Shattuck v. Anderson, No. 2:19-cv-00428-JMS-MJD

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
Writing for the CourtHon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court Southern District of Indiana
PartiesJAMES SHATTUCK, Plaintiff, v. MIKE ANDERSON, ROBERT DECKER, JERRAD PIRTLE, MELISSA PHERSON, ASHLEY HILL, and VIGO COUNTY SHERIFF, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 2:19-cv-00428-JMS-MJD
Decision Date09 February 2021

JAMES SHATTUCK, Plaintiff,
v.
MIKE ANDERSON, ROBERT DECKER, JERRAD PIRTLE,
MELISSA PHERSON, ASHLEY HILL,
and VIGO COUNTY SHERIFF, Defendants.

No. 2:19-cv-00428-JMS-MJD

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA TERRE HAUTE DIVISION

February 9, 2021


ORDER

Plaintiff James Shattuck brings this action against: (1) the Vigo County, Indiana Sheriff, in his official capacity; (2) three employees of the Vigo County Sheriff's Department—Lieutenant Mike Anderson, Deputy Robert Decker, and Deputy Jerrad Pirtle—in their individual capacities ("the Vigo County Defendants"); and (3) Indiana Department of Child Services ("DCS") employees Melissa Pherson and Ashlea Hill1 in their individual capacities ("the DCS Defendants"). Mr. Shattuck asserts that his constitutional rights were violated when the Vigo County Defendants and the DCS Defendants (collectively, "the Individual Defendants") forcibly entered his home without his consent and without a warrant and then remained in the home for approximately 45 minutes to interview his five-year-old daughter. Mr. Shattuck has now filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, [Filing No. 65], and Defendants have filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, [Filing No. 71]. Mr. Shattuck has also filed a Motion for Leave to File

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Short Surreply Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 78.] All three motions are ripe for the Court's review.

I.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed. R Civ. P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

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On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has "repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them." Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

"The existence of cross-motions for summary judgment does not, however, imply that there are no genuine issues of material fact." R.J. Corman Derailment Servs., LLC v. Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, 335 F.3d 643, 647 (7th Cir. 2003). Specifically, "[p]arties have different burdens of proof with respect to particular facts; different legal theories will have an effect on which facts are material; and the process of taking the facts in light most favorable to the non-movant, first for one side and then for the other, may highlight the point that neither side has enough to prevail" on summary judgment. Id. at 648.

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II.
STATEMENT OF FACTS

The Court notes at the outset that several important facts are disputed by the parties. [See Filing No. 67 at 9-10 n.1 (Mr. Shattuck describing the disputes); Filing No. 77 at 2 (Defendants conceding that several material facts are in dispute).] Accordingly, the following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standards outlined above. The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented and considered with respect to each motion in the light most favorable to "the party against whom the motion under consideration is made." Premcor USA, Inc. v. Am. Home Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005). However, "[w]hen the evidence includes a videotape of the relevant events, the Court should not adopt the nonmoving party's version of the events when that version is blatantly contradicted by the videotape." Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 942 (7th Cir. 2016).

A. Events Preceding the July 17, 2019 Incident

At all relevant times, Mr. Shattuck resided in a single-family home in Terre Haute, Indiana with his wife, Alicia Shattuck,2 and their daughter, S.S. [Filing No. 65-5 at 1.] In July 2019, when the events giving rise to this lawsuit took place, S.S. was five years old. [Filing No. 65-5 at 1.] Alicia's work schedule at that time was unpredictable, and Mr. Shattuck operated an automobile repair and restoration business out of the family's home, so he had primary caretaking responsibilities for S.S. [Filing No. 65-6 at 1.]

Sometime in 2014, a report was made to DCS alleging that Mr. Shattuck had sexually abused his stepdaughter, M.V., who is S.S.'s older half-sister and was 15 or 16 years old at the

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time. [Filing No. 65-6 at 1; Filing No. 74-2 at 5.] An investigation was conducted by DCS and the Vigo County Sheriff's Department, resulting in criminal charges being filed against Mr. Shattuck. [Filing No. 65-5 at 1-2.] Ultimately, the charges were dismissed "after the alleged victim recanted and admitted that [Mr. Shattuck] did not commit the offenses with which [he] was charged." [Filing No. 65-5 at 2.] Mr. Shattuck maintains that he never sexually abused M.V. and states that "the ordeal was incredibly scarring, tarnished [his] reputation irreversibly, and caused [him] to be extremely suspicious of the motives of both DCS and the Vigo County Sheriff's Office." [Filing No. 65-5 at 2.] According to Mr. Shattuck, the false report was made by his two adult stepsons (who are M.V's older brothers and S.S.'s half-brothers), who were angry because Mr. Shattuck had cut them off financially. [Filing No. 74-2 at 5.]

On July 11, 2019, DCS received a phone call from one of Mr. Shattuck's stepsons, who is identified in DCS documentation as the "Report Source" or "RS." [Filing No. 65-6 at 5-6.] The Report Source followed up his initial call with an email on July 12, 2019. [Filing No. 65-6 at 5.]

The Report Source informed DCS of the prior allegations made against Mr. Shattuck in 2014 and stated his belief that the victim in the prior case was pressured into recanting. [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.]3 The Report Source also alleged that Mr. Shattuck had previously been "on the sex offender registry," but had been removed within the preceding year, and that Mr. Shattuck had "served a year in jail at one point." [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.] The Report Source stated that "there

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was concern" regarding S.S. and that he had "a couple different 'gut uncomfortable feelings.'" [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.] Specifically, the Report Source noted that Mr. Shattuck worked from home, S.S. was home with Mr. Shattuck "60 to 80% of the time," and S.S. and Mr. Shattuck "have secrets between each other," including one "secret" involving Mr. Shattuck's desire to homeschool S.S. [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.] The Report Source also stated that, at a wedding rehearsal dinner in December 2018, S.S. "would not stop trying to hug, kiss, and change another little girl's diaper." [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.] The other little girl was a family member who was approximately the same age as S.S., and according to the Report Source, the situation "was so uncomfortable that the family members left the dinner with [the child]." [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.] The Report Source stated that the family believed that S.S. was trying to hug and kiss the other child because Mr. Shattuck "constantly asks for hugs and kisses from [S.S.]," and as a result, S.S. "has no boundaries of hugging and kissing people." [Filing No. 74-1 at 1.] The Report Source stated that he believed that Mr. Shattuck was attempting to isolate S.S., and that S.S. would report back to Mr. Shattuck whenever she had a conversation with anyone else about anything. [Filing No....

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