Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lynch v. Nowland

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

December 13, 2019

KATHY L. LYNCH, and KAREN S. DUNNING, Plaintiffs,
v.
SCOTT NOWLAND, KATHY FRANKO, and UNITED STATES acting by and through its Drug Enforcement Administration, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss [DE 28], filed by Defendants United States of America and Scott Nowland on August 23, 2017, and on State Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [DE 39], filed by Defendant Kathy Franko on November 21, 2017. Plaintiffs Kathy L. Lynch and Karen S. Dunning filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss on October 3, 2017, and the Government and Nowland filed a reply on October 17, 2017. Lynch and Dunning filed a response to the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on November 21, 2017, and Franko filed a reply on December 5, 2017.

         BACKGROUND

         In their Amended Complaint, Lynch and Dunning state that they are bringing claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, negligent supervision by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of Nowland and Franko, respondeat superior liability of the DEA for Nowland and Franko's acts and omissions, and conspiracy by Nowland, Franko, the DEA, and state and local authorities to deprive Lynch and Dunning of their civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985.

         Lynch and Dunning allege the following in their Amended Complaint. Lynch and Dunning are Advanced Practice Nurses with authority under Indiana law to prescribe medications under the supervision of collaborating physicians. The DEA investigated Lynch and Dunning for prescribing medicine outside of their statutory authority without seeking an advisory opinion or other ruling from the Indiana Nursing Board regarding whether Lynch and Dunning were exceeding their authority. Nowland and Franko were the lead investigators. Lynch and Dunning were arrested on or about February 2, 2015, and charged with, among other offenses, conspiracy to deal in controlled substances. Lynch was acquitted at trial, and all charges against Dunning were dismissed.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim is to test the sufficiency of the pleading, not to decide the merits of the case. See Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” However, “recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 661, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). As the Supreme Court has stated, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. Rather, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A complaint is facially plausible if a court can reasonably infer from factual content in the pleading that the defendant is liable for the alleged wrongdoing. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         The Seventh Circuit has synthesized the standard into three requirements. See Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). “First, a plaintiff must provide notice to defendants of her claims. Second, courts must accept a plaintiff's factual allegations as true, but some factual allegations will be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice to defendants of the plaintiff's claim. Third, in considering the plaintiff's factual allegations, courts should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id.

         B. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         A party can move for judgment on the pleadings after the filing of both the complaint and answer. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “A court will grant a Rule 12(c) motion only when it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts to support a claim for relief and the moving party demonstrates that there are no material issues of fact to be resolved.” Brunt v. Serv. Employees Int'l Union, 284 F.3d 715, 718-19 (7th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). A court will take all the alleged facts in the complaint as true, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Thomas v. Guardsmark, Inc., 381 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 2004)). In a Rule 12(c) motion, courts use the same standard of review as employed in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Id. (citing Guise v. BMW Mortgage, LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 798 (7th Cir. 2004)).

         ANALYSIS

         A. Exhibits

         As a general rule, evidence cannot be submitted to the Court for consideration in ruling on a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6). The Government and Nowland have submitted six exhibits with their Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, and they contend that these exhibits may be considered under two exceptions to the general rule: judicial notice and incorporation by reference.

         The exhibits in question are:

1. Nowland's January 29, 2015 Affidavit of Probable Cause for Arrest Warrant in support of an arrest warrant for Lynch;
2. Nowland's January 29, 2015 Affidavit of Probable Cause for Arrest Warrant in support of an arrest warrant for Dunning;
3. The February 4, 2015 Order for the issuance of a warrant for Lynch's arrest;
4. The February 4, 2015 Order for the issuance of a warrant for Dunning's arrest;
5. Lynch's September 22, 2016 Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death submitted to the DEA; and
6. Dunning's December 7, 2016 Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.