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Mancini v. City of Indianapolis

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

September 26, 2017

MARA MANCINI, and K.C., by his next friend and father, CLYDE CLARK, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT IMPD, and in their official and individual capacities the following officers, RICK HITE, TROY RIGGS, CRAIG HEDDEN, DOUGLAS HIMMEL, JASON NORMENT, KRISTOPHER KUNZ, GLEN GEISSER, DEBRA DOTSON, CONRAD SIMPSON, GREGORY STEWART K9 Ofc., KEITH SHELTON, CHARLES WHEELER Sgt., JOHN MONTGOMERY, JUSTIN MUSSER, CHARLES TICE, LONA DOUGLAS, MELISSA LEMRICK, JON KING, JEFFERY NEWLIN, CLAYTON PORTELL, JEREMY GRAY, DAVID KINSEY, DOES 1-50, ROE CORPORATIONS 1-10, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Mara Mancini's (“Ms. Mancini”) and her son K.C.'s (“K.C.”) (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) Objection to Magistrate's Report and Recommendation (Filing No. 43). On January 6, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a recommendation, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), that the Court grant Defendants Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint (Filing No. 12). Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendants, the City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”), and numerous individual IMPD police officers (the “Officer Defendants”) (collectively, the “City”), alleging constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiffs timely filed their Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. For the reasons stated below, the Court SUSTAINS in part and OVERRULES in part Plaintiffs' objection and ADOPTS in part the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, with the additional discussion and conclusions stated herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts, taken from Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, are set forth in detail in the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Filing No. 34 at 2-3), and are accepted as true. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (“[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.”). Accordingly, the Court adopts those facts, and they are only summarized in this Entry. In summary, on July 16, 2015, IMPD officers released an IMPD canine while in pursuit of a suspect fleeing a traffic stop. Hearing a commotion and hearing her dog barking, Ms. Mancini stepped out of the front door to her home. When she did so, an IMPD canine, who was inside of Ms. Mancini's fenced yard, attacked and mauled her. The canine dragged her to the ground, biting her elbow, arm, and thigh. It took assistance from an IMPD officer at the scene to free Ms. Mancini from the dog's grasp. At the time of the attack, Ms. Mancini was pregnant with K.C. As a result of the dog attack, she required emergency care and surgery. Her wounds became infected and additional emergency surgery was required. The extreme stress of the injuries caused Ms. Mancini to experience complications with her pregnancy and K.C. was born one month early with signs of his mother's infection, and he was addicted to the narcotics prescribed for Ms. Mancini's pain following the dog attack.

         Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint for damages, alleging unreasonable seizure and substantive due process claims under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against the Officer Defendants and the City. They allege:

Defendant Officers acted under color of law in using excessive and unreasonable force against Ms. Mancini and her unborn child when they restrained their liberty by directing the IMPD canine onto the property of Plaintiffs, intending to effect a seizure, knowing that the canine was specifically trained to violently seize anyone in the space in which he was deployed . . . .

(Filing No. 11 at 8 ¶66.) On September 8, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The undersigned referred the Motion to the Magistrate Judge who issued a Report and Recommendation for dismissal of Plaintiffs' constitutional claims against all parties with prejudice and dismissal of the Amended Complaint without prejudice.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Magistrate Review

         A district court may assign dispositive motions to a magistrate judge, in which case the magistrate judge may submit to the district judge only a report and recommended disposition, including any proposed findings of fact. Schur v. L.A. Weight Loss Ctrs., Inc., 577 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 2009). See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). “The magistrate judge's recommendation on a dispositive matter is not a final order, and the district judge makes the ultimate decision to adopt, reject, or modify it.” Schur, 577 F.3d at 760. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). After a magistrate judge makes a report and recommendation, either party may object within fourteen days. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). “A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         Further, a judge “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id.

         B. Federal Pleading Requirements

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint that has failed to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A party seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)'s requirement that the complaint state a claim upon which relief can be granted bears a heavy burden. In making this determination, the court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences from those allegations in favor of the plaintiff. Lee v. City of Chi., 330 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir. 2003). The plaintiff “receives the benefit of imagination” at this stage “[as] long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint.” Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994). Thus, a complaint should only be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) when “it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nev., N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007). “To withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge . . . ‘the plaintiff must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together, ' and the question the court should ask is ‘could these things have happened, not did they happen.'” Estate of Davis v. Wells Fargo Bank, 633 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404-05 (7th Cir. 2010)) (emphasis in original). Additionally, the court may not rely upon evidence and facts outside of those alleged in the complaint in ruling on a motion to dismiss.

         The complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court explained that the complaint must allege facts that are “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The allegations must “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Id. Stated differently, the complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The City moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety asserting that Defendants did not seize Ms. Mancini as she was an innocent bystander unintentionally injured, therefore her substantive due process, excessive force, and Monell claims fail. The City argued in the alternative that the Officer Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. The Magistrate Judge suggested in his recommendation that the motion should be granted in its ...


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