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Stone v. Wright

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 15, 2017

HEATHER STONE, Plaintiff,
v.
DOYLE T. WRIGHT, CITY OF CLINTON, INDIANA, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magntis-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Heather Stone claims that Defendant Deputy Chief of Police for the City of Clinton, Doyle Wright (“Deputy Chief Wright”), conspired with the Deputy Prosecutor of Vermillion County to arrest and charge Ms. Stone with battery resulting in serious bodily injury, a D Felony. [Filing No. 1-1 at 1-2.] On October 11, 2016, Ms. Stone initiated this litigation against Deputy Chief Wright and the City of Clinton (collectively, “Defendants”) in state court alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state law claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution. [Filing No. 1-1 at 1 (Second Amended Complaint); Filing No. 1-1 at 8 (original Complaint).] Defendants filed a Notice of Removal arguing that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction. [Filing No. 1.] Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. [Filing No. 5.] Ms. Stone opposes that motion. [Filing No. 9.] The motion is now ripe for the Court's review.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         II.

         Relevant Background

         The relevant background is set forth pursuant to the applicable standard of review, which requires the Court to accept all of Ms. Stone's well-pled allegations as true at this stage of the proceedings.

         On March 21, 2014, the Vermillion County Department of Child Services conducted an investigation involving Ms. Stone and her ward, a two-year old child, regarding allegations of injury and abuse. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] The Department of Child Services determined that such allegations were unsubstantiated given that they found no evidence of injury or abuse. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] On May 6, 2014, Deputy Chief Wright executed a false Affidavit for Probable Cause alleging that on March 19, 2014, Ms. Stone “touched [the child] in a rude, insolent or angry manner, resulting in bodily injury. . . .” [Filing No. 1-1 at 1.] Despite the fact that the evidence from the Department of Child Services determined that no injury occurred, Chief Deputy Wright requested that felony battery charges be filed against Ms. Stone. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] On May 9, 2014, “knowing the charges to be false, ” the Deputy Prosecutor requested and the Vermillion Circuit Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Ms. Stone, alleging battery resulting in serious bodily injury, a D Felony. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] Ms. Stone was subsequently arrested and held in the Vermillion County Jail under a $10, 000 bond. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] Upon her release, a “no contact order” was issued prohibiting Ms. Stone from having contact with the child until the conclusion of the case. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] On November 22, 2015, the Vermillion Circuit Court dismissed the criminal charges against Ms. Stone. [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.] Ms. Stone “has suffered damages by reason of such false charges, and prosecution, by her estrangement from her ward and family, the expenses of living apart from her husband and family, the disruption of her marriage and home and the embarrassment in her community.” [Filing No. 1-1 at 2.]

         Ms. Stone filed this cause of action against Defendants in state court on October 11, 2016, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state law claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution. [Filing No. 1-1 at 1 (Second Amended Complaint); Filing No. 1-1 at 8 (original Complaint).] On February 23, 2017, Defendants removed this litigation to this Court. [Filing No. 1.] Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. [Filing No. 5.]

         III.

         Discussion

         Defendants challenge all of Ms. Stone's claims. [Filing No. 6 at 1.] They argue that Ms. Stone's § 1983 false arrest claim is time-barred by the statute of limitations. [Filing No. 6 at 7.] They further argue that her § 1983 malicious prosecution claim fails because she does not assert a distinct constitutional violation, and does not demonstrate that Defendants acted with malice or without probable cause. [Filing No. 6 at 2.] With respect to Ms. Stone's state law claims, Defendants argue that Ms. Stone's false arrest claim is time-barred by the Indiana Tort Claims Act and the ...


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