Naperville woman files fedral suit against the city

 
 
Updated 1/26/2015 6:05 PM
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  • Malia "Kim" Bendis

    Malia "Kim" Bendis

A Naperville woman acquitted in October of resisting or obstructing a Naperville peace officer is now seeking damages from the city and penalties for the officers involved in her arrest.

Malia "Kim" Bendis, 42, of the 2200 block of Mercer Court, filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the city and names the sergeant, two detectives and the officer she encountered on Jan. 23, 2013 as they escorted smart meter installation crews.

The whole encounter took place in front of Jennifer Stahl's Naperville home where crews were attempting to install the wireless meter.

Stahl and Bendis are leaders of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group that opposes the wireless meters for privacy and a variety of believed health issues.

Bendis was using her cellphone to film utility crew trying to install a meter at Stahl's house on Jan. 23, 2013, when Naperville police Sgt. Nick Liberio ordered her arrest.

Prosecutors argued during her trial that Bendis flailed her arms and thrashed while refusing the officers' repeated orders for her to "stop, turn around and put her hands behind her back" as they attempted to arrest her for the eavesdropping charge that was later dropped after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

"My client is a Naperville housewife. She's not accustomed to being handcuffed," Bendis attorney Torreya Hamilton said Monday. "Since her arrest there's been some changes in Illinois' eavesdropping statute. I think the officers knew there was some trouble with the law at that point but they arrested her anyway."

The suit seeks a judgment against the officers and the city "in a fair and just amount sufficient to compensate (Bendis) for the injuries she has suffered, as well as

such other relief as is just and equitable."

Hamilton said Bendis "is not seeking millions."

"It's definitely not about the money for this family. Kim jus wants to tell her story to a jury of her peers and hopes that the officers will suffer some consequences," Hamilton said. "My client had to retain a criminal defense attorney to represent her. That's an injury by legal definition and the law allows you to recover money for representation, anxiety and humiliation caused."

City spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said the city had not yet been served Monday and had not reviewed the filing. Police Chief Robert Marshall also declined to comment Monday.

The case was assigned to a federal judge Monday morning in Chicago. A future court date has not yet been set but Hamilton hopes the case won't "drag on."

"Hopefully the city decides to resolve this quickly," Hamilton said. "Let's see how they respond. I hope they respond, settle this quickly and everyone can move on with their lives."

Bendis, in her role as president of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group, is also part to another federal lawsuit, filed Dec. 30, 2011. That suit is still pending and is

challenging the constitutionality of Naperville's "smart meter" program and seeking injunctive relief to stop the forced installation of smart meters on the Naperville homes and businesses, which did not want them.

More than 58,000 smart meters have since been installed throughout Naperville.

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