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Brown v. Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department & Vanderburgh County

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 13, 2017

Charles Brown, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department and Vanderburgh County, Indiana, Appellees-Defendants

         Appeal from the Vanderburgh Superior Court The Honorable S. Brent Almon, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No. 82D07-1601-CT-132

          Attorney for Appellant Mark K. Phillips Boonville

          Attorneys for Appellees Michael E. DiRienzo Jeffrey W. Ahlers Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP

          Crone, Judge.

          Case Summary

          [¶1] Charles Brown appeals the trial court's dismissal of his amended complaint against Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department ("VCSD") and Vanderburgh County, Indiana ("the County"). Brown contends that the trial court erred. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

          [¶2] Brown was involved in a motorcycle accident on July 24, 2014. Due to injuries he suffered in the accident, he was taken by ambulance to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. Upon his release from the hospital the following day, Brown was arrested by Evansville City Police Department officers for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and he was transported to the Vanderburgh County Detention Center. Brown was released from the detention center on July 30, 2014.

         [¶3] On January 20, 2015, Brown mailed his tort claim notice to VCSD, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding, Vanderburgh County Commissioners, the Indiana Political Subdivision Risk Management Commission, and the Indiana Attorney General, alleging a claim that he suffered injuries and damages while in the detention center as a result of VCSD's "unprofessionalism, misconduct, failure to provide medical care, and abuse of power." Appellant's App. at 15. A little less than a year later, on January 11, 2016, Brown filed a complaint for damages naming the City of Evansville ("the City") and Un-Named Police Officers as the sole defendants.

         [¶4] On July 26, 2016, the City filed a motion for summary judgment stating that the City had no control or jurisdiction over the Vanderburgh County Detention Center. On August 8, 2016, Brown filed a motion to amend his complaint stating that he had named "the wrong parties" in the initial complaint and that he wished to name VCSD and the County as defendants. Id. at 45. The trial court granted his motion to amend on September 8, 2016.

         [¶5] On October 27, 2016, VCSD and the County filed a motion to dismiss arguing that Brown's amended complaint was filed after the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations. Following a hearing, the trial court entered a detailed order granting the motion to dismiss. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

          [¶6] A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted tests the legal sufficiency of a claim, not the supporting facts. Veolia Water Indpls., LLC v. Nat'l Trust Ins. Co., 3 N.E.3d 1, 4 (Ind. 2014). An appellate court engages in a de novo review of the trial court's grant or denial of a motion based on Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6). Id. We stand in the shoes of the trial court and must determine if the trial court erred in its application of the law. Chenore v. Plantz, 56 N.E.3d 123, 126 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016).

         [¶7] A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted is an appropriate means of raising the statute of limitations. Id. When the complaint shows on its face that the statute of limitations has run, the defendant may file a Trial Rule 12(B)(6) motion. Id. The trial court's grant of a motion to dismiss is proper if it is apparent that ...


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