United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
JOHN PATRICK CHILTON, JOHN PATRICK CHILTON as next friend of JPC, a minor, Plaintiffs,
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES, MARY BETH BONAVENTURA, individually and in her official capacity as Director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, JOHN KAISER, individually and in his official capacity as Regional Manager of the Clark County Department of Child Services, CINDY MITCHELL, individually and in her official capacity as Family Manager for the Clark County Department of Child Services, Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by
Defendants Indiana Department of Child Services
(“DCS”), as well DCS Director, Mary Beth
Bonaventura (“Bonaventura”), John Kaiser
(“Kaiser”) the Clark County Regional Manager, and
Case Manager, Cindy Mitchell (“Mitchell”)
(collectively, “Defendants”). (Filing No.
46.) Following a raid of Amanda Chilton
(“Amanda”) and her husband Harley Jenkins'
(“Jenkins”) home, DCS workers involuntarily
removed Amanda's three minor children, including JPC.
Plaintiff John Patrick Chilton (“Chilton”) is
JPC's biological father. On July 7, 2015, Chilton filed
this action against the Defendants in their official and
individual capacities, asserting violation of 42 U.S.C §
1983, and state law claims of perjury, official misconduct,
malicious prosecution, negligence, abuse of process, and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Filing No.
1; Filing No. 5.) For the following reasons,
the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
following facts are undisputed. In mid-2014, a confidential
informant (“CI”) reported to Officer TeJuan
Johnson of the Charleston, Indiana Police Department
(“Officer Johnson”), that two individuals, Amanda
and Jenkins, were selling narcotics from their home in Clark
County, Indiana. At Officer Johnson's direction, the CI
visited Amanda and Jenkins' home and successfully
completed three controlled buys of prescription drugs. During
each transaction, JPC and his minor siblings were present in
the home. On Friday, July 19, 2014, Officer Johnson obtained
a search warrant for Amanda and Jenkins' home and a
warrant for the couple's arrest. Before executing the
warrants, Officer Johnson called the DCS hotline number and
explained that there were three minor children in the home
and their parents-the only adults present-were about to be
arrested. DCS officials assigned Mitchell as the field case
worker to be present during the raid.
that day, Amanda and Jenkins were arrested, and Mitchell
transported the minor children, including JPC, to the local
DCS office. Amanda is JPC's custodial parent and
biological mother. While at the DCS office, JPC informed
Mitchell that Jenkins was not his father, and that Chilton
was his biological father. JPC provided Mitchell with
Chilton's telephone number. During their conversation,
JPC also voluntarily offered that Amanda and Jenkins were
selling pills and not crack cocaine, and that he was aware of
the difference because he watched videos regarding crack
cocaine at Chilton's home. JPC demonstrated to Mitchell
as if he was snorting something. After JPC's statement,
Mitchell had concerns about the fitness of Chilton to have
immediate custody, so she did not call Chilton. Mitchell,
instead, decided that it was in the best interest of JPC to
be placed in foster care until a court could determine the
best interest of JPC.
Monday, July 21, 2014, following a hearing in the Clark
Circuit Court, JPC was released to Chilton. On July 9, 2015,
Chilton filed an Amended Complaint against Defendants,
asserting violation of 42 U.S.C § 1983, perjury,
official misconduct, malicious prosecution, negligence, abuse
of process, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
(Filing No. 5.) Chilton argues that Defendants
violated his and JPC's rights when involuntarily removing
JPC from his home, placing JPC under DCS care for forty-eight
hours, and failing to contact Chilton despite learning that
Chilton-rather than Jenkins-is JPC's biological father.
August 31, 2016, Defendants moved for summary judgment as to
all allegations in Chilton's Amended Complaint.
(Filing No. 46.) Defendants specifically argue that
Chilton's state law claims fail as a matter of law.
(Filing No. 47 at 4.) Defendants assert that
Chilton's Section 1983 constitutional claim fails
because: 1) the Eleventh Amendment entitles Defendants to
absolute immunity; 2) Defendants are not
“persons” as required under § 1983; 3)
Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and 4)
Bonaventura and Kaiser cannot be held liable under the theory
of respondeat superior. Id.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that
summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476
F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”
Zerante, 555 F.3d at 584 (citation omitted).
“However, inferences that are supported by only
speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment
motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d
624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks
omitted). Additionally, “[a] party who bears the burden
of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings,
but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual
allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact
that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at
490 (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet
this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but
only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible
evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900
F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).
much the same way that a court is not required to scour the
record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary
judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the
merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden
Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and
quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the
existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts
is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391,
395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and quotation marks omitted).
initial matter, in his response, Chilton addresses only
Defendants' Eleventh Amendment defense and the qualified
immunity claim as it relates to Mitchell. His failure to
respond to the remaining arguments amounts to waiver. See
Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 466 (7th Cir.
2010) (“Failure to respond to an argument . . . results
in waiver, ” and “silence leaves us to
conclude” a concession.); Myers v. Thoman,
2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107502, at *11 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 6, 2010)
(“The Seventh Circuit has clearly held that a party who
fails to respond to points made . . . concedes those
points.”). As such, the only issues before the Court
are: 1) whether Defendants are entitled to absolute immunity
pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment, and 2) whether Mitchell
is entitled to qualified immunity. The Court will address
each issue in turn.
argue they are entitled to absolute immunity as to
Chilton's § 1983 claim because DCS is a state agency
and its employees are state officials who, at all times,
acted in their official capacity. “The Eleventh
Amendment bars a suit against state officials when the state
is the real, substantial party in interest.”
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465
U.S. 89, 101 (1984) (citations omitted); see Ind.
Code § 31-25-1-1 (establishing DCS); see also Holmes
v. Marion Cty. Office of Family & Children, 349 F.3d
914, 919 (7th Cir. 2003) ...