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Driver v. Marion County Sheriff

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

September 30, 2016

MICHAEL DRIVER, TERRY CLAYTON, MICHAEL BOYD, NICHOLAS SWORDS, and ROY SHOFNER, individually and as representatives of a class of all similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,



         Plaintiffs, Michael Driver, Terry Clayton, Michael Boyd, Nicholas Swords, and Roy Shofner, move to certify a class with five subclasses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(3). For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs' motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs bring a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”), claiming the policies and practices of the Marion County Sheriff caused them to be detained in the Marion County Jail awaiting release for an unreasonably long period of time, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. For example, Mr. Driver was arrested on Saturday, December 13, 2014, for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a Class C misdemeanor. (Filing No. 73-4, Affidavit of Michael Driver (“Driver Aff.”) ¶ 7). His bond was set at $1, 500. (Id. ¶ 9). On Monday, December 15, 2014, he appeared before the court for a reduction in bond. (Id. ¶ 10). The court granted the motion and he was released on his own recognizance. (Id. ¶ 13). Following the hearing, Sheriff's deputies returned him to the Jail for processing, but he was not released until Wednesday, December 17, 2014, at approximately 6:00 p.m. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15). According to Mr. Driver, it was “common knowledge among the inmate population . . . that the Sheriff took up to seventy-two (72) hours or even longer to release prisoners.” (Id. ¶ 16).

         Mr. Clayton was a pretrial detainee at the Jail from May 28, 2014 to December 10, 2014. (Filing No. 73-16, Affidavit of Terry Clayton (“Clayton Aff.”) ¶ 7). Following a jury trial on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, he was found not guilty around 11:30 p.m. that day. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10). The judge entered an order for his immediate release. (Id. ¶ 11). Sheriff's deputies returned him to the Jail, and he was not released until Friday, December 12, at approximately 4:00 p.m. (Id. ¶ 13). Mr. Clayton complained about the delay, but “was told by correctional officers and a correctional sergeant that the jail had 72 hours to release inmates.” (Id. ¶ 14).

         Mr. Boyd pled guilty to a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated on November 20, 2014. (Filing No. 73-5, Affidavit of Michael Boyd (“Boyd Aff.”) ¶ 8). He was sentenced to ten days in the Jail, but with good time credit, he would actually serve five days. (Id. ¶ 9). His sentence was to begin immediately after the conclusion of the plea hearing and was to end on November 24. (Id. ¶ 11). On November 24, he complained that he was not released, but his complaints were ignored. (Id. ¶ 15). Marion Superior Court staff intervened, and he was released on November 26. (Id. ¶ 20).

         Mr. Swords was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on December 10, 2014. (Filing No. 73-6, Affidavit of Nicholas Swords (“Swords Aff.”) ¶ 8). A judge set his bond at $150. (Id. ¶ 9). His cousin paid the bond on December 12, and was told not to wait around “because it would take ‘up to 72 hours' for the Sheriff to release [him].” (Id. ¶ 15). Mr. Swords was not released until December 15. (Id. ¶ 21).

         Lastly, Mr. Shofner pled guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to nine days in the Marion County Jail, beginning on February 4, 2015. (Filing No. 73-7, Affidavit of Roy Shofner (“Shofner Aff.”) ¶ 8). At the conclusion of his jail sentence on February 12, Mr. Shofner was to begin a sentence of electronic monitoring/home detention by Marion County Community Corrections. (Id. ¶ 9). He was scheduled to return to work on Friday, February 13. (Id. ¶ 13). Instead of being released on February 12, he remained incarcerated until February 17. (Id. ¶ 14). When he “complained about [his] over-incarceration to the correctional officers holding [him], [he] was told that the Sheriff had 72 hours to release inmates.” (Id. ¶ 18).

         The Plaintiffs claim their illegal detention is the result of various policies and practices instituted by the Sheriff, which include: (1) “operating under a standard of seventy-two hours to release prisoners who are ordered released” (Filing No. 38, Third Amended Complaint ¶ 87); (2) the “employment of a computer system inadequate for the purposes intended with respect to the timely release of prisoners” (id. ¶ 88); (3) “re- arresting and imprisoning individuals who are released on their own recognizance, found not guilty or acquitted, or who have had their criminal charges vacated or dismissed” (id. ¶ 89); (4) “not accepting cash or surety bonds but instead outsourcing the payment and processing of these bonds to the Marion County Clerk” (id. ¶ 90); and (5) “not releasing inmates at the conclusion of their sentences, but rather keeping them in jail until Community Corrections[1] is ‘ready' to process them as a group” (id. ¶ 84). They seek to certify a class of all individuals who, from December 19, 2012, to the present, were held in confinement by the Sheriff after legal authority for those detentions ceased. They also seek to certify five subclasses based on each of the five alleged policies and practices set forth above.

         II. Rule 23 Requirements

         Class action suits are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. A party seeking class certification bears the burden of establishing that certification is appropriate. Retired Chicago Police Ass'n v. City of Chicago, 7 F.3d 584, 596 (7th Cir. 1993). The decision whether to grant or deny a motion for class certification lies within the broad discretion of the trial court. Id.

         Rule 23 prescribes a two-step analysis to determine whether class certification is appropriate. First, a plaintiff must satisfy Rule 23(a)'s requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. Clark v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc., 256 Fed.Appx. 818, 821 (7th Cir. 2007); Williams v. Chartwell Fin. Serv., Ltd., 204 F.3d 748, 760 (7th Cir. 2000). The failure to meet any one of these requirements precludes certification of a class. Retired Chicago Police Ass'n, 7 F.3d at 596. Second, the action must also satisfy one of the conditions of Rule 23(b). Clark, 256 Fed.Appx. at 821; Williams, 204 F.3d at 760. Plaintiffs seek certification under Rule 23(b)(3), which permits class certification if “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members” and class resolution is “superior to other available methods for failure and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.”

         Under the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3), common questions of law or fact must predominate; in other words, there must be a common nucleus of operative facts applicable to the entire class. Messner v. Northshore Univ. Healthsystem, 669 F.3d 802, 815 (7th Cir. 2012). The Messner court explained:

If, to make a prima facie showing on a given question, the members of a proposed class will need to present evidence that varies from member to member, then it is an individual question. If the same evidence will suffice for each member to make ...

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