Alexander v. City of South Bend, 3:02-CV-0397 CAN.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
Citation320 F.Supp.2d 761
Docket NumberNo. 3:02-CV-0397 CAN.,3:02-CV-0397 CAN.
PartiesALEXANDER, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF SOUTH BEND, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date18 May 2004
320 F.Supp.2d 761
ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SOUTH BEND, et al., Defendants.
No. 3:02-CV-0397 CAN.
United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division.
May 18, 2004.

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

Ann-Carol Nash, South Bend, IN, John E Broden, City of South Bend, Department of Law, South Bend, IN, for City of South Bend, South Bend Police Department, Cpt Darryl Gunn, Wayne Boocher, Michael Chritchlow, Cindy Eastman, Eugene Eyster, Larry Hostetler, Donald Miller, Doug Radican, Anne M Schellinger, Frank Scheu, Bonnie Werntz, 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.


NUECHTERLEIN, United States Magistrate Judge.


This case presents the question of whether an innocent man, wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for assault and rape, may proceed to trial in his lawsuit against the City of South Bend, its police department, police chief, and ten present and former police officers. This Court concludes that he may not proceed further.

The Plaintiff has alleged that his constitutional rights were violated by the City of South Bend and certain police officers in the manner in which the police department conducted its criminal investigation of the assaults and rapes for which he was wrongfully convicted. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that the manner in which the police officers conducted its photo arrays, witness interviews, investigative lineups,

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and other investigative procedures was constitutionally defective. The Plaintiff also alleges that the police department failed to adequately train its officers and that the Defendants conspired to wrongfully convict the Plaintiff because he is an African American.

Each Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there is no dispute as to any material facts and that each Defendant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. For reasons more fully explained below, this Court concludes that the Plaintiff has failed to establish any evidence upon which a reasonable jury could conclude that any Defendant violated his constitutional rights. As a result, and following longstanding legal precedent, this Court now grants summary judgment for each Defendant.


Beginning in early 1996, the City of South Bend's River Park neighborhood was terrorized by a series of sexual assaults. After extensive investigation, the police department began to focus its suspicions on the Plaintiff, and in August 1996, the Plaintiff was charged with two counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, two counts of criminal confinement, one count of rape, two counts of attempted rape, two counts of criminal deviate conduct, one count of burglary, and one count of auto theft. (Pla. Comp. at ¶ 141). Upon further investigation, the state dropped one attempted robbery and both counts of criminal confinement as well as one of Plaintiff's rape charges on April 22, 1997. Plaintiff's case initially went to trial on June 9, 1997. The jury, however, was unable to return a verdict, and the Plaintiff was tried for a second time on February 9, 1998. The jury in the second trial was able to reach a verdict, and convicted the Plaintiff of several offenses, including the charged counts of rape. On March 3, 1998, Plaintiff was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for seventy years.

To the credit of the police department and the benefit of the Plaintiff, the police department's investigation into the sexual assaults did not end with the Plaintiff's conviction and imprisonment. Rather, police officers continued their investigation and, with newly available DNA evidence, determined that the Plaintiff had not committed the crimes of which he was convicted. Armed with the new evidence exonerating Plaintiff, on December 11, 2001, the St. Joseph County prosecutor and the Office of the Public Defender filed a joint motion to vacate Plaintiff's conviction, and obtained Plaintiff's release.


The procedural history of this case is long and complex, unnecessarily so, and requires explanation. Following his release, Plaintiff initiated the present action on June 4, 2002. Plaintiff's ten-count complaint, alleging violations of federal and state law, named twelve current and former South Bend police officers, Darryl Gunn, the former chief of the South Bend Police Department, the South Bend Police Department, and the City of South Bend as Defendants.1 Plaintiff's complaint was poorly drafted, overly broad, and unnecessarily complex.

On July 20, 2002, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. At the hearing on Defendants' motion, Plaintiff's counsel conceded

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that four of Plaintiff's ten claims were barred by applicable statutes of limitation. On October 15, 2002, Plaintiff amended his complaint, adding a Monell theory of liability towards the City, the police department, and Defendant Gunn.2

On April 4, 2003, this Court dismissed all claims brought under Indiana law as untimely, dismissed Plaintiff's claims for suggestive lineups, impermissible witness interviews, and coercive testimony without prejudice, and denied Defendants' motion in all other regards. The order permitted Plaintiff to refile the counts dismissed without prejudice if Plaintiff could establish that those claims were viable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint on May 5, 2003. The complaint retained all original defendants, alleging four claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and one claim under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986. Like Plaintiff's first amended complaint, Plaintiff's second amended complaint was poorly written, convoluted, and confusing, often alleging that all the named Defendants are responsible for various acts without specifying exactly which Defendant did what. Most notably, Plaintiff's complaint provides separate prayers for relief for each count which name all the Defendants, even those Defendants not involved in particular actions. For example, the prayer for relief in Count VII charges all the Defendants with a failure to train or supervise despite the fact that the majority of the Defendants had no training or supervisory duties. (Pla. Comp. at 41).

On May 12, 2003, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Defendants Toni Graham and Phil Trent, leaving ten individual defendants, the City, the Police Department, Darryl Gunn, and Plaintiff's two fictitious defendants, Jane Doe and Richard Roe. Defendant Gunn was sued in both his individual and professional capacities as well as his capacity as chief of police.

On November 3, 2003, Defendants filed eleven separate motions for summary judgment, each motion pertaining to one or two individual Defendants with a single motion pertaining to the City and the Police Department. Defendants' motions seek summary judgment on all claims.

Plaintiff originally responded to Defendants' motions on December 3, 2003. This Court struck Plaintiff's filings on January 15, 2004, because they exceeded the page limitations set by N.D. L.R. 7.1(d). Plaintiff again filed his responses to Defendants' motions on February 17, 2004.3 On March 2, 2004, Defendants filed a motion to strike specific exhibits attached to Plaintiff's responses. Upon review of the parties' filings, this Court ordered further briefing on issues concerning the viability of Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as the preclusive effect of Plaintiff's criminal trials on this case. The motions are now ripe for ruling.

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A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Lawson v. CSX Transp., Inc., 245 F.3d 916, 922 (7th Cir.2001). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party as well as draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); King v. Preferred Technical Group, 166 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir.1999). To overcome a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party cannot rest on the mere allegations or denials contained in its pleadings. Rather, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence to show the existence of each element of its case on which it will bear the burden at trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Robin v. Espo Engineering Corp., 200 F.3d 1081, 1088 (7th Cir.2000); See also N.D. Ind. L.R. 56.1(b) ("In determining a motion for summary judgment, this Court will assume that the facts as claimed and supported by admissible evidence by the moving party are admitted to exist without controversy, except to the extent that such facts are controverted ... as supported by the depositions, discovery responses, affidavits, and other admissible evidence on file."). Where a factual record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (citing Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Services Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968)).

B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Plaintiff's complaint was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to sustain a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must establish that the alleged violations were committed by a...

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