THOMPSON v. CIESIELSKI et al
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS: The Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings as to IMPD is GRANTED. TheCity of Indianapolis is HEREBY ADDED as a defendant. Judgment on the pleadings is also GRANTE D as to Ms. Thompson's claims against Chief Ciesielski in his individual capacity. Judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED as to Ms. Thompson's Fifth Amendment claim. The Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings as to all claims against officers in their official capacities, as well as the City of Indianapolis, is also GRANTED. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 3/4/2013. Copy sent to Patricia Thompson via US Mail.(DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
PAUL CIESIELSKI, Indianapolis
Metropolitan Law Enforcement, Chief of
Police, et al.,
) Cause No. 1:12-cv-375-WTL-MJD
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR
PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
This cause comes before the Court on the Defendants’ motion for partial judgment on the
pleadings. (Dkt. No. 51). The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, rules as
In reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c), the Court applies the same standard that is applied when reviewing a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old Nat’l Bancorp., 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir.
2007). The Court “take[s] the facts alleged in the complaint as true, drawing all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Id. The complaint must contain only “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
While there is no need for detailed factual allegations, the complaint must “give the defendant
fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests” and “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Pisciotta,499
F.3d at 633 (citation omitted).
Plaintiff Patricia Thompson brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
the Defendants violated her Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they
wrongfully arrested her, planted drugs in her vehicle, falsified documents, made false reports,
withheld evidence and committed perjury.
According to Ms. Thompson, IMPD Officer Matthew Stevenson, acting under the
supervision of IMPD Sergeant Garth Schwomeyer, falsely arrested Ms. Thompson on March 9,
2010. Ms. Thompson alleges that Officer Stevenson also planted drugs in her Trail Blazer and
falsified a search warrant affidavit in order to obtain a search warrant for the vehicle. She asserts
claims for damages against Officer Stevenson and Sergeant Schwomeyer in their official and
Officer Michael Condon is alleged by Ms. Thompson to have participated with Officer
Stevenson in planting drugs in her vehicle and also to have provided false reporting of the
location of her vehicle after it had been towed. Mr. Thompson seeks damages from Officer
Condon in his official and individual capacities.
Further, Ms. Thompson alleges that Officer Jean Deddish engaged in a conspiracy and
committed perjury when she testified that she saw thirty-five persons enter and exit Ms.
Thompson’s home during an afternoon surveillance period.
Finally, Ms. Thompson seeks damages from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police
Department (“IMPD”) and Chief of Police Paul Ciesielski as the parties responsible for the
officers. Claims are asserted against Chief Ciesielski in his official and individual capacities.
The Defendants have moved for partial judgment on the pleadings with respect to the
1. Ms. Thompson’s claim against IMPD;
2. Her claim against Chief Ciesielski in his individual capacity;
3. Her claim for violation of her Fifth Amendment rights;
4. Her claims against the City of Indianapolis and all officers in their official capacities.
The Court addresses each claim below.
According to the Defendants, judgment on the pleadings is proper with respect to IMPD,
as IMPD lacks the legal capacity to sue or be sued. “Capacity to sue or be sued is determined . . .
by the law of the state where the court is located.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b). It does not appear that,
under Indiana law, IMPD has the capacity to sue or be sued independent of the unit that
established it. Ind. Code §§ 36-1-4-3; 36-8-2-2. Cf. Ind. Code § 36-7-8-15 (housing authorities
may sue or be sued); § 36-8-11-15 (boards of fire protection districts); § 36-9-4-36 (boards of
public transportation corporations); § 36-10-3-11 (boards of parks and recreation departments); §
36-12-2-2 (public libraries). As a department within the City of Indianapolis, IMPD is not a
separate suable entity; rather, the City of Indianapolis is the proper party.
In her response, Ms. Thompson requests that the City of Indianapolis be added as a
defendant in the action. Given the relationship between IMPD and the City, the Court finds such
addition proper. Furthermore, Ms. Thompson also seeks the addition of the City given its
independent knowledge of the wrongdoing of the other Defendants. Specifically, Ms. Thompson
alleges that she called and sent email messages to Mayor Ballard and Prosecutor Terry Curry, but
they did not address her concerns. The Court grants Ms. Thompson’s request; the City of
Indianapolis shall be added as a defendant to the action.
Chief Ciesielski, in his Individual Capacity
The Defendants also seek judgment on the pleadings as to Ms. Thompson’s claims
against Chief Ciesielski in his individual capacity. In her response, Mr. Thompson clarifies that
her claim against Chief Ciesielski stems from the fact that he knew what was “going on” with
her case, but he did nothing. Specifically, Ms. Thompson sent Chief Ciesielski “evidence” or
“notice” on July 14, 2010, August 12, 2011, and September 2, 2011. Ms. Thompson also sent a
letter to the Indiana Attorney General on July 29, 2010, which letter was forwarded to the Chief.
“Every police chief knows that some officers shoot unnecessarily or arrest some suspects
without probable cause . . . . But heads of organizations have never been held liable on the theory
that they did not do enough to combat subordinates’ misconduct, and the Supreme Court made it
clear in Iqbal that such theories of liability are unavailing.” Vance v. Rumsfeld, 701 F.3d 193,205
(7th Cir. 2012) (discussing personal liability of federal officials under Bivens). Knowledge of
subordinates’ misconduct is not enough for liability; rather, the supervisor must want the
forbidden outcome to occur. Id. at 204. Ms. Thompson has not alleged facts sufficient to make it
plausible that Chief Ciesielski wanted the alleged constitutional violations to occur. Judgment on
the pleadings as to Ms. Thompson’s claims against Chief Ciesielski in his individual capacity is
Ms. Thompson also asserts that the actions of the Defendants violated her Fifth
Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment applies to federal government actors; the Defendants
are state actors. E.g., Dusenbery v. United States, 534 U.S. 161, 167 (2002) (“The Due Process
Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits the United States, as the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the States, from depriving any person of property without ‘due
process of law.’”). Accordingly, judgment on the pleadings as to this claim is appropriate.
Indianapolis and Officers in Official Capacities
Finally, Ms. Thompson has alleged claims against Chief Ciesielski, Sergeant
Schwomeyer, Officer Stevenson, Officer Condon, and Officer Deddish in their official
capacities. In addition, the City of Indianapolis has been added as a defendant in this action.
According to the Defendants, however, judgment on the pleadings is appropriate with respect to
these claims because Ms. Thompson has not alleged a policy, practice, or custom of the City or
IMPD as the source of the alleged constitutional violations. In response, Ms. Thompson alleges
that the City of Indianapolis and IMPD had an “ongoing practice, custom or policy of
unconstitutional nature that has been going on since the 1970’s.”
Suit against an officer in his official capacity is treated as suit against the municipality
itself. Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, Inc., 499 F.3d 751, 765 (7th Cir. 2006). Accordingly, suit
against the IMPD officers in their official capacities is treated as suit against the City of
“To state a claim against a municipality under § 1983, a plaintiff must identify a
municipal policy or custom that caused the injury.” Id. (citing Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). In the instant case, Ms. Thompson alleges a policy or custom of an
unconstitutional nature, but she has not identified any facts supporting her allegation to make it
plausible. Accordingly, judgment on the pleadings as to all claims against officers in their
official capacities, as well as the City of Indianapolis, is appropriate.
The Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to IMPD is GRANTED. The
City of Indianapolis is HEREBY ADDED as a defendant. Judgment on the pleadings is also
GRANTED as to Ms. Thompson’s claims against Chief Ciesielski in his individual capacity.
Judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED as to Ms. Thompson’s Fifth Amendment
The Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to all claims against officers in
their official capacities, as well as the City of Indianapolis, is also GRANTED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Copies to all counsel of record via electronic communication.
Copy by United States mail to
Ms. Patricia Thompson
1144 W. 79th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46260
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