On March 15, 2001, the Chicago civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeking damages on behalf of plaintiff Joseph Lopez for alleged constitutional violations stemming from his arrest in July 2000 by Chicago police for a murder he did not commit. Plaintiff alleged that after he was taken into custody in shooting death of a 12-year old girl, he was held by Chicago police in a in a nine-by-seven-foot interrogation room for four days, handcuffed to a ring on the wall. He alleged he was deprived of sleep, beaten and threatened in an attempt to coerce him into a confessing to the murder. Ultimately, Lopez gave a false confession, which he later recanted. The confession did not match did not match the forensic evidence from the crime scene. On the fifth day of his detention, police charged Lopez with murder and held a press conference to announce the charges. That same day, a different man, Miguel Figueroa was arrested and confessed to the child's murder. The charges against Lopez were dropped and this lawsuit followed.
Plaintiff's suit alleged Section 1983 claims against the City of Chicago and several detectives and police officers for excessive force, unlawful detention, police torture, and conspiracy in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. He also brought supplemental state law claims. The defendants denied all allegations and the City moved to bifurcate the Section 1983 claims against it from the claims against the individuals officers to stay discovery against the City until after discovery against the individual officers was concluded. The District Court (Judge Darrah) denied the request for bifurcation, but ordered that discovery against the City be stayed pending later reassessment. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 2002 WL 335346, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3458 (N.D.Ill. Mar 01, 2002).
Plaintiff then moved to amend his complaint to add class action claims to reform an unconstitutional Chicago Police Department practice known as the "hold past court call" procedure. Plaintiff alleged that this procedure allowed police to continue investigating and interrogating recent arrestees without taking them before a judicial official for a determination of probable cause. The District Court (Judge Darrah) granted the motion over defendants' objections. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 2002 WL 31415767, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20613 (N.D.Ill. Oct 25, 2002). Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint with class allegations on November 12, 2002. Discovery continued.
The District Court granted summary judgment on several claims against the two police officers who initially arrested plaintiff. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 2004 WL 725790, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5371 (N.D.Ill. Mar 31, 2004). Plaintiff decided to withdrew his request for class certification and the case proceeded on plaintiff's claims against the remaining defendants.
Note that after dropping the class action claims, plaintiff's attorneys, Loevy & Loevy, filed a separate class action lawsuit on October 21, 2004, challenging the detention practices of the Chicago Police Department. That suit was styled Dunn v. City of Chicago [See PN-IL-0008 of this collection]
Following pre-trial motions, see Lopez v. City of Chicago, 2005 WL 563212 (N.D.Ill. Mar 08, 2005), the case proceeded to trial against the remaining individual defendants. After 7 days of testimony, the District Court (Judge Deryeghiayan) refused to submit the majority of plaintiff's claims (claims for unlawful extended detention, unlawful conditions of confinement intention infliction of emotional distress) to the jury for deliberation and ruled that defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The only claims to go to the jury were the excessive force and assault and battery claims against Officer Gomez, who allegedly punched plaintiff when driving him to the station for questioning. The jury found in favor of Officer Gomez. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 2005 WL 711986, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6160 (N.D.Ill. Mar 23, 2005) Plaintiff appealed. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 464 F.3d 711 (7th Cir. 2006). The Appeals Court found that Lopez was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his unlawful detention claim and that the trial court should have submitted the police torture and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims to the jury.
On remand, the case was settled on terms that were not made public. Under the settlement, plaintiff's attorneys petitioned the Court for an award of attorney's fees. The District Court (Judge Elaine E. Bucklo) awarded plaintiff $819,577.00 in fees, $11,537.12 for taxable expenses and $26,905.68 for non-taxable expenses. Lopez v. City of Chicago, 2007 WL 4162805, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85708 (N.D.Ill. Nov 20, 2007).Dan Dalton - 02/11/2008