Since 2011 the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness (NSMA) group has been attempting to get injunctive relief from the mandatory installation of digital “smart” electric meters that collect granular energy usage data substantially in excess of that required for customer billing purposes. As of January 2015, the Federal smart meter lawsuit is still active, and the most recent court document filings are focusing on the invasion of privacy aspects of forced smart meter installations.
On January 23, 2013, Kim Bendis, at that time President of the NSMA, was arrested by Naperville police officers for both resisting an arrest dealing with the video and audio recording a police officer in the course of his duties (enforcing smart meter installations) and on a charge of “eavesdropping.” The statute for which the police based this arrest had already been declared unconstitutional by state courts at the time of the arrest. On October 1, 2014, Kim Bendis was acquitted of the charge of resisting arrest by a jury trial.
Kim Bendis is now seeking damages from the City of Naperville and penalties for the officers involved in her 2013 arrest. A Federal lawsuit was filed on Friday, January 23, 2015. Here is a link to the Complaint: Bendis Federal Complaint.
The Complaint alleges that the City of Naperville decided in a closed door meeting on January 15th 2013, to arrest Bendis and “any other residents who interfered with their plan to forcibly install the ‘smart meters’.” “Defendant CITY decided to forcibly install the smart meters on objectors’ homes rather than wait for a ruling from the federal district court judge.”
According to the Complaint, Bendis and other residents made recordings of officers during the forced smart meter installations. “The recordings made by other Naperville residents were made openly and recorded the conversations of the agents and police. None of the other residents were arrested for recording the police officers…” In addition, “Defendant OFFICERS knew or reasonably should have known that the former [eavesdropping] statute was unconstitutional, and thus it could not provide probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for that offense.”
The Court filing alleges false arrest, excessive force, equal protection class of one claim, a First Amendment retaliation claim, and an Illinois malicious prosecution claim. The filing states that Bendis suffered physical, financial, and emotional damages as well as “a loss of liberty.” The lawsuit claims intentional discrimination and disparate treatment under the law. The suit also alleges police officers “created false or inaccurate police reports and complaints, and/or made false statements to a prosecutor.”
To more clearly demonstrate the abuse of power by City of Naperville officials in the timeframe of two years ago this month, please watch the two short videos shown below retrieved from our archives. At this point we still await justice for those injured and accountability for the City officials involved.
[The above video contains material used pursuant to the Fair Use Doctrine under 17 U.S.C. 107 and is presented in the public’s interest for non-commercial purposes.]
Source Material for this Article
“Naperville Woman Files Federal Lawsuit against the City” at http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150126/news/150129002
“Smart Meter Foe Files Federal Lawsuit” at http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-lisle/chi-naperville-smart-meters-20150127-story.html
Update added September 16, 2015
Naperville City Council members this week settled a federal lawsuit filed last winter by a staunch opponent of the city’s smart meter installation program.
The settlement agreement calls for paying $117,500 to Naperville resident Malia “Kim” Bendis, whose Jan. 23 lawsuit accused the city and four of its police officers of violating her constitutional rights.
“She was basically arrested for exactly what I think all of us would believe to be our constitutional right: to protest something she was an active protester about — the smart meters — and then to oversee our government,” Bendis’ lawyer, civil rights attorney Torri Hamilton of Hamilton Law Office in Chicago, said. “What happened to her was completely uncalled for.”
The settlement says it is not to be construed as an admission that the police personnel named in the suit “acted wrongfully” toward Bendis.