United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
VINCENT NELL HOOVER, JR. Plaintiff,
CLARKSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT, and DEREK CRAWFORD (Officer), Defendants.
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a partial Motion to Dismiss
filed by Defendant Clarksville Police Department (Dkt. 15),
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the
ground the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Plaintiff Vincent Nell Hoover, Jr.
(“Hoover”), filed this pro se action
against the Clarksville Police Department and Officer Derek
Crawford (“Officer Crawford”) asserting claims of
false arrest and illegal search. The Clarksville Police
Department seeks dismissal, asserting that it is not a suable
entity. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is
required when reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court
accepts as true the factual allegations in the complaint and
draws all inferences in favor of plaintiff as the non-moving
party. See Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d
632, 633 (7th Cir. 2008).
March 13, 2018, Hoover was at a Burlington Coat Factory store
in Clarksville, Indiana with a friend. His friend was
suspected of shoplifting and Hoover had nothing to do with
any alleged crime at Burlington. When Officer Crawford
arrived to investigate he conducted an illegal search of
Hoover’s person and located a firearm and drug
paraphernalia. Hoover was arrested, transported and booked
into the Clarksville Jail.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move
to dismiss a complaint that has failed to “state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), the court accepts as true all factual allegations
in the complaint and draws all inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. Bielanski, 550 F.3d at 633. However,
courts “are not obliged to accept as true legal
conclusions or unsupported conclusions of fact.”
Hickey v. O’Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Therefore, the court
must determine whether the complaint contains sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
United States Supreme Court further explained that although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
mere “labels, ” “conclusions, ” or
“formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Id. See
Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 603
(7th Cir. 2009) (“it is not enough to give a threadbare
recitation of the elements of a claim without factual
support”). To be facially plausible, the complaint must
allow “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).
their partial Motion to Dismiss, Defendants ask the Court to
dismiss with prejudice all claims against the Clarksville
Police Department. Monell v. Dep’t of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978), held that municipalities
may be sued as “persons” acting under color of
state law under § 1983. The Seventh Circuit has stated
that in the state of Indiana, municipal corporations have the
capacity to sue and be sued. Sow v. Fortville Police
Dep’t, 636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir. 2011).
corporations include cities, towns, townships, and counties
– but not their individual divisions like a particular
board, agency, or department. Id. Under Indiana law,
a city’s police department is not a municipal entity
capable of suing or being sued. See McAllister v. Town of
Burns Harbor, 693 F.Supp.2d 815, 822 n.2 (N.D. Ind.
2010). Defendants argue that the Clarksville Police
Department is not suable in this context because a
city’s police department is merely a vehicle through
which the city government fulfills its policy functions and
is not a proper party defendant. Monell sets forth
the few exceptions for when a local governing body may be
liable for monetary damages under § 1983: if the
unconstitutional act complained of is caused by (1) an
official policy adopted and promulgated by its officers; (2)
a government practice or custom that, although not officially
authorized, is widespread and well settled; or (3) an
official with final policy making authority.
did not respond to the Motion. Because he does not contest
the Motion or allege any basis to support a Monell
claim, the partial Motion to Dismiss is
granted and the Clarksville Police
Department is dismissed from this action with prejudice.