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Hoffman v. Knoebel

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

March 24, 2017

DESTINY HOFFMAN, et al. Plaintiffs,
SUSAN KNOEBEL, et al. Defendants.



         This cause is before the Court on Defendants' "Motion for Summary Judgment as to Jesse Hash's Claims Only" [Docket No. 166], filed on May 4, 2016. For the reasons detailed below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff Jesse Hash is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part-

         Factual Background

         On July 15, 2013, Plaintiff Jesse Hash was arrested on felony drug charges in Clark County, Indiana. Following his arrest, he was released on his own recognizance and scheduled to return to the Clark Circuit Court for an initial hearing on July 24, 2013. When Hash failed to appear for the July 24 hearing, Clark Circuit Judge Daniel Donohue ordered that a failure to appear warrant be issued for his arrest. The warrant was issued on July 26, 2013 and served on August 8, 2013, at which time Hash was taken to the Clark County Jail. Hash remained incarcerated in the Jail for a total of sixty days, until October 7, 2013, when he appeared before Clark Circuit Judge Jerome Jacobi for an Initial Appearance. At the Initial Appearance, Hash was notified of the charges against him, advised of his constitutional rights, appointed counsel, and, following his plea of not guilty, released on his own recognizance.

         Hash maintains that during his sixty-day incarceration in the Clark County Jail, he repeatedly inquired of the jail's guards as to whether they had any information regarding his seemingly protracted detention without a hearing or whether they could help him obtain such information, to which the guards replied, simply: "You'll get called when they call your name" and "You'll go to court when they call your name." Hash Dep. 81: 23-24. Hash also claims to have raised frequent verbal complaints with the guards regarding his incarceration, and, at one point, drafted a letter intended for the Clark County Public Defenders' Office, although he never received confirmation that the letter had been delivered. According to Hash, it was not until his girlfriend, Stephanie Leonard, with whom he had had telephone contact, placed a call to the Clark Circuit Court Clerk's Office on his behalf on October 6, 2013, that he was finally granted his Initial Appearance the following day, on October 7, 2013.[1]

         Defendants maintain that Hash never requested information in writing nor did he file a formal grievance or complaint with the Jail regarding the length of his incarceration. Defendants also assert that pursuant to an unwritten policy, the Clark County Sheriff's Department produced a roster each week to the Clark Circuit Court relating to inmates housed in the Jail which covered Hash's incarceration from August 8, 2013 to October 7, 2013.

         On February 18, 2014, Plaintiff Jesse Hash commenced the present litigation against Defendants Clark County Board of Commissioners and Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden, suing him in both his individual and official capacities, alleging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, And Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. See Dkt. 171 Iffl 176-81.

         On May 4, 2016, Defendants moved for summary judgment on Hash's claims. Dkt. 166. The motion became fully briefed on June 29, 2016 and is now ripe for decision by this Court.

         Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Disputes concerning material facts are genuine where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In deciding whether genuine issues of material fact exist, the court construes all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See id. at 255. However, neither the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties, id. at 247, nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), will defeat a motion for summary judgment. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Illinois, Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000).

         The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The party seeking summary judgment on a claim on which the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial may discharge its burden by showing an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Id. at 325.

         Summary judgment is not a substitute for a trial on the merits, nor is it a vehicle for resolving factual disputes. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). Thus, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the facts in favor of the non-movant, if genuine doubts remain and a reasonable fact finder could find for the party opposing the motion, summary judgment is inappropriate. See Shields Enter., Inc. v. First Chicago Corp., 975 F.2d 1290, 1294 (7th Cir. 1992); Wolf v. City of Fitchburg, 870 F.2d 1327, 1330 (7th Cir. 1989). But if it is clear that a plaintiff will be unable to satisfy the legal requirements necessary to establish her case, summary judgment is not only appropriate, but mandated. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Ziliak v. AstraZeneca LP, 324 F.3d 518, 520 (7th Cir. 2003). Further, a failure to prove one essential element necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.


         In responding to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Hash has abandoned his claims against the Clark County Board of Commissioners as well as his Fourth Amendment claims against all Defendants. See Dkt. 185. Accordingly, remaining before us for resolution are Hash's Fourteenth Amendment claims against Defendant Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden for the alleged deprivation of due process as a ...

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