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Laney v. Bowles

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

June 3, 2014

GAYLE LANEY, Plaintiff,
ROGER BOWLES, et. al., Defendants.


RUDY LOZANO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Partial Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Defendants, Officer Roger Bowles and the Porter County Sheriff's Department, on February 18, 2014 (DE #45). For the reasons set forth below, the motion (DE #45) is GRANTED. Summary judgment is hereby GRANTED on Plaintiff's First Amendment claims, which are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and summary judgment is GRANTED as to Defendant, Porter County Sheriff's Department, who is hereby DISMISSED from the case. Plaintiff's remaining claim for violation of the Fourth Amendment REMAINS PENDING against Defendant, Officer Roger Bowles.


Plaintiff, Gayle Delisio Laney, filed an amended complaint in this case on January 26, 2012. Defendants, Officer Roger Bowles, and the Porter County Sheriff's Department, filed a partial motion to dismiss, and in an order dated September 10, 2012, this Court granted that motion, dismissing the defamation claims, 5th and 14th Amendment substantive due process claims, and any alleged malicious prosecution claims contained in the amended complaint. (DE #31.) Plaintiff's 1st and 4th Amendment claims remained pending. She alleges that her 1st Amendment rights were violated when she was arrested in retaliation for filing an internal complaint with the Porter County Sheriff's Department. (Am. Compl., pp. 7-8.) Plaintiff also alleges that her 4th Amendment rights were violated when she was arrested absent probable cause. Id. Defendants, Officer Roger Bowles of the Porter County Sheriff's Department, and the Porter County Sheriff's Department, deny those allegations.

In the instant motion for partial summary judgment, Defendants claim judgment is appropriate for the alleged 1st Amendment violation, and for the section 1983 claims against the Porter County Sheriff's Department. Defendants do not address Plaintiff's allegations of 4th Amendment violations in their motion for summary judgment (DE #46, p. 2), therefore, those claims will remain pending. Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment and memorandum in support on February 18, 2014. (DE ##45, 46.) Plaintiff filed a response on March 14, 2014 (DE #47). Defendants then filed a reply on March 26, 2014 (DE #49). Therefore, this motion is fully briefed and ready for adjudication.


Pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper only if it is demonstrated that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Nebraska v. Wyoming, 507 U.S. 584, 590 (1993); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the nonmovant. Karazanos v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 948 F.2d 332, 335 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; NUCOR Corp. v. Aceros Y Maquilas de Occidente, 28 F.3d 572, 583 (7th Cir. 1994).

The burden is upon the movant to identify those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, " if any, that the movant believes "demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the movant has met this burden, the nonmovant must support its assertion that a fact is genuinely disputed by citing to particular parts of materials in the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990); Schroeder v. Lufthansa German Airlines, 875 F.2d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 1989). "Whether a fact is material depends on the substantive law underlying a particular claim and only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Walter v. Fiorenzo, 840 F.2d 427, 434 (7th Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

"A party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleading, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Beard v. Whitley Country REMC, 840 F.2d 405, 410 (7th Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original); see also Hickey v. A.E. Staley Mfg., 955 F.2d 1385, 1391 (7th Cir. 1993). Therefore, if a party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which the party bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment will be appropriate. In this situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

Undisputed Findings of Fact

In Defendants' partial motion for summary judgment, under the subsetting "statement of material facts, " Defendants set forth facts they propose are undisputed, with each fact supported by a citation to exhibits in the record. (DE #46, pp. 2-4.) Plaintiff claims that "representing that there are no undisputed issues of fact, when it is obvious that there are some is sanctionable." (DE #47, p. 2) However, no section of Plaintiff's response memorandum (DE #47) is designated as a statement of disputed facts. Local Rule 56-1 provides that a party opposing summary judgment must file a response brief and "any materials that the party contends raise a genuine dispute." L.R. 56-1(b)(1)(B). Additionally, the response brief or its appendix must specifically "include a section labeled Statement of Genuine Disputes' that identifies the material facts that the party contends are genuinely disputed so as to make a trial necessary." L.R. 56-1(b)(2).

Plaintiff did not comply with the rules. Rather, her response consists of pages of "legal analysis, " (DE #47, pp. 1-4), which do not directly address the statement of material facts proposed by Defendants, or identify material facts that Plaintiff contends are genuinely disputed as to necessitate trial. Because Plaintiff has not properly disputed any of the facts identified by Defendants in their statement of material facts, and has not set forth any additional facts or evidence (aside from the documents he designated and attached), the Court must take the facts in Defendants' statement as admitted. L.R. 56.1; Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994) (noting the Seventh Circuit has routinely sustained "the entry of summary judgment when non-movant has failed to submit a factual statement in the form called for by the pertinent rule and thereby conceded the movant's version of the facts").

As submitted by Defendants, and supported by appropriate citations to the record, the undisputed facts are as follows:

Elliot Tailford was Plaintiff's daughter's boyfriend. (Laney Dep., p. 46.) When Plaintiff arrived home on August 28, 2009, Tailford was at her house. Id. Tailford told Plaintiff his vehicle ran out of gas. Id. Plaintiff drove him to his vehicle to put gas in it, and discovered Tailford's car hooked up to the back of a tow truck. ( Id., pp. 47-48.) They asked the tow truck driver why the car was being towed. Id. The tow truck driver told ...

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