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Zoretic v. Darge

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 8, 2016

Marilyn Zoretic, Plaintiff-Appellant,
John Darge, Deputy Sheriff, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued January 4, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:10-cv-06011-Robert W. Gettleman, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Rovner, and Williams, Circuit Judges.

          Williams, Circuit Judge.

         Marilyn Zoretic and her family were evicted from their apartment twice with the same eviction order. Zoretic sued the deputy sheriffs who carried out the eviction, along with the owners of the unit who initiated the eviction and their agents. Summary judgment was granted to all defendants. On appeal, Zoretic argues that the deputies lacked any legal authority to enter her residence, and that the owners of the unit acted outrageously in initiating the second eviction. Because the deputies did not meet their summary judgment burden of demonstrating they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Zoretic's Fourth Amendment claims, we reverse the grant of summary judgment to the deputies. But because Zoretic failed to create a material factual dispute about whether the owners of her unit were extreme and outrageous in pursuing her eviction, we affirm summary judgment on her claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As an initial matter, Zoretic failed to comply with Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1(b) by providing a comprehensible response to each numbered paragraph of the defendants' 56.1(a) statements of material facts which the defendants argued entitled them to summary judgment. While we liberally construe the pleadings of individuals who proceed pro se, "neither appellate courts nor district courts are obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes." See, e.g., Greer v. Bd. of Educ. 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). We have repeatedly held that requiring strict compliance with Rule 56.1 is not an abuse of the district court's discretion. Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Sews., Inc., 368 F.3d 817 (7th Cir. 2004). So like the district court, we rely on the defendants' statements of material facts.

         A. The First Eviction

         In 2006, Marilyn Zoretic, along with her husband and three children, began renting a unit in the Castilian Court complex in Glenview, Illinois. Their landlord, Marina Shef, stopped paying condominium assessments and eventually lost possession of the unit to Castilian in 2008. Shortly after the court entered the order of possession, Castilian certified the order with the Clerk of Cook County to evict all occupants of the unit. At the time, Castilian was managed by Nimrod Realty Group and represented by the Kovitz Law Firm.

         Having received the eviction order, the Cook County Sheriff evicted Zoretic and her family in January 2009. Later the same day, Nimrod's agent allowed Zoretic and her family to reenter the unit, and agreed they would sign a lease so Zoretic could stay and pay $300 per month less in rent. But Zoretic never signed the lease or paid rent again.

         B. The Second Eviction

         A month after the eviction and reentry Nimrod was replaced by First Merit Realty Company as the new property manager for Castilian. Michael Bloom, a First Merit employee, noticed that Zoretic never signed a lease with Castilian. He sought legal advice from the Kovitz lawyers about the matter. They emailed him on February 4 and told him that "if the tenant refuses to sign the lease we would replace the eviction order with the sheriff."

         Bloom then sent Zoretic a letter with the order of possession, advising Zoretic that if she wanted to remain in the unit, she needed to sign the new lease by February 10. He sent another letter on February 11, warning that Zoretic would face eviction if she refused to sign the lease and did not leave the apartment. After receiving no response, Bloom asked Kovitz lawyers to take over the eviction process. On April 29, Kovitz lawyers obtained a new date stamp from the Clerk of Cook County on the original September 2008 order, and placed the newly stamped order with the Cook County Sheriff.

         On June 5, Deputy Sheriffs John Darge, Darrell Dyson, and Kyle Tryba were assigned to execute the eviction order. They arrived at Castilian around 2:00 p.m. and spoke with Edward Carey, a Castilian agent who confirmed the unit to be evicted. The deputy sheriff team then knocked on the door of the unit and announced their presence. When no one answered, they opened the door and entered the unit with their guns drawn, where they found Zoretic and her husband. Seeing that they were unarmed, the officers put down their weapons and asked if anyone else was in the unit. Zoretic and her husband were taken to the living room while the officers conducted a protective sweep, searching for any individuals who may have been hiding. While the deputy sheriffs were completing paperwork to finalize the eviction, Zoretic informed Dyson that she had spoken with Chief Dicaro and Lieutenant Pon at the sheriff's office about the eviction. Dyson called Lieutenant Pon, who told him to continue the eviction. After photographing items that Zoretic asked to take with her, the officers escorted Zoretic out of the unit, and gave possession to Carey.

         Less than a week later, Zoretic sued in circuit court, and was awarded possession of the unit until Castilian obtained a lawful order to enforce her eviction. She and her family moved back in, ...

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