United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Sheriff Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment [DE 31], filed by Defendants Lake County
Indiana Sheriff's Department and Sheriff John Buncich,
individually and in his capacity as Sheriff of Lake County,
Indiana, (collectively the “Sheriff Defendants”)
on February 2, 2016. Plaintiff filed her response on March 3,
2016, and the Sheriff Defendants filed their reply on March
10, 2016. The Sheriff Defendants request that the Court enter
judgment in their favor on all Plaintiff's claims.
12, 2013, Plaintiff Megan Fife filed a Complaint, alleging
that the Defendants were liable to her under 42 U.S.C.
section 1983 for violating her right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth
Amendment. The Sheriff Defendants filed their Answer to
Plaintiff's Complaint on October 10, 2013.
consent of the parties, this case was reassigned to the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all
further proceedings and to order the entry of a final
judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction
to decide this case under 28 U.S.C. section 636(c).
Summary Judgment Standard
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for
summary judgment be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56 further requires the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against
a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact,
is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material
fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other
words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could
find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v.
Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832,
836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted). To
demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party
“must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” but must
“come forward with ‘specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment,
a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to
the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in
favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Srail v. Vill. of Lisle,
588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom
Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A
court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the
evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to
determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine
whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
13, 2011, officers from the Lake County Sheriff's
Department responded to a call about a hit-and-run in Crown
Point, Indiana. The victim of the hit-and-run notified the
officers that Dustin Musgrave, driving a red Ford F-150
truck, had driven through the victim's fence and had hit
the victim with the truck. The victim also told the officers
that Dustin's brother, Damon Musgrave, had accompanied
Dustin in a green Jeep Cherokee.
Musgrave brothers lived close to the victim's home, so
the officers went to their residence (the “Musgrave
Residence”), where the saw a green Jeep Cherokee parked
in the driveway. Sergeant Oscar Martinez and Officer Don Hamm
knocked on the front door of the Musgrave Residence. Sergeant
Martinez notified Leslie Musgrave, the owner of the home,
that they were looking for Dustin and Damon in connection
with a hit-and-run that had injured someone. Leslie refused
to let the officers in the home.
officers then set up a perimeter around the Musgrave
Residence. Officer Douglas Parker walked into the backyard
with a canine. While in the backyard, Officer Parker saw a
basement window open for a few seconds and then close. The
window opened a second time, and Officer Parker saw Plaintiff
looking out the window. Plaintiff then crawled out of the
house through the window, stood up in the backyard, and
looked around. Officer Parker shouted to Plaintiff,
identifying himself as a police officer. According to the
Sheriff Defendants, Officer Parker then warned that if
Plaintiff did not get on the ground, the dog would be
released. According to Plaintiff, Officer Parker gave no such
turned around to face the window. The parties dispute whether
Plaintiff crouched down as though to crawl back into the
window or whether she remained standing. Officer Parker
stated in a deposition that he believed Plaintiff was
preparing to crawl back into the house. Dep. of Officer
Parker, p. 36, l. 1-5. Officer Parker then released his
canine. The canine apprehended Plaintiff and she was
handcuffed by another officer and placed under arrest.
time of this incident, Chapter 16.07.00 of the Lake County
Sheriff's Department Rules and Regulations contained a
policy about using canines for suspect apprehension. The
policy states that a canine handler should ensure that they
are apprehending the correct suspect and that, where
possible, the handler should warn the suspect before
releasing the canine. Together, Officer Parker and his canine
completed a five-week canine training program in 2008, which
included training on suspect apprehension.
Complaint included claims against the Sheriff Defendants
under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, which provides civil cause of
action by a plaintiff who has been injured by state action
that deprives the plaintiff of some constitutional right. The
Sheriff Defendants have moved for summary judgment on
Plaintiff's 1983 claims, each of which will be discussed
Plaintiff's Official-Capacity Claims
Sheriff Defendants argue that the Court should enter summary
judgment in Sheriff Buncich's favor on all
official-capacity claims. They assert that Plaintiff cannot
maintain claims against Sheriff Buncich in his official
capacity while simultaneously pursuing claims against the
entity he represents - the Sheriff's Department.
Plaintiff's response brief was silent on this issue.
construe a suit against a municipal official as a suit
against the municipality itself. Yeksigian v. Nappi,
900 F.2d 101, 103 (7th Cir. 1990) (citing Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166-167, n. 14 (1985)). Local
“government liability under § 1983 is
‘dependant on an analysis of state law.'”
Sow v. Fortville Police Dept., 636 F.3d 293, 300
(2011) (quoting McMillian v. Monroe Cnty., 520 U.S.
781, 786 (1997)). Under Indiana law, municipal police
departments are not capable of suing or being sued on their
own behalf. Ind. Code §§ 36-1-2-10, 36-1-2-11,
36-1-2-23; see also Sow, 636 F.3d at 300 (holding
that “the Indiana statutory scheme does not grant
municipal police departments the capacity to sue or be
sued”). However, when ...