PLATT v. STATE OF INDIANA
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS - Defendant State of Indiana's 14 Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff Timothy C. Pratt shall have 21 days from the date of this Order to amend his Complaint. The failure to do so will result in dismissal of his claims without prejudice. Signed by Judge Larry J. McKinney on 8/23/2017. Copy sent to Plaintiff via US Mail. (GSO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TIMOTHY C. PLATT,
STATE OF INDIANA,
ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS
Defendant State of Indiana (“Indiana”) has filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff
Timothy C. Platt’s (“Platt’s”) Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, for lack of jurisdiction; or under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.
Dkt. No. 14. Platt, pro se, failed to respond. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is
I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
Platt was formerly employed by the Department of Correction for the State of
Indiana (“IDOC”), as a Class I Truck Driver. Compl. at 2. He claims that his two
supervisors, Ralph Ison and Candace Soltermann, discovered in the spring of 2016 that
he is an Atheist/Socialist and then began a campaign to discredit and then fire him. Id.
at 2-3. On March 24, 2017, Platt was suspended and, subsequently, his employment
was terminated on April 21, 2017. Id. On April 24, 2017, Platt filed his Complaint in which
he alleges that IDOC terminated his employment in retaliation for his religious and political
beliefs. Id. at 1-3. He cites claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the First
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Indiana Code § 4-15-2.2-24. Id. at 1-2. Platt
requests reinstatement or placement in an open position for which the State Personnel
Department determines he is qualified, and monetary relief. Id. at 5.
In considering a motion brought pursuan to Rule 12(b), the Court examines the
sufficiency of the plaintiff’s complaint as opposed to the merits of the lawsuit, and directs
dismissal only if it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff can establish no basis for
asserting personal jurisdiction. Rule 12(b)(2) permits the dismissal of a claim for lack of
jurisdiction over a person or entity. In considering a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss, the
Court reviews any affidavits and other documentary evidence that have been filed, as
long as factual disputes are resolved in favor of the non-movant – in this case Platt. See
Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520-21 (7th Cir. 1990).
Rule 12(b)(6) permits the dismissal of a claim for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted in the pleadings. A pleading must contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but a plaintiff’s complaint may not
merely state “an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcraoft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Rather, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter … to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged[,]” not when the plaintiff only raises a
“sheer possibility that the defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. “[T]he height of the
pleading requirement is relative to the circumstances[,]” Cooney v. Rossiter, 583 F.3d
967, 971 (7th Cir. 2009), and “[d]etermining the plausibility of a claim is a context-specific
task that requires [the Court] to draw on [its] judicial experience and common sense.”
Brown v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 334 Fed. Appx. 758, 759 (7th Cir. 2009).
Platt’s claim for damages against the State of Indiana must be dismissed because
states are immune from suit in federal court pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment. See
Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); Stanley v. Ind. Civil Rights Comm’n, 557 F.
Supp. 330, 333-34 (N.D. Ind. 1983), aff’d 740 F.2d 972 (7th Cir. 1984). “[T]he Eleventh
Amendment guarantees that ‘an unconsenting State is immune from suits brought in
federal courts by her own citizens as well as by citizens of another State.’” Bd. of Regents
of Univ. of Wis. Sys. v. Phoenix Int’l Software, Inc., 653 F.3d 448, 457 (7th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974)).
Further, the Indiana
Department of Correction, or the State Personnel Department, are treated like the State
of Indiana for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp.
v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984).
Although a State may waive its Eleventh
Amendment immunity or consent to suit, Indiana has not done so. See Moore v. State
of Indiana, 999 F.2d 1125, 1128-29 (1993); Lembach v. State of Indiana, 987 F. Supp.
1095, 1098 (N.D. Ind. 1997). The bar is particularly applicable to suits brought pursuant
to § 1983. See Stanley, 557 F. Supp. at 333. Therefore, Platt’s claim for damages
pursuant to § 1983 against Indiana are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
In addition, to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States and must
show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state
law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). However, a State or its agencies are
not “persons” under § 1983. See Will v. Mich. Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
(1989); see also Ross v. Ind. State Bd. of Nursing, 790 N.E.2d 110, 117 (Ind. Ct. App.
2003) (citing Severson v. Bd. of Trustees of Purdue Univ., 777 N.E.2d 1181, 1190 (Ind.
Ct. App. 2002), trans. denied). As written, the Court cannot construe the Complaint as
one against the individuals named therein; only the agencies and the State of Indiana.
As stated above, neither the agencies nor the State of Indiana are “persons” under §
1983. Therefore, Platt’s claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
If the Court liberally construes the Complaint, as it must since Platt is presenting
his claims pro se, see Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015), it could be
read as a religious discrimination claim pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
However, there is no allegation that Platt exhausted any administrative remedies that is
a prerequisite to bringing suit under Title VII. See Sauzek v. Exxon Coal USA, Inc., 202
F.3d 913, 920 (7th Cir. 2000). Platt’s Complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a
claim on this ground as well.
For the reasons stated herein, Defendant State of Indiana’s Motion to Dismiss,
Dkt. No. 14, is GRANTED. Plaintiff Timothy C. Pratt shall have 21 days from the date of
this Order to amend his Complaint. The failure to do so will result in dismissal of his
claims without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 23d day of August, 2017.
LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
TIMOTHY C. PLATT
4007 Continental Court
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Rebecca L. Loeffler
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Rebecca L. McClain
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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