Alexander v. City of South Bend

Decision Date04 April 2003
Docket NumberNo. 3:02-CV-0397 CAN.,3:02-CV-0397 CAN.
Citation256 F.Supp.2d 865
PartiesRichard Lee ALEXANDER, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF SOUTH BEND, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana

Roseann P Ivanovich, Merrillville, IN, for Richard Lee Alexander, plaintiff.

John E Broden, City Attorney Office, South Bend, IN, for South Bend City of, South Bend Police Department, Darryl Gunn, Cpt, individually and as Chief of the South Bend Police Department, Wayne Boocher, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Michael Chritchlow, individually and as a police officer for the city of South Bend, Cindy Eastman, individually and as a police officer of the City of South Bend, Eugene Eyster, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Toni Graham, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Larry Hostetler, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Donald Miller, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Doug Radican, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Anne M Schellinger, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Frank Scheu, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Phil Trent, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Bonnie Werntz, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, John Doe, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, Richard Roe, individually and as a police officer for the City of South Bend, defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NUECHTERLEIN, United States Magistrate Judge.

This case arises out of the wrongful 1997 conviction of Plaintiff Richard Lee Alexander for several assaults and rapes in the River Park area of South Bend. After Plaintiffs conviction was vacated in 2001, Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants, twelve current and former South Bend police officers, the former chief of the South Bend Police Department, the South Bend Police Department, and the City of South Bend. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 28] on July 30, 2002. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART, and DENIED IN PART.

I RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This case centers around the wrongful conviction of Plaintiff for several rapes and assaults in the River Park area of South Bend. Plaintiffs first trial, held in 1997, resulted in a hung jury. He was convicted at a second trial and sentenced to seventy years in prison the following year. Plaintiffs complaint goes into elaborate detail as to Defendants' investigation of the case, their eventual winnowing down possible suspects to Plaintiff, and Plaintiffs eventual conviction and release. In December 2001, St. Joseph County officials moved to vacate Plaintiffs conviction due to newly available DNA evidence linking another perpetrator to the crimes.

II PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Following Plaintiffs release, Plaintiff filed suit on June 4, 2002 against Defendants, twelve current and former South Bend police officers, Darryl Guinn, the former chief of the South Bend Police Department, the South Bend Police Department, and the City of South Bend.1 The parties consented to this Court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) on July 12, 2002 [Doc. No. 26], and Defendants' motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 28] was filed on July 30, 2002.

Following Defendants' filing, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on October 15, 2002 [Doc. No. 39], adding language consistent with Monell v. New York Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), and claiming liability on behalf of Darryl Guinn, the City of South Bend, and the South Bend Police Department.2 Plaintiffs current complaint, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Indiana law, contains ten counts against Defendants. Plaintiff captioned each count as follows:

                Count  Caption
                I "Federal Civil Rights Claim 42 U.S.C
                              §§ 1983 and 1988 and Indiana Const
                              Art. I § 12 (Victim and Witness Interviews
                              Use of Perjured Testimony)"
                II "Federal Civil Rights Claim and Indiana
                               Const. Art. I § 11, (Detaining
                               Alexander)"
                III "Federal Civil Rights Claim and Indiana
                                Const. Art. I § 11, (Search and
                                Seizure)"
                IV "Federal Civil Rights Claim and Indiana
                               Const. Art. I §§ 12, 13 (Suggestive
                               Lineup)"
                V "Federal Civil Rights Claim (Destroying
                              Evidence)"
                VI "Federal Civil Rights Claim and State of
                               Indiana Claim (Malicious Prosecution)"
                VII "Federal Civil Rights Claim (Failure to
                                Train and Supervise)"
                VIII "Federal Civil Rights Claim, 42 U.S.C
                                 §§ 1985 and 1986 (Conspiracy against
                                 Alexander as an African-American)"
                IX "False Arrest and False Imprisonment"
                               X "Intentional Infliction of Emotional
                               Distress"
                Oral arguments were heard on Defendants'
                motion on March 28, 2003. This
                Court has jurisdiction over this matter
                pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367
                

III LEGAL STANDARDS

AFed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

Defendants' motion to dismiss was brought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint, not its factual basis. Johnson v. Revenue Mgmt. Corp., 169 F.3d 1057, 1059 (7th Cir.1999) ("assessing factual support for a suit is not the office of Rule 12(b)(6)"). This Court must accept all factual allegations in Plaintiffs complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in Plaintiffs favor. Slaney v. International Amateur Athletic Fed., 244 F.3d 580, 597 (7th Cir. 2001). This Court should dismiss Plaintiffs complaint only if it appears beyond doubt that Plaintiff can prove no set of facts entitling him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); Mattice v. Memorial Hospital, 249 F.3d 682, 684 (7th Cir.2001). "If it is possible to hypothesize a set of facts, consistent with the complaint, that would entitle the plaintiff to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is inappropriate." Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 648 (7th Cir.2001) (quoting Veazey v. Communications & Cable of Chicago, 194 F.3d 850, 854 (7th Cir.1999)).

B Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c)

This Court originally scheduled oral arguments on this matter on December 9, 2002. In its December order, this Court notified the parties that it would possibly consider matters outside the pleadings, transforming Defendants' motion into a motion for summary judgment under Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(c). When matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, a motion to dismiss shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Preceding such disposition, all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56. Id. Failure to notify the parties of their opportunity to produce material relevant to a Rule 56 motion does not require reversal if there is nothing that the nonmoving party could produce that would create a genuine issue of fact for trial. Green v. Benden, 281 F.3d 661, 665 (7th Cir.2002).

Plaintiff supplied a copy of the notice given to the Indiana Attorney General's office in his response to Defendant's motion to dismiss concerning all pendant state claims. This Court considered this document in its disposition of Defendants' motion. No other extraneous documents were considered in this Court's decision.

C 42 U.S.C. § 1983

The majority of Plaintiffs claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim for relief in a § 1983 action, Plaintiff must establish that Defendants acted under color of state law and deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50, 119 S.Ct. 977, 143 L.Ed.2d 130 (1999).

IV PRELIMINARY MATTERS
A Nature of Plaintiffs Complaint

Plaintiffs complaint, both in its original and amended form, is tedious in detail and in its use of repetitive boilerplate allegations, far exceeding the notice pleading standard laid out in Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. The redundancy of factual and conclusory statements within Plaintiffs complaint has forced this Court, and most likely defense counsel, to wade through the fifty-four page document simply to decipher the nature of Plaintiffs claims.

Rule 8 requires a complaint to be presented with "intelligibility sufficient for a court or opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged and [,] if so [,] what it is." Vicom, Inc. v. Harbridge Merchant Services, Inc., 20 F.3d 771, 775 (7th Cir.1994). Wordy, redundant, and seemingly interminable complaints violate the letter and the spirit of Rule 8 and may be dismissed with leave to refile. Id. at 776. This Court has the inherent authority to strike Plaintiffs complaint and order Plaintiff counsel to refile a properly drafted document. Rather than delay this matter any further, this Court chose to hear arguments on Defendants' motion on March 28, 2003. Regardless, Plaintiff counsel is cautioned to draft future filings with this Court in a clear and concise manner.

B Plaintiffs Concessions to Dismissal

At the March 28, 2003 hearing, Plaintiff conceded that his claims concerning perjured testimony (Count I), the use of excessive force (various counts), false arrest (Counts II and IX), and the intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count X) should be dismissed because they are barred under the applicable statutes of limitations and other grounds.3 Because Plaintiff voluntarily withdrew these claims from his complaint, Defendants' motion to dismiss is therefore GRANTED as it pertains to these claims.

V DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendants' set forth many...

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