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Harrison v. City of Fort Wayne

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

July 25, 2018

KEIONA HARRISON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FORT WAYNE, OFFICER HOLLO, OFFICER NICKLOW, OFFICER HAWTHORNE, and OFFICER MCCONNELL, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Reconsider the Court's Ruling on the Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Amended Answer to Complaint, Counter-Claim, and Jury Demand [DE 21 ], filed by Defendants on May 22, 2018. Plaintiff filed an obj ection on June 5, 2018, and Defendants filed a reply on June 12, 2018. On June 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Sur-Response, without first seeking leave of court, and on June 21, 2018, Defendants filed a Sur-Reply, also without first seeking leave of court. On June 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a belated Motion for Leave to File Sur-Response [DE 26].

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 27, 2017, Plaintiff Keiona Harrison filed a Complaint in the Allen County, Indiana, Superior Court. (ECF 3). Therein, Plaintiff alleges claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution for excessive force during an arrest that occurred on May 13, 2017, due process violations and racially profiling Plaintiff prior to and during the arrest, deprivation and loss of liberty, and excessive force/due process violations for conducting a cavity search without cause or reason and without a warrant. Plaintiff also alleges Indiana state law claims of battery and sexual battery.

         On October 5, 2017, Defendants removed the case to this Court. On October 10, 2017, Defendants filed an Answer. The Court held a Rule 16(b) scheduling conference on November 8, 2017, at which time a February 1, 2018 deadline was set for Defendants to file any motion to amend pleadings.

         On April 30, 2018, Defendants filed a "Motion for Leave to File Amended Answer to Complaint, Counter-Claim, and Jury Demand," which sought to amend their Answer to add a counterclaim for defamation and invasion of privacy brought by the four individual officer defendants against Plaintiff.

         On May 11, 2018, the Court denied Defendants' motion to amend, finding that the motion was untimely as it was filed after the February 1, 2018 deadline and that Defendants had not shown good cause under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) for extending the February 1, 2018 deadline based on the allegations in the proposed counterclaim.

         ANALYSIS

         In the instant motion, Defendants ask the Court to reconsider its May 11, 2018 ruling denying them leave to bring a counterclaim against Plaintiff for defamation and invasion of privacy.

         The relevant paragraphs of the proposed counterclaim, filed with the Court as an attachment to the original Motion for Leave to Amend, provide:

3. In the Complaint, Keiona Harrison made defamatory statements against Detective Hollo, Detective Nicklow, Officer Hawthorne, and Officer McConnell. Keiona Harrison falsely stated that these officers racially profiled Keiona Harrison; used excessive force against Keiona Harrison; unlawfully searched Keiona Harrison's purse; conducted a cavity search of Keiona Harrison; that Officer McConnell put "her finger into plaintiff s vagina" and committed a sexual battery; that the officers failed to intervene to prevent these alleged acts; and that the officers targeted Keiona Harrison because of her race and color. Not only did Keiona Harrison publish these false statements in Court, but they have also been reported in several newspapers.
4. Further, Keiona Harrison made defamatory statements against Detective Hollo and Officer McConnell in her deposition. These statements include sworn testimony that Detective Hollo slammed Keiona Harrison's chest and body twice onto his police vehicle and that Officer McConnell inserted her fingers twice into Keiona Harrison's vagina. Keiona Harrison reported these same false statements to Internal Affairs of the Fort Wayne Police Department.
5. Further, Keiona Harrison told her supervisors at the Allen County Adult Probation Department that the officers cavity searched her and slammed her against the police vehicle.
6. The above defamatory statementspublishedby Keiona Harrison are false and are not privileged. Keiona Harrison published these statements knowing that they are false. Keiona Harrison has committed libel, slander, and defamation against Detective Hollo, ...

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