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Case Name Vodak v. City of Chicago PN-IL-0010
Docket / Court 1:03-cv-02463 ( N.D. Ill. )
Additional Docket(s) 09-2768  [ 09-2768 ]
09-2843  [ 09-2843 ]
09-2901  [ 09-2901 ]
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On March 20, 2003, thousands of people gathered in Chicago to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Roughly 700 of these demonstrators were allegedly detained, arrested, jailed, or falsely charged with crimes. On April 10, 2003, represented by The People's Law Office and private counsel, these ... read more >
On March 20, 2003, thousands of people gathered in Chicago to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Roughly 700 of these demonstrators were allegedly detained, arrested, jailed, or falsely charged with crimes. On April 10, 2003, represented by The People's Law Office and private counsel, these protestors filed a putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City and its Police Department. The complaint was brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for alleged violations of the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unlawful detainment and arrest.

The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants unlawfully detained and imprisoned the class by "herding," "sweeping" and then "pinning" them in a small area, and then preventing them from either leaving or continuing to peacefully demonstrate. The plaintiffs also claimed they were subjected to unnecessary and excessive force, arrested, and imprisoned in police vehicles and cells for as long as 36 hours. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and monetary relief.

After several lengthy discovery disputes, on April 17, 2006, the District Court (Judge Virginia M. Kendall) certified a class of: "all persons who were surrounded by Defendants on March 20, 2003 on Chicago Avenue, just east of Michigan Avenue and west of Mies Van Der Rohe Way ("the bounded area"), between approximately 8:30 p.m. and 11:30p.m."

The Court also certified three sub-classes:
1. Subclass A-1 members: “all class members who were surrounded by Defendants in the bounded area for one and a half to three hours before they were allowed to leave the area."
2. Subclass A-2 members: "all class members who were surrounded by Defendants in the bounded area, arrested and detained at a police station. These individuals were released without being charged with any crime or ordinance violation."
3. Subclass A-3 members: “all class members who were surrounded by Defendants in the bounded area, arrested and detained at the police station. These were charged with criminal offenses, released only upon conditions of bond, required to appear in court on criminal charges and later the charges against them were dismissed in their favor."
Two days later, the Court denied various motions by the defendants to dismiss claims and denied the defendants' motion seeking to relieve the City of Chicago from liability for the acts charged.

In April 2004, the City of Chicago filed a counterclaim against the plaintiffs and the class they represented and filed an amended complaint in May 2006. The City alleged that the plaintiffs had violated the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago during the protest by failing to obtain a permit and obstructing public streets and were liable to the City for cost incurred by the police. The plaintiffs moved to dismiss the counterclaim but the Court denied the motion in August 2006.

On March 10, 2008, the court denied the City’s motion for class certification of its counterclaim against the plaintiffs because the class members’ individual issues would predominate and counter-defendants would likely have different defenses.

Ultimately the court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the counterclaim in its opinion on February 27, 2009, holding that the defendants had failed to identify specific behavior leading to specific damage and that the plaintiffs could not be held liable for the defendants’ costs solely because of their association with the protest. 624 F. Supp. 2d 933.

On January 5, 2009, the court consolidated this case for trial with another case, Beal v. City of Chicago, involving individuals also arrested on Chicago Avenue during the protest (some of whom claimed they were not protesters but merely people trying to travel on that street). The class action plaintiffs and the City defendants cross-moved for summary judgment. On February 27, 2009, the Court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that the officers had probable cause, that there was insufficient evidence of civil conspiracy, and that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. 624 F. Supp. 2d 933.

The plaintiffs appealed, and on March 17, 2011, the Court of Appeals (Judges Richard A. Posner, Diane P. Wood, and Lynn Adelman) reversed and remanded the District Court judgment, finding that there were issues of fact that precluded summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claims of the plaintiffs. Specifically, there was an ongoing dispute as to whether the defendant police had effectively communicated the order to disperse to the protesters before arresting them, whether the protester crowd was peaceable, and whether the police superintendent could be held liable under §1983. 639 F.3d 738.

After several more months of discovery disputes, on June 28, 2012, the District Court approved a class settlement, and on November 7, 2012, the court issued a final judgment outlining the terms of the settlement as well as payments to be made by the defendants. In exchange for all class members being barred from bringing suit in the future, A-1 Subclass Members were to receive $500 per person, A-2 Subclass Members were to receive $8,750 per person, and A-3 Subclass members were to receive $15,000 per person. The 11 named plaintiffs were to receive $7,750 per person, 39 deposed class members were to receive $948.71 per person, and the class counsel's expert witness was to receive $14,000. The City was also to pay attorneys' fees and costs of $4,800,000. The sum total of payments equaled approximately $10,267,250. The City also agreed to provide criminal history record information to any Subclass A-2 or A-3 member and to seal or expunge their records of arrest related to the 2003 protest at no cost. There was no further significant litigation after this settlement and the case is now closed.

Andrew Steiger - 11/12/2013
Will McCartney - 03/25/2018
Sara Stearns - 04/07/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Aggressive behavior
Excessive force
False arrest
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Chicago
Plaintiff Description Chicago residents who were protesters and bystanders at a protest in Chicago on March 20, 2003.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2003
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:03−cv−02463 (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-IL-0010-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2003
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 63] (2004 WL 783051) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/15/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 83]
PN-IL-0010-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/03/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order (2004 WL 1381043) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/07/2004
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 121] (2004 WL 2032147) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/09/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 140]
PN-IL-0010-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/30/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order (Granting Motion for Class Certification) [ECF# 219] (2006 WL 1037151) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/17/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 223] (2006 WL 1049736) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/19/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order and Opinion [ECF# 277] (2006 WL 2524141) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/30/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 391] (2008 WL 687221) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/10/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 555] (624 F.Supp.2d 933) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/27/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (7th Circuit Court of Appeals) (639 F.3d 738)
PN-IL-0010-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/09/2011
Press Release
PN-IL-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2012
Preliminary Approval of Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement of Class Action [ECF# 692] (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint motion to approve Amended Class Action Settlement and Amended Agreement of Settlement [ECF# 697]
PN-IL-0010-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment Order [ECF# 714] (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0010-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/07/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Kendall, Virginia Mary (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0005 | PN-IL-0010-0011 | PN-IL-0010-0012 | PN-IL-0010-0013 | PN-IL-0010-0014 | PN-IL-0010-0015 | PN-IL-0010-0016 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Nolan, Nan R. (N.D. Ill.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0003 | PN-IL-0010-0007 | PN-IL-0010-0009
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fennerty, James Russell (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0006 | PN-IL-0010-0008 | PN-IL-0010-0010 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Gelsomino, Sarah Jeanette (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0017 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Hoft, Janine L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0006 | PN-IL-0010-0008 | PN-IL-0010-0010 | PN-IL-0010-0017 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Langone, Christopher V. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0006 | PN-IL-0010-0008 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Mogul, Joey L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0008 | PN-IL-0010-0010 | PN-IL-0010-0017 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Naffziger, Jeffrey David (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Power, Melinda L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0006 | PN-IL-0010-0008 | PN-IL-0010-0010 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Stainthorp, John Ladell (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0017 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brodrick, Audrey Lane (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Donham, Cary E. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0017
Engquist, Josh Michael (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Fabian, Kellye L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Hamilton, Jennifer Louise (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Jackson, Heather Ann (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0017 | PN-IL-0010-9000
Jebson, Scott J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Levy, Richard Bruce (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Mayer, Jeffrey J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
McAusland, Alec Meachem (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Nolan, Brett (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Radia, Bhairav (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Roddy, Joseph P. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Rose, Suzanne Miriam (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Sheahan, Terrence J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Shoffner, Robin Denise (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Sikes, Richard Thomas Jr. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-9000
Slagel, Allan T. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0010-0017 | PN-IL-0010-9000

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