United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
WILLIE T. DONALD, Plaintiff,
BRUCE OUTLAW, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. Van Bokkelen United States District Judge
Willie T. Donald has sued Bruce Outlaw, Carla K. Pike as
special administrator of the Estate of John E. Jelks Jr., the
City of Gary, and other unknown employees of the City. Each
of the named defendants has filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim is to
test the sufficiency of the pleadings, not to decide the
merits of the case. See Gibson v. Chi., 910 F.2d
1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). Rule 8(a)(2) provides that a
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. A
complaint must contain enough factual matter to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) A complaint is facially
plausible if a court can reasonably infer from factual
content in the pleading that the defendant is liable for the
alleged wrongdoing. Id. When evaluating the
sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
must construe it in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, accept well-pleaded facts as true, and draw all
inferences in his favor. Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l
City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010).
attached to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the
pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's
complaint and are central to his claim. When matters outside
the pleadings are presented to the court, under Rule 12(d),
the court must either convert the motion into a summary
judgment motion or exclude the documents attached to the
motion to dismiss. Levenstein v. Salafsky, 164 F.3d
345, 347 (7th Cir. 2006).
alleges that he was wrongfully convicted of murder and
robbery and spent almost twenty-four years in prison for
crimes he didn't commit. He claims that he was framed by
City of Gary police officers Bruce Outlaw and John Jelks Jr.
(“Defendant Officers”). According to Plaintiff, his
conviction rested solely on two false eyewitness
identifications that Defendants fabricated and manipulated.
complaint concerns alleged police misconduct beginning in
1992. The complaint sets out the Defendant Officers'
alleged misconduct in detail. (See Compl.,
¶¶ 17-43.) The misconduct allegedly included using
suggestive identification procedures and withholding from
Plaintiff, his counsel, and the prosecution a report of a
victim's identification as the perpetrator another
individual who could not have been Plaintiff. In addition,
Plaintiff claims that the Defendant Officers withheld the
fact that one victim who viewed a lineup including Plaintiff
told the Defendant Officers the robber was not in the lineup.
Plaintiff further alleges in detail that the City of Gary
allowed unconstitutional conduct on the part of its officers
to flourish because of insufficient training, supervision,
convictions were overturned on January 25, 2016, and all
charges against him were dismissed on January 28, 2016, after
one of the eyewitnesses came forward and told of how
Defendant Officers had manipulated the identification
process. Plaintiff filed this suit on January 24, 2017.
of the complaint sets out a due process claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that the Defendant Officers deprived
Plaintiff of his constitutional right to a fair trial, in
violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and that the
City's policy and practice of pursuing wrongful
convictions by withholding exculpatory information,
conducting unduly suggestive identification procedures, and
fabricating inculpatory evidence were the moving force
driving the constitutional violations. Count II alleges a
conspiracy under § 1983 among the Defendant Officers and
other City employees pursuant to the City's policy and
practices to deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights.
Count III alleges that the Defendant officers failed to
prevent each other's violations of Plaintiff's
constitutional rights. Count IV is a § 1983 claim that
is labeled a malicious prosecution claim, but that Plaintiff
now argues is a Fourth Amendment claim for unlawful seizure.
Count V is a malicious prosecution claim brought under
Indiana law. Counts VI and VII are state law claims against
the Defendant Officers for intentional and negligent
infliction of emotional distress. Counts VIII and IX are
state law respondeat superior and indemnification claims
against the City.
Statute of Limitations
Outlaw and Jelks Estate allege in their separate motions to
dismiss that Plaintiff's claims are barred by
Indiana's two-year statute of limitations for personal
injury, Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4. Such a claim is an
affirmative defense, which is ordinarily not appropriate for
decision on a motions to dismiss. However, a statute of
limitations defense may be adjudicated on a motion to dismiss
if the allegations of the complaint itself set forth
everything necessary to satisfy the defense. Brooks v.
Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579 (7th Cir. 2009). That is not the
case here. In fact, it seems clear from the allegations of
the complaint that most, if not all, of Plaintiff's
claims did not accrue until his criminal conviction was
overturned and the charges against him were dismissed in
January 2016, so that the complaint filed in January 2017 is
clearly timely. Because Defendants have not shown that the
Plaintiff has pleaded himself out of court by alleging
everything necessary to establish the statute of limitations
defense, the Court denies their motions to dismiss on that