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Jackson v. Lemmon

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

April 12, 2017

MARSHALL JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE LEMMON Commissioner, DOC SCOTT BRENNEKE, DEPARTMENT RECORD COORDINATOR individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION TO STRIKE

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to strike the defendant's affirmative defenses. The motion has been fully briefed. This motion [dkt. 15] is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Proper Defendants

         As a preliminary matter, the complaint reflects that the plaintiff has sued the following defendants: 1) Bruce Lemmon, former Commissioner of the Department of Correction, in his official and individual capacities; and 2) Scott Brenneke, Department Record Coordinator, in his individual and official capacities.

         An official capacity claim against the defendant individuals as employees of the Indiana Department of Correction would in essence be against the State of Indiana. Such claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the doctrine of sovereign immunity. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-67 and n.14 (1985) (suit for damages against state officer in official capacity is barred by the Eleventh Amendment); see also Omosegbon v. Wells, 335 F.3d 668, 673 (7th Cir. 2003) (the state is not a “person” that can be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Although, there are circumstances under which the plaintiff could seek prospective injunctive relief from an individual defendant in his official capacity, those circumstances are not present in this case because no ongoing violation of Mr. Jackson's constitutionally protected rights that can be identified given the facts alleged. Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services v. Indiana Family and Social Services Admin., 603 F.3d 365, 371 (7th Cir. 2010)(J. Hamilton). To the contrary, the injury - inability to present a product liability action to the court - has already occurred and Mr. Jackson is no longer incarcerated. Further, the defendants report that Mr. Jackson's medical records have been discovered and are now available to him. Under these circumstances, any official capacity claim is frivolous and subject to dismissal. “District judges have ample authority to dismiss frivolous or transparently defective suits [or claims] spontaneously, and thus save everyone time and legal expense.” Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761, 762 (7th Cir. 2003)(citing Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999)). Simply put, nothing can be gained by the plaintiff including an official capacity claim in this action at this time.

         Under these circumstances, the defendants' suggestion that substitution of the official officeholder is necessary is denied as moot. Any objection to this statement of the defendants must be filed by May 2, 2017.

         The clerk is directed to update the docket to reflect that the only defendants in this action are Bruce Lemmon and Scott Brenneke in their individual capacities. All other defendants are dismissed.

         II. Affirmative Defenses

         The plaintiff seeks to strike the affirmative defenses raised in the answer. Generally, motions to strike are disfavored because they potentially serve only to delay. Heller Fin. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989). But where motions to strike remove unnecessary clutter, they serve to expedite, not delay. Id. The defendants raise eight affirmative defenses, each is considered below. Accordingly, the motion to strike is granted in part and denied in part consistent with the following:

         Affirmative Defenses #1 and #6-8.

         Affirmative Defense #1. The Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         This defense is better understood when read alongside the complaint and paired with affirmative defense numbers 6-8.

         Affirmative Defense #6. Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from damages under 42 U.S.C. §1983 with respect to any claim for damages by the plaintiff based upon federal constitutional principles or federal law because their actions were objectively reasonable and did not violate clearly established principles of law.

         Affirmative Defense #7. The purported action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as against Defendants fails to state an actionable claim for relief because there is no personal involvement alleged and there is no liability in an action under § 1983 absent direct personal involvement in the facts giving rise to ...


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