Lopez v. Indiana State of et al
OPINION AND ORDER Directing the clerk to place this cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint and send to Jesus Lopez; Lopez given to 9/19/17 to file an amended complaint on that form; Any amendments to the pleadings to be filed by 9/19/2017. Signed by Judge Rudy Lozano on 8/8/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party with form)(mlc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
STATE OF INDIANA, et. al.,
CAUSE NO. 2:17-CV-202 RL
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on a complaint filed by Jesus
Lopez, a pro se prisoner, on May 1, 2017 [ECF 1]. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court: (1) DIRECTS the Clerk to place this
cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint INND (Rev. 8/16) and
send it to Jesus Lopez; (2) GRANTS Jesus Lopez until September 19,
2017, to file an amended complaint on that form; and (3) CAUTIONS
Jesus Lopez that if he does not respond by the deadline, this case
will be dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Jesus Lopez, a pro se prisoner, filed this case pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his vehicle was illegally searched and
seized on November 16, 2016. Lopez claims that an unnamed Indiana
State Police officer searched his vehicle without consent or
probable cause. Instead, it was because Mr. Lopez was Hispanic.
Lopez was arrested as a result of the search of his vehicle. Lopez
seeks money damages against the State of Indiana, the Indiana State
Police, and the unidentified Indiana State Police officer who
conducted the unlawful search.
Pursuant to 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 a defendant who is
immune from such relief. “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).
As a threshold matter, Lopez has not identified any possible
defendant. Lopez’s claim can not be maintained against the State of
Indiana, as it is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from a
money damages suit.
Kashani v. Purdue University, 813 F.2d. 843,
845 (7th Cir. 1987). Nor has he plausibly alleged a claim against
the Indiana State Police. Lopez sues the ISP based on it being the
unknown officer’s employer. However, a municipal entity cannot be
held liable based solely on a theory of respondeat superior. Monell
v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Woodward v.
Corr. Med. Servs. of Ill., Inc., 368 F.3d 917, 927 (7th Cir. 2004).
constitutional rights, ISP could not be held liable solely because
it was that officer’s employer. And, finally, Lopez apparently does
not know the identity of the officer who unlawfully searched his
vehicle. As a practical matter, his case cannot proceed against an
unnamed defendant. See Wudtke v. Davel, 128 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th
Cir. 1997) (“[I]t is pointless to include lists of anonymous
defendants in federal court; this type of placeholder does not open
the door to relation back under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15, nor can it
otherwise help the plaintiff.”). In his amended complaint, Lopez
must include any information he can provide that may assist in
identifying the officer, including a physical description or badge
As to the search itself, the Fourth Amendment guarantees the
“right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. CONST.
Although Lopez claims there was no reason for his
vehicle to be searched, he does not say what was searched for or
what (if anything) was found. He does not say whether the search
occurred while he was within reaching distance of the car. He does
not explain why he believes that the search was not related to the
crime(s) of his arrest. He should address these deficiencies in his
Finally, it is unclear whether this issue was previously
litigated in his underlying criminal case. A “plaintiff can be
collaterally estopped from relitigating fourth amendment claims
that were lost at a criminal suppression hearing.” Harris v.
Huston, 553 Fed. Appx. 630, 631 (7th Cir. 2014); see also Best v.
City of Portland, 554 F.3d 698, 702 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Had the case
terminated with a final judgment of conviction, the denial of
Best’s suppression motion would have preclusive effect.”). In his
amended complaint, Lopez must explain whether this issue was
raised, or is being raised, in his state criminal case.
As written, the complaint does not plausibly state a claim.
However, Lopez may file an amended complaint if he believes that he
can allege facts which do state a claim. See Luevano
722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013). In the amended complaint, Lopez
should be sure to address the deficiencies noted in this order. He
should explain in his own words what happened, when it happened,
where it happened, and how he was personally injured by the
conditions he describes, providing as much detail as possible.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court: (1) DIRECTS the
clerk to place this cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint INND
(Rev. 8/16) and send it to Jesus Lopez; (2) GRANTS Jesus Lopez
until September 19, 2017, to file an amended complaint on that
form; and (3) CAUTIONS Jesus Lopez that if he does not respond by
the deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
DATED: August 8, 2017
/s/ RUDY LOZANO, Judge
United States District Court
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