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Allin v. City of Springfield

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 11, 2017

Scott Allin, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
City of Springfield, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

          ARGUED OCTOBER 27, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 3:14-cv-03013-CSB-EIL - Colin S. Bruce, Judge.

          Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and BAUER and MANION, Circuit Judges.

          BAUER, Circuit Judge.

         Plaintiff-appellee, Scott Allin, brought this action against Patricia Baskett, Sergeant Jeff Barr of the Springfield Police Department, and the City of Springfield, Illinois, raising both 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims.

         Allin asserts that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when Baskett, with Barr in attendance, came to his residence to gather her property, and, after a dispute about the ownership of a motorcycle, Barr announced he would not prevent her from taking it. Barr filed a motion for summary judgment on Allin's § 1983 claims, contending that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied his motion. We reverse and remand.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Allin and Baskett lived together in Allin's residence from December 2010 until February 2012. In late July or early August 2011, Allin was in poor health and signed over the titles to the numerous vehicles that he owned, including a 2001 FLSTS Harley Davidson motorcycle, believing it "would make it easier for his survivors if he passed away."

         On August 29, 2011, the Illinois Secretary of State issued a change of ownership on the motorcycle and a certificate of title in Baskett's name.

         By February 25, 2012, Allin and Baskett's relationship had soured. They had an argument and Baskett moved in with her sister, Kelly McClure. Baskett asked Allin for $1, 000 to help her find her own place, but Allin refused. Following this argument, he discovered that the certificate of title to his motorcycle was missing. He filed a theft report with the Springfield Police Department, alleging that Baskett had stolen the title.

         Sometime between February 25 and February 27, Baskett told McClure that she was concerned about retrieving her personal belongings from Allin's residence; McClure contacted Ami Barr -Sergeant Barr's wife and McClure's coworker - about Baskett's fears. Ami knew Baskett, having met her on a few occasions. Ami asked Barr if he would accompany Baskett to Allin's residence when Baskett went to remove her belongings. Barr told Ami that he would.

         On February 27, 2012, Baskett and others arrived at Allin's residence to gather her personal property; Springfield police officers, including Barr, were there to ensure a peaceful transition of the property. At the residence, Allin and Baskett had a dispute as to the ownership of the motorcycle, and decided to present their conflicting stories to Barr. Baskett produced the certificate of title for the motorcycle and claimed that Allin gave her the motorcycle for taking care of him when he was sick. Allin admitted that he signed over the title, but he stated that he did not intend for ownership to pass to Baskett. Allin also said that he reported the certificate of title stolen two days earlier.

         The police ran a title search; it is the Springfield Police Department's policy to run title searches and rely upon the results when responding to a removal of property call. The search showed that title to the motorcycle had been in Baskett's name since August 29, 2011.

         The officers also conducted a computer search of the reported theft records; the results did not indicate that ...


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