United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
ATTA BELLE HELMAN and LARRY DWAYNE HELMAN; and ATTA BELLE HELMAN and LARRY DWAYNE HELMAN, as Special Administrator of The Estate of GARY HELMAN, Plaintiffs,
BARNETT'S BAIL BONDS, INC., MYRA L. BARNETT, MICHAEL E. BARNETT, THE PAPERS, INC., STACEY STALEY, TADD S. MARTIN, DANIEL S. FOSTER, MICHAEL C. THOMAS, and LEXINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE CORPORATION, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
November 23, 2016, Plaintiffs, Atta Helman, Larry Helman, and
the Estate of Gary Helman (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) filed a Motion, pursuant to Fed. R.
P. Civ. 15 and N.D. Ind. L.R. 15-1, for Leave to File their
First Amended Complaint [DE 53]. On December 7, 2016,
Defendant, The Papers Inc. (“Papers”) filed its
response in opposition to Helman's motion [DE 59]. On
December 19, 2016, Plaintiffs filed supplemental exhibits in
support of their motion [DE 62]. No other defendants have
filed oppositions to the proposed amendments.
August 23, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their complaint raising
seven claims-violation of Civil Rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 through general allegations (Count I), violation
of Civil Rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through
failure to protect (Count II), violation of Civil Rights
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through supervisor
liability (Count III), violation of Civil Rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) through conspiracy to interfere with
civil rights (Count IV), violation of Civil Rights pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through a claim got the estate for
wrongful death under Indiana law (Count V), violation of
Civil Rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through a
survival action for Gary Helman's deprivation of rights
(Count VI), and claims for breach of contract and violations
of Indiana's Deceptive Business Practices' Act (Count
VII). Plaintiffs' claims are based on allegations that
Defendant Stacey Staley, an employee of Papers, engaged in
conduct that brought about the death of Gary Helman, the
injury of Plaintiff Larry Helman, and the emotional distress
of Plaintiff Atta Belle Helman. Plaintiffs claim Papers is
vicariously liable for the actions of Stacey Staley.
background, Plaintiffs allege that on September 30, 2013,
criminal charges were filed in Kosciusko County Superior
Court against Gary Helman for battery and resisting law
enforcement. On November 27, 2013, Atta Helman,
Gary's mother, sought the services of Defendant
Barnett's Bail Bonds (“Barnett's”) to
post bond for the release of Gary. Atta paid a $2, 500
premium and signed a contract with Defendant Lexington
National Insurance Company (“Lexington
National”), the surety for Barnett's. On July 18,
2014, a warrant was issued for Gary's arrest. Soon after,
Barnett's hired Defendants Todd S. Martin, Daniel S.
Foster and Michael C. Thomas to serve as bail recovery agents
for itself and Lexington National and to apprehend Gary
this time, Stacey Staley, a reporter, had written and was in
the process of covering news stories about Gary Helman as a
Papers employee. Plaintiffs allege that Staley and Papers
began acting as informants for Martin, Foster, and Thomas in
their continued search for Gary Helman. As an informant,
Staley allegedly set a plan to interview Gary Helman at the
home of Atta Helman. Staley was expected to enter the Helman
home to speak with and confirm the presence of Gary Helman.
On August 25, 2014, Staley allegedly entered the Helman home,
spoke with both Gary and Atta Helman, then left and reported
her contacts to the bail recovery agents. Staley then waited
at the location of the Helman house, while Martin, Foster,
and Thomas approached the home armed with firearms. Foster
went to the front of the house and shouted
“warrant” and began knocking on the door. Foster
and Martin went to the back of the house where they came into
contact with Larry Helman, Gary's twin brother. Thomas
and Larry Helman engaged in physical altercation while Martin
entered the back of the house. After entering the home,
Martin and Gary Helman engaged in a firefight, which resulted
in Gary's death. Additionally, Larry Helman was shot in
the back during the firefight and Martin sustained multiple
two years later, Plaintiffs initiated this suit, alleging
that Defendants acted under color of state law by
effectuating the Helman bail bond recovery. Plaintiffs'
claims against Lexington National and Barnett's are based
on their conduct of filing the bond with the court as
sureties. Defendants Michael E. Barnett, Myra L. Barnett,
Martin, Foster and Thomas allegedly cooperated to plan and
effectuate the apprehension of Gary Helman under state
authorized power as bail recovery agents. Plaintiffs allege
that Staley and Papers jointly operated to assist in the
investigation and planning of the attack on the Helman home,
acting as government informants in the assistance of the bail
now asks this Court for leave to amend their complaint adding
allegations of a violation of Civil Rights pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 through a claim of the Estate for wrongful
death under Indiana Law against Defendant, Papers (Count IV).
Further Plaintiff asks to amend their claim for vicarious
liability for wrongful death (Count VII), and adding tort
claims of Atta Helman and Larry Helman against Papers (Count
opposes this motion for several reasons. First, Papers argues
that Plaintiffs conceded all federal claims against it, and
that there is no reason for this Court to exercise its
supplemental jurisdiction power on state claims that are
duplicative of current pending actions in state
court. Second, Papers contends that Atta and
Larry Helman's proposed tort claims in Count VIII do not
give proper notice to individual parties. Third, Papers
argues that Plaintiffs' proposed wrongful death claims in
Count IV and Count VII do not meet the Rule 12(b)(6)
plausibility requirement and are inevitably futile.
Supplemental Jurisdiction and State Claims
district court may exercise jurisdiction to the full extent
of Article III's case or controversy requirement.
McCoy v. Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., 760 F.3d 674,
682 (7th Cir. 2014). Claims are part of the same case or
controversy if they derive from a common nucleus of operative
fact. Id. at 683. However, the district courts
“may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
a claim . . . [if] the claim substantially predominates over
the claim or claims over which the district court has
original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). In
deciding whether to exercise jurisdiction over pendent state
law claims, a district court should consider and weigh the
factors of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and
comity. Faust v. Parke, No. 3:96-CV-103RP, 1996 WL
698024 at *10 (N.D. Ind. Oct. 3, 1996), aff'd, 114 F.3d
1191 (7th Cir, 1997) (citing Wright v. Ass'n Ins.
Co., Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1251 (7th Cir. 1994)).
the practice of federal court to exercise comity, which is
explained as “proper respect for state
functions.” Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43
(1971). Federal courts have the power to refrain from hearing
cases that would interfere with state proceedings.
See Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U.S. 592,
603 (1975). Courts should refrain from hearing a case that is
duplicative of pending state proceedings. Quackenbush v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 717 (1996).
Plaintiffs filed a State Action in Kosciusko Circuit Court,
Indiana on June 6, 2016, alleging negligence on the part of
Papers for the incident at the Helman home in August 2014.
Papers and Stacey Staley filed a motion to dismiss that
complaint in State Court on August 3, 2016. On December 6,
2016, the state court granted the Motion to Dismiss as ...