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McGann v. Layton

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

November 10, 2016

PAUL MCGANN, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN LAYTON Marion County Sheriff, individually and in his official capacity, TERRY CURRY In his individual and official capacity, BARBARA TRATHEN Individually and in her official capacity, ZACHARY POLLACK, Defendants. ZACHARY POLLACK, Counter Claimant,
v.
PAUL MCGANN, Counter Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge

         Presently pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Prosecutor Terry Curry and Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Trathen, [Filing No. 23], which Plaintiff Paul McGann opposes, [Filing No. 41]. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion in part and denies the motion in part.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. When a plaintiff “pleads himself out of court by making allegations sufficient to defeat the suit, ” dismissal under Rule 12 is appropriate. Vincent v. City Colleges of Chicago, 485 F.3d 919, 924 (7th Cir. 2007).

         II.

         Relevant Background

         Consistent with the applicable standard of review set forth above, what follows are the relevant factual allegations from Mr. McGann's Complaint against Prosecutor Curry and Deputy Prosecutor Trathen. These allegations are considered to be true only for purposes of deciding the pending motion.

         On May 24, 2014, Mr. McGann was working as a Marion County Sheriff's Deputy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] He came into contact with Defendant Zachary Pollack in what is known as the “Coke Lot, ” and Mr. McGann ultimately arrested Mr. Pollack for resisting law enforcement and possessing alcohol as a minor. [Filing No. 1 at 3.]

         Mr. Pollack was charged with Resisting Law Enforcement, as a Class A misdemeanor, and Illegal Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, as a Class C misdemeanor. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] The charges against Mr. Pollack were dismissed in June 2014. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] On approximately July 1, 2014, Defendant Sheriff John Layton advised Mr. McGann that he could either resign as a Sheriff Deputy or be terminated. [Filing No. 1 at 4.]

         During the relevant times, Deputy Prosecutor Trathen worked in the screening department of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] Deputy Prosecutor Trathen's early career as a prosecutor was the basis for a CBS television program titled “Close to Home.” [Filing No. 1 at 5.] “Close to Home” was produced by Zachary Pollack's father, Michael Pollack. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] Michael Pollack requested that Mr. McGann be criminally prosecuted. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] “The criminal investigation into Mr. McGann by the Marion County Sheriff's Department was personally requested by [Deputy Prosecutor] Trathen.” [Filing No. 1 at 5.]

         On October 1, 2014, Mr. McGann was charged with one count of Official Misconduct, as a Class D felony, and with one count of Battery Resulting in Bodily Injury, as a Class A misdemeanor, “for his actions while arresting Zachary Pollack.” [Filing No. 1 at 4.] Mr. McGann denies assaulting or battering Mr. Pollack. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] As a result of the criminal charges against him, “Mr. McGann was forced [to] resign from the Marion County Sheriff's office.” [Filing No. 1 at 4.] Mr. McGann had also been employed as a Marion County Firefighter, and he was suspended without pay from the Indianapolis Fire Department. [Filing No. 1 at 3; Filing No. 1 at 5.]

         On September 17, 2015, a jury found Mr. McGann not guilty on all charges against him. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] During depositions for discovery in the criminal case, “sheriff's deputies testified that they would not have pursued an investigation of Mr. McGann if not for the insistence of [Deputy Prosecutor] Trathen.” [Filing No. 1 at 5.] The evidence presented in the criminal case showed that Mr. McGann's forced resignation from the Marion County Sheriff's Office ...


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