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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ind. Decisions - One today re Indiana from the 7th Circuit

In Ryan Belcher and Daraina Gleason v. Vaughn Norton and Town of Orland (ND Ind. Judge Springmann), a 27-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Ripple writes:

Ryan L. Belcher and Daraina Gleason brought this action against Deputy Marshal Vaughn Norton and the Town of Orland under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They alleged that they were subject to an unlawful seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. They also alleged that their rights to procedural and substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated. They originally filed a complaint in state court, but the case subsequently was removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Mr. Belcher and Ms. Gleason timely appealed. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the district court. * * *

To resolve this issue, we must determine, as a threshold matter, what constitutes an adequate state law remedy for the purposes of procedural due process analysis. The Supreme Court has made clear that, in order to constitute an adequate remedy, the remedy provided by state law need not be the same as that available under § 1983. * * *

We now must analyze the ITCA [Indiana Tort Claims Act] in light of these principles to determine whether, in this case, the ITCA can be considered an adequate remedy. * * *

Because we conclude that Deputy Marshal Norton is entitled to the broad statutory immunity afforded by ITCA, we also must conclude that the statute does not provide an adequate state law remedy to the plaintiffs. Relegating the plaintiffs to this state statutory scheme would deprive them of any meaningful avenue to seek redress for the deprivation that they claim to have suffered. Therefore, we must conclude that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the plaintiffs’ procedural due process claim. * * *

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of the Town of Orland. We reverse the district court’s dismissal of the Fourth Amendment and procedural and substantive due process claims against the defendants because, on this record, these claims present genuine issues of triable fact. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is affirmed in part and reversed in part. The plaintiffs may recover their costs from Deputy Marshal Norton.

J. Manion, Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.: * * * Where I disagree with the court is on its conclusion that, when viewing the record in the light most favorable to Belcher and Gleason, a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that Norton violated Belcher’s and Gleason’s substantive due process rights. * * *

The whole process was unfortunately clumsy and mishandled, but by no means shocking to the conscience. Therefore, on the issue of substantive due process, I respectfully dissent.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 15, 2007 01:42 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions