Geisleman v. Fort Wayne Police Department et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The court DISMISSES Fort Wayne Police Department; GRANTS Ted E. Geisleman until 10/13/2020 to file an amended complaint; and CAUTIONS Ted E. Geisleman if he does not respond by the deadline, this case will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A without further notice because the current complaint does not state a claim for which relief can be granted. Signed by Judge Damon R Leichty on 9/14/2020. (bas)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
TED E. GEISLEMAN,
CAUSE NO. 1:20-CV-252-DRL-SLC
NORTON, DeSHALES, and REECE,
OPINION & ORDER
Ted Geisleman, a prisoner without a lawyer, alleges three Fort Wayne law enforcement officers
used excessive force when they arrested him on September 19, 2019. “A document filed pro se is to be
liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(quotation marks and citations omitted). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review the merits
of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.
Mr. Geisleman alleges Officers Norton, DeShales, and Reece broke his jaw when they
slammed his face on the ground before he was handcuffed. He says he was not resisting, but he
pleaded guilty to resisting law enforcement.1
In Evans v. Poskon, 603 F.3d 362 (7th Cir. 2010), [the circuit] addressed the ability of a
plaintiff to proceed on a § 1983 excessive force claim where that plaintiff had been
convicted of resisting arrest, and held that the plaintiff can only proceed to the extent
that the facts underlying the excessive force claim are not inconsistent with the
essential facts supporting the conviction.
See State v. Geisleman, 02C01-1909-F6-001198 (Allen Circuit Court filed September 23, 2019).
QnFIVWE0WVdYSVhrc3NXLUp2QlFvbHNOMkhLMGktODQxIn19. The court can consider public court
records in determining whether the complaint states a claim for relief. See Fed. R. Evid. 201; Tobey v. Chibucos,
890 F.3d 634, 647 (7th Cir. 2018).
Helman v. Duhaime, 742 F.3d 760, 762 (7th Cir. 2014). Here, the complaint does not explain how his
excessive force claim is consistent with the facts supporting his conviction. A complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter to “state a claim that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Factual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the
complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotation marks, citations and
footnote omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the
mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged—but it has not shown—that the pleader is
entitled to relief.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quotation marks and brackets omitted). Thus, “a plaintiff
must do better than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might
suggest that something has happened to her that might be redressed by the law.” Swanson v. Citibank,
N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original). Given his conviction for resisting law
enforcement, Mr. Geisleman has not plausibly pleaded an excessive force claim here.
This complaint does not state a claim for which relief can be granted. If Mr. Geisleman has
additional facts that make it plausible to infer that the claims in this lawsuit are not inconsistent with
his conviction for resisting law enforcement, he may file an amended complaint because “[t]he usual
standard in civil cases is to allow defective pleadings to be corrected, especially in early stages, at least
where amendment would not be futile.” Abu-Shawish v. United States, 898 F.3d 726, 738 (7th Cir. 2018).
To file an amended complaint, he needs to write this cause number on a Pro Se 14 (INND Rev.
2/20) Prisoner Complaint form which is available from his law library. After he properly completes
and signs that form, he needs to send it to the court.
Finally, the clerk listed Fort Wayne Police Department as a defendant because Mr. Geisleman
wrote that in the caption of the complaint. ECF 2 at 1. However, he did not name the Police
Department as a defendant. Id. Moreover, he listed the names of three police officers as defendants
and stated he was only suing three defendants. Id. Therefore the Fort Wayne Police Department must
For these reasons, the court:
(1) DISMISSES Fort Wayne Police Department;
(2) GRANTS Ted E. Geisleman until October 13, 2020 to file an amended complaint; and
(3) CAUTIONS Ted E. Geisleman if he does not respond by the deadline, this case will be
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A without further notice because the current complaint does
not state a claim for which relief can be granted.
September 14, 2020
s/ Damon R. Leichty
Judge, United States District Court
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