United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE.
matter is before the court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment on all claims against them. (DE # 44.) For
the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is granted.
8, 2012, Officer Steve Ames received a phone call at the
Westville, Indiana, police department from the mother of a
minor referred to herein as “A.A.” (Ames Dep.
14:6-21; DE # 45-1 at 13.) A.A.'s mother told Officer
Ames “that her daughter has been continuously bullied
at the school” by another minor, the plaintiff in this
case referred to herein as “T.C.” (Ames Dep.
17:25-18:3, DE # 45-1 at 16.) Officer Ames then spoke with
A.A., herself. (Ames Dep. 20:7-8; DE # 45-1 at 18.) A.A. told
Officer Ames that she had been repeatedly struck with a ruler
on her neck and arm by T.C. and another minor. (Ames Dep.
20:10-18; DE # 45-1 at 18.) Officer Ames observed red marks
on A.A. but did not believe they could be photographed. (Ames
Dep. at 20:23 - 21:1; DE # 45-1 at 19.) Officer Ames felt
A.A. appeared credible. (Ames Dep. 66:7-8; DE # 45-1 at
57-58.) Officer Ames was familiar with T.C. (Ames Dep. 34:25
- 35:1; DE # 45-1 at 31.)
Ames proceeded to T.C.'s home and knocked on the door,
which was answered by T.C.'s brother, referred to herein
as “B.C.” (Ames Dep. 32:3-7; DE # 45-1 at 28.)
Officer Ames asked B.C. if his parents were home, and B.C.
said no. (Ames Dep. 32:13-15; DE # 45-1 at 29.) Officer Ames
then asked B.C. to have his brother come forward; B.C. did so
and T.C. emerged and stood in the living room. (Ames Dep.
32:17-25, DE # 45-1 at 29.) Officer Ames described his own
position at this point as “outside” the doorway,
“on the top step.” (Ames Dep. 33:7-9; DE # 45-1
at 29.) Officer Ames told him to put his shoes on and that he
was going to take him down to the police station; T.C. put
his shoes on and walked outside. (Ames Dep. 35:6-14; DE # 45
1 at 31.) Officer Ames placed T.C. in handcuffs, “[f]or
safety purposes, ” since he had taken weapons like
knives and air soft pistols from him in the past. (Ames Dep.
11-19; DE # 45-1 at 33.) Officer Ames took T.C. to the police
station, where he sat in a room and waited until his mother
arrived, about five to ten minutes later. (T.C. Dep. 40:6-20;
DE # 45-3 at 41.) After thirty to forty-five minutes, T.C.
and his mother went home. (T.C. Dep. 45:1-9; DE # 45-3 at
46.) It is undisputed that Officer Ames did not have a
warrant to arrest T.C.
and B.C. filed the present lawsuit against Officer Ames, as
well as the Town of Westville, the Westville Board of
Commissioners, and the Westville Police Department. (DE # 1.)
The suit alleged a number of state and federal claims
including battery, municipal liability, and false arrest in
violation of Indiana law and the Fourth Amendment under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Id.) Defendants moved for
summary judgment, articulating defenses to all of the claims
raised (DE # 44), but plaintiff responded by arguing the
validity of his false arrest claims against Officer Ames,
only (DE # 49). The court deems all of plaintiff's other
claims abandoned. Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d
588, 597-98 (7th Cir. 2003) (claim not addressed in response
to summary judgment motion is deemed abandoned).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires the entry of summary
judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party
“who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party's
case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof
at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). In responding to a motion for summary
judgment, the non-moving party must identify specific facts
establishing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986); Palmer, 327 F.3d at 595. In doing so, the
non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must
present fresh proof in support of its position.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Donovan v. City of
Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). A dispute
about a material fact is genuine only “if the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party,
then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
court's role in deciding a summary judgment motion is not
to evaluate the truth of the matter, but instead to determine
whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; Doe v. R.R.
Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir.
1994). In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary
judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate
inferences and resolve all doubts in favor of that party.
NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234
(7th Cir. 1995).
outset, the court notes that Officer Ames has raised the
defense of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity shields
officers from a suit for damages if a reasonable officer
could have believed his action to be lawful, in light of
clearly established law and the information the arresting
officers possessed. Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224,
227 (1991); see also Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S.
223, 231 (2009). The Indiana Supreme Court has held that the
qualified immunity applicable to federal claims applies
equally to claims against government officials under state
law. Cantrell v. Morris, 849 N.E.2d 488, 494 (Ind.
court conducts a two-step inquiry when evaluating a qualified
immunity claim: “First the court must determine whether
the disputed conduct, as alleged, violates a constitutional
right; second, the court must determine whether that right
was ‘clearly established' at the time of the
alleged conduct.” Wernsing v. Thompson, 423
F.3d 732, 742 (7th Cir. 2005). Accordingly, the court first
must determine whether Officer Ames violated any of
plaintiff's constitutional rights during their
first argument is that the warrantless arrest in this case
was improper because Officer Ames lacked probable cause.
Probable cause to arrest exists if the totality of the
circumstances known to the officer at the time of the arrest
would warrant a reasonable person in believing that the
arrestee had committed, was committing, or was about to
commit a crime. Abbott v. Sangamon County, Ill., 705
F.3d 706, 714 (7th Cir. 2013); see also Maryland v.
Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 370 (2003). It is a practical,
commonsense standard that requires only the type of fair
probability on which reasonable people act. Gutierrez v.
Kermon, 722 F.3d 1003, 1008 (7th Cir. 2013); see
also Florida v. Harris, 133 S.Ct. 1050, 1055 (2013). The
standard for probable cause under Indiana law is the same as
the federal standard. Earles v. Perkins, 788 N.E.2d
1260, 1265 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003).
existence of probable cause depends on the elements of the
predicate criminal offense as defined by state law.
Abbott, 705 F.3d at 715. The relevant state law in
this case is the State of Indiana's battery statute,
which states that any person who “knowingly or
intentionally touches another person in a rude, insolent, or
angry manner” and causes “bodily injury”
commits a Class A misdemeanor. Ind. Code §