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Winingear v. The City of Muncie Indiana

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 4, 2014

SCOTT A. WININGEAR, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF MUNCIE INDIANA, JEFFERY PEASE, MATTHEW BERGER, DOES 1-10, Defendants.

ENTRY ON THE CITY OF MUNCIE, MUNCIE CHIEF OF POLICE, JEFFREY PEASE, AND MATTHEW BERGER'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

RICHARD L. YOUNG, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff, Scott A. Winingear, brought suit against Defendants, the City of Muncie, the Muncie Chief of Police, Jeffrey Pease, and Matthew Berger (collectively "Defendants") for depriving him of his constitutional rights and committing several torts. Defendants move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), (hereinafter, "Rule 12(b)(6)"). For the reasons set forth below, the partial motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

I. Background

On December 8, 2012, Winingear arrived at his mattress store around 8 a.m. (Amended Complaint ¶ 10; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 3). A couple of hours later, he witnessed a SUV speeding past his store. Winingear shouted "Slow the Fuck Down!" ( Id. at ¶ 12; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 3). The SUV was driven by retired Muncie police officer, Gary McCreery. ( Id. at ¶ 14; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 3). McCreery backed the SUV up and confronted Winingear. ( Id. at ¶ 13; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 3). A heated argument ensued between Winingear and McCreery. ( Id. at ¶ 13; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 3). McCreery drove away after the argument, and Winingear returned to his store. ( Id. at ¶ 37, Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 6).

McCreery called the police and reported that he was driving home when Winingear[1] pulled out in front of his SUV and slowed down to 10 miles per hour. ( Id. at ¶ 44, Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 6-7). McCreery alleged that after the vehicles stopped, Winingear yelled that he would kill McCreery while waving a foot long hunting knife. ( Id. at ¶ 49). McCreery called and reported this to the police. ( Id. at ¶ 55, Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 8).

Officers Pease and Berger were dispatched to the store; Officer Pease was the first to arrive. ( Id. at ¶¶ 69-70, Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 10). Officer Pease failed to conduct a cursory investigation to determine if Winingear's vehicle had been recently driven as McCreery reported. ( Id. at ¶ 73; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 11). Additionally, Officers Pease and Berger did not search for the knife despite being given permission to search the car and the store. ( Id. at ¶¶ 80-81, Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 12). Rather, they arrested Winingear and took him to jail. ( Id. at ¶¶ 84, 86; Filing No. 11, at ECF p. 12).

Winingear brought the present lawsuit alleging the deprivation of his constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and a violation of the Indiana Constitution. Additionally, he alleged a violation of his equal protection rights under the United States Constitution and several torts. Subsequent to the filing of Defendants' partial motion to dismiss, Winingear moved to dismiss several claims, which the court granted. (Filing No. 43; Filing No. 44; Filing No. 45).

II. Standard

The Defendants bring their motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), which authorizes the dismissal of claims for "failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the lawsuit. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). A court may grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss only if a complaint lacks "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint sufficient on its face need not give "detailed factual allegations, " but it must provide more than "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555.

III. Discussion

A. Deprivation of Constitutional Rights[2]

i. Fourteenth Amendment Claims

Winingear alleges that the Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment right by subjecting him to an unreasonable seizure, arrest, detention, and confinement. Defendants move to dismiss the Fourteenth Amendment claim; Winingear does not respond to this part of the motion to dismiss.

In support, the Defendants rely on Lopez v. City of Chicago . In that case, the Seventh Circuit stated that "we have held that the Fourth Amendment governs the period of confinement between arrest without a warrant and the preliminary hearing at which a determination of probable cause is made, while due process regulates the period of confinement after the initial determination of probable cause.'" Lopez v. City of Chicago, 464 F.3d 711, 719 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Villanova v. Abrams, 972 F.2d 792, 797 (7th Cir. 1992)). Winingear does not allege any seizures occurring after ...


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