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Qualls v. City of Gary Indiana

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 29, 2019

Hakimah Qualls, Plaintiff,
v.
Gary Indiana City of, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Hakimah Qualls sued the City of Gary, the City of Gary Housing Authority, and various police officers and reserve police officers for violations of her constitutional rights as well as violations of Indiana laws. Of the Defendants that remain in this case, all of them moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff is opposing the motions, insisting that her claims must be tried before the jury. She is also seeking to strike the motions on procedural grounds.

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court must grant a motion for summary judgment if the moving party shows “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing a court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party supports its motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other materials, it thereby shifts to the non-moving party the burden of showing that an issue of material fact exists. Keri v. Bd. of Trust. of Purdue Univ., 458 F.3d 620, 628 (7th Cir. 2006).

         In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate inferences and resolve all doubts in favor of that party. Keri, 458 F.3d at 628. A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986).

         B. Plaintiff's Motions to Strike

         Plaintiff seeks to strike the defendants' motions on procedural grounds, for having failed to set out separately a statement of undisputed material facts. She also believes, albeit wrongly, that certain witness statements should be stricken as hearsay (e.g., reference to a 911 caller's statements). True, a well-organized brief, one that follows the Local Rules, would give the opponent and the Court a clearer understanding of the parties' positions and as such should be an ideal for every lawyer. Defendants have fallen short of that ideal but their briefs are not so deficient that they should be stricken. As for the purported hearsay statements and the defendants' expert's opinions, Plaintiff has not shown that they are not admissible. The statements that Plaintiff argues are hearsay are not proposed for the truth of the matters asserted and the challenge to the expert's opinions is really a challenge to the weight, not the admissibility, of those opinions.

         C. Summary of the facts

         As required, the Court construes the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

         In addition to employing regular police officers, the City of Gary employs volunteer police officers whom it calls “reserve officers.” The reserve officers have police powers but they are required to work only thirty-two hours a month and they have abbreviated training as compared to the regular duty officers. Some of the reserve officers are employed by the Gary Housing Authority (“GHA”), an entity that is separate from the City of Gary or its police department.

         GHA maintains low-cost housing units in Gary, including Delaney Housing Projects. While employing the reserve officers, GHA does not train them; rather it relies on the training by the Gary Police Department.

         On February 9, 2013, Reserve Officer Craig Morris was working for GHA as a security officer at the Delaney Housing Projects. That night, he and another reserve officer, J. Franklin, were dispatched to the Dorie Miller Housing Projects in response to a fight. The dispatcher told them that a 911 caller claimed that some women were beating at the caller's door with sticks and bats. When Franklin and Morris arrived, Reserve Officer Woods and Corporal Clark were at the caller's home. At some point, the caller saw Plaintiff and told the reserve officers that she was one of the women involved in the altercation.

         The reserve officers tried to speak to Plaintiff, but she began screaming obscenities at them. Franklin told Plaintiff that he would arrest her for disorderly conduct if she continued to yell at them. This failed to dissuade Plaintiff who continued to yell and curse at them. She became even louder as she wanted a lot of people to hear what she was saying. When warned again about getting arrested, Plaintiff told Franklin, “Do whatever you got to do.”

         Franklin then arrested her for disorderly conduct and instructed Woods to place her into the patrol car. Woods did so.

         Policer Officer T.F. Tatum was on the scene but did not get involved, believing that there were enough officers handling the situation. Once he saw ...


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