Jendrzejczyk v. LaPorte County Sheriff et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The 30 and 35 MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM are GRANTED. The Amended Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and the Plaintiff is granted leave to file a Third Amended Complaint by 10/31/2016. Signed by Judge Rudy Lozano on 9/21/16. (jld)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
LAPORTE COUNTY SHERIFF,
CAUSE NO. 2:15-CV-300
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on: (1) Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint, filed by Porter
County, Indiana, and Terri Wood on December 14, 2015 (DE #30); and
(2) Defendants, LaPorte County, Indiana, and Westville, Indiana’s
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, filed on January
26, 2016 (DE #35).
For the reasons set forth below, the motions
The Amended Complaint is dismissed WITHOUT PREJUDICE
and Plaintiff is granted leave to file a Third Amended Complaint on
or before October 31, 2016.
Richard Jendrzejczyk (“Jendrzejczyk”) initiated this action in
complaint was later amended to add claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
In response to the addition of federal claims, the action
was removed to this Court.
Following removal, Jendrzejczyk sought
leave to amend his complaint again, indicating that the proposed
amended complaint “provides a substantially clearer statement of
his causes of action against the Defendants.”
(DE #19 at 1).
Leave to amend was granted, and the Amended Complaint now before
this Court (in reality a second amended complaint) was filed on
October 28, 2015.
The Amended Complaint asserts
numerous claims under both the United States Constitution and the
laws and Constitution of the State of Indiana.
Jendrzejczyk alleges that Porter County, Indiana; LaPorte County,
“unreasonable searches, unreasonable seizures, unreasonable uses of
imprisonment, false arrest, negligence, illegal conspiracy, and
illegal conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Plaintiff,
Richard Jendrzejczyk.” (DE #21 at ¶ 1).
According to the Amended Complaint, on that day:
[W]hile Plaintiff was making his normal
delivery for Dustcatchers, Inc., his employer,
to Ramsay’s West Point Lounge, a tavern in
Westville[,] Indiana, Defendant Wood, who was
heavily intoxicated, confronted him in a
violent and threatening manner within the
sight and hearing of patrons of the tavern, of
the bartender, and of friends and associates
of the Plaintiff and accused Plaintiff of
being a criminal, of having an outstanding
warrant for his arrest, and cursed Plaintiff
with abusive names and with foul language.
(DE #21 at ¶ 12).
Wood indicated she would “call her friends” on
the police department to arrest him.
(DE #21 at 13).
Plaintiff, allegedly based on an outstanding warrant for failure to
(DE #21 at ¶ 14).
Jendrzejczyk was initially held at the
LaPorte County Jail but later transferred to the Porter County
(DE #21 at ¶ 15).
He was held for six days without a
hearing and then released without explanation.
(DE #21 at ¶ 16).
Jendrzejczyk alleges that he was denied medical care during
his six-day incarceration.
(DE #21 at ¶ 17).
he alleges that Defendants (all of them, apparently) refused to
give him an expensive medication ($2,000 per treatment) prescribed
by his doctor for arthritis and psoriasis.
(DE #21 at ¶ 17).
medication is to be taken once every two weeks.1
alleges that he was demoted and later fired from his job with
Dustcatchers, Inc., due to this incident. (DE #21 at ¶ 18).
Jendrzejczyk alleges that a warrant was reactivated when the
Porter County Sheriff’s Department “switched to a new computer
system or when they arrested a relative of Plaintiff with the same
(DE #21 at ¶ 19).
He further alleges that the
It is not clear from the Amended Complaint when or even if
Jendrzejczyk was due to receive another dose of this medication during his six
days of incarceration, or if he suffered pain or other damages as a result of
not receiving the medication during those six days.
unlawfully, and that Porter County2 intentionally delayed notifying
the jail he should be released.
(DE #21 at ¶ 20).
alleges that the Defendants knew or should have known they had no
probable cause to stop, search, or arrest him or use any force.
(DE #21 at ¶ 21). Additionally, he alleges that the Defendants had
an opportunity to prevent harm but did not, and that they attempted
to cover up their illegal acts. (DE #21 at ¶ 22-23).
that Porter County failed to supervise Defendant Wood and others,
and that Defendant Wood “acted willfully, wantonly, oppressively,
and with reckless disregard for Plaintiff’s federally protected
(DE #21 at ¶¶ 24-25).
Defendants Porter County, Indiana, and Terri Wood moved to
dismiss Jendrzejczyk’s Amended Complaint, arguing that it fails for
a variety of reasons, including that the arrest was pursuant to a
facially valid warrant.
Defendants Porter County, Indiana, and
Westville, Indiana, also moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint,
adopting the arguments of co-counsel and claiming that they are not
proper parties to the action.
The motions are fully briefed and
ripe for adjudication.
No specific office or individual is identified.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a complaint to
be dismissed if it fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
Allegations other than fraud
and mistake are governed by the pleading standard outlined in
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a “short and
plain statement” that the pleader is entitled to relief. Maddox v.
Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011).
In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint
“must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face’.”
v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). All well-pleaded facts must
be accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences from those facts
must be resolved in the plaintiff’s favor.
521 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2008).
Pugh v. Tribune Co.,
However, pleadings consisting
of no more than mere conclusions are not entitled to the assumption
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.
This includes legal
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements.”
Id. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
In considering the Amended Complaint, this Court notes that
presents a narrative of facts that hint at a multitude of theories
of liability, and then lists twelve separate counts which, for the
most part, include only conclusory boilerplate language.
Defendants and this Court are left with the task of attempting to
determine which facts are meant to be applied to which claims, and
the response briefs do little to clarify these issues.
The Seventh Circuit has instructed that plaintiffs may not
“merely parrot the statutory language of the claims that they are
pleading (something that anyone could do, regardless of what may be
prompting the lawsuit)” but must provide “some specific facts to
ground those legal claims.”
Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th
The court clarified the standard for dismissal under
Rule 12(b)(6) as follows:
First, a plaintiff must provide notice to
defendants of her claims. Second, courts must
accept a plaintiff’s factual allegations as
true, but some factual allegations will be so
sketchy or implausible that they fail to
provide sufficient notice to defendants of the
plaintiff’s claim. Third, in considering the
plaintiff’s factual allegations, courts should
not accept as adequate abstract recitations of
the elements of a cause of action or
conclusory legal statements.
Count I of the Amended Complaint alleges that the Defendants
(all of them, including Wood apparently), acting under color of
Plaintiff without probable cause that Plaintiff had committed any
infraction, misdemeanor, or felony.”
(DE #21 at 27).
no further detail.
Similarly, Count II alleges that the Defendants conspired
together to violate Jendrzejczyk’s rights, in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
According to Jendrzejczyk, the Defendants, acting
under color of law, “agreed with each other to cover up the
Plaintiff and to punish Plaintiff when he complained about his
unlawful arrest and each of them committed at least one overt act
to further the conspiracy.”
(DE #21 at 28).
Other than the
conclusory allegation that the Defendants (three of which are
municipalities) agreed to conspire, no facts are associated with
No overt acts have been identified or associated with
any particular Defendant.
In Count III, which Jendrzejczyk titles “Municipal Liability,”
Jendrzejczyk sets forth several different theories of municipal
He alleges that the policy-makers of these entities
were deliberately indifferent to his rights in that they: knew or
should have known that the warrant was recalled, knew or should
have known that he did not commit an infraction, misdemeanor, or
deliberately ignored or knowingly and intentionally
failed to correct problems with their computer systems pertaining
to warrants and/or failed to properly screen, hire, train, and
Further, Jendrzejczyk alleges that the officers of the municipal
defendants “unreasonably searched, seized, and used force against
Plaintiff pursuant to their policy, custom or practice.”
These counts are followed by numerous counts which, according
to Jendrzejczyk, are based on Indiana law. (See DE #38 at 1).
is mentioned because, while Counts I and II reference 42 U.S.C. §
provision whatsoever and some are vague enough that it is not
entirely clear that they are state law claims.
One is titled
“Respondeat Superior” and that is a theory of recovery, not a cause
The state law counts are then followed by one last count,
titled “Failure to Intervene.”
Jendrzejczyk treats this count as
Westville, LaPorte County, and Porter County are liable for the
failure of their agents and policy makers to intervene on behalf of
(DE #21 at 8).
It is entirely unclear what agent of
which municipality Jendrzejczyk believes should have intervened,
what they should have intervened in, and why he believes they had
an opportunity to intervene.
For example, does Jendrzejczyk
allegedly unlawful arrest, to ensure he was provided his medication
for arthritis, or to prevent his detention from continuing for six
See Collier v. Ledbetter, No. 4:14-CV-4103-SLD-JEH, 2015 WL 5440672 at
*5 (C.D. Ill. Sept. 15, 2015).
And, once the alleged harm that should have been prevented
is identified, who is it that should have intervened?
all four Defendants are listed as liable for this count, but the
factual basis for liability against each of them for failure to
intervene is entirely unclear.
To make matters worse, in responding to the instant motions to
dismiss, Jendrzejczyk repeatedly references the Amended Complaint
as containing allegations that just are not there.
Some of the
discrepancies between what the Amended Complaint actually says and
what the response brief represents it says are material to the
analysis this Court must apply and, potentially, the outcome.
For example, this Court and the Defendants read the Amended
Complaint as conceding that the warrant serving as the basis for
Jendrzejczyk’s arrest was facially valid.
The Amended Complaint
Sheriff’s Department re-activated the aforementioned warrant that
had been properly recalled when they switched to a new computer
system or when they arrested a relative of Plaintiff with the same
(DE #21 at ¶ 19).
Jendrzejczyk, however, asserts in
response to the motions to dismiss that:
[t]he re-activated warrant was alleged in the
complaint to be due to Defendant Wood’s
reactivation (Pl. Am. Compl. At ¶¶ 24-25, 35),
or the alleged conspiracy between Defendant
Wood and Westville Police (Pl. Am. Compl. at ¶
36), or when they switched to a new computer
system or arrested a relative of Plaintiff
with the same last name (Pl. Am. Compl. at ¶
(DE #38 at 5-6). The complaint, however, does not allege that Wood
was responsible for the reactivation of the warrant, or that the
reactivation of the warrant was the result of a conspiracy between
Instead, the paragraph about the Defendants
allegedly unlawful arrest - not a conspiracy to cause the allegedly
Jendrzejczyk also claims now, in response to the
motions to dismiss, that “Wood had a clear resentment against
Plaintiff and, as a computer system personnel, she had access to
the system to re-activate the warrant on Plaintiff. (Pl. Am. Compl.
At ¶¶ 24-25, 35).” (DE #38 at 6).
Neither the paragraphs relied
upon by Jendrzejczyk nor any other part of the Amended Complaint
contains these allegations.
These are important distinctions because, generally, where an
arrest is based on a facially valid arrest warrant, a Fourth
Amendment claim must fail. Baker v. McCollum, 443 U.S. 137 (1979);
Neiman v. Keane, 232 F.3d 577 (7th Cir. 2000).
Where a false
arrest claim is based on a facially valid warrant, there must be a
showing that the arresting officers knew that the warrant lacked
Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 444 (7th Cir.
2013). Although the complaint does allege that “Defendants knew or
The Amended Complaint alleges that the Defendants “agreed with each
other to cover up the unreasonable searches, seizures, and uses of force
against Plaintiff and to punish Plaintiff when he complained about his
unlawful arrest...” (DE #21 at ¶ 28).
should have known that their fellow officers had no probable cause
to stop, search, and arrest Plaintiff,” this assertion is supported
by no factual allegations whatsoever. (DE #21 at 5).
He does not,
for example, allege that the arresting officer knew the warrant had
been recalled or knew that warrant was obtained by deceiving the
This Court could, as Defendants have attempted to do, go
through the Amended Complaint and attempt to determine if the facts
alleged could possibly support any claim against that Defendant
under each of the multitude of legal theories Jendrzejczyk has
alleged. But, when that work is compounded by the need to separate
Jendrzejczyk’s allegations about what the Amended Complaint says
from what the Amended Complaint actually says, and then sift
through Jendrzejczyk’s arguments to determine what remains once the
extraneous allegations are ignored, the task becomes complex.
Amended Complaint alleges a variety of facts lending themselves to,
at least potentially, a multitude of theories of liability, and
without more input from Jendrzejczyk, this Court may fail to
construe Jendrzejczyk’s claims as intended and unfairly prejudice
While the Amended Complaint in its current form fails to
comply with Rule 8 because Jendrzejczyk has not meaningfully
associated the facts with the various claims, in the interest of
justice, Jendrzejczyk will be given another attempt to clearly and
concisely state his legal claims in a manner that puts Defendants
and this Court on notice of precisely what legal theories he is
asserting against which Defendants and the factual basis for each
However, a plaintiff is not
entitled to endless attempts to state a claim.
chooses to file a Third Amended Complaint, it will constitute his
fourth attempt - the second in this Court - to set forth his
Because Jendrzejczyk has been provided an opportunity to amend
the complaint yet again, this Court will not at this time attempt
to address each of the Defendants’ arguments.
Jendrzejczyk’s style of pleading muddies the waters, the Court
notes that many of Defendants’ arguments appear to have traction
and should be given careful consideration by Jendrzejczyk in
crafting a Third Amended Complaint, should he choose to do so.
Additionally, Jendrzejczyk is advised that a scatter-shot approach
to pleading is often ill-advised.
See e.g. Gbur v. City of Harvey,
difficulties that can arise from scatter-shot complaints that fail
to competently annunciate claims).
For the aforementioned reasons, the
dismiss (DE ## 30, 35) are GRANTED.
instant motions to
The Amended Complaint is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and Plaintiff is granted leave to file
a Third Amended Complaint on or before October 31, 2016.
DATED: September 21, 2016
/s/ RUDY LOZANO, Judge
United States District Court
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