United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge United States District Court
Brittany Coley brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging that the defendants violated her
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and her Fourth
Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and
seizures. The defendants move for summary judgment and Coley
has responded. For the following reasons, the defendants'
motion for summary judgment [dkt 113] is granted.
Standard of Review
motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a
trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). 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.P.
56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that
the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence
of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on
personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in
evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify
on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). 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 in the grant of
summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
Seventh Circuit has stated summary judgment is “the put
up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show
what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to
accept its version of the events.” Steen v.
Myers, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting
Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852,
859 (7th Cir. 2005)) (other citations omitted); see also
Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir.
2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no
reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868,
875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v.
Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir.
2008). The Court need only consider the cited materials,
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts
that they are not required to scour every inch of the record
for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary
judgment motion before them, ” Johnson, 325
F.3d at 898.
January 16, 2014, Coley struck her eleven-year-old son D.C.
with an oven or refrigerator door handle approximately six
times. The next day at school, D.C. asked his teacher for an
icepack. Noticing swelling and lumps on D.C.'s body, the
school conducted an investigation and reported the incident
to the Indiana Department of Child Services
(“DCS”). DCS employee Mike Abell, a Family Case
Manager, assigned Kathleen Landrum to investigate. Landrum
went the school and performed an assessment that day. Landrum
called Coley several times while she was at the school and
was not able to reach her.
instructed Landrum to consult a pediatrician for advice on
D.C.'s injuries. Landrum contacted Dr. Ralph Hicks of the
Riley Child Protection Team regarding D.C.'s injuries.
Dr. Hicks advised that D.C. should be brought to the
emergency department for evaluation. Landrum then spoke to
Coley on the telephone and told her that D.C. was being
transported to Riley Hospital for Children for an x-ray of
his arm. Coley stated she would meet Landrum at the hospital.
After Coley arrived at the hospital, she admitted that she
“whoops” her children with a belt and had whooped
D.C. with the door handle. Landrum developed a safety plan
with Coley which included not using excessive physical
discipline with the children using any object that can result
in bruises, lumps or injury. When discussing the safety plan,
Coley indicated it was not against the law for D.C. to have a
mark on him from a whooping. She stated she could whoop with
a belt. Landrum informed Coley that she could not tell Coley
to use a belt to discipline her children, and that DCS
advised parents administering punishment to use an open hand
on the bottom that does not leave marks or bruises. Coley
refused to include that in the safety plan because she
believed disciplining with only an open hand is not the law,
just the preference of DCS.
on the exam and x-rays, Dr. Hicks determined that D.C.'s
wrist was not fractured, but there were areas of soft tissue
swelling and tissue injury that could be seen on the x-rays.
Dr. Hicks informed Landrum that the signs of physical abuse
were obvious and characteristic of physical abuse and that he
had concerns about the risk factors for D.C. and the other
children in the home.
on her assessment, which included Dr. Hicks's
determinations, interviews of D.C., his younger brother Dm.
C., and Coley, Landrum created a report titled
“Assessment of Child Abuse or Neglect.” Based on
Landrum's report, Abell and Landrum determined that
removal of Coley's four children from the home was
necessary. A court order could not be obtained at that time
because the courts were closed for the holiday weekend. The
children were transported by relatives to the local DCS
office to facilitate a visit with Coley while the DCS
relative placement staff contacted Coley's sisters to
determine if relative placement was an option for placement
of the children. After relative placement was determined not
to be appropriate, Coley's children were placed in foster
care (non-relative placement).
Landrum prepared and signed an Intake Officer's Report of
Preliminary Inquiry and Investigation for the initial
detention hearing in the Child in Need of Services
proceedings. On January 22, 2014, DCS filed a Verified
Petition Alleging Children to be in Need of Services
(“CHINS Petition”). The juvenile court granted
DCS's request to file a CHINS Petition and found probable
cause to believe that Coley's children were in need of
services because they were seriously endangered. The juvenile
court set the matter for initial hearing on January 22, 2014.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 1:30 PM, the juvenile court
held a detention hearing. Coley was appointed a public
defender at the initial hearing. The juvenile court ordered
the continued removal of the children from the care of Coley,
but authorized supervised parenting time. The juvenile court
found that the detention hearing was not being held more than
forty-eight hours, excluding weekends and holidays, after the
children were taken into custody. The juvenile court held
that removal was necessary and in the best interests of the
children, that remaining in the home would be contrary to the
health and welfare of the children and due to the emergency
nature of the situation, no reasonable efforts could be made
to prevent the removal of the children.
February 5, 2014, the juvenile court continued the Coley
children's placement in foster care. By February 15,
2014, all four children were moved from foster care to
relative care placement with Coley's sisters. On March
17, 2014, a fact-finding hearing was held in the CHINS
proceedings. At the close of the hearing on March 17, 2014,
the court took the matter under advisement and ordered that
the children be returned to Coley's care on a temporary
trial visit (“TTV”). The children were returned
to Coley's care pursuant to the court order.
March 23, 2014, Coley was charged with a class D felony,
battery on a child with injury, in Marion County. According
to the probable cause affidavit, Detective Christopher
Lawrence received Form 310 on January 23, 2014 which
indicated D.C. had been struck by his mother and injured.
Detective Lawrence reviewed the DCS report, D.C.'s letter
and also relied on Landrum's interviews of D.C. and
Coley. On January 30, 2014, the children were ...