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Jendrzejczyk v. Laporte County

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

August 4, 2017

RICHARD JENDRZEJCZYK, Plaintiff,
v.
LAPORTE COUNTY, INDIANA, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          RUDY LOZANO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, filed by Porter County, Indiana, and Terri Wood on December 14, 2016 (DE #57). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED. The claims against Porter County, Indiana, and Terri Wood are dismissed WITH PREJUDICE. This case will proceed as to Defendants LaPorte County, Indiana and Westville, Indiana.

         BACKGROUND

         Richard Jendrzejczyk (“Jendrzejczyk”) initiated this action in the Porter County Superior Court on October 31, 2014. The complaint was later amended to add claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In response to the addition of federal claims, the action was removed to this Court. Following removal, Jendrzejczyk sought leave to amend his complaint again, indicating that the proposed amended complaint provided “a substantially clearer statement of his causes of action against the Defendants.” (DE #19 at 1). Leave to amend was granted, and the Amended Complaint (in reality a second amended complaint) was filed on October 28, 2015. (DE #21). The Defendants Porter County, Indiana (“Porter County”) and Terri Wood (“Wood”) filed a motion to dismiss. The Amended Complaint was dismissed without prejudice, and Jendrzejczyk was granted until October 31, 2016, to file a Third Amended Complaint. The Third Amended Complaint was filed and Defendants Porter County and Wood have now moved to dismiss the Third Amended Complaint.

         The Third Amended Complaint, although considerably longer than previous complaints, asserts essentially the same legal claims. Jendrzejczyk alleges that Porter County, Indiana; LaPorte County, Indiana; Westville, Indiana; and Wood are liable for “unreasonable searches, unreasonable seizures, unreasonable uses of force, assault, defamation, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, false arrest, negligence, illegal conspiracy, and illegal conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Plaintiff, Richard Jendrzejczyk.” (DE #47 at ¶ 1).

         His claims stem from his arrest on November 8, 2012.

         According to the Third Amended Complaint, on that day:

[W]hile Plaintiff was making his normal delivery for Dustcatchers, Inc., his employer, to Ramsay's West Point Lounge, a tavern in Westville[, ] Indiana, Defendant Wood, who was heavily intoxicated, confronted him in a violent and threatening manner within the sight and hearing of patrons of the tavern, of the bartender, and of friends and associates of the Plaintiff and accused Plaintiff of being a criminal, of having an outstanding warrant for his arrest, and cursed Plaintiff with abusive names and with foul language.

         (DE #47 at ¶ 12). Wood indicated she would “call her friends” on the police department to arrest him. (DE #47 at ¶ 13). Shortly thereafter, Westville Police Officer Steve Aimes arrested Plaintiff, allegedly based on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear. (DE #47 at ¶ 14). Jendrzejczyk was initially held at the LaPorte County Jail but he was then transferred to the Porter County Jail. (DE #47 at ¶ 15). He was held for six days without a hearing and then released without explanation. (DE #47 at ¶ 16).

         Jendrzejczyk claims that he was denied medical care during his six-day incarceration. (DE #47 at ¶ 17). More specifically, he alleges that Defendants (as with the previous complaint, he does not specify which defendants) refused to give him a necessary and expensive medication ($2, 000 per treatment) prescribed by his doctor for arthritis and psoriasis. (DE #47 at ¶ 17). He claims he missed his uncle's funeral due to his unlawful incarceration. (DE #47 at ¶ 18). He also alleges that he was demoted and later fired from his job with Dustcatchers, Inc., due to this incident. (DE #47 at ¶ 19).

         Jendrzejczyk alleges that the Porter County Sheriff's Department, either intentionally or through gross negligence, issued an invalid warrant for his arrest. (DE #27 at 20). He further alleges that the Prosecutor's office and the courts knew he was being held unlawfully and delayed notifying the jail that he should be released. (DE #47 at ¶¶ 21-23). Jendrzejczyk alleges that the Defendants (he does not specify which ones) knew or should have known that their fellow officers had no probable cause to stop, search, or arrest him or use any force, and failed to intervene on his behalf. (DE #25 at ¶ 25). Additionally, he alleges that the Defendants (again, he does not specify which ones) had an opportunity to prevent harm but did not, and that they attempted to cover up their illegal acts. (DE #47 at ¶¶ 26-27). He claims that Porter County failed to supervise Defendant Wood and all other Porter County employees, and that Defendant Wood “acted willfully, wantonly, oppressively, and with reckless disregard for Plaintiff's federally protected rights or for the truth of the matter.” (DE #47 at ¶¶ 28-29).

         Defendants Porter County and Wood argue that Jendrzejczyk's Third Amended Complaint fails for a variety of reasons and must be dismissed. The motion is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a complaint to be dismissed if it fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Allegations other than fraud and mistake are governed by the pleading standard outlined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement” that the pleader is entitled to relief. Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011).

         In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). All well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences from those facts must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2008). However, pleadings consisting of no more than mere conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. This includes legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, as well as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         The Seventh Circuit has instructed that plaintiffs may not “merely parrot the statutory language of the claims that they are pleading (something that anyone could do, regardless of what may be prompting the lawsuit)” but must provide “some specific facts to ground those legal claims.” Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). The court clarified the standard for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) as follows:

First, a plaintiff must provide notice to defendants of her claims. Second, courts must accept a plaintiff's factual allegations as true, but some factual allegations will be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice to defendants of the plaintiff's claim. Third, in considering the plaintiff's factual allegations, courts should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.

Id.

         In this Court's order dismissing Jendrzejczyk's previous complaint, the Court noted “that a scatter-shot approach to pleading is often ill-advised.” (DE #46 at 12). Nonetheless, he has again taken the scatter-shot approach, including claims in the Third Amended Complaint that clearly fail as a matter of law and giving little consideration to the arguments raised in previous motions to dismiss. Each of Jendrzejczyk's eleven claims will be dismissed with prejudice as to Defendants Porter County and Wood for the reasons explained below.

         Count I: 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Count I of the Amended Complaint alleges that the Defendants (all of them, although they are named in this version of the complaint, as opposed to being referred to collectively), acting under color of law:

unreasonably searched, seized, and used force against Plaintiff without probable cause that Plaintiff had committed any infraction, misdemeanor, or felony; further only relying on an invalid arrest warrant containing no details or terms. That doing so deprived the Plaintiff of his rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or law of the United States. Defendant Wood in initiating law enforcement contact, Westville/Officer Aimes in arresting Plaintiff, LaPorte and Porter County by detaining the Plaintiff unlawfully while knowing that the said warrant was not valid and Plaintiff had not ...

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