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Riley v. Lake County

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

July 3, 2018

WILLIAM RILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
LAKE COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES T. MOODY JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT

         This matter is before the court on defendant Lake County's motion to dismiss. (DE # 15.) For the reasons identified below, defendant's motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff William Riley's first amended complaint alleges that defendant deputy sheriff E. Saavaedra or defendant deputy sheriff R. Watts used excessive force against him at the Lake County Jail. (DE # 11 at 2.) Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Lake County, Indiana is liable to indemnify the deputy sheriff defendants pursuant to Indiana law.

         Lake County now moves to dismiss the claim against it, for failure to state a claim. (DE ## 15, 16.) Lake County argues that plaintiff's indemnification claim should be dismissed for the following reasons: (1) the amended complaint does not cite case law; (2) the amended complaint seeks indemnification for a tort, but does not identify what tort the deputy sheriffs allegedly committed; (3) plaintiff improperly pursues a theory of respondeat superior liability against Lake County; and (4) Lake County does not employ the deputy sheriff defendants and thus is not the proper party from whom to seek indemnification.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A judge reviewing a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must construe the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, accept all well-pleaded facts as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007); Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 595 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). Under the liberal notice-pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Lack of Citations to Authority in the Amended Complaint

         Lake County's first argument - that plaintiff's amended complaint should be dismissed for failure to cite case law - plainly lacks merit.[1] Under the federal notice-pleading standard, a pleading need only contain three things: “(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support; (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). A plaintiff need not provide citations to authority within the complaint. See e.g. Holleman v. Weist, 202 F.3d 273 (7th Cir. 1999) (unpublished) (“Under notice pleading, it was neither necessary nor desirable for [plaintiff] to include case citations in the complaint itself.”). Thus, the first ground identified in Lake County's motion does not serve as a basis for dismissal.

         B. Plaintiff does not Allege a Tort Claim

         Lake County's second argument is similarly unavailing. According to Lake County, while plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that public entities are required to indemnify its employees for any tort judgment, plaintiff has not specifically alleged what tort was committed. Defense counsel appears to be under the mistaken impression that Indiana law only indemnifies judgments for state law torts. However, Indiana has two indemnification statutes, one of which provides indemnification for civil rights violations and plainly applies to this case. The statute states:

If a present or former public employee, including a member of a board, a committee, a commission, an authority, or another instrumentality of a governmental entity, is or could be subject to personal civil liability for a loss occurring because of a noncriminal act or omission within the scope of the public employee's employment which violates the civil rights laws of the United States, the governmental entity (when the governmental entity defends or has the opportunity ...

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