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Day v. Harris

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

June 27, 2019

STEPHEN DAY, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMIE HARRIS, JOHN BUNCICH, SHERIFF, LAKE COUNTY, INDIANA, JAMES LIETZ, CITY OF HAMMOND, WILLIAM FORGEY, M.D., and CORRECTIONAL HEALTH INDIANA, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants', Jamie Harris [ECF No. 14], Correctional Health Indiana, Inc. and William Forgey, M.D. [ECF No. 18], and City of Hammond and James Lietz [ECF No. 20], Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim.

         BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff, Stephen Day, filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1] on August 27, 2018. The Plaintiff alleges that Defendant James Lietz, an employee and agent of the City of Hammond, Indiana, maliciously filed a complaint with the Lake County Prosecutor's office on March 19, 2015, that falsely accused the Plaintiff of murder, which resulted in his “being falsely arrested, imprisoned, and prosecuted.” (Pl.'s Compl. 2, ¶ 8.) The Plaintiff alleges that Defendants John Buncich, Jamie Harris, and Lietz accessed the “Spillman & Clear” system and manipulated the data therein. (Id. 2, ¶ 11.) The Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of the Defendants' actions, criminal charges were brought against him. (Id. 2, ¶ 12.) A jury found the Plaintiff not guilty of the criminal charges on August 26, 2016. (Id. 3, ¶ 13.) Among other things, the Plaintiff alleges that he suffered loss of employment and income, was infected with and inadequately treated for “Mersa, ”[1] and was physically assaulted while incarcerated. (Id. 3, ¶ 15; 5, ¶ 8) Additionally, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants willfully exposed him to injury and he suffered injuries at Defendants' direction or under the responsibility of the Defendants' care. (Id. 3, ¶ 15.)

         The Plaintiff brings his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Plaintiff also alleges pendant state law tort claims of “malicious and false imprisonment improper healthcare treatment and sanitation failures in the Lake County Jail” and a § 1988 claim.[2] On September 19, 2018, Defendant Jamie Harris filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [ECF No. 14]. On October 17, 2018, Defendants Correctional Health Indiana, Inc. and William Forgey, M.D. filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and 54(b) [ECF No. 18]. On October 22, 2018, Defendants City of Hammond and James Lietz filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rules 8, 12(b)(6), and 54(b) [ECF No. 20]. These same five Defendants filed Motions for Summary Rulings [ECF Nos. 22-24]. The Plaintiff has not filed a response to any of the motions to dismiss or the motions for summary ruling, and the time to do so has passed. On May 22, 2019, Defendant Buncich filed an Answer.[3]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6) “challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court presumes that all well-pleaded allegations are true, views these well-pleaded allegations in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and accepts as true all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the allegations. Whirlpool Fin. Corp. v. GN Holdings, Inc., 67 F.3d 605, 608 (7th Cir. 1995). Surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion “requires more than labels and conclusions . . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         ANALYSIS

         The Plaintiff appears to bring a variety of federal and state law claims against all the Defendants but does not separate the allegations by Defendant, federal claims, or state law claims, compelling the Court and the moving Defendants to do so. The Court interprets the Plaintiff's Complaint to bring claims under the Fourth, Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all Defendants for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and medical malpractice. The Plaintiff also brings pendant state law claims alleging the same against all the Defendants. Finally, the Plaintiff brings a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. For clarity and as the Defendants, except for Defendant Buncich, have filed separate Motions to Dismiss, the Court will address the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and their arguments regarding the Plaintiff's federal and state law claims separately.

         A. Defendant Jamie Harris

         Defendant Harris argues that the Plaintiff fails to state a claim against him pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because the Complaint fails to meet the facial plausibility standard, does not raise a right to relief beyond the speculative level, and was filed outside the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant Harris argues that the Plaintiff's only allegation against Harris specifically-that Harris “accessed the Spillman and Clear system, manipulating the data”-fails to state a claim for relief. (Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss at 2, ECF No. 15.) The Defendant argues that there are no specific allegations that Defendant Harris was involved in the arrest, incarceration, or medical treatment of the Plaintiff. (Id. at 5.) Thus, the Defendant argues, the Complaint fails to raise even a prima facie case for violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id.)

         The Plaintiff brings claims against all the Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Section 1983 provides, in pertinent part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege “(1) that defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional right; and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).

         As there is no federal statute of limitations for § 1983 actions, courts apply the statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the state where the injury took place. Serino v Hensley, 735 F.3d 588, 590 (7th Cir. 2013). The Indiana statute of limitations applicable to § 1983 actions is the two-year period found in Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4. Campbell v. Chappelow, 95 F.3d 576, 580 (7th Cir. 1996). Section 34-11-2-4 requires an action for “injury to person or character . . . be commenced within two (2) years after the cause of the action accrues.” Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4(a). Although state law supplies the tolling rules, the accrual of § 1983 claims is governed by federal law. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007). Accrual of § 1983 claims occurs “when the plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action, . . . that is, when the plaintiff can file suit and obtain relief.” Id.; see also Regains v. City of Chicago, 918 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir. 2019). In other words, “a personal injury claim raised under § 1983 accrues ‘when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his action.'” Regains, 918 F.3d at 533 (quoting Serino, 735 F.3d at 591).

         Regarding the Plaintiff's state law claims, in Indiana, the statute of limitations applicable to a claim of false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution is two years. Johnson v. Blackwell, 885 N.E.2d 25, 30 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008) (false arrest and false imprisonment); Commercial Credit Corp. v. Ensley, 264 N.E.2d 80, 85 (Ind.Ct.App. 1970) (malicious prosecution); see also Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4 (providing that an action for injury to a person must be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues). Under Indiana law, “the cause of action of a tort claim accrues and the statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff knew or, in the exercise of ordinary diligence, could have discovered that an injury had been sustained as a result of the tortious act of another.” Filip v. Block, 879 N.E.2d 1076, 1082 (Ind. 2008) (quotation omitted).

         Defendant Harris contends that the Plaintiff's claims are time-barred. (Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss at 7.) The Plaintiff states his injuries occurred between March 19, 2015, and August 26, 2016, and he filed his Complaint until August 27, 2018.[4] As the statute of limitations begins to run differently based on the events alleged, the Court will consider them separately. Additionally, the Court notes that false arrest and malicious prosecution claims should be addressed separately and not be conflated. Washington v. Summerville, 127 F.3d 552, 559 (7th Cir. 1997).

         1. Plaintiff's False Arrest Claim

         The Plaintiff argues that he was falsely arrested as a result of a maliciously filed complaint. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 8.) The Supreme Court has held that the accrual date for a false arrest claim is the date the arrestee becomes detained. Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388. The Plaintiff's Complaint does not specify when the Plaintiff was arrested, but logically the arrest must have occurred before the Plaintiff was found not guilty in August 2016. It is not premature to dismiss a complaint that does not anticipate an affirmative defense when the Plaintiff has plead himself out of court and presented facts that show his suit is time-barred, as the Plaintiff has done here. United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005); see also Tregenza v. Great Am. Commc'ns Co., 12 F.3d 717, 718 (7th Cir. 1993). Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE the Plaintiff's federal claims for false arrest against Defendant Harris.

         Regarding the Plaintiff's state law false arrest claim, Indiana courts follow the Supreme Court's holding that a cause of action for false arrest accrues when the criminal defendant was bound over for trial. See Johnson, 885 N.E.2d at 30-31 (applying the common law principles set out in Wallace, 549 U.S. 384). The Plaintiff's Complaint fails to specify when the Plaintiff was bound over for trial. It follows, however, that this must have occurred well before he was found not guilty in August 2016. As with his federal false arrest claim, the Plaintiff ...


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