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Williams v. Spitzer

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

December 20, 2018

CLYDE E. WILLIAMS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MARK A. SPITZER, MILESTONE SERVICES, MICHELLE BURROWS, DENNIS ALLEN, LISA GLANCY, BRANT YEAKLE, CYNTHIA MCCOY, MIKE HENSON, SHANNON WRIGHT, CARLA SMITH MIKE SMALL, MARIA SHULTZ, RACHEL HERMAN, EVAN HAMMOND, CRAIG PERSINGER, and, THE GRANT COUNTY COUNCIL, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHIEF JUDGE THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' various motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and/or or failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, alleging several causes of action against numerous Defendants, including violations of his First Amendment rights, and state contract and tort claims. All Defendants except Evan Hammond and Craig Persinger have filed motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and/or motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

         BACKGROUND

         This case results from a series of arrests involving the Plaintiff, Clyde E. Williams, Jr., from 2010 - 2014 and the Plaintiff's resultant participation in an alcohol rehabilitation program in Grant County, Indiana.

         A. The Plaintiff's 2010 Arrest

         The Plaintiff states that he was arrested in April 2010 in Grant County (cause no. 27D03-1004-FD-252 “FD-252”) and charged with a felony and misdemeanor, resulting from a drunk driving arrest. (Pl.'s Compl. at ¶ 32, ECF No. 1.) The Plaintiff states that his attorney at the time, Defendant Craig Persinger, advised that he participate in Grant County Adult Drug Court program (“Drug Court”) to ensure a better outcome in his case. (Id., at ¶¶ 33, 35.) The Plaintiff claims that as part of Drug Court, he would have to participate in Defendant Milestone Services' (“Milestone”) substance abuse program. (Id., at ¶ 36.) The Plaintiff alleges that in Grant County, Indiana, only Milestone provides substance abuse treatment services and that it does not provide any non-faith based treatment options. (Id., at ¶¶ 27-30.)

         The Plaintiff states that he did not want to participate in Drug Court because he “did not agree with or subscribe to the outdated ideologies, teachings, and principles of AA.” (Id., at ¶ 38.) The Plaintiff states that he was assigned a probation officer, Defendant Rachel Herman, who informed him that he would have to undergo an assessment at Milestone and follow through with any treatment recommendations. (Id., at ¶ 41.) The Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendant Herman that he did not want to complete faith-based treatment and that she “became upset with the plaintiff's objections” and transferred his case to another probation officer, Defendant Maria Shultz. (Id., at ¶¶ 42-44.) The Plaintiff claims that Shultz informed him that he had to participate in Milestone's faith-based treatment program. (Id., at ¶ 47.)

         The Plaintiff claims that Defendant Shultz filed a petition to revoke his probation on August 31, 2010 on the basis that he failed to successfully complete treatment at Milestone. (Id., at ¶ 50.) The Plaintiff states that Defendant Shannon Wright, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Grant County, “vigorously” prosecuted Defendant Schultz's revocation petition. (Id., at ¶¶ 51- 51(a).) The Plaintiff alleges that during a compliance hearing resulting from the revocation petition, Defendant Mike Small, Assistant Chief Probation Officer with the Grant County Probation Department, advised the Plaintiff “in a very intimidating and threatening manner” that if he did not comply with the terms of his probation and complete treatment at Milestone, he would be jailed. (Id., at ¶ 53.)

         The Plaintiff states that he did complete faith-based treatment at Milestone, but that he did so “against his free will and over his objections.” (Id., at ¶ 52.) The Plaintiff states that the treatment caused him, among other things, anxiety, anger, depression, and rage “over the way he was forced to successfully complete the Milestone program against his will…” (Id., at ¶ 56.)

         B. The Plaintiff's 2012 Arrest

         The Plaintiff states that on August 30, 2012, he was arrested and charged as a Habitual Traffic Violator in a drunk driving incident (cause no. 27D03-1208-FD-434 “FD-434”). (Id., at ¶ 58.) The Plaintiff states that he again retained attorney Defendant Persinger to represent him and claims that Defendant Persinger advised him to participate in Drug Court, despite the Plaintiff's protests. (Id., at ¶¶ 59-60.) The Plaintiff states that he declined to participate in Drug Court and, after a bench trial, was convicted and sentenced. (Id., at ¶ 61.)

         The Plaintiff claims that he became aware subsequently that Defendant Persinger had an alleged conflict of interest regarding the Plaintiff's treatment preferences. (Id., at ¶ 62(b).) The Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Persinger was on the advisory board for Grant County Community Corrections and was “instrumental in fashioning, shaping and developing the official policies and practices” of the Drug Court that only provided faith-based treatment options. (Id., at ¶ 62(a).)

         C. The Plaintiff's 2014 Arrest

         The Plaintiff states that he was arrested again on October 30, 2014 and charged as a Habitual Traffic Violator and operating a vehicle while intoxicated (cause no. 27C01-1410-F5-036 “F5-036”). (Id., at ¶ 63.) The Plaintiff privately retained attorney Defendant Evan Hammond to represent him in this case and he was once again offered the chance of a diversion program through participation in Drug Court. (Id., at ¶¶ 64-65.)

         The Plaintiff states that he advised Defendant Hammond that he wanted to defend himself and discuss alleged conspiracies in Grant County that resulted in his arrest. (Id., at ¶ 69.) The Plaintiff then claims that he informed Defendant Hammond “that if the state did not dismiss the case, return his drivers [sic] license, and stop these unwarranted and uncalled for prosecutions of him, that plaintiff would indeed document the facts and evidence of these conspiracies in his criminal proceedings and place the Adult Drug Court on trial.” (Id., at ¶¶ 69- 70.) The Plaintiff states that Defendant Hammond extended the offer of diversion through the Drug Court again in October 2015. (Id., at ¶ 71.)

         The Plaintiff states that he met with Defendant Mike Henson, Drug Coordinator for Grant County, to determine his eligibility determination for Drug Court. (Id., at ¶ 72.) The Plaintiff states that at the meeting with Defendant Henson, he noted his objections to lack of available secular programming, and Defendant Henson found him to be an ineligible candidate for Drug Court. (Id., at ¶72-73.)

         The Plaintiff claims that on December 4, 2015, Defendants Lisa Glancy, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Grant County, Carla Smith, Probation Officer for the Grant County Probation Department, Henson, and Small appeared during the Plaintiff's hearing before the Grant Circuit Court and attempted to admit the Plaintiff into Drug Court, contrary to the earlier determination of the Plaintiff's ineligibility and the Plaintiff's protests. (Id., at ¶ 75-76.) The Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Glancy “was attempting to do so in order to obtain a waiver which must be signed upon admittance to the Drug Court program; thereby silencing plaintiff and protecting the program from scrutiny and exposure.” (Id., at ¶ 76.)

         The Plaintiff states that he appeared for sentencing in front of Defendant, Judge Mark Spitzer of the Grant County Circuit Court and Administrator of the Adult Drug Court in Grant County, and stated that he expected Defendant Hammond to present evidence that the lack a non-faith based treatment option had caused his subsequent arrests due to lack of acceptable treatment, and it would be cruel and unusual to imprison him as a result. (Id., at ¶¶ 79(a)-(j).) The Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hammond did not plan to present any of the Plaintiff's arguments or evidence and that Defendant Glancy was prepared to have the Plaintiff jailed for 18 months in violation of the agreement “plaintiff thought he had with the state.” (Id., at ¶¶ 80-83.) The Plaintiff then states that there was an issue with his bond and bond order and that he subsequently fired Defendant Hammond. (Id., at ¶¶ 90-94(a).)

         D. The Present Litigation

         On March 8, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint [ECF No. 1] against the following Defendants: Dennis Allen, Michelle Burrows, the Grant County Council, Lisa Glancy, Evan Hammond, Mike Henson, Rachel Herman, Cynthia McCoy, Milestone Services, Craig Persinger, Maria Shultz, Mike Small, Carla Smith, Mark A. Spitzer, Shannon Wright and Brant Yeakle. The Plaintiff alleges several causes of action, including both federal and state law claims, against the various Defendants. The Court understands that the Plaintiff brings an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 against all named Defendants. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants violated the Plaintiff's First Amendment right to be free from state-coerced participation in a faith-based treatment program. (Pl.'s Compl. at ¶¶ 98, 101.) The Plaintiff also claims that all the named Defendants engaged in a civil conspiracy to violate the Plaintiff's constitutionally protected rights to be free from governmental coercion to practice or profess a religious belief, contrary to the First Amendment and 42 U.S.C § 1985. (Id., at ¶ 123.) The Plaintiff alleges that he suffered financial and emotional harm because of the Defendants' conduct. (Id., at ¶¶ 123-126.)

         The Defendants, except Persinger and Hammond, have all moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) or failure to state a claim under Rule12(b)(6). On October 17, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a Consolidated Opposition to the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 85]. On October 25, 2018, Defendants Glancy, Spitzer, and Wright [ECF No. 86], Allen, Burrows, and Milestone [ECF No. 87], and Henson, Grant County Council, McCoy, Small, Smith, and Yeakle [ECF No. 88], filed Replies to the Plaintiff's Opposition to the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 12(b)(1) provides that a party may assert the defense of lack of subject-matter jurisdiction by motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “Subject-matter jurisdiction is the first question in every case, and if the court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction it must proceed no further.” Illinois v. City of Chi., 137 F.3d 474, 478 (7th Cir. 1998). When considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Alicea-Hernandez v. Catholic Bishop of Chi., 320 F.3d 698, 701 (7th Cir. 2003).

         Rule 12(b)(6) “challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court presumes that all well-pleaded allegations are true, views these well-pleaded allegations in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and accepts as true all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the allegations. Whirlpool Fin. Corp. v. GN Holdings, Inc., 67 F.3d 605, 608 (7th Cir. 1995). Surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion “requires more than labels and conclusions . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         ANALYSIS

         The Plaintiff brings claims against all the Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his right to be free from religion under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Section 1983 provides, in pertinent part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party ...

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