VALENTINO v. PACKARD et al
ENTRY granting in part and denying in part 56 57 Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment - For the reasons stated herein, Defendants Chris Barbuto, David Starling, and Randy Thorp's motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 56 ) as w ell as Defendants Gray, Shawn Haus, the Kokomo Police Department, Jeff Packard, Chad Rogers, and Brent Wines' motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 57 ) are GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. ***SEE ENTRY***Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 1/27/2014.(JKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
) CAUSE NO. 1:12-cv-902-WTL-TAB
OFFICER JEFF PACKARD, et al.,
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This cause is before the Court on Defendants Chris Barbuto, David Starling, and Randy
Thorp’s (the “Ohio Defendants”) motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 56) as well as
Defendants the Kokomo Police Department, Jeff Packard, Brent Wines, Chad Rogers,1 Shawn
Haus, Gray, and Robert Baker’s (the “Kokomo Defendants”) motion for summary judgment
(dkt. no. 57). These motions are fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS IN
PART AND DENIES IN PART the motions for the reasons, and to the extent, set forth below.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if
the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the
admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable
inferences must be drawn in the non-movant’s favor. Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476
F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view
the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences
Ms. Valentino has elected not to pursue her individual claims, both federal and state,
against Defendants Packard, Wines, and Rogers. See Pl.’s Response at 14, n. 9.
in that party’s favor.”). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue
may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations,
that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Id. Finally, the non-moving party
bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not
required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).
The facts that follow are those taken in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Jacquelyn
On July 4, 2010, Herchel Roberts was murdered in Licking County, Ohio. Defendant
Detectives Barbuto and Starling began an investigation into the murder and soon named Mark
Valentino, the Plaintiff’s husband at the time, as their main suspect. Barbuto and Starling
learned that Mark resided in Kokomo, Indiana, and tracked Mark to Kokomo after the murder
via his cell phone. Barbuto and Starling notified the Kokomo Police Department (“KPD”) of the
need to locate Mark, and both traveled to Kokomo on July 6, 2010.
Pursuant to the information obtained from Barbuto and Starling, KPD Lt. Haus
authorized surveillance of Mark’s address. Defendant Wines was the first officer to conduct
such surveillance. He reported that a 2003 blue Hyundai, believed to belong to Mark, was
present at the address, but did not observe anything else. Two and a half hours later, Defendant
Rogers relieved Wines and began his surveillance. He contacted Barbuto who informed him that
Mark might also be in possession of either a dark brown Chevy Impala2 or Pontiac Grand Am.3
The Chevy Impala belonged to a woman with whom Mark was having an affair.
The Grand Am was the car that Ms. Valentino regularly drove, and it was registered to
At approximately 8:15 p.m., Rogers observed a dark-colored Grand Am arrive at the
residence. He saw people get out of the car and enter the residence, and then observed Ms.
Valentino, another person, and several children get into the Grand Am. Based on this
information, Haus reasonably believed that Mark might be in the Grand Am and made the
decision to conduct a traffic stop. Haus notified Barbuto and Starling that they were pulling over
a car that was suspected to contain Mark and gave them the intersection of the traffic stop.
The Grand Am was stopped by approximately four squad cars, and the occupants were
ordered to place their hands in the air. KPD officers approached the car with their guns drawn
and discovered that Mark was not present; Gloria Tritt, Mark’s former mother-in-law, was the
person in the passenger seat, Ms. Valentino was the driver, and Ms. Valentino’s three children
were in the backseat. Ms. Valentino was ordered to throw the keys out of the car and then to exit
the vehicle. She was then ordered to kneel down in the street, whereupon she was handcuffed
and placed in the rear seat of a KPD squad car with an officer guarding her to make sure she did
not flee. Ms. Tritt was also ordered out of the car and handcuffed; however, her handcuffs were
removed approximately one minute after they were put on. Officers then began asking Ms.
Valentino about the whereabouts of her husband, Mark. Ms. Valentino repeatedly told the
officers that she did not know where her husband was, but they did not believe her and continued
questioning her regarding his whereabouts. The officers threatened to tow her car, take her to
jail, and call Child Protective Services (“CPS”) to take her children away from her if she did not
A minute or two after the Grand Am was pulled over, Barbuto and Starling arrived at the
scene. Once there, Barbuto also began questioning Ms. Valentino regarding the whereabouts of
her husband. Ms. Valentino repeatedly told him that she did not know. Approximately thirty
minutes into the questioning, the KPD officer who was guarding Ms. Valentino removed her
handcuffs. Ms. Valentino and Barbuto continued their conversation outside. Due to the repeated
questioning, at some point during their conversation Ms. Valentino asked Barbuto if she needed
a lawyer; he assured her she did not as long as she did nothing wrong.
The questioning continued outside, where, due to the extremely wet summer, there were a
lot of mosquitos present. Barbuto asked Ms. Valentino if she would like to continue their
conversation downtown to get away from all of the bugs. She was informed that Ms. Tritt could
take the car and her children home so Ms. Valentino could accompany the officers to the police
station. Ms. Valentino responded that she preferred to go with her children; however, Barbuto
assured her that she was going to be questioned more—whether that was outside with the bugs or
downtown. Ms. Valentino thus accompanied Barbuto and other officers to the police station in a
KPD squad car. Ms. Tritt drove Ms. Valentino’s car, with her three children inside, to her home.
Once at the police station, Ms. Valentino’s personal belongings were taken from her and
she was led into an interview room, where she was questioned by Barbuto. Barbuto assured Ms.
Valentino that she was not under arrest and that she did not have to talk with him. During their
discussion, Ms. Valentino informed Barbuto that she had been communicating via text messages
with Mark that day. Barbuto thus asked Ms. Valentino if she would consent to a search of her
cell phone so he could read those text messages, but she declined. Ms. Valentino inquired about
her potential culpability as an accessory to the murder due to her communications with Mark, but
Barbuto again assured her that she was not under arrest. Later in the interview, Ms. Valentino
agreed to the search of her cell phone and signed the consent form.
About halfway through the interview, Starling entered the room and introduced himself
to Ms. Valentino. The three of them reviewed her text messages with Mark and engaged Mark
in a new conversation, hiding the fact that Ms. Valentino was working with the police. They set
up a rendezvous whereby Mark would meet Ms. Valentino and the police would intervene to
Haus arranged for Ms. Valentino to be transported back to her car. She then drove, albeit
escorted by police, to the meet-location; however, police encountered Mark en route before he
met Ms. Valentino. A high-speed chase ensued, and Mark was arrested by KPD officers. After
Mark was successfully apprehended, Ms. Valentino requested to go home; however, she was
informed that she needed to go back to the police station to ensure Barbuto and Starling were
through questioning her. Once she arrived back at the police station, she was informed that she
was free to go at approximately 1:00 a.m. on July 7, 2010. Ms. Valentino requested that her cell
phone be returned to her; however, the officers informed her that they needed to keep it in order
to retrieve the information from it. Ms. Valentino’s cell phone was never returned.
Mark was subsequently charged and convicted of numerous counts and sentenced to
twenty-three years to life in prison. Ms. Valentino was never charged with any crime. Ms.
Valentino subsequently sued the KPD on February 25, 2011, in Howard County Superior Court.
She amended her complaint on June 11, 2012, adding additional Defendants and federal claims.
The Defendants properly removed the case to this Court on July 2, 2012.
In her amended complaint, Ms. Valentino brings the following counts against the
Defendants: 1) a section 1983 claim for violations of the Fourth Amendment4 against the
Kokomo and Ohio Defendants; 2) a section 1983 claim for conspiracy by the Kokomo and Ohio
Ms. Valentino has decided not to pursue her constitutional claims under the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments as alleged in Count I of her amended complaint. See Pl.’s Response at
14, n. 9.
Defendants; 3) an Indiana claim for false arrest/imprisonment against the Kokomo and Ohio
Defendants; 4) a respondeat superior claim against Defendants Baker and the KPD; and 5) a
negligent training and supervision claim against Defendant Baker.5 The Defendants move for
summary judgment on all counts. Their arguments will be addressed, in turn, below.
A. Fourth Amendment Claim Against the Ohio and Kokomo Defendants
In Count I of her complaint, Ms. Valentino brings a section 1983 claim against the Ohio
and Kokomo Defendants for violating her Fourth Amendment rights. Specifically, she alleges
that the “stopping, detaining, interrogating and transporting Valentino to the KPD headquarters
constituted an arrest”6 for which the Defendants had no warrant or probable cause. Pl.’s
Complaint at 5. The Defendants claim they are entitled to qualified immunity on Ms.
Valentino’s Fourth Amendment claim.
Qualified immunity involves a two-part inquiry. The Court must determine whether the
facts that Ms. Valentino has alleged make out a constitutional violation. If there was a
constitutional violation, then the Court queries whether the right violated by the Defendants was
clearly established. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001); see also Pearson v. Callahan, 555
U.S. 223, 232 (2009). In short, “[q]ualified immunity is applicable unless the official’s conduct
violated a clearly established constitutional right.” Pearson, 555 U.S. at 232. In Pearson, the
Supreme Court held that judges “should be permitted to exercise their sound discretion in
Ms. Valentino has elected not to pursue her official capacity constitutional claims
against Defendants Baker and Thorp as alleged in Counts IV and V of her amended complaint.
See Pl.’s Response at 14, n. 9. She also voluntarily dismissed her claim of a public records
violation as alleged in Count X of her amended complaint. See Kokomo Defs.’ Brief at 8.
For the purpose of its analysis, the Court will refer to Ms. Valentino’s Fourth
Amendment claim as one for an unlawful seizure. See Gonzalez v. Vill. of W. Milwaukee, 971
F.3d 649, 655 (7th Cir. 2012) (“‘False arrest’ is shorthand for an unreasonable seizure prohibited
by the Fourth Amendment.”).
deciding which of the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first in
light of the circumstances in the particular case at hand.” Id. at 236. In the instant case, the Court
believes that it is most appropriate to begin with the first inquiry—did the Ohio and Kokomo
Defendants violate Ms. Valentino’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful seizure?
While Ms. Valentino alleges that the “events of July 6, 2010, are not two separate events,
but constitute a single, unlawful seizure of Valentino lasting approximately four and a half
hours[,]” Pl.’s Response at 16, the Court believes it is appropriate to analyze the night’s events in
order—beginning first with the initial traffic stop and proceeding to Ms. Valentino’s
transportation to the KPD headquarters and her continued interrogation once there. This way,
the Court can accurately analyze whether Ms. Valentino remained unlawfully “seized” for the
purposes of the Fourth Amendment for the entire four and a half hours.
1. Violation of Fourth Amendment Right: The Traffic Stop
Before the Court analyzes whether the traffic stop constituted an unlawful seizure,
Barbuto and Starling argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because they were not
personally involved in alleged unconstitutional acts during the traffic stop. Barbuto and Starling
are correct that in order for § 1983 liability to attach, they have to be found personally
responsible for Ms. Valentino’s constitutional deprivations. See Doyle v. Camelot Care Centers,
Inc., 305 F.3d 603, 614 (7th Cir. 2002) (“It is well-established that a plaintiff only may bring a §
1983 claim against those individuals personally responsible for the constitutional deprivation.”).
They argue that they arrived to the scene after the stop had already been completed and Ms.
Valentino was in handcuffs, and it was KPD officers who did most of the questioning and
managed the scene.
The Court finds that Ms. Valentino has alleged sufficient facts alleging that Barbuto was
personally involved in her alleged Fourth Amendment violation at the traffic stop. She states
that Barbuto questioned her at the scene, and that it was his idea to continue their conversation at
the police station—this is sufficient, despite Barbuto’s argument to the contrary, to find Barbuto
to be personally involved with respect to section 1983 liability. The same cannot be said,
however, with regard to Starling’s participation at the traffic stop. Ms. Valentino has failed to
allege that Starling played any role in the initial traffic stop. See Pl.’s Dep. at 68: 21-22 (“I didn’t
hear a whole lot from Mr. Starling until we were downtown.”); see also id. at 230: 6-7 (“My
interaction with him [Starling] was actually quite brief and limited that evening.”). At the
summary judgment phase, Ms. Valentino needed to “show what evidence [she] has that would
convince a trier of fact to accept [her] version of events.” Johnson v. Cambridge, 325 F.3d 892,
901 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Schact v. Wisconsin Dep’t of Corr., 175 F.3d 497, 504 (7th Cir.
1999) (internal quotations omitted)).7 Accordingly, the Court finds that Starling cannot be liable
for any unconstitutional acts during the traffic stop, but will address his participation in the
questioning at the KPD headquarters below.
Turning now to the traffic stop, Ms. Valentino concedes that her initial seizure by the
KPD officers was lawful pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16 (1968), which allows officers
to conduce investigatory stops when they “can ‘point to specific and articulable facts which,
Ms. Valentino incorrectly states that because “Starling proffers no evidence to suggest
that his participation was incidental, the Court must draw the inference most favorable to
Valentino, i.e., that Starling did actively participate.” Pl.’s Response at 19. First, Starling does
argue that his involvement in the traffic stop does not meet the personal involvement standard
under section 1983. Further, Ms. Valentino has produced no evidence suggesting Starling had
any involvement other than being present at the scene. At the summary judgment phase, Ms.
Valentino needed to allege sufficient facts such that a reasonable juror could find in her favor.
She has failed to do so with respect to Starling’s involvement in the traffic stop.
taken together with the rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant an intrusion.’”
Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1062 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Terry, 392 U.S. at 21).
However, she argues that “KPD’s initial, reasonable and justified Terry stop became a de facto
arrest when the Defendants (both Ohio and KPD) continued to hold Valentino in custody, long
after they had achieved the stated objectives of the stop.” Pl.’s Response at 28. The Defendants
were justified in her initial seizure because they reasonably believed Mark might be in the car
and/or that evidence of the murder might be found in the car. Once the Defendants achieved
their stated purposes, Ms. Valentino argues, the Terry stop should have ended.
A Terry stop “must be reasonably related in scope and duration to the circumstances that
justified the stop in the first instance so that it is a minimal intrusion on the individual’s Fourth
Amendment interests.” United States v. Bullock, 632 F.3d 1004, 1015 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting
United States v. Robinson, 30 F.3d 774, 784 (7th Cir. 1994)). A detention goes beyond the
permissible scope of a Terry stop if the officers’ actions amount to a “formal arrest or restraint
on freedom of movement of the degree associated with a formal arrest.” Stansbury v. California,
511 U.S. 318, 322 (1994); see also Bullock, 632 F.3d at 1015 (stating that if a Terry stop exceeds
its proper scope by continuing too long or becoming unreasonably intrusive it “can ripen into a
de facto arrest”). Therefore, the Court must determine whether additional actions and a
continued detention were reasonably related to the circumstances that justified stopping Ms.
Valentino’s car in the first place. See Bullock, 632 F.3d at 1015 (noting that a court should
consider “the law enforcement purposes to be served by the stop, the time reasonably needed to
effectuate those purposes, and whether the police diligently pursued their investigation” in
determining the reasonableness of the stop).
The Court agrees with the Defendants that it was permissible, pursuant to their lawful
Terry stop, to order Ms. Valentino out of the car, order her to the ground, and even briefly
handcuff her to perform a protective search to ensure she had no weapons—the officers
reasonably believed the weapons Mark stole from Ohio might have been in the car. Further, the
Court believes that it was permissible to conduct a brief interview with Ms. Valentino, as she
was the wife of a murder suspect—questioning who she was, if she knew where Mark was, when
she last spoke to him, and what he said to her were all questions within the bounds of the
investigation the officers were conducting when they performed their lawful Terry stop. All of
these questions were reasonably related to the initial stop’s purpose: locating Mark. However,
this is where the Court parts ways with the Defendants. In detaining and repeatedly questioning
Ms. Valentino for forty-five minutes, the Court finds that the officers went beyond the
permissible scope of their lawful Terry stop.
It was clear from the moment Ms. Valentino and Ms. Tritt exited the car that Mark was
not present, as Ms. Tritt was the only adult passenger in the car who was unknown8 and
suspected to be Mark. The officers had no evidence linking Ms. Valentino to the murder in
Ohio—she was not a suspect. Further, Ms. Valentino was not a danger to the officers—they
frisked her and found no weapons or contraband on her person. It is questionable, therefore, why
the officers felt the need to detain Ms. Valentino in handcuffs, in the back of a squad car,
guarded by a KPD officer for approximately thirty minutes. This is compounded by the fact that
Ms. Tritt’s handcuffs were removed almost immediately after they were put on. See Tritt Dep. at
85:19-86:5 (stating she was probably only in the handcuffs for a minute). Ms. Tritt was allowed
In observing the people get into the Grant Am, the officers did not know whether Ms.
Tritt was male or female and thus suspected she could have been Mark.
to remain outside the Grand Am, close to the children, with no restraints while she was
questioned by the officers.
Ms. Valentino noted that the officer guarding her while she was detained in the car finally
removed her handcuffs:
The officer posted to stand watch on me kept motioning to the Ohio detectives
and his superior officers asking if he could take me out of the cuffs. They were
looking right at him and would deliberately turn around the other direction, at
which point the officer actually looked at me semi-unprofessionally but, hey, I
was thankful and said, “Fuck it. Stand up. I’m making an executive decision.”
And he took my cuffs off because he said, “Because obviously you’re not running
Pl.’s Dep. at 67: 1-11. Ms. Valentino was cooperative with the police, she was responsive to
their questioning, and did not resist or attempt to flee from the officers. Once the officers
realized Ms. Valentino was not a danger or a threat, there was no need to keep her handcuffed
and detained in the back of a squad car. The Defendants make much about the fact that Ms.
Valentino’s handcuffs were eventually removed whereupon she was allowed to exit the squad
car. However, this ignores the fact that this occurred just prior to her transportation downtown,
and that while unrestrained Ms. Valentino alleges “[t]he officers were flanking [her] sides pretty
much the whole time.” Id. at 72: 16-17. This cuts against any argument by the Defendants that
Ms. Valentino’s seizure ended once she was allowed to leave the squad car and her handcuffs
Further, the repeated questioning was unnecessary and extended the length of her
detainment beyond the permissible bounds of Terry. See id. at 64: 12-15 (“[O]ne person would
ask me a few more questions and then somebody else would come back and ask me the same
questions and I still didn’t have the answer they wanted.”). It is obvious that the officers,
without any proof, thought Ms. Valentino was not being truthful:
And I had to answer that same question [When was the last time you saw Mark?]
probably three times over before at some point that officer looked at me and said,
“Are you lying to me right now? Is there anything you’re lying to me about?” At
which point Lieutenant Haus walked up and said, “Yeah, she is. Everything she’s
saying is. She’s full of shit.”
Id. 60: 5-11. Ms. Valentino was truthful with the officers that she did not know where Mark
was. She told them all she knew—that she had been with him that morning and he had been
texting her during the day. The officers also threatened Ms. Valentino, perhaps thinking that
would make her become more forthcoming. See id. at 61: 15-17 (“Lieutenant Haus looked at me
and said, “Do you realize I could take your children and take you to jail right now?”). Being
subjected to repeated, harassing questions—when she was not suspected of committing any
crime—as well as being threatened was certainly not within the scope of the permissible Terry
stop in this instance. Once the officers realized Mark was not in the car and obtained the
information from Ms. Valentino regarding her husband—even if it was not the information they
hoped for—pursuant to Terry, the stop should have ended, and Ms. Valentino should have been
permitted to leave. A reasonable jury could find that Ms. Valentino’s Forth Amendment rights
were violated by the officers’ actions in repeatedly questioning her, handcuffed, in the back of a
squad car, guarded by a KPD officer for thirty minutes.
2. Violation of Fourth Amendment Right: Ms. Valentino’s Transportation to the KPD
Rather than being allowed to leave with her children, Ms. Valentino was placed, again, in
the back of a squad car and transported to the police station. See id. at 93:14-16 (“I asked at one
point if I could take my own car . . . and I was told no.”). The Defendants paint this encounter as
“voluntary”; however, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Ms. Valentino, a
reasonable jury could find otherwise. As Ms. Valentino recalls:
[A]t some point someone looked at me and said, ‘Is it okay if Gloria takes your
car and your kids to her house because we’re going downtown.’ [I said,] I’d kind
of rather be going with them if it’s all the same to you. I mean, I don’t have the
information you want, where is Mark? [The officer replied,] Yeah. Well, that’s
not going to happen.
Id. at 68: 6-14. She alleges that Barbuto told her, “whether we have the discussion here or we’re
going downtown, you’re still stuck. We’re staying here and talking. Either we can go down
there and be away from the bugs or we can sit here and do it but we’re still doing this.”9 Id. at 78:
17-21. As Ms. Valentino stated, “the whole situation did not break down to free choice.” Id. at
91: 1. Essentially, Ms. Valentino’s “choice” was either: 1) cooperate with the police and go
downtown; or 2) be taken to jail, have her car towed, and have CPS called for her children. A
reasonable jury, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, could find that Ms.
Valentino’s decision to go to the police station was not voluntary, and that her seizure continued
as she was transported to the KPD headquarters.
3. Violation of Fourth Amendment Right: Ms. Valentino’s Interview at the KPD
It is a closer question as to whether Ms. Valentino’s seizure continued during her
interview with Barbuto and Starling at the police station. “So long as a reasonable person would
feel free ‘to disregard the police and go about his business’ the encounter is consensual” and no
seizure has occurred. Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 434 (1991) (quoting California v. Hodari
D., 499 U.S. 621, 628 (1991)). Only when “taking into account all of the circumstances
surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would ‘have communicated to a reasonable person
that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business’” is the
individual seized for Fourth Amendment purposes. Id. at 437 (quoting Michigan v. Chesternut,
The Court notes that Barbuto may not have exactly said these words, as Ms. Valentino
does not recall specifically what he said. Nevertheless, she stated that these words conveyed the
“general idea” of what Barbuto said.
486 U.S. 567, 569 (1988)). “Factors relevant to this determination include ‘the threatening
presence of several officers, the display of a weapon by an officer, some physical touching of the
person of the citizen, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the
officer’s request might be compelled.’” United States v. Packer, 15 F.3d 654, 657 (7th Cir. 1994)
(quoting United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554-55 (1980)). Courts have also
considered “whether the encounter occurred in a public or private place; whether the suspect
consented to talk with the law enforcement agents; whether the agents informed the suspect that
he was not under arrest and was free to leave; [and] whether the agents removed the suspect to
another area.” United States v. Adebayo, 985 F.2d 1333, 1338 (7th Cir. 1993).
Once Ms. Valentino arrived at the KPD headquarters, she was placed in a locked,
according to Ms. Valentino, interrogation room and questioned by Barbuto and Starling. Both
were wearing plain clothes, and neither brandished any weapons. At the start of the interview,
Barbuto termed the interview as “voluntary” and, again, assured Ms. Valentino that she was not
under arrest. Ms. Valentino was allowed to leave the restroom, although there were officers who
stood outside the door to ensure she did not leave. Ms. Valentino was not handcuffed during the
interview, nor was she physically touched in any way. Ms. Valentino was deprived of the use of
her car, as she was not permitted to drive herself to the KPD headquarters, as well as her other
personal belongings. When she was finally taken to her own car to help the police with their setup to capture Mark, she was tailed by officers the entire way to the rendezvous location. Once
Mark was finally captured, she still was not allowed to leave, but rather, had to accompany the
officers back to the KPD headquarters where, finally, at 1:00 a.m. she was permitted to leave.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Ms. Valentino, the Court believes
that a reasonable jury could find that Ms. Valentino remained seized throughout the entire
interview. Along with the details cited above, Ms. Valentino had been threatened with the loss
of her children if she didn’t cooperate—it is evident from the video of the interview that she was
concerned about her children. See Dkt. No. 55 at 34: 6-7 (“Like I said, my only goal is to get out
of here as soon as possible and get to my children.”); see also Pl.’s Dep. at 97: 20 (stating that
before she got to the interrogation room she “had been threatened and intimidated
unimaginably”). The Court finds that a jury could conclude that a reasonable person in Ms.
Valentino’s shoes would not have felt free to leave the interrogation room, disregard the officers’
questions and demands, and go about her business.
While the Defendants make much ado about the fact that she never asked if she could
leave, it is questionable how, even if she did ask, Ms. Valentino would have thought she was
allowed to leave as she did not have any of her personal belongings nor her car. Even when Ms.
Valentino asked for her purse so she could obtain her chapstick, her purse was not returned to
her; officers went through her purse, found the chapstick, and then brought only that to her. See
dkt. no. 60 at 55:30-57:10. Further, while the Defendants are correct that Barbuto did term the
interview as “voluntary,” this is merely one factor in analyzing whether a person was seized for
the purposes of the Fourth Amendment. In fact, Ms. Valentino questioned the “voluntariness” of
the interview from the start stating, “[r]ealistically, you guys have personal – my personal
belongings and can search them, even though everyone is stating that I’m not under suspicion.”
Ohio Defs.’ Brief at 7. At the summary judgment phase, the Court finds that Ms. Valentino has
alleged sufficient facts such that a reasonable jury could conclude she was unlawfully seized for
the duration of her interactions with the police on July 6-7, 2010.
4. Clearly Established Right
Finding that a reasonable jury could find that Ms. Valentino’s constitutional rights were
violated, the Court proceeds to the second step in the qualified immunity analysis. In order to
meet her burden, Ms. Valentino can show either a “clearly analogous case establishing a right to
be free from the specific conduct at issue” or “conduct [that] is so egregious that no reasonable
person could have believed that it would not violate clearly established rights.” Chelios v.
Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 691 (7th Cir. 2008). Here, the Court believes that Ms. Valentino has
met her burden. Ms. Valentino was handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car guarded by
a KPD officer for thirty minutes while she was repeatedly asked the same questions regarding
Mark. Unsatisfied with her answers, her veracity was questioned and she was threatened with
being taken to jail and the loss of her children. She was then told that instead of being allowed to
leave with her children and Ms. Tritt, she had to continue being questioned by officers
downtown. She was taken to the KPD headquarters in a KPD squad car and further questioned
in a locked interrogation room. Even after she fully cooperated with the officers and Mark was
captured, she was still not allowed to leave, but rather had to go back downtown to ensure the
officers were “done with” her. The Court believes that viewing the facts in the light most
favorable to Ms. Valentino, a jury could find that no reasonable officer would believe a seizure
under these facts was lawful. Accordingly, a finding of qualified immunity is precluded, and the
Court will not grant summary judgment on that ground.
B. Section 1983 Conspiracy Claim Against the Ohio and Kokomo Defendants
In Count II of her complaint, Ms. Valentino brings a section 1983 conspiracy claim
against the Kokomo and Ohio Defendants, alleging that they agreed to unlawfully arrest her and
confine her in a police vehicle without a valid warrant or probable cause. “[T]o establish a prima
facie case of a civil conspiracy, a plaintiff must show (1) an express or implied agreement among
defendants to deprive plaintiff of his or her constitutional rights and (2) actual deprivations of
those rights in the form of overt acts in furtherance of the agreement.” Scherer v. Balkema, 840
F.2d 437, 442 (7th Cir. 1988). All Defendants argue that there is no evidence that any of them
agreed to violate Ms. Valentino’s rights. Ms. Valentino has not produced any evidence of this
agreement, and as such, summary judgment is GRANTED as to all Defendants on Count II of
her complaint. See Johnson, 325 F.3d at 901 (“As we have said before, summary judgment is the
put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would
convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events.”) (quoting Schact, 175 F.3d at 504
(internal quotations omitted)).
C. False Arrest/Imprisonment Claims Against the Kokomo and Ohio Defendants
Counts VI and VII are brought against the Kokomo and Ohio Defendants respectively for
false arrest/imprisonment in violation of Indiana law. “[F]alse imprisonment is defined as the
unlawful restraint upon one’s freedom of movement or the deprivation of one’s liberty without
consent.” Earles v. Perkins, 788 N.E.2d 1260, 1265 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003). Based on the above
analysis, the Court does not believe summary judgment is warranted on Ms. Valentino’s false
arrest claims. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Ms. Valentino, a reasonable jury
could find that the actions taken by the Defendants during the initial traffic stop and those taken
during her transportation to and interrogation at the KPD headquarters restrained her freedom of
movement. Accordingly, summary judgment is DENIED on Ms. Valentino’s false
D. Respondeat Superior Claim Against Defendants Baker and the KPD
Count VIII is brought against Defendants Baker, Chief of the KPD, and the KPD under a
theory of respondeat superior. “Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is liable
for the acts of its employees which were committed within the course and scope of their
employment.” City of Fort Wayne v. Moore, 706 N.E.2d 604, 607 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999).
Defendants Baker and the KPD simply argue that Ms. Valentino cited nothing to support her
claim; however, the Court does not agree. Ms. Valentino alleges that “[i]t is undisputed that the
KPD Defendants were acting within the scope of their employment. Thus, if they falsely
arrested and/or imprisoned Valentino, it is the employer, the Kokomo Police Department, that is
liable for those tortious acts.” Pl.’s Response at 32. The Court agrees. Because summary
judgment was denied on Ms. Valentino’s claim for false arrest/imprisonment, the Court cannot
grant summary judgment on her respondeat superior claim.
E. Negligent Training and Supervision Claim Against Defendant Baker
Finally, Ms. Valentino alleges in Count IX of her complaint that Defendant Baker is
liable for negligently training and/or supervising the KPD officers. Defendant Baker argues he is
entitled to summary judgment as Ms. Valentino has alleged no facts to support this claim. The
Court agrees. She has offered no evidence that this incident resulted from a failure to train or
supervise on the part of Defendant Baker other than what was alleged in her amended
complaint—that Baker breached a duty owed to Ms. Valentino by failing to train and supervise
the KPD officers. Again, at the summary judgment phase, Ms. Valentino needed to allege
sufficient facts such that it would be reasonable for a jury to find in her favor. She has failed to
do so. Accordingly, summary judgment on Count IX of her complaint is GRANTED as to
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants Chris Barbuto, David Starling, and Randy Thorp’s
motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 56) as well as Defendants Gray, Shawn Haus, the
Kokomo Police Department, Jeff Packard, Chad Rogers, and Brent Wines’ motion for summary
judgment (dkt. no. 57) are GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
SO ORDERED: 01/27/2014
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Copies to all counsel of record via electronic communication
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?