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Fisher v. Marion County Jail

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

August 1, 2018



          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         This case arises out of Plaintiff Michael Fisher's September 2017 stay in the Marion County Jail. Mr. Fisher filed the instant Complaint against the Marion County Jail, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Lt. Col. James Martin, Marion County Sheriff John Layton, and three unnamed jail guards (“Defendants”), alleging that he suffered physical injuries while in custody in violation of state law and the United States Constitution. Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' partial Motion to Dismiss. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion in part and DENIES Defendants' Motion in part.


         Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim that does not state a right to relief. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide the defendant with “fair notice of what the…claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.



         The following allegations are taken from Mr. Fisher's Complaint, [Filing No. 1], and are accepted as true for purposes of deciding the pending Motion, consistent with the applicable standard of review.

         On September 21, 2017, Mr. Fisher was arrested for public intoxication and held at the Marion County Jail. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] In the early morning hours of September 22, 2017, Mr. Fisher requested that the jail guards administer his prescribed medications. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] In response to this request, three jail guards removed Mr. Fisher from his cell and took him to a secluded area, where they proceeded to “kick, beat, stomp, and otherwise physically assault” him. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] Mr. Fisher sought treatment from the jail nurse, and she informed him that the doctor could not help him with broken ribs and that the Marion County Jail would not treat his injuries until he was moved to general population. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] Mr. Fisher also reported the assault to a jail employee while being fingerprinted, but that employee did not respond and did not report Mr. Fisher's complaint. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] Both the fingerprinting employee and the nurse refused to provide Mr. Fisher with a grievance form. [Filing No. 1 at 4.]

         On September 25, 2017, after Mr. Fisher's release from jail, he sought medical treatment at St. Francis Hospital. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] The doctors ordered X-rays and diagnosed Mr. Fisher with broken ribs. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] On October 31, 2017, Mr. Fisher went to Eskenazi Hospital, where doctors also performed X-rays and diagnosed him with broken ribs and “other physical trauma.” [Filing No. 1 at 4.]

         On October 24, 2017, Mr. Fisher sent a Notice of Tort Claim to Defendants, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Indiana Political Management Risk Assessment Office. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] On March 5, 2017, Mr. Fisher filed this lawsuit asserting various state law and federal constitutional claims against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Filing No. 1 at 11-14.] Defendants have moved to dismiss several of Mr. Fisher's claims, and that Motion is now ripe for the Court's review. [Filing No. 10.]



         The Court notes at the outset that Mr. Fisher's Complaint identifies the claims being raised in a confusing manner. He raises sixteen claims against various defendants, though several of the claim numbers are repeated, and several reference a city defendant who is not a party to this lawsuit. [Filing No. 1 at 23.] The Court has done its best to construe the Complaint despite the complicated presentation.

         In support of their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants argue that: (1) all claims against the Marion County Jail should be dismissed because the Jail is an entity not amenable to suit; (2) Count XI should be dismissed because employees of a single government entity cannot be held liable for conspiring to interfere with Mr. Fisher's civil rights; (3) the official capacity claims against Lt. Col. Martin and Sheriff Layton should be dismissed because they are duplicative of the claims against the Marion County Sheriff's Office; (4) the due process and equal protection claims in Count VI should be dismissed because (a) the claim should be addressed within another claim already raised by Mr. Fisher, or (b) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (5) Count XIV should be dismissed because the conduct alleged does not constitute a First Amendment violation and/or Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         A. ...

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