Barnes v. Wilson, 1-1282A367

Decision Date28 June 1983
Docket NumberNo. 1-1282A367,1-1282A367
Citation39 A.L.R. 4th 699,450 N.E.2d 1030
PartiesTony BARNES, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Joe WILSON, Casper Memering, as Sheriff of Knox County, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Joe D. Black, Ramsey & Black, Vincennes, for plaintiff-appellant.

James W. Funk, Kimmell, Funk & Cummins, Vincennes, for defendants-appellees.

RATLIFF, Judge.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Appellant Tony Barnes, Jr. appeals from an order of the Sullivan Circuit Court granting appellees' motion for summary judgment in an action for false imprisonment. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

Tony Barnes, Jr. was arrested on September 13, 1980, by members of the Bicknell City Police Department, pursuant to an attachment issued by the Knox County Superior Court. He was then transported to the county jail by deputy James Wilson of the Knox County Sheriff's Department. On September 15, 1980, the Knox Superior Court informed the sheriff's department that the warrant should have been issued for Tony Barnes, Sr., and ordered that Barnes, Jr. be released. Barnes then brought suit against Deputy Wilson, Casper Memering--the Knox County Sheriff, and the Knox County Board of Commissioners. Upon defendants' motion, the Sullivan Circuit Court granted summary judgment and dismissed the cause. From a denial of his motion to correct errors, Barnes now appeals. 1

ISSUE

Barnes raises a number of issues on appeal. However, these may be consolidated in one all-encompassing issue:

Did the trial court err, as a matter of law, in granting defendants' motion for summary judgment?

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

The trial court erred, as a matter of law, in granting summary judgment upon defendants' motion.

Summary judgment is a procedure for applying the law to facts when no factual controversy exists. Poxon v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., (1980) Ind.App., 407 N.E.2d 1181, 1183. The trial court should grant summary judgment only where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits and testimony, if any, show that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Indiana Rules of Civil Procedure, Trial Rule 56(C). See also Moll v. South Central Solar Systems, Inc., (1981) Ind.App., 419 N.E.2d 154, 159; Campbell v. Eli Lilly & Co., (1980) Ind.App., 413 N.E.2d 1054, 1057, trans. denied; Kendrick Memorial Hospital, Inc. v. Totten, (1980) Ind.App., 408 N.E.2d 130, 131. On appeal, this court applies the same standard of review as does the trial court. Matter of Estate of Belanger, (1982) Ind.App., 433 N.E.2d 39, 42, trans. denied; Richardson v. Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, (1981) Ind.App., 422 N.E.2d 704, 710. We look to determine whether any genuine issue of material fact exists and whether the law was correctly applied. Campbell; Smith v. P. & B. Corp., (1979) 179 Ind.App. 693, 695, 386 N.E.2d 1232, 1234, trans. denied. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, we accept as true all facts set forth by the non-moving party and resolve all doubts against the movant. Barnd v. Borst, (1982) Ind.App., 431 N.E.2d 161, 165, trans. denied; English Coal Co. v. Durcholz, (1981) Ind.App., 422 N.E.2d 302, 303, trans. denied; Campbell. It is manifest that the granting of a motion for summary judgment is inappropriate if the trial court must weigh conflicting evidence in order to reach its decision. Barnd; McKenna v. City of Fort Wayne, (1981) Ind.App., 429 N.E.2d 662, 664. Where a genuine issue of material fact exists, a grant of summary judgment must be deemed improper.

Barnes argues that a disputed issue of material fact exists concerning whether the deputy transporting him was made aware of facts which should have prompted an investigation into Barnes' true identity and mistaken detention. Both parties presented affidavits on the motion for summary judgment. Deputy Wilson's affidavit stated, in part:

"5. At that time, the Bicknell City Police Department notified the Knox County Sheriff's Department that they had said Tony W. Barnes in their custody at the Bicknell City Hall, Bicknell Police Department in Bicknell, Indiana.

6. That, at that time, Deputy Sheriff James Wilson, accompanied by Special Deputy Rex Allen, went to the City Jail in Bicknell, Indiana, and picked up a subject identified as Tony W. Barnes and transported him to Vincennes, Indiana, to the County Jail.

7. That at no time did the subject identify himself as being other than the Tony W. Barnes named in said warrant.

8. That on Monday, September 15, 1980, said Tony W. Barnes was taken before Judge Theobald in the Superior Court of Knox County and, after questioning the subject, said judge informed the Sheriff's Department that the warrant should have been issued for a Tony W. Barnes, Sr., and that the subject being held by the County Sheriff's Department should be released."

Record at 39-40. However, Barnes presented an affidavit in opposition to the motion which stated, in part:

"3. That when the Knox County Deputy came he had a warrant for Tony R. Barnes and he read me my rights.

4. That I asked numerous questions about what the warrant was for but he could not tell me.

5. I asked him how old the warrant was and he advised me it was seven months old.

6. I told him I had been out of town for some time and that I had done nothing wrong and I kept telling him that they had the wrong man. The Deputy kept saying to me we have a warrant for Tony Barnes and refused to believe that I was the wrong man.

7. I was transported to the Knox County Jail and I repeatedly asked the Deputy what it was about and told him he had the wrong man but he still took me anyway.

8. I was held in jail over the weekend and at almost every opportunity during that time I told any deputy who would listen that they had the wrong man and would they please check it out. However, they refused to release me and I did not find out what I was being held for until I was taken to court the following Monday morning."

Record at 44. As we previously noted, on a motion for summary judgment, the court must accept as true all facts set forth by the non-moving party and resolved all doubts against the movant. Barnd; English Coal. Clearly then, if the deputy's knowledge of Barnes' identification is material, the court erred in granting summary judgment. Whether a fact is material is determined by reference to applicable law.

There are generally two views concerning a police officer's civil liability for false imprisonment arising from the service of a warrant, where the warrant is mistakenly served on an individual having the same name, or a name similar to that stated on the...

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12 cases
  • Thiele v. Faygo Beverage, Inc.
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • February 24, 1986
    ...this court applies the same standard as applied by the trial court in ruling on the motion in the first instance. Barnes v. Wilson (1983), Ind.App., 450 N.E.2d 1030. "[W]e must determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact, and whether the law was correctly applied. Hale v. ......
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    ...denied; English Coal Co. [, Inc.] v. Durcholz, (1981) Ind.App., 422 N.E.2d 302, 303, trans. denied; Campbell." Barnes v. Wilson, (1983) Ind.App., 450 N.E.2d 1030, 1032. Summary judgment may not serve as a substitute for trial where factual disputes remain. Moll; Podgorny v. Great Central In......
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