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Marshall v. Indiana University

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

August 31, 2016




         The matter before the Court is the Plaintiff Jeremiah Marshall's (“Marshall”), Motion to Direct Entry on Final Judgment Pursuant to FRCP 54(b). (Filing No. 22.) For the following reasons, Marshall's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         While a student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (“IUPUI”), Marshall was suspended, expelled and banned from all Indiana University (“IU”) campuses, following accusations of sexual assault by a female student which were made on September 7, 2014. In the course of the investigation and during a meeting with the Assistant Director of Student Conduct, Maria Hinton, on September 22, 2014; Marshall reported that he also had been sexually assaulted by a female student. The Defendants never investigated Marshall's allegations. Instead, he was excluded from participating in, and denied the benefits of an education at IUPUI. Marshall asserts that the fact that he, as a male student, was investigated and a female student, with a very similar set of facts, was not investigated easily meets the “particularized allegation that would allow the court to infer a casual connection between his treatment and gender bias.” (Filing No. 14 at 27).

         On April 6, 2015, Marshall filed an action in the Marion Superior Court, which was removed to this court. The Complaint alleges Counts I and III: due process violations, Count II: violation of Marshall's rights under Title IX, Counts IV and V: violations of Marshall's rights to free speech, and Count VI: violation of Marshall's Fourth, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. On May 15, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Filing No. 21.) In particular, the Court dismissed with prejudice Marshall's due process claims, free speech claims, Section 1983 claim and claims against all individual Defendants. Id. at 14. However, the Court did not dismiss Marshall's Title IX claim and Section 1988 claim against IU and IUPUI. Id. Marshall now seeks a final judgment with regards to those claims that the Court dismissed with prejudice so that he may seek appellate review. (Filing No. 22.)


         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, federal appellate courts “have jurisdiction over all final decisions of the district courts of the United States, and orders resolving fewer than all the claims in a case are not ‘final' for purposes of an appeal.” General Ins. Co. v. Clark Mall Corp., 644 F.3d 375, 379 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted). However, Fed. Rule Civ. P. 54(b) provides the following exception:

When an action presents more than one claim for relief - whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim - or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). If there has been such a final judgment, then the district court has the discretion to decide whether to enter judgment on a portion of the case under Rule 54(b). Horwitz v. Alloy Auto. Co., 957 F.2d 1431, 1433 (7th Cir. 1992). The appellate court, however, has placed some limits on the district courts discretion. Id. A certification under Rule 54(b) must satisfy three prerequisites for the appellate court to obtain jurisdiction. The claim certified must be separate from the remaining claims, and the judgment entered on the certified claim must be final under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Further, the district court must expressly determine that there is “no just reason for delay.” ODC Commc'ns Corp. v. Wenruth Invs., 826 F.2d 509, 511-12 (7th Cir. 1987).

         In making the first determination, the district court is mindful that partial final judgment may be entered only when all of one party's claims or rights have been fully adjudicated or when a distinct claim has been fully resolved with respect to all parties. Officer v. AS Chase Ins. Life & Annuity Co., 500 F.Supp.2d 1083, 1086 (N.D. Ind. 2007). In this regard, Rule 54(b) allows appeal of claims that are truly separate and distinct from those that remain pending in the district court, where “separate” means having “minimal factual overlap”. Lottie v. W. Am. Ins. Co., of Ohio Cas. Grp. of Ins. Cos., 408 F.3d 935, 939 (7th Cir. 2005) (“[t]he test for separate claims under [Rule 54(b)] is whether the claim that is contended to be separate so overlaps the claim or claims that have been retained for trial, that if the latter were to give rise to a separate appeal at the end of the case, the court would have to go over the same ground that it had covered in the first appeal.”). In making the final determination, the district court must consider whether “there is no just reason for delay, ” based on the effects that a delay of an appeal would have on the parties. See ODC Commc'ns Corp., 826 F.2d at 511-12.


         Regarding the first determination, Marshall is correct that the prior order was a final judgment on Marshall's due process claims, free speech claims, and Section 1983 claim. (Filing No. 21 at 14.) Those claims were dismissed with prejudice against all parties. Id.

         With respect to the second determination, a Rule 54(b) judgment is employed only when the subjects of the partial judgment do not overlap with those remaining before the district court. Factory Mut. Ins. Co. v. Bobst Group USA, Inc., 2392 F.3d 922, 924 (7th Cir. 2004). Thus, the Court must determine whether the evidence pertaining to the dismissed due process, violation of free speech and violation of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution claims overlap as a practical matter, with the evidence pertaining to the Title IX claims against IUPUI and IU.

         In support of his argument that the claims do not overlap, Marshall explains that when he wanted to take the deposition of Maria Hinton, the parties agreed to limit the deposition topics to the legal claims still remaining in the lawsuit and the Defendants separately agreed that “Plaintiff could hold the deposition open and resume Ms. Hinton's deposition on the other claims if they were ever revived.” (SeeFiling No. 26 at 2). Marshall asserts that Defendants cannot have it both ways, arguing that the claims are factually distinct during discovery and arguing that they are factually similar for the purposes of entering final judgment[1]. Defendants respond that the parties' agreement to limit discovery is “an ordinary and appropriate action” which provides no guidance as to whether Plaintiff has met his burden for entry of a partial final judgment. (Filing No. 29 ...

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