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McFarlane v. Carothers

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

September 27, 2018

BRANDON MCFARLANE, Plaintiff,
v.
MIKE CAROTHERS, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION (DKT. 84) TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DKT. 83) ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CERTIFY CLASS (DKT. 22), AND ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SURREPLY (DKT. 89)

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         This putative class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeks to recover for injuries resulting from the overdetention of pretrial detainees at the Jackson County, Indiana, jail, allegedly caused by the policies of Defendant Jackson County Sheriff, contrary to County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991), and Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).

         On July 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a class certification motion. Dkt. 22. We referred the motion to Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch for a report and recommendation. Dkt. 48. Judge Lynch recommended that the proposed class be certified, as modified, Dkt. 51, a recommendation we adopted on March 31, 2017, Dkt. 61, over Defendant's objection. Dkt. 54.

         A short time later, Defendant moved for reconsideration of that ruling or for decertification of the class in light of Ewell v. Toney, 853 F.3d 911 (7th Cir. 2017). Dkt. 72. We granted the motion for reconsideration and remanded the class certification motion to Judge Lynch for a report and recommendation on the effect of Ewell. Dkt. 78. On July 10, 2018, Judge Lynch renewed her recommendation that Plaintiff's proposed class be certified, Ewell notwithstanding, to which Defendant timely filed the instant objections. Dkt. 84. In the course of briefing, Plaintiff moved for leave to file a surreply to Defendant's reply in support of its objections. Dkt. 89.

         The facts of the case have been recited in the rulings described above, so we assume the parties' familiarity with them. For the reasons explained below, Defendant's objections are overruled.

         Standard of Review

          Though class certification motions are “[n]ondispositive [m]atters, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), they have been expressly exempted by Congress from a magistrate judge's power to “hear and determine.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Accordingly, we must “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . or recommendations to which objection is made.” Id. § 636(b)(1).

         Analysis

          In Ewell, relying on Bridewell v. Eberle, 730 F.3d 672 (7th Cir. 2013), and Ramos v. City of Chicago, 716 F.3d 1013 (7th Cir. 2013), the Seventh Circuit stated, “[A] section 1983 plaintiff may not receive damages for time spent in custody, if that time was credited to a valid and lawful sentence.” 853 F.3d at 917. The question is whether this statement in its maximal form is a holding, as Defendant contends, or dictum, as Plaintiff contends and Judge Lynch held.

         We agree with Judge Lynch. Defendant's objections have not persuaded us to set aside Judge Lynch's careful and thoughtful analysis of Ewell, Bridewell, and Ramos.

         That analysis revealed that

none of these three decisions of the Seventh Circuit-nor any other of which this court is aware-has foreclosed a damages remedy for provable constitutional injury caused by named defendants. [Plaintiff's] allegations, supported by evidence of record, are that but for [Defendant's] failure to present his case for a probable cause determination in a timely manner, he would have been free (or had a bail opportunity) rather than in custody. Applying as an expansive principle- unmoored from the pivotal facts that gave rise to it-that credit at sentencing for time served always erases an otherwise proven constitutional injury, would in this judge's view create an unwarranted extension of [a proposition never] squarely presented to the Seventh Circuit and never squarely decided by it.

R. & R. 13-14 (footnote omitted).

         First, Judge Lynch observed that “the Seventh Circuit noted in [Ramos and Bridewell] that the plaintiff had failed to respond to the defendants' ‘no damages' arguments.” R. & R. 14 n.6. Defendant objects he “cannot be faulted for presenting an issue that Ramos did not.” Br. Supp. 2. True enough, but Judge Lynch did not fault Defendant for anything; she correctly pointed out that waiver is relevant in distinguishing holding from dicta, that is, is ...


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