Mederich v. City Of Chicago et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order. Signed by the Honorable Manish S. Shah on 7/6/2017: Coban's motion to dismiss, 48 , is granted; Count VII is dismissed without prejudice as to Coban. The City's motion to dismiss, 52 , is denied; Counts VI I and VIII are not dismissed with respect to the City. The individual officers' motion to dismiss, 54 , is granted in part and denied in part; Counts II, III, and V are dismissed without prejudice as to the individual officers, but Count VIII is not dismissed with respect to the individual officers. Liacopoulos's motion to dismiss, 56 , is granted; Count V is dismissed without prejudice as to Liacopoulos. [For further detail see attached order.] Notices mailed. (psm, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
No. 16 CV 5481
CITY OF CHICAGO, OFFICER NICHOLAS
M. CHRABOT #12748, OFFICER DENNIS
J. COCHRAN #16631, SERGEANT JOSEPH
W. GIAMRBONE #2500, DETECTIVE JOY
VAN BEVEREN #21219, OFFICER ERIC
GOMEZ, OFFICER EDWARD GOMEZ,
COBAN TECHNOLOGIES, INC., and MIKE
Judge Manish S. Shah
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
While arresting plaintiff John Mederich, defendant Officer Michael Chrabot
broke Mederich’s arm. Dash cameras in the police squad cars and surveillance
cameras from nearby businesses should have recorded the interaction between
Mederich and the police officers, but no video or audio footage exists. Mederich
brings a variety of claims against the City of Chicago; individual police officers;
Coban Technologies, a company that services the police department’s dash cameras;
and Mike Liacopoulos, the owner of a liquor store that may have had surveillance
video of the arrest. Defendants move to dismiss all claims, except the excessive force
claim (Count I) and the Monell claim (Count IV).
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain factual allegations that
plausibly suggest a right to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677–78 (2009). In
ruling on a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6), a court must accept all factual
allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor, but
the court need not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations. Id. at 680–82.
John Mederich and two of his friends were standing in an alley when a
marked squad car with Officers Nicholas Chrabot and Dennis Cochran, in full dress
uniform, arrived.  at 3 ¶¶ 6–7.1 Mederich was holding a brown paper bag that
contained an open twenty-five ounce alcoholic beverage. Id. at 3 ¶ 6. The squad car’s
dash camera pointed at Mederich and his friends. Id. at 3 ¶ 7. Chrabot exited the
squad car and said to Mederich, “Did you think I wasn’t going to see you?” Id. at 3
¶¶ 7–8. While writing Mederich a ticket, Chrabot asked Mederich if he knew why
he was being stopped. Id. at 3 ¶ 8. Mederich answered that he was stopped because
he was drinking in public, in violation of the law. Id. Chrabot threatened to write
Mederich up for “not cooperating,” and told Mederich that he was under arrest and
to put his hands on the squad car. Id. at 3 ¶ 9. Mederich followed Chrabot’s
instruction. Id. Chrabot warned Mederich that the dash camera was recording their
Bracketed numbers refer to entries on the district court docket.
Mederich’s friends told Chrabot that “Black lives matter” and that Chrabot
would not be treating Mederich the way Chrabot was if Mederich and his friends
were “straight white guys.”2 Id. at 3–4 ¶¶ 9–10. Chrabot demanded: “What did you
say to me?” Id. at 3 ¶ 10. Then, without cause or provocation, Chrabot twisted
Mederich around and threw him to the ground, fracturing Mederich’s right arm. Id.
at 7 ¶ 13. Before being transported to the police station, Mederich’s arm was placed
in a cast at Norwegian American Hospital. Id. at 7 ¶ 14.
Sergeant Joseph Giambrone investigated Mederich’s arrest and concluded
that Officer Chrabot used an appropriate amount of force. Id. at 4 ¶ 11. Despite the
fact that at least five cameras may have captured or did capture Mederich’s arrest,
Giambrone did not consider any video or audio footage in reaching his conclusion.
Id. At the time of the arrest, there were three squad cars with dash cameras, id. at
16 ¶ 1, and there were surveillance cameras owned by Rite Liquors and the Chicago
Athletic Club in or near the alley, id. at 4 ¶ 11. The police department maintains
Watch Incident Logs to report malfunctioning dash cameras; none of the dash
cameras that were at the scene of Mederich’s arrest appeared in the relevant logs
before Mederich’s arrest, thereby suggesting that all of those dash cameras were
properly functioning.3 Id. at 16 ¶¶ 2–3. Nevertheless, the City reported that the
Mederich’s and his friends’ sexual orientation is homosexual.  at 2 ¶ 5.
Coban Technologies contracted with the City of Chicago to “provide software, parts, repair
services and/or part and service upgrades including software” to all dash cameras in the
City of Chicago’s squad cars from December 3, 2014 through December 2019.  at 16 ¶ 4.
Under the contract, Coban had fourteen days to fix a broken dash camera “after receiving a
proper City authorized purchase order.” Id. at 16 ¶ 5. The complaint pleads in the
alternative: either the City negligently failed to authorize a purchase order to repair the
dash camera in Chrabot’s vehicle had had drained batteries for twenty-nine days
before Mederich’s arrest, id. at 16 ¶ 2, and the individual log for a second police car
indicated that its dash camera “was abruptly shut down” during Mederich’s arrest,4
id. at 18 ¶ 1. The complaint does not make any specific allegations about the third
police car’s dash camera or whether it captured Mederich’s arrest.
With respect to the surveillance videos, the complaint says that Rite Liquors
had video of the incident for at least seven days and that the Chicago Athletic Club
had video of the incident for at least ten days. Id. at 11 ¶ 13. But, the owner of Rite
Liquors, Mike Liacopoulos, allegedly conspired with the Chicago Police Department
to “destroy or allow to be destroyed” the video surveillance evidence. Id. at 11 ¶ 13.
Similarly, the management from the Chicago Athletic Club “either destroyed or
failed to save video footage of the incident.” Id. The complaint does not name the
Chicago Athletic Club or its agents as defendants.
Despite Officers Chrabot’s and Cochran’s claim that Mederich grabbed
Chrabot’s left wrist during the altercation, which Mederich denies, neither officer
nor Detective Van Beveren contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney’s felony
review unit to seek felony charges for aggravated battery against Mederich. Id. at
11–12 ¶ 14. Mederich believes they only charged him with misdemeanors,5 because
they knew that a felony review request would result in the Assistant State’s
three squad cars’ dash cameras, or the City did authorize a purchase order, but Coban
Technologies breached its duty to fix the dash cameras in fourteen days. Id.
The complaint also states that for twenty-three days before Mederich’s arrest, Coban
Technologies had “failed to replace the batteries” in that second car.  at 17 ¶ 7.
The officers charged Mederich with battery and resisting arrest; Mederich denies
committing these crimes.  at 12 ¶ 14.
Attorney insisting on viewing video evidence from the dash and surveillance
cameras as well as interviewing the parties involved; all of which would have
corroborated Mederich’s version of the events and not the officers’. Id. at 12 ¶ 14, 13
The complaint also says that Giambrone did not document any medical
treatment of Chrabot’s claimed injury, id. at 13 ¶ 15, nor did he interview
Mederich’s friends or any other potential witnesses, id. at 4 ¶ 11. Although he
approved the resisting arrest charge, Giambrone did not document any verbal
commands Chrabot gave that Mederich failed to follow, nor did he review any
evidence that Mederich “fled” or “pulled away.” Id. at 13 ¶ 15. Mederich accuses
Giambrone of “maliciously and willfully” framing him, when Giambrone “knew or
should have known” that the video evidence contradicted the officers’ story about
him grabbing Chrabot’s wrist. Id. at 12 ¶ 15. Mederich believes Giambrone failed to
fully investigate the incident as required under Chicago Police Department Rules
and instead adhered to the Chicago Police Department’s “code of silence.” Id. at 12
Mederich alleges that the individual defendants acted together in a
conspiracy to deter Mederich from bringing an action, and that they did so by
bringing false criminal charges of battery and resisting arrest against him, and by
destroying the video and audio evidence of his arrest. Id. at 10 ¶ 12.
Coban Technologies’ Motion to Dismiss
Mederich brings a claim for negligent repair of the dash cameras against
Coban Technologies and the City of Chicago, but the complaint places liability on
one or the other, not on both: “The City negligently failed to issue a purchase order
to repair the dash cams [. . .] until after the Plaintiff was injured. Alternatively, the
City did issue a purchase order to repair the dash cameras [. . .] but Coban
Technologies, Inc. failed in its duty to fix the dash cams in 14 days.”  at 16–17
¶ 5. Mederich says that Coban and the City had a duty to provide timely repair
services to the dash cameras and that they breached this duty by failing to replace
the batteries in two dash cameras involved in his arrest and injury. Id. 17 ¶ 7. As a
result of the negligent failure to replace the dash cameras’ batteries, Mederich says
that he was “forced to defend himself from baseless criminal charges,” and that his
ability to recover damages from Chrabot’s intentional and malicious use of excessive
force was harmed. Id. 17 ¶ 9. Coban moves to dismiss this count arguing that
Mederich has not pled facts to demonstrate that Coban owes him a duty or that
Coban’s alleged breach was the proximate cause of Mederich’s alleged injuries. See
 at 4.
To state a cause of action for negligence, Mederich must show that Coban
owed a duty to him, that Coban breached that duty, and that Mederich incurred
injuries proximately caused by the breach. First Springfield Bank & Trust v.
Galman, 188 Ill.2d 252, 256 (1999). Breach and proximate cause are questions of
fact for the jury, but the existence of a duty is a question of law for the court. Adams
v. N. Illinois Gas Co., 211 Ill.2d 32, 43–44 (2004). To determine if a duty exists,
courts consider whether the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant is one
where the law imposes an obligation of reasonable conduct on the defendant, for the
benefit of the plaintiff. Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill.2d 422, 436 (2006).
This inquiry involves four factors: (1) the reasonable foreseeability of the injury; (2)
the likelihood of the injury; (3) the magnitude of the burden of guarding against the
injury; and (4) the consequences of placing the burden on the defendant. Vancura v.
Katris, 238 Ill.2d 352, 383 (2010).
Mederich points to Coban’s contract with the City, wherein Coban committed
to repair and provide parts for dash cameras within fourteen days of receiving a
formal request from the City. Since Chrabot’s vehicle had had drained batteries for
twenty-nine days and the other vehicle had had drained batteries for twenty-three
days before Mederich’s arrest, Mederich argues that Coban breached its duty to
timely repair the cameras. Negligent performance of a contractual duty may create
tort liability to a plaintiff who is not party to the contract. Rozny v. Marnul, 43
Ill.2d 54, 62–63 (1969). But that possibility does not mean that there is always a
duty to that plaintiff. The nature of the relationship is context-dependent. Mederich
argues that the likelihood of police violence resulting in injury is high in Chicago
and that it is widely known that evidence from dash cameras is crucial in litigation
involving Chicago police officers; thus, it was reasonably foreseeable that Mederich
or another individual would be injured by the negligent failure to replace batteries
in the squad cars’ dash cameras. The complaint does not support such an expansive
notion of tort duty between city contractors and the public at large.
The complaint raises more questions than it answers. Did the City submit a
formal request to have Coban repair the dash cameras in the squad cars? Is a
battery a “part” and or is replacing a battery a “repair” under the contract? Did
Coban fail to act within fourteen days of receiving a formal request from the City?
Did the fourteen days elapse on or before the date of Mederich’s arrest? The
complaint does not adequately allege that Coban breached its contract with the
City. But, even if Coban’s contractual duty to the City had been triggered, the
complaint does not demonstrate why Coban’s duty would extend to cover Mederich,
nor does it show how Coban would owe Mederich an independent duty.
Cameras may deter or document instances of police misconduct, but a
contract to repair those cameras does not impose a tort duty on the repair company
to protect people from the risks of police misconduct. It is not reasonably foreseeable
to such a contractor that its negligent act would result in false criminal charges
against an individual or the inability of that individual to recover damages.
Similarly, Mederich’s alleged injury was not foreseeable to Coban; the two are not in
a relationship where Coban faces obligations for Mederich’s benefit. Moreover, even
if Coban owed Mederich a duty to replace the batteries in the City’s dash cameras,
the complaint does not demonstrate why Coban’s breach of that duty would be a
proximate cause of the harm Mederich alleges. Mederich could have been subjected
to baseless criminal charges or been unable to recover damages even if Coban had
replaced the batteries in the dash cameras. In fact, the allegations of the complaint
suggest that Chrabot believed the dash cameras were working and he nevertheless
engaged in the alleged misconduct; Giambrone did not rely on any video footage (or
its absence) when making a charging decision. Coban’s conduct is not alleged to
have caused the false criminal charges or excessive force against Mederich. As such,
Coban is not liable in tort for Mederich’s alleged injuries; Coban’s motion to dismiss
The City of Chicago’s Motion to Dismiss
Mederich brings Count VII for negligent repair of the dash cameras and
Count VIII for negligent spoliation against the City of Chicago. As stated above,
Mederich’s allegations in Count VII are in the alternative, either Coban
technologies breached its duty to timely repair the dash cameras or the City
negligently failed to issue a proper request to have Coban make the necessary
repairs. With respect to Count VIII, Mederich alleges that the City is liable for the
failure of Officers Eric Gomez and Edward Gomez to preserve evidence from their
dash camera, which abruptly shut down during Mederich’s arrest. Specifically,
Mederich says “[t]he City of Chicago and their agents Officer Gomez and Officer
Gomez breached their duty when they carelessly, negligently or intentionally by
way of acts or omissions destroyed the video and audio tapes of the activities
occurring.”  at 18 ¶ 4. As a proximate cause of this breach, Mederich says he has
been injured in his ability to prosecute and enforce his legal rights. Id. at 19 ¶ 8.
The City moves to dismiss Counts VII and VIII on the basis that both claims
sound in negligence and are barred by the Local Governmental and Governmental
Employees Tort Immunity Act.6 See 745 ILCS 10/1-101 et seq. This act typically
shields government employees from liability for injuries resulting from their acts or
omissions in exercising discretion in a determination of policy or in executing or
enforcing the law (unless, in the latter situation, their actions constitute willful or
wanton conduct). 745 ILCS 10/2-201, 2-202; Ries v. City of Chicago, 242 Ill.2d 205,
221–27 (2011). Whenever a government employee cannot be held liable for his
actions, neither can his employer. 745 ILCS 10/2-109. In this way, the Act also
protects local governments. But, the Act operates as an affirmative defense.
Michigan Ave. Nat. Bank v. Cty. of Cook, 191 Ill.2d 493, 503 (2000). Since a
complaint is not required to anticipate and overcome affirmative defenses, the
question is whether the complaint contains sufficient facts to establish an
affirmative defense or allegations that establish plaintiff is not entitled to relief as a
matter of law, in which case the affirmative defense is a proper basis for dismissing
the complaint. O’Gorman v. City of Chicago, 777 F.3d 885, 889 (7th Cir. 2015).
Section 2-201 provides that if a public employee serves in a position involving
the determination of policy or the exercise of discretion, that employee is not liable
unless that injury resulted from the employee’s act or omission in determining
policy and in exercising discretion. Harinek v. 161 N. Clark St. Ltd. P’ship, 181
Ill.2d 335, 341 (1998) (citing 745 ILCS 10/2-201). A “policy decision” is one that
Defendants also move to dismiss Count VIII on the basis that intentional spoliation is not
recognized as a tort claim in Illinois.  at 4; see also Borsellino v. Goldman Sachs Grp.,
Inc., 477 F.3d 502, 509–10 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Boyd v. Travelers Ins. Co., 166 Ill.2d 188,
192–193 (1995)). Mederich acknowledges that intentional spoliation has not been
recognized by Illinois courts and clarifies that his claim is based on negligence.  at 10.
requires a balancing of competing interest and making a judgment call. Id. at 342.
“[D]iscretionary acts are those which are unique to a particular public office,” which
stand in contrast with ministerial acts where “a person performs on a given state of
facts in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of legal authority, and
without reference to the official’s discretion as to the propriety of the act.” Snyder v.
Curran Twp., 167 Ill.2d 466, 474 (1995). Section 2-202 provides that “A public
employee is not liable for his act or omission in the execution or enforcement of any
law unless such act or omission constitutes willful and wanton conduct. 745 ILCS
10/2-202. “Willful and wanton conduct” consists of “a course of action which shows
an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows
an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their
property.” 745 ILCS 10/1-210.
The complaint does not contain the necessary allegations to support the
City’s affirmative defense that the defendants are immune from tort liability for
negligent repair of the dash cameras. The contract between Coban and the City
referenced a formal request the City could submit to trigger Coban’s duty to repair
the cameras within fourteen days. It is unclear from the complaint who makes the
decision to submit that request, whether that person is in a policy-making or
discretion-exercising position, or whether the decision to not submit the request
(assuming that an agent of the City made such a decision) involved a policy
determination or an exercise of discretion. Similarly, the complaint does not
establish that an agent of the City was executing or enforcing the law when he
failed to submit a repair request to Coban; nor does the complaint suggest that the
agent’s failure to do so was not willful or wanton conduct. Without these elements,
the City cannot show, at this stage of the litigation, that it is immune from liability
for Count VII under § 10/2-201 or § 10/2-202 of the act.
Regarding Count VIII, the facts in the complaint do not show that Officers
Eric Gomez and Edward Gomez held a position that involves the determination of
policy or the exercise of discretion. Even if it did, the complaint does not include
facts that demonstrate that these officers made a policy decision or exercised
discretion in negligently failing to preserve evidence from their dash camera. Quite
the opposite, the complaint states that the dash camera was abruptly shut down
during Mederich’s arrest, which seems to imply either a technological malfunction
or foul play by the officer(s).
The City argues that the officers made a policy decision about the dash
cameras: they balanced “the various interests of protecting the community” with
“waiting until monetary resources were available to fix the camera.”  at 4. Such
facts are not alleged in the complaint, and ensuring that dash cameras are operable
and that their footage is preserved could be a ministerial act mandated by Illinois
law. See 20 ILCS 2610/30. All police squad vehicles are required to have dash
cameras, id. § 30(b), and recordings must be stored for at least ninety days, id.
§ 30(f). “Under no circumstances shall any recording [. . .] be altered or erased prior
to the expiration of the designated storage period.”7 Id. Additionally, the City of
“Upon completion of the storage period, the recording medium may be erased and reissued
for operational use unless otherwise ordered by the District Commander or his or her
Chicago Police Department is responsible for maintaining operable dash cameras;
the law provides that “[a]n officer operating a patrol vehicle must immediately
document and notify the District Commander or his or her designee of any technical
difficulties, failures, or problems with the in-car video camera recording equipment
or recording medium.” Id. § 30(h). Thereafter, the District Commander or his or her
designee must make “every reasonable effort” to repair the dash camera and to
“determine if it is in the public interest to permit the use of the patrol vehicle.” Id.
The complaint alleges that none of the dash cameras that were present for
Mederich’s arrest had been reported as faulty or inoperable; and since officers are
required to report issues with their dash cameras, it would be reasonable to infer
that those dash cameras were properly functioning. Relatedly, the allegation that
one dash camera was abruptly shut down during Mederich’s arrest suggests that a
previously unreported issue with the camera arose or that the officer(s)
intentionally interfered with the camera’s functioning. The complaint does not
allege any facts to support the City’s argument that interests were balanced or that
a policy decision was made about the relevant dash cameras. Similarly, the
complaint does not contain allegations that the officers were executing or enforcing
a law related to the camera when it abruptly shut down. If anything, the complaint
alleges willful and wanton conduct by the officers in their failure to report issues or
in their tampering with the dash camera. It does not contain allegations about a
policy determination such that immunity under 2-201 would apply. Thus, an
designee or by a court, or if designated for evidentiary or training purposes.” See 20 ILCS
affirmative defense based on the Tort Immunity Act is not available for the City at
this stage of the litigation. The City’s motion to dismiss Counts VII and VIII is
denied.8 Defendants may assert an immunity defense after some factual
Individual Officers’ Motion to Dismiss
Mederich brings the following counts against the individual officers: Count II
invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Count III for battery, and Count V for conspiracy.9 The
individual officers move to dismiss these counts on the basis that they are barred by
Heck v. Humphrey, and that plaintiff is collaterally estopped from pursuing them.
See  at 2 (citing 512 U.S. 477 (1994)). The Heck doctrine provides that “a person
who has been convicted of a crime cannot seek damages or other relief under federal
law (as in a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of
Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971)) for
violation of his rights by officers who participated in the investigation or
prosecution of the criminal charge, if ‘a judgment in favor of the plaintiff [in the civil
suit] would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.’” Hill v.
Murphy, 785 F.3d 242, 244 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487). The
purpose of the Heck doctrine is to prevent a collateral attack on a conviction
For the same reasons, the individual officers’ motion to dismiss Count VIII for negligent
spoliation, , is denied.
Section 1981 does not create a private right of action against state actors. Campbell v.
Forest Pres. Dist. of Cook Cty., Ill., 752 F.3d 665, 671 (7th Cir. 2014). It is unclear what
theory of liability Mederich invokes in his Count II (it is not a racial discrimination claim,
the typical claim under § 1981), but in any event and for present purposes, it is either
duplicative of Count I or is a § 1983 claim challenging aspects of Mederich’s prosecution.
through a civil suit. VanGilder v. Baker, 435 F.3d 689, 691 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing
Heck, 512 U.S. at 484). Heck also promotes the “strong judicial policy against the
creation of two conflicting resolutions arising out of the same or identical
transaction.” 512 U.S. at 484. This same judicial policy led to the application of
Heck to state-law claims. Lieberman v. Liberty Healthcare Corp., 408 Ill.App.3d
1102, 1112 (2011); see also Northfield Ins. Co. v. City of Waukegan, 701 F.3d 1124,
1137 (7th Cir. 2012) (Hamilton, J., concurring); Smith v. Burge, 222 F.Supp.3d 669,
693 (N.D. Ill. 2016); Starks v. City of Waukegan, 946 F.Supp.2d 780, 803 (N.D. Ill.
2013), on reconsideration in part (Aug. 16, 2013).
In the underlying criminal case, the judge found Mederich guilty as to all
three counts against him: (1) battery in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2); (2)
drinking alcohol on the public way in violation of MCC § 8-4-030; and (3) resisting
or obstructing a peace officer in violation of 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a). See [54-1]; [54-2].10
The judge sentenced Mederich to supervision. Although Mederich acknowledges
that he was drinking alcohol in the alley before his arrest, he otherwise maintains
his innocence and insists that criminal charges were falsely brought against him.
But, he argues that his claims cannot be barred by Heck because supervision, which
The individual officers produce and rely on the Certified Disposition and the trial
transcript from Mederich’s criminal case—documents that Mederich did not attach to the
complaint. See [54-1], [54-2]. I take judicial notice of these public records in deciding the
motion to dismiss. See Wright v. Associated Ins. Companies Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th
Cir. 1994) (“[D]ocuments attached to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the
pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff’s complaint and are central to his claim.
Such documents may be considered by a district court in ruling on the motion to dismiss.”).
In the complaint, Mederich acknowledges (but contests the validity of) his misdemeanor
charges of battery and resisting arrest; and the complaint references his related “criminal
case.” See  at 11–12 ¶ 14. These public records are central to the claims in the
he received, is not a criminal conviction or a final disposition in Illinois. See Kirwan
v. Welch, 133 Ill.2d 163, 167 (1989); 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.1.
Neither the Seventh Circuit nor the Illinois Supreme Court has decided
whether a disposition of supervision in Illinois constitutes a conviction or sentence
for purposes of Heck. Drawing on the broader principles of the Heck doctrine,
however, I conclude that it does apply to a disposition of supervision. An
adjudication of Mederich’s guilt preceded his disposition of supervision—the judge
found that Mederich committed battery and resisted arrest. See United States v.
Jones, 448 F.3d 958, 961 (7th Cir. 2006) (a disposition of supervision is in fact
preceded by an adjudication of guilt). Mederich stands guilty of battery and
resisting arrest and so the Heck doctrine bars any civil action by him against the
officers involved in his investigation where a judgment in his favor would, in effect,
question the validity of his prior convictions. There should be only one resolution of
the facts underlying Mederich’s convictions—and that occurred in his criminal case.
Mederich argues that even if the Heck doctrine applies, his claims do not
“necessarily” invalidate his criminal convictions. I disagree. Mederich was convicted
of misdemeanor battery and resisting arrest. For the former offense, the judge
found that Mederich “knowingly without legal justification by any means [. . .]
ma[de] physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.” 720
ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2). For the latter offense, the judge found that Mederich “knowingly
resist[ed] or obstruct[ed] the performance by one known to the person to be a peace
officer [. . .] of any authorized act within his or her official capacity.” 720 ILCS 5/31-
1(a). Yet, according to the complaint, Mederich put his hands on the hood of the
squad car, as he was instructed, and Chrabot threw him to the ground without
provocation. See, e.g.,  at 3 ¶ 9; 7 ¶ 13. These and other allegations about how
the police conspired to hide evidence of Chrabot’s battery of Mederich are the basis
for Mederich’s § 1981, battery, and conspiracy claims. Given that these allegations
directly contradict the findings of fact in the criminal case, which led to Mederich’s
convictions, they are barred by Heck.11 The individual officers’ motion to dismiss as
to these issues is granted. Counts II, III, and V12 are dismissed without prejudice.
Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 839 (7th Cir. 2011) (dismissals based on the Heck
doctrine are without prejudice).13
Liacopoulos’s Motion to Dismiss
Mederich brings Count V against Liacopoulos for conspiring to interfere with
his civil rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2). The statute makes it unlawful for
two or more persons to conspire for the purpose of “impeding, hindering,
obstructing, or defeating, in any manner, the due course of justice in any State or
I deny Mederich’s request to stay the proceedings in their entirety until his supervision
has been terminated and his charges dismissed. See  at 4. The excessive force claim is a
live controversy that should proceed to adjudication and is not dependent on plaintiff’s
Even if Heck did not bar Mederich’s conspiracy claim, only public employees remain as
defendants, so a conspiracy claim under § 1983 would have “no role to play.” Scott v. City of
Chicago, 619 Fed. App’x 548, 548 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Fairley v. Andrews, 578 F.3d 518,
526 (7th Cir. 2009)).
I do not reach defendants’ arguments for collateral estoppel because I find that Heck
applies. In the event Mederich amends his complaint, however, I note that his criminal trial
(based on the current record) litigated the question of whether he committed battery or
resisted arrest. It did not necessarily decide whether police officers reached an agreement
to destroy evidence, nor did it necessarily decide whether Chrabot committed a battery
Territory, with intent to deny to any citizen the equal protection of the laws, or to
injure him [. . .] for lawfully enforcing, or attempting to enforce, the right of any
person, or class of persons, to the equal protection of the laws.” Id. The complaint
compares this case to certain facts surrounding the fatal shooting of Laquan
McDonald. After that shooting, officers went to a nearby Burger King restaurant
and requested to view the surveillance footage.  at 11 ¶ 13. Burger King
employees granted the officers access to the surveillance footage because they “were
just trying to help the police officers.” Id. The next day, when the Independent
Police Review Authority went to Burger King to review the surveillance footage,
they learned that the footage had been deleted. Id. The complaint alleges that like
the Burger King employees, Liacopoulos conspired to destroy or allow the police to
destroy evidence. Id.
Liacopoulos moves to dismiss the complaint, arguing that it consists of
conclusory allegations that fail to state a § 1985 conspiracy claim against him. See
. To survive the motion to dismiss, the complaint must allege that the
conspirators: (1) agreed to inflict injury upon him, (2) acted with a single plan, and
(3) knew the general nature and scope of the plan. Green v. Benden, 281 F.3d 661,
665 (7th Cir. 2002). “Agreement may be inferred from circumstantial evidence, but
only if it is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to conclude that a meeting of the
minds had occurred and that the parties had an understanding to achieve the
conspiracy’s objectives.” Id. at 665–66.
The complaint does not allege any meeting of the minds between Liacopoulos
and the officers to violate Mederich’s constitutional rights. The complaint states
that Rite Liquors retained the surveillance footage for seven days after Mederich’s
arrest. It is not alleged that officers went to Rite Liquors to view the surveillance
footage and if so, whether the footage had been deleted after the officers viewed it,
or whether Rite Liquors merely taped over the footage after storing it for one week.
In fact, the complaint undermines Mederich’s argument that Liacopoulos intended
to inflict injury upon him by comparing Liacopoulos to the Burger King employees
in McDonald’s case—the comparison leads to an inference that Liacopoulos, too,
allowed officers to access the footage simply out of a desire to comply with the
officers’ request, rather than any wish to harm Mederich. Without an allegation
about a meeting of the minds, Mederich’s conspiracy claim against Liacopoulos
fails.14 Liacopoulos’s motion to dismiss is granted.
Mederich has amended his complaint once in response to motions to dismiss,
but the case remains at an early stage. Where I dismissed counts, the dismissal is
without prejudice. See Runnion ex rel. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago &
Nw. Indiana, 786 F.3d 510, 518 (7th Cir. 2015).
A § 1985(2) conspiracy to obstruct access to state courts must be motivated by invidious,
class-based animus. Lowe v. Letsinger, 772 F.2d 308, 311 (7th Cir. 1985); Wright v. Illinois
Dep’t of Children & Family Servs., 40 F.3d 1492, 1507 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing Griffin v.
Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102 (1971)). The complaint contains some allegations related to
Mederich’s sexual orientation, and there was reference to the Black Lives Matter movement
during the arrest, but the complaint does not allege class-based animus as motivation for
the conspiracy by all involved officers and Liacopoulos to influence the state-court
prosecution. Although this argument was not raised by the defendants, I note that Count V
is deficient for this reason too.
Coban’s motion to dismiss, , is granted; Count VII is dismissed without
prejudice as to Coban. The City’s motion to dismiss, , is denied; Counts VII and
VIII are not dismissed with respect to the City. The individual officers’ motion to
dismiss, , is granted in part and denied in part; Counts II, III, and V are
dismissed without prejudice as to the individual officers, but Count VIII is not
dismissed with respect to the individual officers. Liacopoulos’s motion to dismiss,
, is granted; Count V is dismissed without prejudice as to Liacopoulos.
Manish S. Shah
United States District Judge
Date: July 6, 2017
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