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Lewis v. Stires

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

May 9, 2018

RICHARD STIRES, of the Elwood Police Department, LUCAS TRAYLOR, of the Elwood Police Department, NATHAN HIATT, Madison County Sheriff Deputy, SCOTT MELLINGER, Madison County Sheriff, and PHILLIP CALDWELL, former Police Chief, Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on numerous pending motions: Defendants Richard Stires (“Officer Stires”), Lucas Traylor (“Officer Traylor”), and Phillip Caldwell (“Chief Caldwell”) (collectively, the “Elwood Defendants”) have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 108), and Defendants Nathan Hiatt (“Deputy Hiatt”) and Scott Mellinger (“Sheriff Mellinger”) (collectively, the “Madison County Defendants”) have filed a Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement (Filing No. 115). Pro se Plaintiff Joseph Dale Lewis (“Lewis”) has filed a Motion to Dismiss (Filing No. 116), Motion for Court Assisted Subpoena of Arrest Audio (Filing No. 122), Motion for Federal Government Intervention (Filing No. 123), Motion to Strike Motion to Dismiss and to Deny (Filing No. 124), Information of Corruption to the Court (Filing No. 130), Motion to Vacate Verbal Settlement Agreement Due to Corruption (Filing No. 131), Motion to Compel Financial Records from Defendants (Filing No. 132), Motion to Compel Kyle Jones to Surrender Evidence (Filing No. 133), and Motion to Serve Handwritten Motions on Opposing Parties (Filing No. 134). For the reasons stated below, the Elwood Defendants' and Madison County Defendants' respective motions are granted. Some of Lewis' motions are granted; however, the majority are denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Because the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Elwood Defendants is dispositive of the substantive issues that remain in this matter, the background information is presented pursuant to the summary judgment standard. That being the case, the facts are reviewed in the light most favorable to Lewis, the non-moving party, and the Court draws all reasonable inferences in Lewis' favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009). Notably, Lewis did not respond to the Elwood Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment or present any disputed facts. This is despite the Elwood Defendants filing notice that his failure to do so would result in the Elwood Defendants' facts being “accepted by the court as being true unless [he] submit[ted] [his] own affidavits or other admissible evidence disputing those facts.” (Filing No. 113 at 1.)

         During the relevant time period, the Elwood Defendants were police officers for the City of Elwood, Indiana, and each of them graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. Officer Stires was a police officer for the City of Elwood from July 2014 to September 2017, and Officer Traylor has been employed there since March 2013. Chief Caldwell was employed as a police officer with the City of Elwood since 1987 and was appointed Chief of Police in 2014 and held that position until January 2016. There was nothing at any time during Chief Caldwell's tenure as chief that led him to believe Officers Traylor or Stires would engage in any unlawful use of force. (Filing No. 109-5). Chief Caldwell was not present at the scene of the residential entry or at the hospital and had no personal involvement in any of the events that occurred involving Lewis.

         On September 12, 2015, Officer Stires, Officer Traylor, and other officers employed by the Elwood Police Department and Madison County Sheriff's Department responded to a reported residential entry at 403 South Main Street, Elwood, Indiana. Dispatch reported that a person named Joe Lewis had entered the complainants' home without permission and was now outside refusing to leave. Upon arrival at the scene, Lewis was sitting on the complainant's front porch. As they began speaking with Lewis, Officer Stires turned on his department issued digital audio recorder, and the recorder remained on throughout the interaction with Lewis. (Filing No. 109-1 at 1). Lewis informed Officer Stires and Officer Traylor that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Filing No. 109-1 at 1, Filing No. 109-4 at 1). He told the officers that he was having trouble with a lack of sleep, that he was seeing things and hearing voices that were not there, and that he had been hallucinating. Id. Officer Stires went inside the home to speak with the complainants who had made the call. The complainants reported that Lewis had entered their home uninvited and was claiming that someone was trying to kill him.

         After consultation, the officers determined that Lewis would be arrested for Residential Entry and a decision was made to place him in handcuffs. (Filing No. 109-1 at 2; Filing No. 109-4 at 2). Officer Traylor and Officer Stires went back outside and Lewis was placed in handcuffs without incident while sitting on the front porch. Id. Officer Stires then went back inside the home to gather additional information from the complainants. Firemen who had been called to the scene were checking Lewis' condition. Approximately a minute after Lewis was placed in handcuffs he became combative. Id. Officer Traylor and the firemen assisted Lewis to the ground. Lewis was screaming and thrashing around violently at this time. Id. Officer Stires placed his right knee on Lewis' head to prevent him from hitting it on the sidewalk next to him. Id. Officer Traylor was attempting to restrain Lewis' legs. Officer Traylor, Officer Stires, and two firemen tried to subdue Lewis to keep him from hurting himself or anyone else. Lewis was kicking as they were attempting to restrain him, and he kicked Officer Traylor numerous times in the chest. Id. at 3. Officer Traylor contacted dispatch to have a Sheriff's Deputy come to the location with leg restraints. Id. Throughout this encounter, officers attempted to calm Lewis down and can be heard on the audio recording stating “calm down Joe, ” “we are not going to hurt you, ” “we want to help you.” (Filing No. 114).

         Deputy Hiatt arrived and leg restraints were placed on Lewis' legs. Officer Traylor and the firemen were able to force Lewis to the ground as he was fighting wildly. Lewis asserts that while fully restrained in handcuffs, Officers Traylor and Stires were on top of him and repeatedly tased him. However, because his face was pushed into the ground, Lewis did not actually observe any officer deploying a Taser. (Filing No. 109-15). Lewis sustained physical injuries during the incident. Id.

         Lewis was placed into an ambulance for transport to St. Vincent Mercy Hospital to be seen by medical staff for his mental state and any injuries that may have been sustained during the arrest. (Filing No. 109-10). Officer Stires audio equipment recorded comments made by Lewis. While in the ambulance, Lewis made comments such as wanting to die from his overdose, that he is a drug addict and he had overused his own prescriptions. (Filing No. 114). At the hospital, Lewis continued to kick and scream while medical staff attempted to treat him. Dr. Jennifer Bunch (“Dr. Bunch”) ordered a catheterization and a blood draw from Lewis. (Filing No. 110). When the doctor attempted the catheterization, Lewis was struggling and kicking, and Officer Stires held one of Lewis' legs at the knee in an effort to prevent Lewis from hurting himself and hospital staff. Neither Officer Traylor nor Officer Stires requested, ordered, performed, or otherwise demanded a catheterization or blood draw of Lewis; rather, the catheterization and blood draw were performed by, and at the direction of, medical staff at the hospital. (Filing No. 109-1 at 1; Filing No. 109-4 at 1). These procedures were not performed for the purpose of any criminal investigation or to collect evidence. Id. The test results from the blood draw were positive for opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamine, cannabinoids, and hydrocodone. (Filing No. 110 at 16).

         On September 13, 2015, Lewis was transported from the hospital to jail. While in the jail, he noticed marks on his finger, which looked like burn marks. Following his release from jail, Lewis surfed the internet for information about Tasers. (Filing No. 109-15 at 6-7.) Lewis was charged with Residential Entry, to which he later pled guilty.

         On December 8, 2016, Lewis initiated this action, and all defendants filed motions to dismiss. On August 17, 2017, the Court issued a ruling on the motions to dismiss filed by the Madison County Defendants (Filing No. 12) and the Elwood Defendants (Filing No. 15). The claims surviving the motions to dismiss with respect to the Elwood Defendants were that Officer Stires, Officer Traylor, and Deputy Hiatt violated the Fourth Amendment when using their electronic control weapons against Lewis, and Chief Caldwell negligently hired and carelessly retained Officer Stires and Officer Traylor. The claims surviving dismissal regarding the Madison County Defendants were that Sheriff Mellinger was negligent in hiring and careless in retaining Deputy Hiatt.

         On September 20, 2017, Lewis filed an Amended Complaint, which is the operative complaint. In his Amended Complaint, Lewis added a claim that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was catheterized at the hospital and a blood draw was taken from him. (Filing No. 78.) He contends that as a result of the officers' actions on September 12, 2015, he suffered injuries, including but not limited to, fractures of various bones, dizzy spells, memory problems, and hip and leg problems. Id.

         On February 6, 2018, Lewis, in person and by counsel, and the defendants, by their authorized representatives and by counsel, appeared for a settlement conference with the Magistrate Judge. The conference was held and concluded with an agreement between Lewis and Madison County Defendants on settlement terms and without settlement as to the Elwood Defendants. The Magistrate Judge issued the following order:

Within thirty days of the date of this entry, counsel for the plaintiff shall file a motion to dismiss this cause against the Madison County defendants and submit an order for the Court's signature ordering the dismissal of this action or a stipulation of dismissal (consistent with the agreement of the parties).

         (Filing No. 89). The claims pending against the Elwood Defendants are as follows: Count I against Officer Stires and Officer Traylor, alleging that they violated the Fourth Amendment when using their electronic control weapons against Lewis and by forcing Lewis to be catheterized and to have his blood drawn; and Count II against Chief Caldwell, alleging that he negligently hired, retained, and supervised Officer Stires and Officer Traylor. All of Lewis' claims are asserted against the defendants in their individual capacities.


         The purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews the record in the light most ...

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