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Coleman v. City of Indianapolis

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

March 15, 2018

CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, et al. Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 24], Defendants' Motion to Transfer Case to the Judicial Officers who Handled the Related, Earlier-Filed Case [Dkt. 23], and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint [Dkt. 33.] On March 6, 2018, District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson designated the undersigned Magistrate Judge to issue a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). [Dkt. 48.] For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that Defendants' motion be GRANTED and Plaintiff's motion be DENIED.

         I. Background

         In this action, Plaintiff asserts various claims arising out of tax sale proceedings initiated by Marion County relating to a property owned by Plaintiff. The factual allegations surrounding this lawsuit have served as the basis for multiple pro se lawsuits filed in Indiana state and federal courts. A brief procedural history serves to put the current motion to dismiss into perspective.

         On February 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Marion Superior Court alleging constitutional violations relating to the intended tax sale of Plaintiff's property for failure to pay real estate taxes. Defendants removed the case, which was then docketed in the Southern District of Indiana as Wayde Coleman v. City of Indianapolis, et. al, Cause No. 1:14-cv-386-WTL-DML (“Coleman I”). Plaintiff later amended that complaint to add claims related to defendants' alleged failure to provide notice of the sale and respond to his requests for appeal.

         In Coleman I, the court dismissed most of Plaintiff's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based upon Rooker-Feldman doctrine because his alleged injuries flowed from the state court judgment that gave Marion County the authority to sell the property. [Coleman I, Dkt. 65.] Plaintiff then pursued those claims in state court, which ultimately set aside the tax deed, finding it void because Marion County had not provided Coleman with all of the notices due pursuant to statute before the judgment was obtained. The court dismissed the remaining claims in Coleman I on defendants' motion for summary judgment based upon Plaintiff's failure to demonstrate injury, constitutional or otherwise, due to his alleged lack of notice of the sale. [Coleman I, Dkt. 96 at 6.] The court noted, “[T]he fact is that Coleman's lawsuit was successful and he is once again the owner of record; thus, he is receiving the benefit of any work that he has done on the Property.” Id.

         After Plaintiff regained ownership of the property, he filed a complaint for damages in Marion Circuit Court (“Coleman II”), Cause No. 49C01-1606-CT-023136, which was dismissed without substantive opinion on defendant's motion for summary judgment on November 15, 2017.

         Plaintiff filed this action (“Coleman III”) on May 12, 2017. [Dkt. 1.] The allegations in Plaintiff's Refiled Verified Civil Rights Complaint and Request for Emergency Injunctive Relief generally mirror those in Coleman I. The first paragraph of Plaintiff's Complaint notes, “Coleman decided to refile his Complaint and readdress ALL his claims in a New Case.” [Dkt. 1 at 2.] Defendants assert the claims against City of Indianapolis should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, as already determined by the court in Coleman I. In the alternative, Defendants assert the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Defendants further assert the allegations against Lichtenberger and Schneeman fail to state plausible claims and should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff did not file a response to this motion, but rather filed a Motion to Amend Complaint [Dkt. 33] which will be addressed at the conclusion of this order.

         II. Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion seeks dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction is satisfied. Glaser v. Wound Care Consultants, Inc., 570 F.3d 907, 913 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court may take judicial notice of matters in public record, including court documents, in deciding a motion to dismiss without converting it to a motion for summary judgment. Henson v. CSC Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994). If the Court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss the action as to all defendants. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must provide enough factual information to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face and “raise[s] a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint is facially plausible “when the pleaded factual content allows 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).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff asserts twelve claims against Defendants. As will be discussed below, the Court either lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claims against the City of Indianapolis, as previously held in Coleman I, or the claims are barred by res judicata. The claims against Defendants Lichtenberger and Schneeman are analyzed separately as they were not defendants in Coleman I.

         A. Claims Against ...

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