United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
DEXTER ROGERS, Individually and as Personal Representative of the estate of Carrie Bell Rogers, et al., Plaintiffs,
THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ANALYST JENNIFER PRUITT, ATTORNEY KELLY PAUTLER, and CHIEF JUDGE CRAIG BOBAY, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL G. GOTSCH, SR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is a “Motion to Disqualify Attorney
Generals' Office from Representing the Defendants
Stemming from Conflict of Interest” [DE 11] filed on
January 13, 2017, by pro se Plaintiff Dexter Rogers,
individually and as personal representative of the estate of
Carrie Bell Rogers and the estate of Premius Rogers
(“Rogers”). In the motion, Rogers seeks to
disqualify the Indiana Attorney General's Office (the
“IAG's Office”) from representing itself,
Deputy Attorney General Kelly Pautler, Case Analyst Jennifer
Pruitt, and Chief Judge Bobay (collectively, the “State
Defendants”), due to a purported conflict of interest.
The State Defendants filed a response to the motion on
January 23, 2017 [DE 18], and Rogers filed a reply on
February 1, 2017 [DE 22].
following reasons, Rogers's motion to disqualify will be
filed a nearly identical motion to disqualify the IAG in a
civil rights action against various courts and judges just
last year. This Court denied that motion on July 28, 2016.
See Rogers v. Allen County Superior Court, Cause No.
1:16-cv-40-RL-SLC [DE 52].
current action stems from a medical malpractice case Rogers
filed in state court against Parkview Hospital, Inc.
(“Parkview”) and its chief executive officer,
Michael J. Packnett. See Rogers v. Anonymous Physician
A, No. 02D03-1401-CT-000039 (filed Jan. 22, 2014).
Rogers later sued several courts and judges, alleging various
violations of his civil rights stemming from the medical
malpractice case. Rogers v. Allen County Superior
Court, 1:16-cv-40-RL-SLC [DE 1; DE 47 at ¶ 2].
Through the instant action, Rogers is suing more government
entities and officials in a Title VI claim.
Rogers sees it, the IAG's Office must be disqualified
from representing itself in this action due to a purported
conflict of interest arising from Deputy Attorney General
Kelly Pautler's representation of the medical
professional defendants in Rogers's original state case
prior to Pautler joining the IAG's Office. Pautler, who
is now the Assistant Section Chief of the Civil Litigation
Section of the IAG's Office, has not appeared in this
action, but apparently “has consistently kept abreast
of the happenings of [Rogers's state claim].”
Rogers does not allege that any information Pautler received
was not public. Rogers is also concerned because Pautler
was employed at the IAG's Office before he filed his
consumer complaint. Additionally, Rogers is
concerned about Pautler's playing an integral role in
case management at the time he filed his first civil rights
action. Rogers fears that Pautler shared “information
regarding the status” of his original medical
malpractice claim with another Deputy Attorney General,
Benjamin Jones, who represented the defendants in the first
civil rights action. [DE 11 at 6].
alleges that Jones failed to exercise the level of due
diligence in screening to avert a potential conflict of
interest with respect to Pautler regarding the original
medical malpractice claim, his consumer protection claim, and
the two civil rights claims. As Rogers sees it, Pautler has a
conflict of interest in this action imputable to Jones and
the IAG's Office, necessitating their disqualification.
Jones has not made an appearance in the present civil rights
claim, and Rogers has not alleged a conflict with respect to
the attorney of record, Deputy Attorney General David Arthur.
Presumably, Rogers means to argue that the same argument
applies against Arthur. Regardless, of whether Rogers intends
to disqualify Jones or Arthur in the present motion, the
analysis is the same.
to Local Rule 83-5(e), the Northern District of Indiana has
adopted the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct and the
Seventh Circuit Standards of Professional Conduct as the
standard of professional conduct. See N.D. Ind. L.R.
83-5(e). In his motion, Rogers cites Indiana Rules of
Professional Conduct 1.0 (e) (terminology: informed consent);
1.0 (k) (terminology: screening); 1.7 (conflicts of interest:
current clients); 1.9 (conflicts of interest: former
clients); 1.10 (imputation of conflicts of interest); and
1.11 (special conflicts of interest for former and current
government officers and employees).
disqualification of an attorney is a ‘drastic measure
which courts should hesitate to impose except when absolutely
necessary.'” Mills v. Hausmann-McNally,
S.C., 992 F.Supp.2d 885, 890 (S.D. Ind. 2014) (quoting
Owen v. Wangerin, 985 F.2d 312, 317 (7th Cir.
motions to disqualify are treated with ‘extreme
caution.'” Id. (quoting Freeman v.
Chi. Musical Instrument Co., 689 F.2d 715, 722 (7th Cir.
1982)). “Caution is warranted both because
disqualification motions ‘can be misused as techniques
of harassment, ' and because the consequences of
disqualification are so grave-‘destroy[ing] a
relationship by depriving a party of representation of their
own choosing.'” Id. (alteration in
original) (quoting Freeman, 689 F.2d at 722).
“[T]he moving party bears the burden of concretely
establishing the necessity of disqualification.”
Id. at 891 (citation omitted).