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Buroff v. Gladieux

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

May 18, 2018

DEMETRIUS BUROFF and IAN BARNHART, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
DAVID GLADIEUX, in his official capacity, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Ian Barnhart's Second Motion to Certify Class [ECF No. 36], filed on March 7, 2018. Defendant David Gladieux, in his official capacity as Allen County Sheriff, filed his Response to the Plaintiff's Motion [ECF No. 38] on March 21, 2018, and the Plaintiff filed his Reply [ECF No. 39] on March 28, 2018. This matter is now fully briefed and ripe for review.

         BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff filed this action individually and behalf of all others similarly situated, alleging that the Defendant systematically disenfranchised hundreds of eligible voters who were being confined in the Allen County Jail during the 2016 general election. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 18.) The Plaintiff is a United States citizen, over eighteen years of age, and a resident of Allen County, Indiana (Id. ¶ 5.) The Plaintiff was held in the Allen County Jail as a pretrial detainee on misdemeanor criminal charges from on or about October 31, 2016, to on or about December 15, 2016. (Id. ¶ 4.) The Defendant at all relevant times served as the Allen County Sheriff and operated the Allen County Jail (Id. ¶ 6.)

         The Plaintiff alleges that on November 8, 2016, he was eligible to vote in the 2016 General Election, but the Defendant prevented him from doing so from the Allen County Jail. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 18, 24, 25.) Additionally, the Plaintiff was denied access to in-person early voting, absentee ballots, or any other means of voting. (Id. ¶¶ 19-21, 25.) The Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(3) on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated as members of the following proposed class:

All individuals held at the Allen County Jail on November 8, 2016, who on that date were U.S. citizens, residents of Indiana, were at least eighteen years of age, were not serving a sentence for a conviction of a felony crime, had not previously voted in the 2016 general election, were provided neither an absentee ballot nor transportation to a voting center, and were registered to vote or had been denied the opportunity to vote while held in the Allen County Jail.

(Id. ¶ 7.) The Plaintiff seeks monetary damages on behalf of himself and the class.

         On June 6, 2017, the Plaintiff, along with another previously named Plaintiff, Demetrius Buroff, moved for class certification [ECF No. 19]. The Defendant challenged the Plaintiffs' Motion and asserted that (1) neither of the named Plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim individually or on behalf of the class, and (2) neither of the named Plaintiffs could satisfy the typicality and adequate representation requirements of Rule 23. On November 13, 2017, the Court denied [ECF No. 32] the Plaintiffs' Motion, with leave to refile, finding that the Plaintiffs had failed to satisfy the numerosity requirement. The Court noted the availability of information regarding which individuals were held at the Allen County Jail on November 8, 2016, and whether they were registered to vote and instructed that the Plaintiffs could potentially show the requisite numerosity after review of such information and subsequent presentation of it to the Court. The Court also dismissed Buroff as a party because he had not been registered to vote at the relevant time, and therefore lacked standing.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “Rule 23 does not set forth a mere pleading standard.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 351 (2011). Instead, plaintiffs bear the burden to show that a proposed class satisfies Rule 23. Arwa Chiropractic, P.C. v. Med-Care Diabetic & Med. Supplies, Inc., 14-C-5602, 2017 WL 4339788, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 29, 2017) (citing Messner v. Northshore Univ. Healthsystem, 669 F.3d 802, 811 (7th Cir. 2012)). A plaintiff satisfies Rule 23 when he meets all of the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and one of the requirements of Rule 23(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23; Rosario v. Livaditis, 963 F.2d 1013, 1017 (7th Cir. 1992). First, the plaintiff must show:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or ...

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