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Ryan v. Center Township Constable's Office

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

September 2, 2016

BRADLEY RYAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTER TOWNSHIP CONSTABLE'S OFFICE, and MARK A. DUNCAN, Individually and in his official capacity as Center Township Constable, Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Partial Motion to Dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by Defendants Mark Duncan (“Duncan”) and the Center Township Constable's Office (collectively, “the Defendants”). (Filing No. 22.) Following termination of his employment with the Center Township Constable's Office, Plaintiff Bradley Ryan (“Ryan”) filed an Amended Complaint alleging violation of his Fourth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as state law claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation, negligence, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Filing No. 15.) The Defendants moved to dismiss the state law claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Filing No. 22). In response to the Motion, Ryan voluntarily withdrew his malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims (Filing No. 31 at 9). Therefore, the Partial Motion to Dismiss applies only to the remaining state law claims. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the Partial Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ryan is a resident of Marion County, Indiana. In September 2014, Ryan began his part-time employment as a Deputy Constable with the Center Township Constable's Office. Ryan's duty was to perform body attachments. As a Deputy Constable he had full police power. (Filing No. 15 at 2, ¶16.) In addition to his employment as a Deputy Constable, Ryan was also a private security officer at a Walmart store in Marion County.

         In the spring of 2015, the Marion County Sheriff's Department (“MCSD”) began investigating Ryan for allegedly impersonating a police officer. Id. at 3, ¶18. During the MCSD investigation, they contacted Duncan, the elected Constable at the Center Township Constable's Office. Duncan told the MCSD that Ryan was not an employee at the Center Township Constable's Office, and that Ryan did not have police powers. Id. at 3, ¶19.

         On June 2, 2015, while working at Walmart, MCSD deputies detained Ryan. Ryan showed the deputies his police credentials that identified him as a Center Township Deputy Constable and was signed by Duncan. After two hours of detention in Walmart's parking lot, Ryan was released and no charges were filed against him. The following day, on June 3, 2015, Ryan was informed by his supervisor, Phil Suiters, that as a result of the previous night's incident, Duncan terminated his employment with the Center Township Constable's Office. Id. at 3, ¶24. Thereafter, Ryan filed this action alleging that he has been damaged by the loss of his employment, including the part-time employment for which he had been eligible with his police credentials.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint that fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepts all factual allegations as true, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). However, courts “are not obliged to accept as true legal conclusions or unsupported conclusions of fact.” Hickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 2002).

         The complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). At a minimum, the complaint must give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests; and the factual allegations must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. See Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009); Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081, 1083. While a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff has the obligation to provide the factual grounds supporting his entitlement to relief; and neither bare legal conclusions nor a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will suffice in meeting this obligation. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Stated differently, the complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         Dismissal is appropriate “when a party has included in its complaint ‘facts that establish an impenetrable defense to its claims.'” Hecker, 556 F.3d at 588 (quoting Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1086 (7th Cir. 2008)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Defendants set forth two reasons for moving to partially dismiss the Amended Complaint. They first assert that Ryan failed to state sufficient facts to support state law claims of false arrest, defamation, negligence, and wrongful termination. They also allege that Ryan's defamation and negligence claims are barred by the Indiana Tort Claims Act. (Filing No. 22.)

         A. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(6)

         The Defendants argue that Ryan has alleged no operative facts to support claims of false arrest, defamation, negligence, and wrongful termination. Relying on Scott v. City of Chicago, 195 F.3d 950, 951 (7th Cir. 1999), Ryan contends that “contrary to Defendants' assertions, a plaintiff need not spell out every element of a legal theory, to provide notice of his claim” and he argues ...


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