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Franklin v. Warmington

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

January 18, 2017

TONY C. FRANKLIN, Plaintiff,


          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Tony C. Franklin is proceeding on Fourth Amendment claims against defendants William Warmington and the Racine Police Department regarding an incident that took place on May 17, 2007. The defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because Franklin failed to file his complaint for claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 before the six-year statute of limitations expired. The defendants also argue in their reply brief that the court should grant their motion for summary judgment and impose monetary sanctions on Franklin because Franklin submitted a false affidavit in opposition to their motion for summary judgment.

         Request for Sanctions

         The court takes fraud on the court seriously and has inherent power to sanction a party who “has willfully abused the judicial process or otherwise conducted litigation in bad faith.” Secrease v. W. & S. Life Ins. Co., 800 F.3d 397, 401 (7th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). “Dismissal can be appropriate when the plaintiff has abused the judicial process by seeking relief based on information that the plaintiff knows is false.” Id.

         Yet “[d]epriving the parties of a merits disposition is serious business.” Salgado by Salgado v. General Motors Corp., 150 F.3d 735, 739 (7th Cir. 1998). “In the normal course of events, justice is dispensed by the hearing of cases on their merits; only when the interests of justice are best served by dismissal can this harsh sanction be consonant with the role of the courts.” Id. at 740 (quoting Schilling v. Walworth County Park and Planning Com'n, 805 F.2d 272, 275 (7th Cir. 1986)). The parties have fully briefed the defendants' motion for summary judgment and the court will consider the motion on its merits.

         Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Ames v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 629 F.3d 665, 668 (7th Cir. 2011). “Material facts” are those under the applicable substantive law that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute over a “material fact” is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: “(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).


         On May 17, 2007, Franklin was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Michelle Warmington when her then-husband, William Warrington, an officer with the Racine Police Department, stopped them. According to Franklin, Officer Warmington opened the passenger door of the vehicle, grabbed Franklin by the arm, yanked him out of the vehicle, and slammed him onto the sidewalk. Officer Warmington then threatened to kill Franklin while he placed his knee on Franklin's back, emptied Franklin's pockets, and patted him down.

         In the days and weeks that followed the incident, Franklin declares, “people kept coming up to me saying that I had better watch out because Warmington was looking for me and that he was telling people in my neighborhood that he was going to kill me for messing with his wife.” (ECF No. 88 at 4.) Franklin began carrying a knife for protection from Officer Warmington.

         Franklin was arrested in June 2007. Several inmates told Franklin that Warmington had asked about Franklin and said he was going to kill Franklin for messing with his wife. Franklin subsequently “got revoked and went to prison, ” where another inmate advised Franklin to file a formal complaint against Warmington. (ECF No. 88 at 5.) Franklin wrote down what happened and sent it to the Racine Police Department. He received a response stating that Warmington had violated the rules of the Racine Police Department and that corrective action had been taken.

         Franklin was released from prison for several months in 2008 and was anxious about Warmington's threats. While out of custody, Franklin “tried to stay inside so it wouldn't get around to Warmington that [he] was out.” (ECF No. 88 at 6.) Franklin “caught a new case in November of 2008” and has been in prison ever since. Id.

         It is unclear exactly when Warmington stopped working for the Racine Police Department, but he began working as a ...

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