September 16, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:16-cv-09936 -
Sara L. Ellis, Judge.
Bauer, Brennan, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
BRENNAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Wonsey's Chicago home attracted two types of visitors:
tourists and police. The tourists came for short-term
lodging, which Wonsey sublet through Airbnb. The police first
came after an Airbnb guest reported a theft at Wonsey's
home. Five days later, police showed up again to help city
examiners during a building inspection. Claiming these two
police encounters amounted to Fourth Amendment violations,
Wonsey sued the City of Chicago and several police officers
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court granted
summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal, Wonsey submits
a bare explanation of the police encounters, and she makes no
effort to connect them with a cognizable Fourth Amendment
claim. Because Wonsey fails to show any reason why the
district court's judgment should be disturbed, we affirm.
4, 2016, an Airbnb guest of Wonsey's reported to police
that his personal belongings, including cash and a laptop
computer, disappeared after he lost consciousness from a
seizure. Chicago Police Sergeant Antonio Valentin drove to
Wonsey's house to investigate and arrived at 8:30 a.m.
The front gate to Wonsey's house was locked, and no one
responded when Valentin rang the doorbell. He then attempted
to open the gate by reaching his arm around and trying to
open it from the inside. When that did not work, Valentin
called the police station and spoke with the theft victim,
who gave Valentin the entry code to unlock the gate.
opening the gate, Valentin went to the front door, knocked,
and rang the doorbell. Two men opened the door and, as shown
in Wonsey's home security video footage, allowed Valentin
inside. Shortly after, another officer arrived to assist. The
officers saw residents scattered throughout the first floor
who appeared to have been sleeping in the living room areas.
As Valentin discussed the theft victim's claim with the
residents, Wonsey, who had been asleep until that point,
entered the dining room and joined the conversation. After
Valentin asked Wonsey for permission to see where the theft
victim was staying, Wonsey refused and told the officers to
leave. The officers complied and Wonsey walked them outside.
Although Valentin felt Wonsey acted "evasive," he
described his conversation with her as "friendly"
and "cordial." At no point during this encounter
did the officers arrest Wonsey, search her home, or tell her
she was not free to leave.
days later, on June 9, and prompted by a police request, the
city's buildings department sent out a team of inspectors
to Wonsey's house. They were accompanied by five police
officers. On arrival, the inspectors found Wonsey's front
gate was locked, so they visually inspected the exterior of
her house where they saw a man sitting on Wonsey's back
porch. The inspectors explained why they were there, and the
man opened the back gate to let them in. They entered, walked
to the front of the house, and met Wonsey, who willingly
allowed the inspectors into her home. Home security video
footage corroborated Wonsey's grant of permission. The
police officers waited outside during the inspection.
inspectors recorded 32 code violations and concluded the
house should be immediately evacuated. Including Wonsey, at
least eight occupants were in the house that morning and the
inspection report speculated 12-18 occupants resided there.
Due to "dangerous conditions in the home," the
inspectors asked the police to assist with "emergency
evacuations." At that point the officers entered the
house and stayed in the common areas. As Wonsey explains it,
the officers "surrounded her" in the dining room.
Defendants alleged Wonsey was "irate," "very
ballistic," "screaming," and
"yelling." She denies these characterizations.
Wonsey agrees no police officer placed her in handcuffs or
told her she was not free to leave. She also admits she
refused to leave despite being asked to do so as part of the
sued the city and some of the police officers under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for the June 4 and June 9 encounters. She claimed
defendants' actions violated her Fourth Amendment right
to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. After
discovery defendants moved for summary judgment. On
Wonsey's June 4 claims, defendants argued: (1) Valentin
had consent to enter Wonsey's home to investigate the
stolen property report; and (2) Wonsey presented no evidence
of a Fourth Amendment seizure. On the June 9 claims defendants
contended the doctrine of qualified immunity shielded all the
officers' actions that day. The district court agreed
with defendants across the board and granted summary judgment
in their favor. Wonsey appeals that decision.
purpose of an appeal is to evaluate the reasoning and result
reached by the district court." Jaworski v. Master
Hand Contractors, Inc., 882 F.3d 686, 690 (7th Cir.
2018). A party asking this court to reverse a district
court's judgment must "argue why we should reverse
that judgment" and "cite appropriate authority to
support that argument." United States v.
Berkowitz, 927 F.2d 1376, 1384 (7th Cir. 1991). That
task starts with the appellant's brief. See Fed.
R. App. P. 28.
appellate briefs should embrace brevity, Wonsey's initial
brief is extraordinarily sparse. Critically, the
"argument" section, which runs only two and a half
pages, does not attempt to show how the district court erred.
More importantly, it never addresses her Fourth Amendment
claims. See, e.g., Sambrano v. Mabus,663 F.3d 879,
881 (7th Cir. 2011) (censuring similarly deficient brief).
Instead, almost all the section is poached from a law review
article about qualified immunity that Wonsey's counsel
failed to cite. This was not an instance of less than perfect
citation, but rather copying an academic work without any
attribution. Even the article's footnotes appear as
citations in ...