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Hurt v. Vantlin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Evansville Division

August 23, 2019

William Hurt, Deadra Hurt, and Andrea Hurt, Plaintiffs,
v.
Jeff Vantlin, Jack Spencer, William Ar-baugh, Jason Pagett, Matthew Wise, and Zachary Jones, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         This case, which is set for trial on September 23, 2019, involves multiple claims by Plaintiffs William Hurt, Deadra Hurt, and Andrea Hurt[1] alleging that they were wrongfully targeted, arrested, and prosecuted for the death of their uncle, whose body was found in the Ohio River in June 2012. The Court ruled on Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants in March 2017, and Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal of the portions of the Court's Order denying their motions. On January 23, 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Court's summary judgment rulings for the most part, and reversed on a few grounds. Hurt v. Wise, 880 F.3d 831 (7th Cir. 2018). Subsequently, the Court ordered the parties to file Statements of Remaining Claims setting forth their view of which claims remain for trial in light of the Seventh Circuit's decision and other, subsequent legal precedent. The parties filed competing Statements of Remaining Claims, and the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation on July 30, 2019. [Filing No. 385.] On August 13, 2019, all of the parties filed Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. [Filing No. 428; Filing No. 429; Filing No. 430.] This Order discusses those Objections.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         The Court referred this matter to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) (“[A] judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, except [certain types of pretrial motions]”). A referral under that provision may be “reconsider[ed]…where it has been shown that the magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also Wingerter v. Chester Quarry Co., 185 F.3d 657, 660-61 (7th Cir. 1998).

         II.

         Discussion

         In his Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the following claims proceed to trial: (1) Count I - § 1983 - Fourth Amendment Unlawful Pretrial Detention claim brought by William against Evansville Police Department (“EPD”) Detectives Jeff Vantlin, Jack Spencer, William Arbaugh, and Jason Pagett, and by Deadra against EPD Detective Vantlin; (2) Count II - § 1983 - Fourth Amendment False Arrest claim brought by William, Deadra, and Andrea against EPD Detective Vantlin and Kentucy State Police (“KSP”) Detectives Matthew Wise and Zachary Jones; (3) Count III - § 1983 - Fifth Amendment Due Process claim brought by William and Deadra against EPD Detective Vantlin and KSP Detectives Wise and Jones; (4) Count IV - § 1983 - Failure to Intervene claim brought by William, Deadra, and Andrea against EPD Detectives Vantlin, Spencer, Arbaugh, and Pagett, and KSP Detectives Wise and Jones; and (5) Count V - § 1983 - Conspiracy to Deprive Constitutional Rights claim brought by William, Deadra, and Andrea against EPD Detectives Vantlin, Spencer, Arbaugh, and Pagett, and KSP Detectives Wise and Jones. The Court addresses each Objection in turn.

         A. Plaintiffs' Objection

         Plaintiffs first object to the fact that the Report and Recommendation does not include their claims for Fourteenth Amendment deprivation of liberty, Fourteenth Amendment due process, and federal malicious prosecution. [Filing No. 430 at 1.] Based on the Seventh Circuit's holding in Lewis v. City of Chicago, 914 F.3d 472 (7th Cir. 2019), these claims - as they relate to Plaintiffs' pretrial detention - can only sound in the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 479 (“The injury of wrongful pretrial detention may be remedied under § 1983 as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, not the Due Process Clause. To the extent Hurt holds otherwise, it is overruled”). Any claims Plaintiffs have related to the use of their allegedly involuntary confessions in connection with their prosecution are covered in Count III, discussed below. The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that McDonough v. Smith, 139 S.Ct. 2149 (2019), did not overrule Lewis and does not warrant inclusion of the Fourteenth Amendment unlawful pretrial detention and federal malicious prosecution claims originally asserted by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' Objection on this issue is OVERRULED.

         Second, Plaintiffs object to the Report and Recommendation to the extent that it does not recommend inclusion of Deadra's Fourth Amendment wrongful pretrial detention claim against Detective Spencer. [Filing No. 430 at 1-2.] The Magistrate Judge's recommendation was based on the fact that Plaintiffs did not list Deadra's Fourth Amendment claim for wrongful pretrial detention against Detective Spencer in her Statement of Claims, which set forth her position regarding the claims left for trial after the Court's Order on the summary judgment motions and the Seventh Circuit's Hurt decision. [Filing No. 376 at 2.] The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that if a plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim survived the interlocutory appeal, a corresponding Fourth Amendment wrongful pretrial detention claim should be allowed to proceed. Because Deadra's malicious prosecution claim survived the interlocutory appeal - albeit, relabeled a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim and then a Fourth Amendment wrongful pretrial detention claim by the Seventh Circuit - and since the failure to include that claim in the Statement of Claims appears to have been inadvertent, [see Filing No. 430 at 2], the Court SUSTAINS Plaintiffs' Objection on that issue and finds that Deadra's Fourth Amendment wrongful pretrial detention claim against Detective Spencer should proceed to trial.

         B. The EPD Defendants' Objection

         The EPD Defendants first argue that Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment wrongful pretrial detention claim should not proceed to trial because Defendants' allegedly false reports were all prepared after the arrests and probable cause determinations by the state court allowing the detention of William and Deadra. [Filing No. 429 at 1-2.] They argue that probable cause is a bar to any Fourth Amendment claim, and engage in a lengthy discussion regarding the timing of the probable cause determination and the allegedly fabricated evidence. [Filing No. 429 at 1-8.] They also contend that they are entitled to qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment claim because the law surrounding that claim is not clearly established. [Filing No. 429 at 8-9.] The EPD Defendants essentially argue that because the state court found there was probable cause to arrest Plaintiffs, a wrongful pretrial detention claim under the Fourth Amendment can never succeed. The Court disagrees.

         The Seventh Circuit in Hurt discussed the Supreme Court's holding in Manuel v. City of Joliet, Illinois, 137 S.Ct. 911 (2017) (“Manuel I”) that “the Fourth Amendment protects not only against an initial arrest without probable cause, but also continued detention in its absence…. It is plausible to infer from each defendant's creation of false evidence that he was aware that the continuing incarcerations were unsupported and could have done something to stop them.” 880 F.3d at 843. The EPD Defendants ignore the fact that William and Deadra's Fourth Amendment wrongful pretrial ...


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