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Reed v. Lytle

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

March 13, 2017



          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim (Filing No. 7). Plaintiff Anthony Wayne Reed (“Reed”), an Indiana prisoner, filed this civil rights action against Defendants Officer Blake Lytle (“Lytle”), Mark Paris (“Paris”), Mike Chapman (“Chapman”), Officer Michael J. Sadler (“Sadler”), Brian Miller (“Miller”) and the City of Carmel (hereafter, Lytle, Paris, Sadler, and the City of Carmel are collectively referred to as “City of Carmel Defendants”). On February 2, 2016, this action was removed from the Hamilton Superior Court, Hamilton County, Indiana, to federal court. On March 8, 2016, this Court screened the complaint and found that Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 could proceed against the individual defendants and state law claims could proceed against all defendants. (Filing No. 9.)

         The same day the Court issued its screening order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Lytle, Paris and the City of Carmel, filed a motions to dismiss. (Filing No. 7.) Shortly thereafter, Sadler joined in the Motion to Dismiss. (Filing No. 15.) Reed opposed the motions. (Filing No. 29.) For the reasons explained below, the City of Carmel Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are granted as to the federal claims and denied as to the state law claims. The state law claims are remanded to the Hamilton Superior Court for consideration.


         In evaluating the sufficiency of the complaint, the court considers the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, accepting well-pleaded facts as true, and drawing all inferences in the nonmoving party's favor. Bell v. City of Chicago, 835 F.3d 736, 738 (7th Cir. 2016). Although a party need not plead “detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Instead, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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); quoted by Berger v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 843 F.3d 285, 289-90 (7th Cir. 2016).


         Reed brought this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that on December 29, 2013, Lytle, a Carmel Police Officer, seized and placed a forfeiture hold on his vehicle, a black 2000 Cadillac DTS. This seizure followed Reed's arrest for driving while suspended, never having received a license, burglary and theft charges.

         On April 16, 2015, Reed entered into a Plea Agreement with the State of Indiana and the charges associated with the seizure of his vehicle were dismissed. Reed's Sentencing Order, signed by a judge from the Hamilton Superior Court, and filed on April 17, 2015 (the “Court Order”), states the following:

Further, the Noblesville Police Department is directed to release the following seized items to the Defendant's brother, Scott A. Reed (5045 East 17th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana): GPS unit, subwoofer speaker, AMP, 3 bags of various tools, floor jack, gas can, jumper cables, iPod, Samsung phone, Samsung remote control, wallet and cash found therein, the money seized from Mr. Reed's pockets, and Defendant's vehicle.

Filing No. 1-1 at p. 39.

         On April 18, 2015, Reed's brother presented the Court Order to Chapman, at Miller's Towing Yard Company (“Miller's Towing”) and attempted to retrieve Reed's vehicle and all items that were left in the vehicle at the time of the seizure. Reed's brother was informed by Chapman, the acting spokesperson for Miller's Towing, that a $1, 500.00 lien was placed on the vehicle for towing and storage and that the vehicle would not be released until the fee was paid.[2]

         Reed alleges that Lytle is responsible for any and all towing and storage fees incurred from the seizure of his vehicle. He asserts that Lytle's failure to pay the towing and storage fees generated as a result of his actions violates Reed's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

         Reed alleges that investigating officers Paris and Sadler are responsible for allowing a forfeiture or evidence hold, when no forfeiture proceedings were ever filed against his vehicle. He contends Paris and Sadler should have retrieved the vehicle from Miller's Towing and released the vehicle to his brother as directed in the April 17, 2015, Court Order.

         Chapman and Miller of Miller's Towing are allegedly responsible for the towing of Reed's vehicle and for informing his brother that there was a towing and storage fee of $1, 500.00 to retrieve Reed's vehicle. Reed contends that Chapman's refusal to release the vehicle after being ...

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