United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
William and Sharon Tutlewski (“plaintiffs”) bring
multiple claims against Officers Erik Palleson and Larry
Powell of the Chesterton Police Department
(“defendants”). (DE # 1 at 1-3.) The matter is
now before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss.
(DE # 7.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be
21, 2016, plaintiffs were driving northbound on South Calumet
Road when they were pulled over by Officer Palleson for
alleged moving violations. (DE # 1 at 3.) Officer Powell was
a back-up officer for this traffic stop. (Id.)
According to plaintiffs, defendants “used unreasonable,
unnecessary, and excessive force in [their] interactions with
[defendants].” (Id.) Plaintiffs also state
that a third officer was present at the location of the
traffic stop, although this officer did nothing to prevent
the alleged “violence.” (Id. at 4.) As a
result of the confrontation, William Tutlewski claims he
suffered injuries including a rotator cuff tear.
(Id.) Sharon Tutlewski claims she suffered injuries
including “orthopedic injuries.” (Id.)
on this incident, plaintiffs filed a complaint in this court
on May 17, 2018. (DE # 1.) The complaint contains four claims
(two against each defendant) for excessive force in violation
of the Fourth Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Id. at 4-9.)
9, 2018, defendants filed a motion to dismiss all claims
against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). (DE # 7.) Plaintiffs responded to the motion (DE #
10), and defendants filed a reply brief (DE # 13). The motion
is now fully briefed and ripe for ruling.
have moved to dismiss plaintiffs' claims under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. A judge reviewing a
complaint under a Rule 12(b)(6) standard must construe it in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party, accept
well-pleaded facts as true, and draw all inferences in the
non-movant's favor. 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).
To satisfy Rule 8(a), “the statement need only
‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
the federal pleading standard is quite forgiving, . . . the
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660,
662-63 (7th Cir. 2011); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555,
570. 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). To
meet this standard, a complaint does not need detailed
factual allegations, but it must go beyond providing
“labels and conclusions” and “be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Sanjuan v. Am.
Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th
Cir. 1994) among other authorities).
Motion to Dismiss
Defendants move to dismiss all claims in the complaint on the
grounds that plaintiffs have not properly stated a claim for
excessive force under the Fourth Amendment. (DE # 8 at 3.)
The Fourth Amendment guarantees people the right “to be
secure in their person . . . against unreasonable searches
and seizures.” An officer's use of force may or may
not violate the Fourth Amendment. “[T]he question is
whether the officer[‘s] actions are ‘objectively
reasonable' in light of the facts and circumstances
confronting them.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S.
386, 397 (1989); see also Fitzgerald v. Santoro, 707
F.3d 725 (7th Cir. 2013) (“The appropriate question in
such a case is whether the officers' actions are
objectively reasonable in light of the totality of the
case at hand, defendants argue that the complaint lacks
sufficient facts pertaining to the alleged instances of
excessive force. Beyond the general allegations that this
incident occurred at a traffic stop and that plaintiffs were
injured, the complaint does not contain any contextual facts
or circumstances which would allow the court to begin to
assess the officers' objective reasonableness.
(See DE # 1.) Specifically, plaintiffs do not
describe the actual actions taken by each officer with
respect to each plaintiff. Did the officers grab plaintiffs?
Push plaintiffs? Did they use a weapon of any kind?
Plaintiffs have provided no allegations to answer these
questions, and there are no allegations whatsoever regarding
the type or degree of force involved.
each of plaintiffs' four claims contains only a set of
boilerplate allegations. (See DE # 1 at 4-10.)
Moreover, all four claims are identical aside from the names
of the parties. (Id.) ...