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Parker v. Loyal

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 12, 2017

OFFICER LOYAL, in official and individual capacity, OFFICER PILKINGTON, in official and individual capacity, OFFICER ROLINSON. in official and individual capacity, MARK SENESAC, and CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, Defendants.


          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         This case involves numerous claims brought by pro se Plaintiff Brenda Parker related to the repossession of her vehicle in May 2014. In the two years since Ms. Parker filed her Amended Complaint, the Court has dismissed several of her claims. As a result, the only Count of Ms. Parker's Amended Complaint that remains pending is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 due process claim against Defendants City of Indianapolis, Officer Loyal, Officer Pilkington, and Sergeant Rolinson (collectively, the “City Defendants”) and Mark Senesac-a tow truck driver.

         Presently pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the City Defendants. [Filing No. 109.] Ms. Parker has responded to the City Defendants' Motion, and it is now ripe for review.


         Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, ” Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).


         Statement of Facts

         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standards detailed in Part I. The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff as the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

         However, much of the evidence Ms. Parker cites in her response is not material to her case against the City Defendants and will not, therefore, be considered. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (“Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.”). Similarly, several “facts” alleged by Ms. Parker in her response do not contain any citations to the record, as required by Local Rule 56.1(e).[1] Consistent with Seventh Circuit authority, district courts may require pro se litigants to strictly comply with local summary judgment rules. Zoretic v. Darge, 832 F.3d 639, 641 (7th Cir. 2016), reh'g denied (Sept. 2, 2016) (stating that the Seventh Circuit has “repeatedly” held that requiring strict compliance with Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 is not an abuse of a district court's discretion). As such, Ms. Parker's pro se status does not excuse her failure to cite evidence in support of the facts she alleges in her response, and her conclusory statements without citation to the record will not be considered as undisputed facts. Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, Ill., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001) (quotation omitted) (noting, with regard to a pro se plaintiff, that “neither appellate courts nor district courts are obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes”).

         The undisputed material facts of this case as they relate to the City Defendants are as follows: at approximately 11:15 p.m. on May 9, 2014, Brenda Parker called 911 to report that her 2006 Ford Explorer had been stolen. [Filing No. 110-5 at 2; Filing No. 11-3 at 2.] She informed the dispatcher, “Someone just stole my vehicle in front of my apartment building.” [Filing No. 111.][2] During the 911 call, Ms. Parker ran around the curve of the circular drive in her apartment complex and noticed that the Explorer was being pulled by a tow truck that was stopped. [Filing No. 11-3 at 2.] Ms. Parker remarked to the 911 operator, “There he is. They're still here.” [Filing No. 111.] Two officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) - David Loyal and Nikole Pilkington - were dispatched to the scene. [Filing No. 110-5 at 2.]

         Shortly thereafter, the 911 operator called Ms. Parker back and notified her that police officers were on their way. [Filing No. 111.] Ms. Parker told the 911 operator that the person with her vehicle said “he had a repossession order.” [Filing No. 111.] Based on this information, the 911 operator contacted Officers Pilkington and Loyal and informed them that “It is a tow truck driver.” [Filing No. 111.]

         When Officers Pilkington and Loyal arrived on the scene, the tow truck driver showed the officers a piece of paperwork.[3] [Filing No. 110-6 at 4; Filing No. 110-7 at 5.] Ms. Parker then ran back to her apartment to retrieve a document that she claimed proved that the Explorer had been “written off” by her creditor. [Filing No. 11-3 at 3; Filing No. 110-8 at 4.] Ms. Parker showed a document to the officers that did not contain her name or specifically identify a 2006 Ford Explorer, but that stated that the unpaid balance for an automobile was “CHRGD OFF.” [Filing No. 110-8 at 4; Filing No. 110-8 at 10.] This was the only document Ms. Parker showed to the officers. [Filing No. 110-8 at 803.] The officers told Ms. Parker that this was a “civil matter” and that they could not “get involved.” [Filing No. 11-3 at 4.] They also stated that the document provided by the tow truck operator was more recent than the document produced by Ms. Parker and informed Ms. Parker that a creditor has a right to possession when a vehicle payment is not made. [Filing No. 11-3 at 4.] Ms. Parker then requested to speak with the officers' supervisor. [Filing No. 11-3 at 4.]

         Thereafter, Sergeant Andrew Rolinson arrived at the scene and reiterated to Ms. Parker that the tow truck diver's paperwork was more up to date than hers. [Filing No. 11-3 at 4.] Ms. Parker asked if she could remove her personal belongings from the Explorer and Sergeant Rolinson assisted her in retrieving some items from the vehicle. [Filing No. 110-9 at 4.] ...

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