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Mancini v. City of Indianapolis

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

January 6, 2017

MARA MANCINI, et al. Plaintiffs,
CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, et al. Defendants.


          Mark J. Dinsmore United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. [Dkt. 12.] Plaintiff Mara Mancini alleges that she was mauled by a police dog who was released in an effort to apprehend a fleeing suspect. Ms. Mancini and son K.C., with whom Ms. Mancini was pregnant at the time of the incident, allege constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint [Dkt. 11] alleges horrendous injuries and a grievous lack of discretion by the actors. But because a grievous lack of discretion does not suffice to state a constitutional cause of action under binding Seventh Circuit precedent, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court GRANT Defendants' Motion in its entirety.

         I. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted challenges the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff's complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides that a 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). In assessing the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), Court takes all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant, Hayes, 670 F.3d at 813, “but legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth, ” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011). After thus “excising” such conclusory allegations, McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616, the Court must determine whether the plaintiff's complaint “state[s] a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A complaint meets this standard where it contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         II. Background

         On July 16, 2015, around 10:30 pm, officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) chased after a suspect fleeing a traffic stop. [Dkt. 11 at 4 (¶¶ 17).] At some point in the chase, an officer released a dog to aid in their pursuit of the suspect. [Id. (¶18).] The search led to Ms. Mancini's neighborhood. [Id. (¶ 17).] This caused a commotion outside of Ms. Mancini's home, and Ms. Mancini's dogs began barking. [Id. (¶ 23).]

         Ms. Mancini stepped out of her home to see what was causing the commotion. [Id. (¶¶ 24-25).] When she did so, the IMPD's dog attacked and mauled her, dragging her to the ground and biting her elbow, arm, and thigh. [Id. (¶¶ 25-30).] It took assistance from an officer at the scene to free Ms. Mancini from the dog's grasp, and Ms. Mancini was left bleeding on the ground with puncture wounds. [Dkt. 11 at 4-5 (¶¶ 30-33).] Another officer was injured in the struggle with the dog. [Dkt. 11 at 5 (¶ 32).]

         Ms. Mancini, pregnant with Plaintiff K.C., required emergency care and surgery as a result of the dog attack. [Dkt. 11 at 4-5 (¶¶ 21-22, 35-41).] The wounds became infected and, a month later, required additional emergency surgery. [Dkt. 11 at 6 (¶¶ 42-45).] Due to the extreme stress from the injuries, Ms. Mancini experienced complications with her pregnancy and delivered K.C. one month early. [Dkt. 11 at 5-6 (¶¶ 39-40, 46-49, 53).] K.C. was born with signs of his mother's infection and was addicted to the narcotics prescribed for Ms. Mancini's pain following the dog attack. [Dkt. 11 at 6-7 (¶¶ 50-53, 57-58).]

         Ms. Mancini and K.C. brought suit in this Court on July 29, 2016 [Dkt. 1], filing their operative Amended Complaint on August 25, 2016 [Dkt. 11]. Plaintiffs have sued various officers by name in their individual and official capacities (“Officer Defendants”); anonymous individuals and corporations (“Unnamed Defendants”); the former IMPD chief; the IMPD; and the City of Indianapolis (“City”). Plaintiffs allege unreasonable seizure and substantive due process claims under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against the Officer Defendants and against the City of Indianapolis pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). [Dkt. 11 at 7-9 (¶¶ 63-77).] Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on September 8, 2016 [Dkt. 12], which Motion is now fully briefed and ripe for determination [Dkt. 13; Dkt. 21; Dkt. 22].

         III. Discussion

         Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety. The Court first addresses Defendants' uncontested arguments that several Defendants were improperly named. Defendants direct specific arguments to the merits of Plaintiffs' excessive force and substantive due process claims; argue that Plaintiffs may not maintain their Monell claim; and argue in the alternative that the Officer Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. The Court addresses each of these issues in turn.

         A. Uncontested Issues

         Defendants raise several issues to which Plaintiffs did not respond regarding the Defendants named in the Amended Complaint. Where a movant provides “plausible reasons” to support an argument for dismissal, Kirksey v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 1039, 1042 (7th Cir. 1999), “[f]ailure to respond to [the] argument . . . results in waiver, ” Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 466 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Having considered Defendants' arguments and Plaintiffs' waiver, the undersigned recommends that the Court DISMISS all claims against each of the following:

• the IMPD as an entity not subject to suit [Dkt. 21 at 7 (citing Sow v. Fortville Police Dep't, 636 F.3d 293, 200 (7th Cir. 2011))];
• the Officer Defendants in their official capacities as duplicative of the claims against the City [id. (citing Ball v. City of Muncie, 28 F.Supp.3d 797, 802, 809 (S.D. Ind. 2014))];
• Rick Hite in his official capacity because he no longer holds the position of chief of IMPD [id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d))];
• all named police officers in their individual and official capacities for failure to allege personal involvement in the constitutional deprivations [id. at 7-8 (citing Kuhn v. ...

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