Former Orland Park police officer David Kristofek will be allowed to proceed with his civil rights retaliation lawsuit against the Village of Orland Hills and Police Chief Thomas Scully, according to a ruling on March 11, 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
Officer Kristofek’s lawsuit asserted a claim under Section 1983 for retaliation by the defendants for firing him when he complained to his police department and the FBI that the Village and its police department allowed a citizen to be released after being arrested by Kristofek for driving without proof of insurance and driving with a suspended registration, and that the unequal application of the law based upon political considerations was improper and possibly illegal. It turned out that the driver was the son of a former mayor of a nearby town with political connections.
The Seventh Circuit’s discussion of the type of proof needed to bring a Section 1983 First Amendment retaliation claim clarifies the factors that courts (and parties) should evaluate in bringing such a claim, including, the motive of the plaintiff. The Court also explained how the police officer’s complaint was sufficient to state a claim against the Village under the Monell test for imposing civil liability under a municipality. In this case, the court determined that the plaintiff police officer had alleged enough facts to show that Thomas Scully (the Police Chief) had de facto authority to set policy on firing and hiring police officers, which was sufficient to potentially impose liability on the Village because Scully was in charge of the police department and his decisions were not reviewed by the Village board. A copy of the court’s ruling can be read by clicking here Kristofek v. Village of Orland Hills et al. (7th Cir. 2013).
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