June 14, 2019), aff’d, 966 F.3d 540 (7th Cir. 2020)
(“complaints of physical pain and discomfort d[o] not give notice” of “an imminent risk
of [self-]harm); see also Est. of Allen v. Cumberland Cty., 2018 WL 6705672, at *3
(D.N.J. Dec. 19, 2018) (that undergoing opiate withdrawal not sufficient to allege a
vulnerability to suicide).
Plaintiffs also argue that Otto had notice of Bradford’s suicidality because
Bradford grew more and more despondent as time went on, began “crying
uncontrollably,” and “[h]is demeanor . . . move[d] into full depression.” R. 220 at 7.
First, this assumes that Otto witnessed every instance of behavior (which he denies).
And again, Plaintiffs exaggerate the evidence. The ERI recordings reflect that
Bradford ate, smoked cigarettes, answered questions about the crimes at issue,
expressed regret for having been involved, and otherwise largely sat quietly. That he
may have sniffled or cried softly at times or have been upset cannot be surprising,
and is not enough to suggest suicidal ideations as opposed to simple frustration or
upset about his situation. Courts have concluded that similar minor signs of upset
and even knowledge of diagnosed and medically-treated depression do not establish
notice of suicidality. See Pulera v. Sarzant, 966 F.3d 540, 551 (7th Cir. 2020)
(arrestee’s “scant comments” to defendant-officer indicating that his mother and
brother had recently committed suicide and that he had been prescribed clonazepam
for depression “d[id] not raise an issue of fact” on Fourth Amendment medical care
claim); Matos ex rel. Matos v. O’Sullivan, 335 F.3d 553, 558 (7th Cir. 2003) (“not every
prisoner who shows signs of depression . . . can or should be put on suicide watch”);
Pulera, 2019 WL 2476978, at *5 (“Pulera gave no indication he was thinking of
harming himself to any of the nursing staff he has sued for failing to prevent him
from doing so less than forty-eight hours later. They cannot be faulted for failing to
read his mind.”). 6
Plaintiffs also attempt to characterize the various officers’ behavior toward
Bradford as cruel or harsh, ask the Court to speculate about what occurred when
Bradford was not being recorded, and to assume that Detective Otto witnessed or
otherwise was privy to all of it. But even if Otto was always observing Bradford
(which, again, he denies), the ERI recordings reflect that the officers remained as
Bradford did—calm and relatively collected—speaking to him in a civil manner and
thanking him on several occasions for assisting in their investigations.
Moreover, while earlier versions of Plaintiffs’ complaint allege that Bradford
was tortured while in the City’s custody, the operative complaint makes no such
claim. Compare R. 1-1 (Fifth Amended Complaint) with R. 44 (Sixth Amended
Complaint). And even if Plaintiffs’ torture allegations still were part of this case,
The closest Plaintiffs come to offering evidence of suicidality is Bradford’s statement
in an ERI recording from November 16, 2011 that “my life is done.” But that
statement was made to Detective Alfini in passing while lighting Bradford’s cigarette
and responding to Bradford’s question about how charges are determined, not during
any interview, and there is no evidence that Otto was listening in or watching at the
Plaintiffs’ “evidence” fails to support them. First, Plaintiffs rely upon allegations
concerning police conduct occurring at the same police station in 1986. See R. 217 ¶¶
3-4. Plaintiffs make no effort to demonstrate—nor do they contend—that any of the
Individual Defendants were involved in that conduct or otherwise connect that
conduct to this case.
Plaintiffs also rely upon the June 11, 2020 affidavit of Bradford’s nephew,
Edwin Butler, who was questioned at Area 2 while Bradford was in custody.
According to Butler’s affidavit, when Butler attempted to speak to his uncle while
passing the room where he thought he was being held, Bradford did not answer, and
Detective Otto said “he can’t hear you now, ha!ha!ha!ha! He’s all f—ked up!” See R.
219-1 ¶ 25. Butler goes on to attest to his belief that “[s]omeone killed” Bradford “or
was instrumental in having or watching it be done.” Id. ¶ 34. But other than Butler’s
speculation, there is no record evidence that was the case. To the contrary, both
doctors who performed autopsies and Plaintiffs’ own expert concluded that Bradford’s
death was a suicide by hanging and cited no contributing causes or found any outward
signs of trauma. 7 See R. 23, Ex. H at 1-5, 9; R. 199, Ex. U at 47; R. 199, Ex. Z at 50,
53. Moreover, not only is it unclear that Bradford was in the room at the time such
that he could respond to Butler, but also Butler’s affidavit on this point is inconsistent
Plaintiffs also represent that Bradford “had marks on his arms” that “were
consistent with torture,” citing only to “Autopsy.” R. 217 ¶ 15. But there is nothing in
any autopsy report to support that fact. Instead, the photos from lockup show that
Bradford’s arms were intact while there, and the medical examiner testified that the
incisions to Bradford’s wrists in later photographs were not present prior to the
autopsy. See R. 23, Ex. I at 103-04.
with his October 2014 deposition testimony in any case. 8 See R. 224, Ex. AB at 84,
86, 91, 92 (indicating on several occasions that Otto had stated that Bradford “was
f—ked,” and that Butler was not sure Bradford was in the room when he did not
respond to Butler’s inquiry); see also McCann, 622 F.3d at 750-51 (“a plaintiff cannot
manufacture an issue of fact by submitting an affidavit that contradicts prior sworn
Summary judgment is proper for Otto on Plaintiffs’ medical care claim.
Gill. Next, Plaintiffs contend that Gill is liable on the medical care claim
because she was in charge of lockup the evening of Bradford’s death and was
“personally responsible for the personnel at District 5” and “for the wellbeing of the
detainees.” R. 220 at 19. But “to recover damages against a prison official acting in
a supervisory role, a § 1983 plaintiff . . . must . . . [demonstrate] that the defendant,
through his or her own conduct, has violated the Constitution.” Perez v. Fenoglio, 792
F.3d 768, 781 (7th Cir. 2015) (emphasis added). Plaintiffs have not done so.
Plaintiffs contend that Gill knew “that Bradford was a high profile case placed
in a cell where she was unable to see him and the cameras were broken.” R. 220 at
18. And Plaintiffs posit that Gill prepared a report in the aftermath of Bradford’s
death indicating that once Bradford had been charged, he should have been made to
change into paper clothing. Id. at 19. Plaintiffs speculate that “[s]ince [Gill] wrote
Notably, Butler’s affidavit indicates that when Butler had been able to speak to
Bradford earlier that day, Butler asked Bradford through the door, “You alright?”,
and Bradford responded, “Yeah.” See R. 219 ¶ 13. The record does not contain any
testimony from Otto regarding his exchanges with Butler.
this she must have been observing the changes in Bradford’s demeanor after the
charges went from robbery to murder and were given to him.” Id. However, this report
is not before the Court, and speculation about what Gill did or did not observe is not
sufficient to survive summary judgment, even assuming there was evidence to
substantiate a significant shift in Bradford’s demeanor (which there is not).
Piotrowski v. Menard, Inc., 842 F.3d 1035, 1039 (7th Cir. 2016). Further, Plaintiffs
cite no authority indicating that charging an arrestee with a serious crime places
officers on notice that he may be suicidal, and the Court doubts that is the law. See
Walgren v. Heun, 2019 WL 265094, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2019) (“[I]nferring notice
based solely on the nature of the accusations against [the arrestee] suggests that
notice could be imputed to any law enforcement officer who accuses an individual of
committing a sex offense or potentially any other serious offense. The Court cannot
accept that the scope of notice stretches so broadly.”). And finally, as this Court has
previously noted, a broken camera does not itself support a constitutional claim. 9
Plaintiffs also argue that Gill failed to ensure that detectives did not
interrogate arrestees in their cells, and that she failed to check on Bradford and the
other individuals in lockup at least twice as City policy required. R. 220 at 19. But
there is no evidence that Bradford was interrogated in his cell; in fact, the testimony
is all to the contrary. And Plaintiffs fail to point to any evidence indicating that Gill
See R. 72 at 7; see also Brinson v. Williams, 2009 WL 3483474, at *3 (S.D. Ga. Oct.
28, 2009) (“There is no constitutional requirement . . . that a prison warden install
cameras to monitor every square inch of a prison”); White v. Brown, 2014 WL
1028650, at *7 (M.D. La. Mar. 14, 2014) (“there is no federal constitutional
requirement that cameras be installed by prison officials in state prisons”).
did not conduct her cell checks, and it is undisputed that West and Jones checked on
Bradford every 15 minutes. 10 Summary judgment is proper for Gill.
West. Plaintiffs also argue that Detention Aide West is liable because he “knew
that Bradford had been charged with murder.” R. 220 at 20-21. But as stated, the fact
of Bradford’s charge was insufficient to place West on notice of Bradford’s suicidal
ideations. Plaintiffs also contend that West is personally responsible because he “did
not stop and check to see if Bradford was dead or alive” during his rounds or
“determine if [Bradford] was ok or about to commit suicide.” Id. And Plaintiffs suggest
that West “could have moved [Bradford] closer to the desk sergeant where he could
be monitored and did not.” Id. But it is undisputed that West and Jones performed
cell checks every 15 minutes, and, lacking notice of Bradford’s suicidal ideations,
Plaintiffs fail to establish that more was required. 11 Summary judgment is proper for
West on Plaintiffs’ medical care claim.
Conditions of confinement
unconstitutional must show that “the totality of the defendant’s conduct in detaining
the arrestee was ‘objectively unreasonable’ under the circumstances.” Flores v.
Lackage, 938 F. Supp. 2d 759, 775 (N.D. Ill. 2013); Williams, 509 F.3d at 403. In
In any event, “a violation of a jail policy is not a constitutional violation enforceable
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” Pulera, 966 F.3d at 551.
11 Moreover, it is undisputed that West (and Jones) acted promptly and appropriately
when they discovered Bradford hanging. See Woods v. City of Chicago, 2016 WL
11702225, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 23, 2016) (indicating that the actions by law
enforcement “taken to revive or treat” the arrestee “in response to finding [his] body
hanging in a cell may be the genuine issue in a case”).
making that assessment, courts consider several factors, including: the duration of
confinement; the nature and seriousness of the alleged constitutional violation; and
the police rationale for the alleged deprivation of rights. Flores, 938 F. Supp. 2d at
775; see also Lopez, 464 F.3d at 720. Unlike a medical care claim, a conditions of
confinement claim does not require that the defendant have notice of the arrestee’s
medical need. Saucedo, 2015 WL 3643417, at *6. Instead, “notice is merely one, nonconclusive factor” in the analysis. Id. But in suicide cases, that notice remains
instructive. And that makes sense, because as the court observed in Alcorn v. City of
Chicago, “it is difficult to see how failure to closely observe [the arrestee] or failure to
remove [clothing] items . . . from his person would be ‘objectively unreasonable’ unless
the Defendants were on notice that [he] had a medical condition for which
unmonitored time alone or access to [his] own clothing could pose a risk to his safety.”
2018 WL 3614010, at *13 (N.D. Ill. July 27, 2018). The court in Alcorn went on to
dismiss the plaintiff’s conditions of confinement claim, concluding that even the
defendant-officers’ alleged failure to perform the required 15-minute cell checks was
not objectively unreasonable where the officers lacked notice of suicidality. Id.
As in Alcorn, the Individual Defendants lacked notice of Bradford’s suicidal
ideations. And while it is undisputed that there were no working cameras in
Bradford’s cell and that Bradford was not provided with paper clothing and
apparently retained his pajama pants, it likewise is undisputed that the required 15minute cell checks were performed. And as noted, a broken camera does not itself
support a constitutional claim. Bradford also was offered food, drink, and cigarettes
and to use the restroom on multiple occasions while in Area 2, and the ERI recordings
reflect that he was treated in a civil manner.
Finally, Plaintiffs make much of the fact that another arrestee committed
suicide a few days after Bradford did. But that has no bearing on whether the
Individual Defendants acted in an objectively unreasonable manner with respect to
Bradford. Plaintiffs’ conditions of confinement claim fails on these facts. Cf. Alcorn,
notwithstanding that defendants failed to perform 15-minute cell checks or remove
harmful clothing from arrestee’s person, and ignored banging from arrestee’s cell,
because plaintiff alleged no facts to indicate that defendants were aware that arrestee
was suicidal); Saucedo, 2015 WL 3643417, at *6 (“a reasonable jury exercising
common sense could . . . conclude that failing to restrain and monitor a detainee for
over an hour after charging him with murder, despite ready access to handcuffs and
surveillance video, is objectively unreasonable”).
Defendants also contend that summary judgment is proper on Plaintiff’s
Fourth Amendment claim even if Plaintiffs could establish a genuine issue of fact for
trial regarding liability, because qualified immunity shields the Individual
Defendants. “When properly applied, [qualified immunity] protects all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 131 S. Ct.
2074, 2085 (2011). Unlike most defenses, “[t]he plaintiff carries the burden of
defeating the qualified immunity defense” once raised. Chasensky v. Walker, 740 F.3d
1088, 1095 (7th Cir. 2014). Qualified immunity applies unless the plaintiff establishes
both that: (1) the facts, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, amount to a
constitutional violation; and (2) the constitutional right at issue was “clearly
established” at the time of the alleged violation. McComas v. Brickley, 673 F.3d 722,
725 (7th Cir. 2012). A right is “clearly established” when its contours are “sufficiently
clear that a reasonable official would understand what he is doing violates that right.”
Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 739 (2002). To demonstrate that’s the case, a plaintiff
must present either: (1) a closely analogous case establishing the unconstitutionality
of the defendant’s conduct; or (2) evidence that such conduct was “so patently violative
of the constitutional right that reasonable officials would know without guidance
from a court.” Estate of Escobedo v. Bender, 600 F.3d 770, 779-80 (7th Cir. 2010).
Defendants point to the Supreme Court’s decision in Taylor v. Barkes to argue
that there is no constitutional right to the implementation of adequate suicide
prevention protocols for pretrial detainees, and no clearly established right to suicide
screening or monitoring. See R. 199 at 21-22 (citing Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S. Ct. 2042
(2015) and Saucedo, 2015 WL 3643417, at *22-23). Plaintiffs respond only by offering
Calallieri v. Shepard, 321 F.3d 616 (7th Cir. 2003), in which the court “denied
qualified immunity to a police officer who failed to report to jail personnel a detainee’s
risk of suicide.” R. 220 at 23. But Plaintiffs’ analysis goes no further than that, and
Calallieri is easily distinguished, because there, the plaintiff had established a
genuine issue regarding the defendant-officer’s notice of the risk of suicide, and here,
Plaintiffs have not. 321 F.3d at 623. Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to
establish a genuine issue for trial concerning qualified immunity, and summary
judgment is proper for the Individual Defendants on Count III.
Illinois Wrongful Death and Right of Survivorship (Counts I and II)
Defendants claim that summary judgment is also proper for the Individual
Defendants on Plaintiffs’ claims against them under Illinois’s Wrongful Death and
Survival Acts, because they have immunity under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act
(“TIA”). Plaintiffs fail to meaningfully respond to Defendants’ argument. 12 Regarding
medical care, the TIA provides in relevant part that:
Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for injury
proximately caused by the failure of the employee to furnish or obtain
medical care for a prisoner in his custody; but this Section shall not
apply where the employee, acting within the scope of his employment,
knows from his observation of conditions that the prisoner is in need of
immediate medical care and, through willful and wanton conduct, fails
to take reasonable action to summon medical care. Nothing in this
Section requires the periodic inspection of prisoners.
745 ILCS 10/4-105 (emphasis added). Having determined that the Individual
Defendants were not aware of the need for care, Plaintiffs’ wrongful death and
survival action claims based on that theory necessarily fail. See Belbachir v. Cty. of
McHenry, 2012 WL 4595344, at *7 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2012) (“None of the individual
Instead, Plaintiffs confusingly blend their argument regarding the TIA with their
argument on qualified immunity. See R. 220 at 23-24 (stating “The Tort Immunity
Act holds that even if there is liability, the officers of a municipality are shielded from
liability through qualified immunity (745 ILCS 10/1-101).” But the two doctrines
apply to different claims. See Jain v. Bd. of Educ. of Butler Sch. Dist. 53, 366 F. Supp.
3d 1014, 1019 (N.D. Ill. 2019) (“It does not appear that qualified immunity for federal
claims extends to state-law claims under Illinois law, in any event.”); see also Collins
v. Bd. of Educ. of N. Chicago Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. 187, 792 F. Supp. 2d 992, 999
(N.D. Ill. 2011) (“The Tort Immunity Act applies only to tort actions and does not bar
actions for constitutional violations.”).
defendants were shown to have been subjectively aware she was at substantial risk
of suicide. Accordingly, they are entitled to summary judgment [under the Tort
Immunity Act] on these state law claims.”).
Plaintiffs’ state law claims also fail to the extent they rely on an alleged failure
to supervise Bradford, because the TIA provides absolute immunity to the Individual
Defendants with respect to those claims. See 745 ILCS 10/4-103 (“Neither a local
public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to provide a jail, detention or
correctional facility, or if such facility is provided, for failure to provide sufficient
equipment, personnel, supervision or facilities therein.”); Jefferson v. Sheahan, 664
N.E.2d 212, 217 (Ill. App. Ct. 1996) (“the legislature did not intend there to be an
exception for willful and wanton misconduct in section 4-103, and none may be
judicially created”). Accordingly, summary judgment is proper for the Individual
Defendants on Counts I and II.
Respondeat Superior and Indemnification (Counts V and VI)
Defendants argue that Counts V and VI against the City for respondeat
superior and indemnification must fail because the underlying claims against the
Individual Defendants do. In response, Plaintiffs argue that the underlying claims
survive summary judgment, and therefore so to should the respondeat superior and
indemnification claims as to the City. See R. 220 at 25. But the Court has concluded
that the claims against the Individual Defendants fail, so summary judgment is also
proper on Counts V and VI. See Finwall v. City of Chicago, 490 F. Supp. 2d 918, 927
(N.D. Ill. 2007) (“Because the underlying claims against the individual defendants
have been dismissed, the respondeat superior claim against the City must also be
dismissed”) (citing Bachenski v. Malnati, 11 F.3d 1371, 1377-78 (7th Cir. 1993)); see
also Warfield v. City of Chicago, 565 F. Supp. 2d 948, 968 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (“To the
extent that the Court has dismissed claims against the individual Defendants,
Plaintiffs’ indemnification claims are also dismissed.”).
Monell (Count IV)
Plaintiffs’ Monell claim, which as noted was previously bifurcated from the
claims against the Individual Defendants, alleges that the City’s ongoing failure to
repair camera equipment installed to ensure inmate safety and systematic
understaffing and failure to supervise at-risk arrestees in City lockups created
constitutionally unreasonable conditions of confinement for inmates at risk of suicide.
But having determined that Plaintiffs have not established a constitutional violation
related to Bradford’s supervision, Plaintiffs’ Monell claim fails. 13
The Court acknowledges the unfortunate nature of the events in this case and
empathizes with Bradford’s family over the loss of Bradford’s life. But even
construing the facts and all reasonable inferences in Plaintiffs’ favor, there is no
evidence to support that those events are legally attributable to Defendants’ actions
(or inaction). Accordingly, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted in
full, R. 198, and this civil case is terminated.
Defendants also seek summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claim to recover the costs of
Bradford’s funeral. But having concluded that Defendants are not liable for
Bradford’s death, the Court need not reach the merits of this issue.
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin
United States District Judge
Dated: March 31, 2021
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