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Young v. Smith

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

July 5, 2018

RICHARD SMITH Deputy Constable, in his individual capacity, LAURA B. CONWAY, MAIN STREET RENEWAL, LLC, NICK'S PACKING SERVICES, INC., and CRAIG HUFF, Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Laura Conway (“Conway”) (Filing No. 107), and a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Nick's Packing Services, Inc. (“Nick's”) (Filing No. 126). Also before the Court is a Motion for Leave to File a Surreply in Opposition to Defendant Laura Conway's Motion to Dismiss. (Filing No. 119). Plaintiffs Shemeca Young (“Shemeca”), Racquel Young (“Racquel”), and K.W. by Next Friend, Shemeca Young (“K.W.”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), allege in their Second Amended Complaint claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as Indiana state law claims for statutory deception and civil conversion. (Filing No. 103.) For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Conway's Motion to Dismiss and denies Nick's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs as the non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). In reviewing the facts for Conway's Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in the Amended Complaint, and draws all possible inferences in the Plaintiff's favor. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (“[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.”).

         In March 2015, Shemeca signed a lease to occupy the real estate located at 8136 Carina Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana (the “Residence” or the “Property”). (Filing No. 103 at 2.) Shemeca leased the Residence from its owners Dennis and Katherine Young (collectively, “the Youngs”), who are not related to any of the Plaintiffs despite their common surname. Id. at 3. Shemeca moved into the Residence with her minor son, K.W., and made monthly lease payments to the Youngs in the amount of $1, 250.00. Id. At some point during the lease, Shemeca's sister, Racquel moved into the Residence. Id. Racquel suffers from a serious medical condition that requires daily kidney dialysis, and she kept special medical equipment at the Residence to perform her daily kidney dialysis. Id. The equipment consisted of a home dialysis unit, IV fluids, an IV pole, and other items. Id.

         At some point in late 2014, before Shemeca signed the lease, the Residence became part of a foreclosure action against the Youngs. Id. The Plaintiffs were unaware of the Property's foreclosure status, and Shemeca continued making monthly payments to the Youngs. Periodically, Shemeca received “court papers”, addressed to the Youngs, left on the door of the Property, which she forwarded to the Youngs without reading. Id. The foreclosure action did not name any of the Plaintiffs. Id.

         A decree of foreclosure was entered against the Property on June 21, 2016, and Jeff 1, LLC purchased the Property at a sheriff's sale. (Filing No. 69-1.) Main Street Renewal, a party not included in the Second Amended Complaint, provided property management services for Jeff 1 LLC. (Filing No. 103 at 3.) On August 2, 2016, Conway, an attorney who acted on behalf of Main Street Renewal, filed a “Notice of Claim for Possession of Real Estate” (“Eviction Notice”) in the Pike Township Division of the Marion County Small Claims Court. Id. at 4. The Eviction Notice named the defendants as “Dennis P. Young, Katherine L. Young, and all unknown occupants.” Id. On August 30, 2016, Conway requested and received a Writ of Restitution (the “Writ”) following the eviction hearing. Id. Conway presented the Writ to the Constable of Pike Township Richard Smith (“Smith”), along with payment, and requested Smith to execute the Writ. Id. The Writ is reproduced below.

         (Image Omitted)

         (Filing No. 69-2.)

         On September 29, 2016, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Shemeca and K.W. were at the Residence when Conway and Smith knocked on the door to serve the Writ. (Filing No. 103 at 5.) Smith asked Shemeca if she was either of the persons named on the Writ, to which Shemeca told Smith the individuals named were her landlords who did not live there. Id. Smith responded, “Well it doesn't matter; you have to leave.” Id. Shemeca asked to get dressed, as she walked away, Smith and Conway entered the residence. Id. Conway took a seat at Plaintiffs' dining room table. Id. Smith drew his firearm and proceeded upstairs where then four (4) year old K.W. was located. Id. Smith entered K.W.'s bedroom and pointed his firearm at K.W. and ordered both K.W. and Shemeca to leave the home. Id. Shemeca did not understand what was taking place because she was current on her rent. Id. She informed Smith and Conway that Racquel needed her kidney dialysis equipment and asked to retrieve it. Id. at 6. Smith told Shemeca she could not retrieve it and ordered her out of the house. Id. Shemeca also informed Nick's employees that Racquel needed her dialysis equipment, to which the agent for Nick's provided her with the inventory sheet and told her to call Nick's. Id.

         Nick's took possession of the Plaintiffs' belongings following the eviction on September 29, 2016. Because Nick's did not have sufficient storage capacity at its Beech Grove Warehouse to store Plaintiffs' belongings, Nick's took approximately seventy-five percent (75%) of the property to another storage facility, Public Storage. (Filing No. 128 at 4.) On October 5, 2016, Shemeca went to Nick's Beech Grove office where Nick's employee, Lorena Braun (“Braun”), presented Shemeca with a customer intake sheet. (Filing No. 132 at 59.) The customer intake sheet provided that Shemeca's personal belongings were being stored in 12 vaults at the price of $250.00 per vault with an additional $10.84 charge for each day. Id. As of October 5, 2016, Shemeca's balance for storage fees was $3, 075.88. Id. Braun noted that Young did not make payment or a contract for payment. Id. An inventory list was taken, to which Shemeca noted in her own handwriting that she disputed the inventory list because a television and four other items were missing. Id. However, Nick's Answer to Plaintiffs' discovery requests indicated that on October 5, 2016, that Plaintiffs' personal belongings were being stored at a different location, Public Storage-4305 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46268, for $212.00. Id. at 61.


         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) challenges the court's subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The burden of proof is on the plaintiff, the party asserting jurisdiction. United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003), overruled on other grounds by Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., 683 F.3d 845 (7th Cir. 2012) (en banc). “The plaintiff has the burden of supporting the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint by competent proof.” Int'l Harvester Co. v. Deere & Co., 623 F.2d 1207, 1210 (7th Cir. 1980). “In deciding whether the plaintiff has carried this burden, the court must look to the state of affairs as of the filing of the complaint; a justiciable controversy must have existed at that time.” Id.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.Com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of a claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation and internal quotations omitted). ...

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