United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendants Marcus Gatton and Sean Martin (ECF 18).
Plaintiff Dorrion Jefferson did not file a response to the
motion and the time for doing so has long passed. For the
reasons explained below, the motion is GRANTED. The Clerk of
the Court is instructed to enter judgment in favor of
Defendants and against Plaintiff. This case is DISMISSED WITH
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Marcus Gatton, the Sheriff of Whitley County, Indiana, and
Defendant Sean Martin, the Whitley County Jail Commander,
filed their joint motion for summary judgment on February 4,
2019. At that time, Jefferson was represented by counsel, but
his attorney withdrew his representation shortly before the
deadline for Plaintiff to file a response to the motion.
Judge Springmann, who was presiding over this case at the
time, granted Jefferson's attorney's motion to
withdraw on April 9, 2019, and ordered that “Plaintiff
shall have up to and including May 15, 2019, to obtain new
counsel and have counsel appear in the case. Further, the
Court extends the deadline for Plaintiff to respond to
summary judgment, either pro se or by counsel, to
June 12, 2019.” Order (ECF 23), pp. 1-2. Judge Springmann
further instructed “the Clerk of the Court to send to
pro se Plaintiff Dorrion Jefferson, by first class
mail: (1) an updated copy of the docket, (2) a copy of this
Order, and (3) the Notice to Pro Se Litigant that
the Court is issuing in a separate docket entry.”
Id., p. 2. Two days later the Clerk of the Court
mailed to Jefferson the Notice that Judge Springmann referred
to, which informs a pro se plaintiff about the
summary judgment motion, summary judgment procedure, and the
need for the plaintiff to respond to the motion. Notice of
Summary Judgment Motion (ECF 24). The record reflects that
the mail sent to Jefferson was not returned to the Clerk as
undeliverable. Despite Judge Springmann's order and the
Court's notice, no attorney has entered an appearance on
behalf of Jefferson and no response to Defendants' motion
has been filed.
brought this suit against Sheriff Gatton and Jail Commander
Martin based on his allegation that he was confined in the
Whitley County Jail longer than he should have been.
Jefferson alleges in his Complaint as follows:
Mr. Jefferson was unlawfully imprisoned thirty-one days in
the Whitley County Jail due to the malicious acts,
interference, and wrongdoing of Whitley County Jail Commander
Sean Martin. . . . Mr. Jefferson brings constitutional and
tort claims in this action for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and Ind. Code § 34-24-3.
Complaint, p. 1. Jefferson's allegations and claims are
also summarized in the opening paragraph of Defendants'
Memorandum in support of their motion, which states as
In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was wrongfully
imprisoned by Defendants because he claim[s] that he was held
thirty-one (31) days longer than he believes his actual
sentence required. He raises various claims under the Eighth,
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as
well as state law tort claims of false imprisonment,
confinement, malicious prosecution, abuse of process,
negligence and negligent infliction of [emotional] distress.
Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF 19), p. 1.
judgment is appropriate when the record shows that there is
“no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56©; Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Disputes concerning
material facts are genuine where the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). In deciding whether genuine issues of
material fact exist, the court construes all facts in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
See Id. at 255. However, neither the “mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties, ” id. at 247, nor the existence of
“some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), will defeat a motion
for summary judgment. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of
Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000).
judgment is not a substitute for a trial on the merits nor is
it a vehicle for resolving factual disputes. Waldridge v.
Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994).
Therefore, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the
facts in favor of the non-movant, if genuine doubts remain
and a reasonable fact-finder could find for the party
opposing the motion, summary judgment is inappropriate.
See Shields Enterprises, Inc. v. First Chicago
Corp., 975 F.2d 1290, 1294 (7th Cir. 1992); Wolf v.
City of Fitchburg, 870 F.2d 1327, 1330 (7th Cir. 1989).
However, if it is clear that a plaintiff will be unable to
satisfy the legal requirements necessary to establish his or
her case, summary judgment is not only appropriate, but
mandated. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Ziliak
v. AstraZeneca LP, 324 F.3d 518, 520 (7th Cir. 2003).
“[S]peculation and conjecture” also cannot defeat
a motion for summary judgment. Cooney v. Casady, 735
F.3d 514, 519 (7th Cir. 2013).
Court has explained, “Rule 7-1(d) (4) of the Local
Rules of the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Indiana indicates that ‘[t]he court may
rule on a motion summarily if an opposing party does not file
a response before the deadline.'” Shepherd v.
Covidien, Inc., 2014 WL 1207516, at *4 (N.D. Ind. Mar.
24, 2014). The Court has also explained that “a trial
court has the authority to strictly enforce its Local Rules,
even if summary judgment results.” Major v.
Indiana, 2018 WL 5830742, at *3 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 7, 2018)
(citing Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420
(7th Cir. 2014); Koszola v. Bd. of Educ., 385 F.3d
1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004); Waldridge v. American Hoechst
Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921-22 (7th Cir. 1994) (upholding
the trial court's strict enforcement of local rules on
summary judgment)). Also, Federal Rule 56(e) states that
“[w]hen a motion for summary judgment is properly made
and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on
allegations or denials in its own pleading.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). The Rule further states that summary
judgment, if appropriate, should be entered against a party
who fails to respond as provided in the Rule. Id.
“Thus, summary ...