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Date: 10-26-2023

Case Style:

Edward Higgins and Alexander Garesche v. Village of Lyons, et al.

Case Number: 22-CV-4563

Judge: Ronald A. Guzman

Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Cook County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Mark H. Sterk, Amy Elaina Zale, and Michael Joseph Hayes, Jr.

Description: Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyers represented the Plaintiffs who sued the Defendants on civil rights violation theories.

Plaintiffs allege that, on August 28, 2021, Village of Lyons Police Officers J. Barajas and P. Frencl, along with unknown other officers, paramedics, and fire department personnel, were investigating a discovery of human remains within the Village of Lyons, “a newsworthy event.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 11, 12.) Plaintiff Edward Higgins, accompanied by his friend, Plaintiff Alexander Garesche, was about one block away “in an open area they were lawfully allowed to stand in,” while Higgins, “acting lawfully and with FAA authorization and credentials,” operated a drone to obtain overhead images “of the investigation site.” (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) Although “Plaintiffs had committed no crime,” police officers detained and arrested Higgins and Garesche. Barajas fastened them into “excessively and unreasonably tight[]” handcuffs despite their complaints of pain and Garesche's pre-existing shoulder injury, about which he told Barajas. Higgins also notified Barajas of his “poor heart,” but Barajas nevertheless put the handcuffed Plaintiffs in an unventilated and non-airconditioned Lyons police vehicle for fifteen minutes while the outdoor temperature was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Plaintiffs fruitlessly “banged their heads against the windows” to call the observing officials' attention to the heat. (Id. ¶¶ 19-21, 23-31.) Plaintiffs were then driven to the Village of Lyons Police Department, where “they were given ordinance violation tickets for disorderly conduct.” (Id. ¶¶ 33-37.) At the court date on October 26, 2021, Plaintiffs appeared pro se, and Village of Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion, while testifying, insisted that he wanted the disorderly conduct violation dismissed and replaced with a misdemeanor obstruction charge. (Id. ¶¶ 39-42.) After a mid-hearing dispute with the prosecutor, Chief Herion convinced the prosecutor to drop the ordinance violation charges and had the Plaintiffs arrested and taken to the police station lockup, where he “yelled at them[,]” Plaintiffs understood, for “put[ting] on a defense to the citations.” (Id. ¶¶ 43-52.) Plaintiffs were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and hired attorneys, who successfully moved to dismiss those charges on grounds of double jeopardy, vindictive prosecution, and failure to state an offense. (Id. ¶¶ 53-55.)

In this ensuing lawsuit, Plaintiffs name as Defendants Chief Herion, Officers Barajas and Frencl, the Village of Lyons, and unknown police officers, paramedics and fire department personnel.[1] Plaintiffs raise the following claims against the police officers and other personnel present at the scene Higgins was filming: false arrest/failure to intervene (Count I, § 1983); unreasonable conditions of seizure (Count II, § 1983); and unlawful prosecution (Count III, § 1983; Count V, state law). Plaintiffs both allege negligence and/or willful and wanton conduct against the Village of Lyons (Count VI, state law). Higgins raises an additional claim against Chief Herion for unlawful restriction of speech because Chief Herion “directed and/or encouraged and/or ordered the arrest and prosecution of Higgins with the objective of preventing him from exercising his right to free expression and/or with the object of punishing him for exercising his right to free expression to film a newsworthy event and then publish that event to the larger public” (Count IV, § 1983).

Chief Herion, Officer Barajas,[2] and the Village of Lyons (hereafter, jointly referred to as “Defendants”) move to dismiss Plaintiffs' federal claims and malicious prosecution claim (Counts I-V) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6); they further ask that the Court relinquish jurisdiction over the state-law claim (Count VI) that would remain. (ECF No. 17, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss.)...

Outcome: 10/26/2023 70 MINUTE entry before the Honorable Steven C. Seeger: The Court reviewed the stipulation of dismissal for the individual defendant officers, which is self-effectuating under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). (Dckt. No. 69 ) The individual officer defendants are dismissed with prejudice. The Village of Lyons remains as a defendant. The fact discovery deadline of November 27, 2023 remains in place. Mailed notice (jjr, ) (Entered: 10/26/2023)
10/26/2023 71 STIPULATION of Dismissal of Defendant Village of Lyons (Vasilyeva, Elizaveta) (Entered: 10/26/2023)
10/26/2023 72 MINUTE entry before the Honorable Steven C. Seeger: The Court reviewed the stipulation of dismissal (Dckt. No. 71 ), which is self-effectuating under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). The complaint is dismissed with prejudice. Each side shall bear its own fees and costs. Civil case terminated. Mailed notice. (jjr, ) (Entered: 10/26/2023)

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