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Long v. Kinkade

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

February 11, 2015

JONAH LONG, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Jonah Long filed this civil action alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated during a drug raid at his residence, 2943 Shelby Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 25, 2012. He sues various members of the Metropolitan Drug Task Force in their individual capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. One of these defendants is Travis Cline, a City of Lawrence Detective. Detective Cline seeks the resolution of the claims alleged against him through summary judgment. Detective Cline argues that he had no personal involvement in the alleged unconstitutional acts and that he is entitled to qualified immunity.

For the reasons explained below, Cline’s motion for summary judgment [dkt. 96] is granted.

I. Standard of Review

A motion for summary judgment asks that the Court find that a trial based on the uncontroverted and admissible evidence is unnecessary because, as a matter of law, it would conclude in the moving party’s favor. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56. To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The key inquiry, is whether admissible evidence exists to support a plaintiff’s claims, not the weight or credibility of that evidence, both of which are assessments reserved to the trier of fact. See Schacht v. Wis. Dep’t of Corrections, 175 F.3d 497, 504 (7th Cir. 1999). When evaluating this inquiry, the Court must give the non-moving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the evidence submitted and resolve “any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial ... against the moving party.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 330.

Whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(1)(A). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant’s factual assertion can result in the movant’s fact being considered undisputed, and potentially the grant of summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e).

II. Undisputed Facts

Applying the standards set forth above, the undisputed material facts are as follows:

Defendant Travis Cline is a detective with the City of Lawrence Police Department, a position he held on July 25, 2012. On that date, Detective Cline conducted surveillance prior to a raid at a residence in Indianapolis at 2943 Shelby Street, as part of the Metropolitan Drug Task Force. Detective Matthew Kinkade, a detective for the City of Carmel Police Department, directed the Task Force.

Detective Cline observed surveillance cameras and lights around all corners of the residence at 2943 Shelby Street. During surveillance, Task Force members saw a Blue Neon automobile parked in back of 2943 Shelby Street. Detective Cline observed a male quickly exit the back yard and get in this car. Detective Kinkade approached it, and the driver put the car in reverse at high speed and then took off. Detective Cline then immediately ran up the alley and followed this vehicle up Shelby Street, until he saw it disappear around Garfield Park.

Detective Cline did not participate in the decision to break down the door of 2943 Shelby Street and enter, and was not present when that was discussed. Nor was Cline present during the actual breaking of the door and entry with the Task Force. He was not there at the time because he had left to pursue the Blue Neon automobile, and had not yet returned. No decision had been made to forcibly enter 2943 Shelby Street before Cline ran down the street in pursuit of the blue Neon. Detective Cline would not have participated in forcible entry in any event, because he was not wearing a protective vest and otherwise was not equipped to perform such an entry.

When Detective Cline returned to 2943 Shelby Street, all Task Force officers were already in the house. Detective Cline found all suspects, including Jonah Long, were already handcuffed and in the custody of those officers present; they were in full control of the officers present, and it was not necessary for Detective Cline to provide back-up support to those officers in any respect, nor did he do so. When Detective Cline arrived, the search of the premises was under way and the team already had consent of Charles Faulkner to search. Detective Cline never learned or heard any information to indicate that entry had been wrongful.

Detective Cline did not participate in the search or seizure of property inside the residence at 2943 Shelby Street. He did not participate in the search and seizure of any items belonging to Jonah Long, or allegedly belonging to him. Nor did Detective Cline participate in Long’s arrest. He did not provide information for the arrest warrant of Jonah Long. As Detective Cline found the situation inside 2943 Shelby Street in control, he left the premises before the other members of the Task Force did, and did not help to tag or secure the property seized by the other officers, nor make any report. Detective Cline never examined or saw any list of property seized from Jonah Long, and had no role in ...

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