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Buchanan v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 24, 2019

Bradley K. Buchanan, et al., Appellants-Plaintiffs,
v.
State of Indiana, et al., Appellees-Defendants.

          Attorney for Appellants Gregory W. Black Gregory W. Black, P.C. Plainfield, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellees Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Aaron T. Craft Josiah Swinney Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Appeal from the Putnam Circuit Court The Honorable Joseph D. Trout, Special Judge The Honorable Christopher A. Newton, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No. 67C01-1208-PL-332

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Bradley K. Buchanan appeals the trial court's judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Indiana Department of Insurance ("IDOI") as well as the court's dismissal of his claims against the Putnam County Prosecutor ("the Prosecutor")[1] for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[2]Buchanan raises five issues for our review, [3] which we restate as the following two issues:

1. Whether the trial court properly entered judgment on the pleadings for IDOI on Buchanan's breach-of-contract claim.
2. Whether the trial court properly dismissed Buchanan's claims against the Prosecutor under the Indiana Tort Claims Act, Ind. Code §§ 34-13-3-0.1 to -25 (2018).

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] According to Buchanan's first amended complaint, in September of 2008 he entered into a settlement agreement with IDOI in which he agreed to surrender his license to practice and sell insurance and IDOI agreed to terminate ongoing investigations it was conducting against him. However, IDOI expressly reserved in that contract the right to "cooperate with any criminal investigation that has been, or may be, initiated as a result of the allegations in this matter." Appellees' App. Vol. II at 74. Thereafter, IDOI cooperated with state and local law enforcement in investigating the acts underlying Buchanan's surrender of his license, Buchanan pleaded guilty to one charge of felony theft brought by the Prosecutor relating to those acts, and the trial court sentenced Buchanan to a term of probation and home detention in the Putnam County Community Corrections Program.

         [¶4] In July of 2011, while Buchanan was serving his home detention, Putnam County police officers, in consultation with the Prosecutor, obtained a search warrant for Buchanan's residence on the assertion that Buchanan had committed new, unrelated theft offenses.[4] According to Buchanan's complaint, the Prosecutor's "motive" for obtaining the warrant "included a personal animus toward Mr. Buchanan, born in part [out] of political consideration." Id. at 66. The complaint further alleged that the Prosecutor had obtained the warrant based on "false," "unreasonable," and "reckless[] pretenses" and without "probable cause." Id. at 66-67. After obtaining the warrant, the officers executed it, seized various vehicles, and arrested Buchanan. The Prosecutor then filed various theft charges against Buchanan based on the items seized. However, after Buchanan had been in jail for forty-two days on those allegations, the Prosecutor dismissed the charges.

         [¶5] Thereafter, Buchanan filed his first amended complaint[5] in which he sued IDOI and the Prosecutor. In particular, Buchanan claimed that IDOI breached its contract with him when it cooperated with state and local law enforcement on the matters relating to the surrender of his license. See id. at 59-61. Buchanan also sued the Prosecutor for having maliciously and falsely obtained and executed a search warrant for Buchanan's residence and for having filed false charges against Buchanan, all of which occurred during Buchanan's term of home detention. Specifically, Buchanan alleged claims of trespass, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, invasion of privacy, false arrest, false imprisonment, improper confinement, emotional distress, and defamation against the Prosecutor. Buchanan also requested fees, costs, and treble damages.

         [¶6] IDOI moved for judgment on the pleadings under Indiana Trial Rule 12(C). Relying on an assertion of immunity, the Prosecutor moved for dismissal of Buchanan's claims under Trial Rule 12(B)(6). Following a ...


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