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Brown v. Hartman

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

June 24, 2019

JEFFREY BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY KYLE HARTMAN, DET. SHAUN DUNAFIN, WANDA TRUELOVE, SHERIFF OF NOBLE COUNTY DOUGLAS A. HARP, STATE OF INDIANA / INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION seeking perspective injunctive relief only, VICKI HALSELL, and APRIL WILBURN, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          HOLLY A. BRADY, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Brown has filed this action against Defendant Vicki Halsell and other Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights. He alleges that Halsell, as a Re-Entry Specialist for the State of Indiana, forced him to register as a sex offender, although he was not legally required to do so, resulting in Plaintiff being maliciously prosecuted for failure to register as a sex offender when he later changed residences.

         Halsell has filed a Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 82] Plaintiff's claims against her pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposes Halsell's Motion [ECF No. 98], arguing that his Second Amended Complaint sufficiently states a claim for malicious prosecution because Halsell's actions “were the motivating force for all that happened after she required him to sign up as a sex offender.” (ECF No. 98 at 2.) Halsell filed a Reply [ECF No. 99-1]. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Halsell's Motion and dismisses the claims against her.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To state a claim under the federal notice pleading standards, a complaint must set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations are accepted as true and need only give “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). However, a plaintiff's allegations must show that his entitlement to relief is plausible, rather than merely speculative. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are accepted as true at the pleading stage, but “allegations in the form of legal conclusions are insufficient.” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted).

         COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff alleges that the State of Indiana/Indiana Department of Correction required him to register as a sex offender in violation of the ex post facto provisions of the United States Constitution. Halsell, as a Re-Entry Specialist for the State of Indiana was one of the individuals

who required Plaintiff to register as a sex offender, and who directed the Plaintiff to register as a sex offender with the Sheriff of Noble County under pain and penalty of arrest, prosecution, and incarcerated [sic] - actions and directions which ultimately resulted in Plaintiff being incarcerated and jailed as set forth in the allegations detailed below, all of which are incorporated herein.

(Second Am. Compl. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff registered as directed, although “[i]n reality, Plaintiff never needed to register even though the State of Indianan [sic] and the Noble County Sheriff (and their employees) required him to register.” (Id. ¶ 8.)

         Plaintiff changed residences and requested an extension of time to register, which Defendant Wanda Truelove granted. However, during the extension period, Plaintiff was incarcerated on an unrelated charge. Defendant Detective Shaun Dunafin investigated possible charges surrounding Plaintiff's failure to register. In June 2009, Plaintiff was charged with three counts of failing to register as a sex offender. A Noble County Clerk's Office employee initiated the charges. Plaintiff pled guilty. He was released from incarceration in 2012.

         In 2015, Defendant Deputy Kyle Hartman falsely arrested Plaintiff and filed a report that Plaintiff had not registered as a sex offender or a violent offender. He was charged with four counts of failing to register and prosecuted by Defendant Kelly Morris. In March 2016, a judge with the Noble County Circuit Court found that Plaintiff was not required to register as a sex offender and dismissed the charges against him.

         Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants “instituted or caused to be instituted a cause of action against Plaintiff” and “acted maliciously against him and without probable cause.” (Id. ¶ 20.)

         ANALYSIS

         For any claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must allege the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States by a person acting under color of state law. Reed v. City of Chi., 77 F.3d 1049, 1051 (7th Cir. 1996). “To state a claim for malicious prosecution under section 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) he has satisfied the requirements of a state law cause of action for malicious ...


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