United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
se Plaintiff Victor Dorsey, Jr., filed a Complaint in
federal court in June 2016, alleging claims related to his
property on Bellefontaine Street in Indianapolis. [Filing
No. 1 at 3-4.] The Court has allowed Mr. Dorsey to
proceed in forma pauperis, [Filing No. 5],
and he has been given multiple chances to plead his claims in
response to various Defendants' dispositive motions
regarding the sufficiency of his pleadings, [see,
e.g., Filing No. 27; Filing No. 46].
Most recently, on March 27, 2017, the Court issued an Order
in response to various motions concluding that
“pursuant to the interests of justice, Mr. Dorsey shall
have one final chance to set forth sufficient
allegations showing that there is a basis for this
Court's jurisdiction and that he has a claim entitling
him to relief.” [Filing No. 46 at 4 (original
emphasis).] The Court noted that Defendants did not need to
immediately answer or otherwise respond to Mr. Dorsey's
anticipated complaint because the Court would first exercise
its discretion to screen it pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915. [Filing No. 46 at 4.] Mr. Dorsey filed his
Fourth Amended Complaint on April 11, 2017, [Filing No.
47], and the Court will now screen it as indicated.
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) directs the Court to dismiss a
complaint or claim within a complaint if it is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. To state a viable claim, the complaint “must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. . . . A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937,
1949 (2009) (quotations omitted). Pro se complaints
such as that filed by Mr. Dorsey, are construed liberally and
held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007); Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491
n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
Dorsey alleges that Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. §
1983, as well as his rights to due process under the Fourth,
Fifth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution. [Filing No. 47 at 3.] Specifically,
his Fourth Amended Complaint and the attached documents
allege that Defendants unreasonably and excessively damaged
his property after a state court judge issued orders
regarding property taxes, fees, and fines certified from
Health and Hospital Corporation and Marion County Public
Health Department. [Filing No. 47; Filing No.
47-1.] Many of Mr. Dorsey's allegations focus on the
conduct of Kristin Frederick, who he alleges is a code
enforcement employee with the Marion County Public Health
Department. [Filing No. 47; Filing No.
Court has already made the following rulings and observations
while addressing previous motions filed in this action:
• Many of Mr. Dorsey's claims are barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine to the extent they are based
on Defendants entering his property pursuant to two state
court orders and using reasonable and necessary force to
carry out those orders. “Put another way, because of
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this federal court
cannot review or overrule the state court's orders
allowing Health and Hospital Corporation and its contractors
to enter Mr. Dorsey's property and use reasonable and
necessary force to carry out those orders.”
[SeeFiling No. 27 at 2-6.] The Court has already
dismissed those claims. [Filing No. 27.]
• Mr. Dorsey cannot pursue any tax-related claims in
this litigation because they are barred by either the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine or the Tax Injunction Act.
[Filing No. 27 at 6-7 (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1341).] [Filing No. 27 at 6-7.]
Court has dismissed those claims.
reviewing Mr. Dorsey's Fourth Amended Complaint, the
Court concludes that it states a claim for relief pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Kristin Frederick for her
direct involvement in the alleged excessive damage to Mr.
Dorsey's property in executing the state court orders. A
claim of this nature is not barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine because it is independent of
the state court orders themselves and does not ask this Court
to overrule them. See, e.g., Crawford v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 647 F.3d 642, 646 (7th
Cir. 2011) (holding that the district court correctly
concluded that Rooker-Feldman applied to claims that
a “foreclosure and eviction deprived [plaintiffs] of
their fundamental fairness and equal protection rights”
but did not apply to claims about “injury caused by the
defendants' actions in enforcing the judgment”).
While it is possible that Mr. Dorsey's claim against Ms.
Frederick will not ultimately succeed, he has alleged
sufficient personal involvement on her part to state a claim
against her pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See
Palmer v. Marion Cty., 327 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir.
2003) (emphasizing that “[i]ndividual liability under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 can only be based on a finding that the
defendant caused the deprivation at issue” and
distinguishing between personal involvement and a supervisory
role). Accordingly, Mr. Dorsey's § 1983 claim
against Ms. Frederick will proceed.
Dorsey's claims against the City of Indianapolis, Health
and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Marion County
Public Health Department, and the Indianapolis Metropolitan
Police Department must be dismissed because he does make
sufficient allegations against those entities to pursue a
claim against them pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
See Glisson v. Ind. Dep't of
Corrections, 849 F.3d 372, 379 (7th Cir. 2017)
(emphasizing that the critical question for a § 1983
claim against an entity is “whether a municipal (or
corporate) policy or custom gave rise to the harm (that is,
caused it)”) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978)). Mr.
Dorsey does not contend that the allegedly excessive property
damage of which he complains was the result of a policy or
custom of these Defendants to unreasonably execute orders of
this nature. Accordingly, Mr. Dorsey's federal claims
against the City of Indianapolis, Health and Hospital
Corporation of Marion County, Marion County Public Health
Department, and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police
Department are dismissed.
Dorsey's federal claims against Mark Nottingham must also
be dismissed. Mr. Dorsey lists Mr. Nottingham in the caption
of his Fourth Amended Complaint but does not list him in the
Statement of his Claim. [Filing No. 47 at 2.] More
importantly, the attachments to his Fourth Amended Complaint
confirm that Mr. Nottingham is a private realtor-as opposed
to a state actor-employed by Nottingham Realty. [Filing
No. 47-1.] To succeed on a § 1983 claim, a
plaintiff must prove that he was deprived of a right secured
by the Constitution or federal law, and that the defendant
was “acting under color of state law.” Armato
v. Grounds, 766 F.3d 713, 719- 20 (7th Cir. 2014). Mr.
Dorsey has not alleged that Mr. Nottingham was acting under
color of state law and, in fact, his allegations confirm that
he was not. For that reason, Mr. Dorsey's federal claims
against Mr. Nottingham are dismissed.
Mr. Dorsey's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Ms.
Frederick for her personal involvement with the allegedly
excessive damage to his property shall proceed. All other
claims in this action are dismissed, and the Clerk is
directed to terminate all Defendants other than Ms. Frederick
as parties on the docket. Counsel has already appeared on
behalf of Ms. Frederick and shall have 21 days to file an