Kirk S. Freeman, Appellant-Plaintiff,
Tricia L. Thompson, Appellee-Defendant.
from the Tippecanoe Superior Court The Honorable Robert B.
Mrzlack, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No.
APPELLANT PRO SE Kirk S. Freeman Law Office of Kirk Freeman
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Natalie F. Weiss Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
Kirk S. Freeman, a Lafayette-based attorney, appeals the
trial court's dismissal of his defamation complaint
against Tippecanoe Superior Court Magistrate Tricia L.
Thompson for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. Freeman raises a single issue for our review,
which we restate as whether Magistrate Thompson has immunity
from Freeman's allegation that she defamed him when she
reported to courthouse law enforcement officers that Freeman
was in possession of a firearm inside the Tippecanoe County
Courthouse in violation of state law and local ordinance. We
hold that Magistrate Thompson is immune from Freeman's
allegation, and, as such, we affirm the trial court's
dismissal of Freeman's complaint.
and Procedural History
On June 28, 2018, Freeman filed his complaint against
Magistrate Thompson, which Freeman later amended. According
to his amended complaint, on May 17, 2017, Magistrate
Thompson informed law enforcement officers inside the
Tippecanoe County Courthouse that Freeman was carrying a
firearm inside the courthouse in violation of Indiana Code
Section 35-47-2-1 (2018) and Tippecanoe County Code §
130.01(C). Freeman alleged that Magistrate
Thompson's report "was a false accusation of a
crime" and, as such, "was defamatory per
se." Appellant's App. Vol. 2 at 28-29. Freeman
sought "[p]unitive damages" from Magistrate
Thompson for her allegedly "extreme and outrageous"
report, which he claimed was "done in retaliation for a
lawful inquiry into a matter of public record in his
government," namely, a prior Access to Public Records
Act ("APRA") request Freeman had made
"concerning the establishment/creation of the courtroom
in the County office annex building . . . ."
Id. at 7-10, 30. Freeman also alleged that
Magistrate Thompson's report was in retaliation for
Freeman having "openly discussed" the Indiana
Supreme Court's recent opinion in Pinner v.
State, 74 N.E.3d 226 (Ind. 2017).
Thereafter, the State, on behalf of Magistrate Thompson,
moved to dismiss Freeman's complaint under Indiana Trial
Rule 12(B)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. In particular, the State asserted that
Magistrate Thompson's report to law enforcement, as
alleged in Freeman's complaint, was a judicial act that
entitled her to immunity from Freeman's claim. After a
hearing, the trial court agreed with the State and dismissed
Freeman's complaint. This appeal ensued.
Freeman appeals the trial court's dismissal of his
complaint pursuant to Trial Rule 12(B)(6). As the Indiana
Supreme Court has stated:
A 12(B)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the
complaint, requiring that we accept as true all facts alleged
in the complaint. We review 12(B)(6) motions de novo
and will affirm a dismissal if the allegations are incapable
of supporting relief under any set of circumstances. We will
also affirm the dismissal if the decision is sustainable on
any basis in the record.
Esserman v. Ind Dep't of Envtl. Mgmt., 84 N.E.3d
1185, 1188 (Ind. 2017) (citations and quotation marks
And as ...