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Myatt v. Gladieux

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

March 7, 2017

LETASHA MYATT, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID J. GLADIEUX, Sheriff of Allen County, Indiana, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Rule 60 Motion for Relief of “Separate Judgments” and Other Matters [ECF No. 200] and Brief [ECF No. 201], filed on June 30, 2016. The Defendant filed a Response [ECF No. 201] on August 12, 2016, and the Plaintiff filed her Reply [ECF No. 203] on September 1, 2016. The Motion is now ripe for ruling.

         BACKGROUND

         Seven years ago, on February 26, 2010, the Plaintiff, LeTasha Myatt, filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1] against the Defendant, Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries, in his official capacity. The Plaintiff brought suit on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, and alleged that the Defendant's actions violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant's policy caused her to be detained in the Allen County Jail for more than forty-eight hours before being taken before a magistrate judge for an initial probable cause determination. On June 25, 2010, the Court issued an Opinion and Order [ECF No. 20] that granted the Plaintiff's Motion to Certify Class [ECF No. 4]. At the parties' request, the Court amended the class definition and certified the class as follows:

[I]ndividuals arrested without a warrant and booked into the Allen County Jail between 5:00 a.m. on Friday and 9:00 a.m. on Saturday between the dates of February 29, 2008, and March 20, 2010, inclusive, as well as any additional class members who exist due to court holidays observed by the Allen County Superior Court and the Allen County Circuit Court during the time period of February 29, 2008, and March 20, 2010, where such additional class members did not receive a probable cause determination within 48 hours from the time of their arrest.

Class Members over-detained between 0 and 12 hours.

$200.00 per person

Class Members over-detained more than 12 hours up to 24 hours.

$360.00 per person

Class Members over-detained more than 25 hours up to 36 hours.

$600.00 per person

Class Members over-detained between 36 hours up to 48 hours.

$840.00 per person

Class Members over-detained more than 48 hours.

$1, 100.00 per person

(the “Class”) (Op. & Order 4, ECF No. 39). Although the parties entered into a Consent Decree [ECF No. 29], in which the Defendant conceded liability in this case and implemented new policies, the parties were unable to agree upon damages. On January 20, 2015, following a four-day trial, a jury returned a verdict [ECF No. 158] that awarded the Class approximately $360, 000 in general damages, separate and apart from attorney fees and costs. The jury's verdict awarded varying amounts of damages to class members based on the length, in 12-hour increments, of their over-detention in the Allen County Jail. Utilizing the jury's verdict form and the class list information, each individual class member received a specific amount of compensation based upon the length of their over-detention as follows:

         (Partial J. 1, ECF No. 188.) The parties filed a Joint Report to the Court [ECF No. 161] on February 2, 2015, in which the parties submitted a chart listing all class members, the length of their over-detention, and the amount of damages the jury allotted to each class member [ECF No. 162-1].

         On August 3, 2015, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Approval of Payouts to General Class Members and Other Miscellaneous Relief [ECF No. 177], seeking an entry of judgment and the distribution of funds for all class members. On November 5, 2015, the Court entered Partial Judgment [ECF No. 188] on the jury's verdict and awarded class counsel an interim attorney fee award. On December 28, 2015, the Defendants filed a Satisfaction of Partial Judgment [ECF No. 190] after the Auditor of Allen County issued checks made payable to all class members for their respective verdict amount. The checks were forwarded to Home Front Legal Services, LLC, the administrator selected by the Plaintiff, agreed upon by the Defendant, and approved by the Court, to in turn distribute to class members. Home Front has distributed payments to class members and continues to assist the parties in providing payments to class members who have not yet received their payment.

         The Plaintiff now seeks to set aside the jury's verdict and the Court's corresponding Partial Judgment asserting that the Court erred by not classifying the sum total awarded to the Plaintiff and all class members as a “common fund.” The Plaintiff also asserts that the Court should order pro rata distributions to certain class members with the unused funds, or alternatively, a cy pres award to a charity. Lastly, the Plaintiff seeks an incentive award for the Plaintiff, class representative, Ms. Myatt.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Rule 60(b) Motion and “Common Fund”

         After seven years of protracted litigation, the Plaintiff seeks to set aside the Court's Partial Judgment and convert the sum total awarded to class members into a “common fund, ” to award remaining unclaimed funds as pro rata distributions to certain class members, or alternatively distribute those unclaimed funds as a cy pres award to charity, and to provide a class incentive award to the Plaintiff, class representative, Ms. Myatt. To accomplish this, the Plaintiff does not appeal the jury verdict, nor the Court's Partial Judgment. Instead, the Plaintiff invokes Rule 60(b). “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) allows a district court to relieve a party from a final judgment or order in six discrete circumstances.”[1] Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 657 (7th Cir. 2013).[2] “To balance the availability of post-judgment relief with finality interests, the availability of Rule 60(b) relief is limited” and “district courts are given broad discretion to deny motions for relief from judgment.” Id. at 658.

         The Plaintiff contends that the Court erred under Rule 60(b)(1) when applying the jury's verdict to the Partial Judgment, under Rule 60(b)(4) in that the “parties/court” lacked the ability to enter judgment for individual harms, and under Rule 60(b)(6), the Court must convert the Partial Judgment sum total to a common fund because the judgment “defeats the purpose of a ...


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