United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
CHRISTOPHER E. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
ALLEN COUNTY SHERIFF DEPT., et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
E. Washington, a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed
an amended complaint against the Allen County Sheriff
Department and three officers, alleging they were negligent
and used excessive force during his September 8, 2008,
arrest. (DE # 8.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the
court must review the complaint and dismiss it if the action
is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. The court applies
the same standard as when deciding a motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v.
Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive
dismissal, a complaint must state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of
Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. at 603. The court must bear in
mind that “[a] document filed pro se is to be
liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and
case, Washington alleges that on September 8, 2008, Officers
Windom and Newmann were in plain clothes when they pulled a
gun on him. At the time, Washington did not believe these
individuals were police officers, which caused him to flee.
He fled into the street, where he was hit by an automobile.
Washington seeks money damages against Officer Windom,
Officer Newmann, Officer Fries and the Allen County Sheriff
Department, alleging he was the victim of neglect and police
brutality. This is not the first time that Washington has
sued these defendants based on these same events. In
Washington v. Parkview Hospital, 1:09-CV-001 (N.D.
Ind. filed Jan. 5, 2009), he made the same allegations he
makes here. There, based on the parties' stipulation, the
court dismissed the case with prejudice. (Cause No.
1:09-CV-001, DE # 42, # 45.) Recently, Washington attempted
to appeal the judgment in that case, but his appeal was
denied. (Cause No. 1:09-CV-001, DE # 53.)
fundamental precept of common-law adjudication, embodied in
the related doctrines of collateral estoppel and res
judicata, is that a right, question or fact distinctly
put in issue and directly determined by a court of competent
jurisdiction. . . cannot be disputed in a subsequent suit
between the same parties or their privies[.]” Ross
v. Bd. of Educ. of Tp. H.S. Dist. 211, 486 F.3d 279, 282
(7th Cir. 2008) (internal citation and quotation marks
omitted). These companion doctrines “protect against
the expense and vexation attending multiple lawsuits,
conserve judicial resources, and foster reliance on judicial
action by minimizing the possibility of inconsistent
decisions.” Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880,
Indiana, for res judicata, or claim preclusion to
apply, the question is whether the following four factors
have been met: (1) the former judgment was rendered by a
court of competent jurisdiction; (2) the former judgment was
rendered on the merits; (3) the matter now at issue was, or
could have been, determined in the prior action; and (4) the
controversy adjudicated in the former action was between
parties to the present suit or their privies.”
Kalwitz v. Kalwitz, 934 N.E.2d 741, 750 (Ind.Ct.App.
2010). “Under res judicata, a final judgment on the
merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies
from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised
in that action.” Barr v. Bd. of Trustees of W.
Illinois Univ., 796 F.3d 837, 839 (7th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980).
quite clear that Washington's most recent claims fit the
bill. First, there is no question that the former judgment
was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Second,
that judgment was rendered on the merits. See Golden v.
Barenborg, 53 F.3d 866, 868-69 (7th Cir. 1995) (noting
that a stipulation to dismiss with prejudice is a final
judgment for res judicata purposes). Third, all
current claims against the defendants stem from
Washington's 2008 arrest. These claims were or could have
been determined in the prior action. Last, the parties in
this case are the same as in Washington's previous
lawsuit. Accordingly, these claims could have been raised in
the previous litigation, and because they were not, they are
now barred by res judicata.
an unsuccessful claim against the same defendants is
malicious. See Pittman v. Moore, 980 F.2d 994,
994-95 (5th Cir. 1993) (it is malicious for a plaintiff with
in forma pauperis status to file a lawsuit that
duplicates allegations of another lawsuit brought by the same
plaintiff) and Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107,
1109 (7th Cir. 2003) (suit is “malicious” for
purposes of Section 1915A if it is intended to harass the
defendant or is otherwise abusive of the judicial process).
it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity
to file an amended complaint when a case is dismissed sua
sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014
(7th Cir. 2013), that is unnecessary where the amendment
would be futile. Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588
F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts have broad
discretion to deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment
would be futile.”) Such is the case here. No amendment
could overcome the bar of res judicata.
final matter, Washington has filed a motion to issue the
summons to the defendants in this case. (DE # 9.) However, as
Washington has not stated a claim, service will not be made
on the defendants. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
these reasons, the motion to issue a summons is DENIED and
this case is DISMISSED pursuant ...