United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER RESOLVING OUTSTANDING MOTIONS [DKT. 20; DKT.
23; DKT 27; DKT. 28; DKT. 39; DKT. 40]
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
January 29, 2018, Plaintiff Tricia Baldwin initiated this
lawsuit, alleging violations of her civil rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various state law claims, against
the Greenfield Police Department, the City of Greenfield,
Indiana, and Officers Jill Hatke and Randy Ratliff of the
Greenfield Police Department in their individual and official
capacities (“the City Defendants”) as well as
Hancock County, Indiana and the Hancock County Sheriff
Department (“the County Defendants”) [Dkt. 1].
the Court now are six motions filed by various Defendants:
the County Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed on December 10, 2018
[Dkt. 20]; the City Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c)
filed on December 28, 2018 [Dkt. 23]; the City
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Ruling [Dkt. 27] filed
on January 15, 2019; the County Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Ruling [Dkt. 28] filed on January 16, 2019; and the
Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution
[Dkt. 39; Dkt. 40] under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
41(b), filed on April 15, 2019 and April 17, 2019.
reasons set forth below, the County Defendants’ Motion
to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Dkt. 20] is GRANTED;
the City Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings [Dkt. 23] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part;
the Defendants’ Motions for Summary Ruling [Dkt. 27;
Dkt. 28] are DENIED as moot; and the Defendants’
Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution [Dkt. 39; Dkt. 40]
Complaint includes the following relevant facts, all taken as
true for the purposes of the County Defendants’ motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim and the City
Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings.
November 10, 2015, Officer Hatke, acting on behalf of the
Greenfield Police Department, was dispatched to a Greenfield
Walmart in response to a reported theft [Compl. ¶¶
16-17]. The Walmart Asset Protection Manager informed Officer
Hatke that she had observed security footage which captured
two individuals, one female and one male, as they stole two
Ultimate Ears Boom Speakers. [Id. ¶¶
18-19, 24]. The Asset Protection Manager recorded the license
plate number of the perpetrators. [Id. ¶ 18].
Officer Hatke and Officer Ratliffe, also of the Greenfield
Police Department, searched for the individuals associated
with that license plate number [Id. ¶ 21].
Based on their search, and a review of the surveillance
video, as well as the driver’s license information for
Ms. Baldwin, the officers filed an Affidavit for Probable
Cause against Ms. Baldwin [Id.]. On November 11,
2015, Officer Hatke signed an Information, alleging that Ms.
Baldwin had committed theft by stealing the speakers from
Walmart [Id. ¶ 20]. Relying on Officer
Hatke’s signed Information and the Affidavit for
Probable Cause, the Hancock Superior Court found probable
cause and issued a warrant for Ms. Baldwin’s arrest
[Id. ¶ 22].
Ratliffe, upon further investigation of the Walmart theft,
discovered that the license plate number recorded by
Walmart’s Asset Protection Manager was registered to
two men-Raymond Gibbs and Brian Overby [Id.¶
23]. Officer Ratliff searched the LeadsOnline system and
learned that Mr. Gibbs had pawned two Ultimate Ears Boom
speakers two days after the Walmart theft [Id.
¶ 24]. Officer Ratliffe located the pawn shop where Mr.
Gibbs and a female companion, determined to be Sarah Joy,
pawned the speakers [Id. ¶ 25]. Officer
Ratliffe confirmed, via her BMV photo, that Ms. Joy was the
female perpetrator captured in the Walmart surveillance video
[Id. ¶ 26]. On January 14, 2016, Officer
Ratliff filed his Probable Cause Affidavit naming the male
and female suspects whom he believed committed the theft at
Walmart the previous November [Id. ¶ 27]. The
Hancock County Prosecutor filed theft charges against Sarah
Joy for the theft of the speakers from Walmart. [Id.
January of 2016, Ms. Baldwin was serving a misdemeanor
sentence in the Owen County jail on another charge
[Id. ¶ 29]. She was ordered released from that
sentence on January 20, 2016 but was detained in the Owen
County jail based on the arrest warrant relating to the
Walmart theft [Id. ¶ 29-30]. She was held a few
days until she was picked up by deputies of the Hancock
County Sheriff Department [Id. ¶ 31]. On
January 22, 2016, while Ms. Baldwin was detained at the Owen
County jail, Ms. Joy’s arrest warrant was executed, and
the Walmart theft case was set for trial [Id. ¶
Baldwin’s family contacted Officer Hatke and Office
Ratliff during the time Ms. Baldwin was awaiting extradition
to Hancock County, but the officers refused to speak to her
family [Id. ¶ 33]. On February 1, 2016, Ms.
Baldwin appeared for an initial hearing, and the Court
entered a preliminary plea of guilty and set the matter for a
pretrial conference [Id. ¶ 34-35]. Ms.
Baldwin’s family again attempted to contact Officer
Hatke and Officer Ratliff about what they believed to be the
mistaken identity. This second attempt at contact was
successful and, upon learning of the error, the Hancock
County Prosecutor’s Office moved to dismiss the case
against Ms. Baldwin and notified the jail to release her
immediately [Id. ¶ 36-37].
Baldwin has brought a variety of legal claims against
Defendants based on these facts.
Summary of Claims in the Complaint
I and II are captioned “Violations of Constitutional
Rights.” Count I alleges that Officer Hatke, Officer
Ratliff, the Greenfield Police Department, and the Hancock
County Sheriff Department violated Ms. Baldwin’s
constitutional rights pursuant to the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments in the form of false arrest, imprisonment, and
malicious prosecution and requests an award of compensatory
damages [Id. ¶ 39]. Count II restates the
allegations in Count I but requests an award of exemplary
damages, claiming the aforementioned Defendants acted with
malice, and with willful and wanton indifference to and
deliberate disregard of Ms. Baldwin’s constitutional
rights [Id. ¶ 42].
III lays out a claim for “Violation of Statutory
Rights, ” invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and targeting
the same four defendants with identical allegations of false
arrest, imprisonment, and malicious prosecution for which
Plaintiffs seeks compensatory damages [Id. ¶
45]. Count IV restates these allegations and requests
exemplary damages from these defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
alleges that the Greenfield Police Department and the City of
Greenfield violated Ms. Greenbank’s statutory civil
rights by adopting the policy and practice of authorizing
officers, including Offer Hatke and Office Ratliff, “to
cover up false arrests and imprisonments of citizens and the
malicious prosecution of multiple individuals for crimes they
know they did not commit” [Id. ¶ 52]. Ms.
Greenbank alleges it is the policy and practice of the
Greenfield Police Department and the City of Greenfield to
encourage and cause constitutional and civil rights
violations by its officers [Id.] Count V also states
that the Greenfield Police Department and the City of
Greenfield refused to adequately train, direct, supervise,
and control Officer Hatke and Officer Ratliff, who were
acting within the scope of their employment and pursuant to
the policies of these defendants, so as to prevent the
violation of Ms. Baldwin’s constitutional and civil
rights [Id. ¶ 45-46].
VI alleges state law claims of false arrest and false
imprisonment against Officer Hatke. Ms. Baldwin claims that
Officer Hatke caused her false arrest and false imprisonment
by maliciously filing a false affidavit, which gave rise to
the issuance of a baseless arrest warrant [Id.
VII seeks exemplary damages from Officer Hatke for Ms.
Baldwin’s false arrest and imprisonment, averring that
Officer Hatke acted maliciously and with willful and wanton
disregard for Ms. Baldwin’s constitutional and civil
rights when Officer Hatke made false statements that resulted
in Ms. Baldwin’s arrest and imprisonment without
probable cause. [Id. ¶¶ 62-63].
VIII asserts a state law claim of malicious prosecution
against Officer Hatke, Officer Ratliff, the Greenfield Police
Department, the City of Greenfield, and Hancock County. More
specifically, the Complaint alleges that Officer Hatke filed
an Affidavit for Probable Cause containing false testimony
and untruths, which Officer Ratliff knew to be false, causing
criminal charges to be brought against Ms. Baldwin. Ms.
Baldwin also claims Officer Ratliff neglected to act in his
supervisory capacity to discover that duplicate charges had
been brought for the same Walmart theft. [Id.
IX alleges that the Greenfield Police Department is liable
for the actions of Officer Hatke and Office Ratliff under the
doctrine of respondeat superior on the state law claims. Ms.
Baldwin asserts that the officers acted as agents for the
Greenfield Police Department, and that they were acting
within the scope of their employment when the alleged
violations occurred [Id. ¶¶ 72-74].
invokes respondeat superior liability against the City of
Greenfield as the “operator and governor” of the
Greenfield Police Department. [Id. ¶ 77-81].
XI reiterates Ms. Baldwin’s respondeat superior
liability claim against Hancock County as the operator of the
Hancock County Jail and the Prosecutor’s Office.
[Id. ¶¶ 83-88].
Count XII alleges intentional infliction of emotional
distress against Officer Hatke, Officer Ratliff, the
Greenfield Police Department, the City of Greenfield, and
Hancock County [Id. ¶ 91]. Ms. Baldwin alleges
that these Defendants acted in a reckless or intentional
manner resulting in the deprivation of Ms. Baldwin’s
constitutional and civil rights. [Id.]. Ms. Baldwin
also states that Defendants’ willful and wanton
disregard for her civil and constitutional rights was so
extreme and outrageous as to cause Ms. Baldwin to suffer
extreme emotional distress, for which she has been required
to seek professional help to address. [Id.
¶¶ 92-95]. Ms. Baldwin specifically claims the
misrepresentations and untruths set forth in the Affidavit
for Probable Cause forced her to remain in jail for days
without any idea as to the reason, resulting in her emotional
distress. [Id. ¶ 93].
alleges that Defendants’ actions were performed under
color of law, including of a statute, ordinance, regulation,
custom or usage [Id. ¶ 13].
Plaintiff’s Counsel’s Lack of Diligence and
digress to detail our concerns about the dilatory conduct of
Ms. Baldwin and her counsel, Jared Thomas, in prosecuting
this case, demonstrating over the course of many months no
apparent interest in bringing it to a resolution or any
regard for the Court’s scarce resources that had to be
expended in an effort to keep them on task.
nine months after this case was filed, in October 2018, we
were required to order Ms. Baldwin and her counsel to show
cause why the Complaint should not be dismissed for failure
to prosecute because Defendants had not yet been served [Dkt.
6]. Mr. Thomas, blaming his former paralegal, responded that
she has erroneously told him that she had mailed copies of
the file-marked Complaint, Appearance, and Summons to
Defendants [Dkt. 8, at 1-2]. Only after we issued our Order,
says Mr. Thomas, did he discover that the materials had not
ever been mailed. [Id.]. Mr. Thomas moved for leave
to issue additional service, which request we granted, and
discharged our Order to Show Cause [Dkt. 7; Dkt 11; Dkt 12].
served, the County Defendants filed their motion to dismiss
[Dkt. 20], and the City Defendants answered the Complaint
[Dkt. 22] and filed their motion for judgment on the
pleadings. Under our rules, Plaintiff was allowed twenty-one
days to respond to the former motion and fourteen to respond
to the latter, S.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(c)(2)-(3); both deadlines
came and went without a word from Ms. Baldwin or her counsel,
eventually prompting both sets of defendants to seek summary
rulings on their dispositive motions [Dkt. 27; Dkt 28]. On
January 28, 2019, we ordered Plaintiff to file responses to
both Rule 12 motions within fourteen days or face dismissal
of the Complaint with prejudice [Dkt. 32]. Plaintiff,
apparently again because of our prompting, responded within
the prescribed timeframe [Dkt. 33; Dkt. 34]. Having finally
acted on our directive, thereby allowing us to rule on the
dispositive motions with complete responses from all parties,
we now DENY Defendants’ motions for summary rulings as
moot [Dkt. 28].
Ms. Baldwin and her counsel’s inattentiveness to the
prosecution of her legal claims continued. Plaintiff failed
to comply with a single Case Management Plan deadline or
discovery request [Dkt 39, at 3-6; Dkt. 50, at
At a status conference with the Court on April 23, 2019, Mr.
Thomas indicated that he had been unsuccessful in completing
discovery because his client was not communicating with him.
He claimed to have sent her a letter on April 15, 2019,
requesting that she certify the discovery responses. Mr.
Thomas also indicated that he requested Plaintiff to certify
that she still wished to pursue the case.
Mr. Thomas failed to appear for the Court’s next status
conference on May 2, 2019, leaving the Magistrate Judge to
wonder whether either Mr. Thomas or Ms. Baldwin intended to
continue the pursuit of her legal claims [Dkt. 49]. The
Magistrate Judge again ordered Mr. Thomas to show cause why
he should not be sanctioned [Id.]. Mr. Thomas
appeared on May 14, 2019 and again assured the Court that his
errors and inattentiveness would not continue [Dkt. 51]. In
reliance on those assurance, the Magistrate Judge, again,
discharged the Order to Show Cause.
Mr. Thomas again failed to appear at the next status
conference on June 26, 2019, resulting in the issuance of
another order to show cause [Dkt. 55]. The Magistrate Judge
vacated the subsequent settlement conference scheduled for
July 31, 2019 [Dkt. 56]. On August 2, 2019, the Magistrate
Judge granted the County Defendant’s unopposed motion
to stay case management deadlines pending rulings on the
dispositive motions [Dkt. 57]. Mr. Thomas appeared at his
third hearing to show cause on August 27, 2019, this time
blaming his neglect on his heavy caseload, conflicting
schedule of court hearings, and office restructuring [Dkt.
59]. The Magistrate Judge again discharged the Order to Show