United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendants' motion for
partial judgment on the pleadings. (DE # 24.) For the reasons
set forth below, the motion will be granted in part and
denied in part.
Deborah Kudla's complaint alleges that, upon her arrest
and transfer to the Hammond City Jail, defendant Gregory
McGing forcibly drove her head-first into the concrete ground
or wall, in the presence of other defendant officers. (DE # 1
at 10.) Plaintiff suffered a coma and other severe injuries
as a result of the assault. (Id. at 11.)
contends that defendants are liable under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for excessive force, failure to intervene, conspiracy,
and denial of medical care. (Id. at 11-15.)
Plaintiff further alleges that defendants are liable under
Indiana law for battery, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and negligence. (Id. at 17-18.) Plaintiff
alleges that the City of Hammond and the Hammond Police
Department are liable under a theory of respondeat superior.
(Id. at 19.)
have filed a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings.
(DE # 24.) The motion is fully briefed and is ripe for
reviewing a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(c), the court applies the same standard that is applied
when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l
Bancorp., 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007). A judge
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. United States ex rel. Berkowitz v. Automation
Aids, Inc., 896 F.3d 834, 839 (7th Cir. 2018).
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).
“While the federal pleading standard is quite
forgiving, . . . the complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Ray v. City of
Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662-63 (7th Cir. 2011); Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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).
this standard, a complaint does not need detailed factual
allegations, but it must go beyond providing “labels
and conclusions” and “be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A complaint must give
“enough details about the subject-matter of the case to
present a story that holds together.” Swanson v.
Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010).
Intracorporate Conspiracy Doctrine
argue that plaintiff's § 1983 conspiracy claim
(Count III) is barred by the intracorporate conspiracy
doctrine. Under this doctrine, employees of a corporation who
jointly pursue its lawful business do not become
“conspirators” when acts within the scope of
their employment are said to be discriminatory or
retaliatory. Payton v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's
Med. Ctr., 184 F.3d 623, 633 (7th Cir. 1999); Wright
v. Illinois Dep't of Children & Family Servs.,
40 F.3d 1492, 1508 (7th Cir. 1994). While the Seventh Circuit
has explicitly held that the doctrine applies to governmental
entities in claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, see
Wright, 40 F.3d at 1507-08, it has never applied the
doctrine to claims brought under § 1983. There is
disagreement among the district courts in this circuit as to
whether the doctrine applies to conspiracy claims brought
under § 1983. Compare Salaita v. Kennedy, 118
F.Supp.3d 1068, 1085 (N.D. Ill. 2015) to Strauss v. City
of Chicago, 346 F.Supp.3d 1193, 1209-11 (N.D. Ill.
Seventh Circuit case which established the doctrine cautioned
against an overly broad application, stating: “[w]e do
not suggest that an agent's action within the scope of
his authority will always avoid a conspiracy finding.”
Dombrowski v. Dowling, 459 F.2d 190, 196 (7th Cir.
1972). The Seventh Circuit subsequently noted two exceptions
to the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine: (1) “where
corporate employees are shown to have been motivated solely
by personal bias”; and (2) where “the conspiracy
was part of some broader discriminatory pattern * * *, or * *
* permeated the ranks of the organization's
employees.” Hartman v. Board of Trustees of
Community College Dist. 508, 4 F.3d 465, 470-71 (7th
Cir. 1993). In cases “where corporate employees are
shown to have been motivated solely by personal bias * * *
the interests of the corporation would have played no part in
the employees' ...