United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ANGELITO C. MERCADO, Plaintiff,
COLUMBUS POLICE DEPARTMENT, JAMES LIENHOOP, Defendants.
ENTRY DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JOINDER;
GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS; DISMISSING ALL
REMAINING CLAIMS; AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Discussion of the Complaint and Pending Motions
action was commenced by removal from state court. Plaintiff
was not then incarcerated. He had asserted, pro se,
three claims against the Columbus Police Department and
Columbus Mayor James Lienhoop. The complaint escaped initial
screening because plaintiff was not a prisoner and was not
proceeding in forma pauperis. Defendants have
answered and a pretrial schedule has been entered, and
several motions to join claims have been denied.
Court has the inherent authority to dismiss legally
insufficient claims. Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320 F.3d
761, 762 (7th Cir. 2003) (“District judges have ample
authority to dismiss frivolous or transparently defective
suits spontaneously, and thus save everyone time and legal
expense. This is so even when the plaintiff has paid all fees
for filing and service. . . .”) (citing Rowe v.
Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999)). It is in
reliance on this inherent authority that the Court now
discusses plaintiff's claims.
complaint, originally filed in state court, alleged that the
Columbus Police Department and Columbus Mayor James Lienhoop
were liable to him because he was falsely arrested on
November 1, 2016, for violating a protective order that had
been dismissed in September, and he was falsely imprisoned on
November 2, 2016, as a result of the same false arrest. A
second claim in the same action alleged that plaintiff was
racially profiled on November 16, 2016, in a Taco Bell
parking lot by the Columbus Police Department. A third claim
asserts that the Columbus Police Department was negligent for
not clearing its database of invalid information that could
lead to false arrests and imprisonments and therefore it
violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. See
dkt. 1, ex. 4, pp. 3-4.
also alleged the Columbus Police Department unlawfully
subjected him to a forced blood draw at the Columbus Regional
Hospital on November 1, 2016. Id. The same
allegation is the operative claim in Mercado v.
Maddix, No. 1:17-00918-TWP-MPB (S.D. Ind. filed March
now moves the dismissal of his first claim concerning the
incidents on November 1, 2016. He informs the Court that he
recently learned the names of the officers and wants to
pursue those claims in the case cited above, No.
1:17-cv-00918-TWP-MPB. It appears from plaintiff's
recitation of facts in both cases that these claims arose
from the same incident, although he failed to identify proper
defendants in this case. Plaintiff's motion to dismiss
all claims arising from the incidents on November 1 and 2,
2016, dkt. , is granted.
remains in this action is plaintiff's claim that he was
racially profiled in a Taco Bell parking lot by the Columbus
Police Department on November 16, 2016. Plaintiff's
“motion for joinder [of] claim” actually seeks to
clarify the claim into one of illegal search and seizure and
a violation of due process. However, he still does not know
the identity of the police officer involved in this incident.
The Columbus Police Department is not a suable entity,
West v. Waymire, 114 F.3d 646, 646-47 (7th Cir.
1997), and there are no allegations that Mayor James Lienhoop
was personally involved. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266
F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001) (in section 1983 actions,
liability is dependent on personal participation).
adding a John Doe defendant would be ineffective. “[I]t
is pointless to include [an] anonymous defendant . . . in
federal court; this type of placeholder does not open the
door to relation back under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15, nor
can it otherwise help the plaintiff.” Wudtke v.
Davel, 128 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1997) (internal
citations omitted). Bringing suit against unnamed, or
“John Doe, ” defendants in federal court is
generally disfavored by the Seventh Circuit.
would therefore be fruitless to grant plaintiff's
“motion for joinder” because he does not identify
a suable defendant. The motion for joinder, dkt. , is
denied. In addition, the claim against the Columbus Police
Department and Mayor Lienhoop is dismissed for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
plaintiff alleged in his complaint that the Columbus Police
Department neglected to update its database and that invalid
information therein caused his false arrest. See
dkt. 1, ex. D (attachment 4), p. 4. The Columbus Police
Department is not a suable entity. Waymire, 114 F.3d
at 646-47. Additionally, neglect -- or negligence -- does not
rise to the level of a section 1983 constitutional civil
rights claim. Pinkston v. Madry, 440 F.3d 879, 889
(7th Cir. 2006) (discussing Watts v. Laurent, 774
F.2d 168, 172 (7th Cir. 1985)). This claim is dismissed.
Summary and Opportunity for Plaintiff to Show Cause
April 20, 2017, motion to dismiss, dkt. , is granted. All
other claims are dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. The motion for joinder, dkt.
, is denied. Plaintiff's motion to retain evidence,
dkt. , is denied as moot.
plaintiff believe the Court has overlooked a claim or
defendant, he has through May 26, 2017, to identify those
claims or defendants. He shall not, however, bring claims in