United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter is before the court on defendants City of Crown Point
and City of Crown Point Police Department's partial
motion to dismiss. (DE # 9.) For the reasons identified
below, defendants' motion is granted.
Michael Eazelle alleges that, on November 24, 2016, defendant
James Poling, an officer of the City of Crown Point Police
Department, struck him numerous times during the course of
his arrest. (DE # 2.) Eazelle's complaint includes claims
against Poling, and defendants City of Crown Point Police
Department (“the Police Department”) and City of
Crown Point (“the City”) for excessive force,
battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The City and the Police Department filed a motion to dismiss
on the basis that: (1) the Police Department is not a suable
entity; and (2) Count I of the complaint fails to allege a
Monell claim against the City. Eazelle declined to
file a response to defendants' motion. (See DE #
20.) This matter is now ripe for ruling.
reviewing a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must construe
the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party, accept all well-pleaded facts as
true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-movant. 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). 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).
City of Crown Point Police Department is Not a Suable
City of Crown Point Police Department is not a suable entity
under federal or state law. While local governmental entities
may be subject to suit for constitutional violations pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690
(1978), “local government liability under § 1983
‘is dependent on an analysis of state law.'”
Sow v. Fortville Police Dep't, 636 F.3d 293, 300
(7th Cir. 2011) (quoting McMillian v. Monroe Cty.,
520 U.S. 781, 786 (1997)). “[T]he Indiana statutory
scheme does not grant municipal police departments the
capacity to sue or be sued.” Sow, 636 F.3d at
300. “The ‘department' of a city is merely a
vehicle through which government fulfills its policy
functions and is not a governmental entity unto itself. . . .
And a non-existent entity cannot be sued or brought into
court by summons or otherwise.” City of Peru v.
Lewis, 950 N.E.2d 1, 4 (Ind.Ct.App. 2011). See also
Best v. City of Portland, 554 F.3d 698, 698 (7th Cir.
2009) (“[A] police department is not a suable entity
under § 1983.”); Ashcraft v. City of Crown
Point, Ind., No. 2:13-CV-080 JD, 2013 WL 5934612, at *3
(N.D. Ind. Nov. 5, 2013) (“[A]lthough the City of Crown
Police Department is a department of an entity that can be
sued, it is not itself a suable entity and must be dismissed
from this action.).
the City of Crown Point Police Department is not a suable
entity and its motion to dismiss will be granted.
Eazelle Failed to State a Monell Claim Against the
City of Crown Point
government may not be sued under Section 1983 for an injury
caused solely by its employees or agents. Monell,
436 U.S. at 694. Rather, “a plaintiff must show the
existence of an ‘official policy' or other
governmental custom that not only causes but is the
‘moving force' behind the deprivation of
constitutional rights.” Teesdale v. City of
Chicago, 690 F.3d 829, 834 (7th Cir. 2012). Thus, in
order to state a claim against the City, Eazelle must have
alleged that the City had: “(1) an express policy that
causes a constitutional deprivation when enforced; (2) a
widespread practice that is so permanent and well-settled
that it constitutes a custom or practice; or (3) an
allegation that the constitutional injury was caused by a
person with final policymaking authority.” Id.
at 834 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
the complaint's only reference to the City is an
allegation that it employed Poling. There is no allegation
that could give rise to a reasonable conclusion that the City
was the moving force behind the alleged constitutional
violation. Eazelle has failed to allege a plausible Section
1983 claim against the City. Thus, Eazelle's claim
against the City for excessive force will be dismissed.