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Friday, September 11, 2009

Ind. Decisions - Two Indiana decisions today from 7th Circuit

In Khem Bissessur v. IU Board of Trustees (SD Ind., Judge Barker), a 9-page opinion, the Supreme Court's Iqbal and Twombly decisions are discussed at length and the opinion, by Judge Williams, states in a paragraph beginning at the end of p. 7: "Our system operates on a notice pleading standard; Twombly and its progeny do not change this fact." More from the opinion:

Khem Bissessur was expelled from the Indiana University School of Optometry after receiving several sub-par grades and failing a clinical rotation. He alleges that he had a protected property interest in a continuing education at the University, which was established in an implied contract between the parties. It is the University’s violation of his entitlement to a continuing education, he asserts, that forms the basis for several constitutional claims against the University and its employees. His complaint, however, fails to identify any facts that give the defendants adequate notice of the basis for these claims. The complaint fails to state that the University made any promises to Bissessur or how it entered into a contract with him, implied or otherwise. Therefore, the district court dismissed his complaint for failure to state a claim, and we affirm. * * *

Here, Bissessur wants us to believe that the University implicitly promised him that he had a right to a continuing education, and that he promised the University “something” in return, establishing an implied contract between the two parties. This implied contract, he argues, gave him an entitlement which is the basis for his due process and other constitutional claims. His complaint, however, fails to allege any facts that even remotely relate to this theory. It provides no notice for the basis of Bissessur’s claims aside from a mere recitation of their elements. Among other things, it contains no facts concerning: (1) what, if any, promises the University made to Bissessur; (2) how these promises were communicated; (3) what Bissessur promised in return; or (4) how these promises created an implied contract. In sum, it leaves the University with no notice of what this “implied contact” is or how it supports Bissessur’s constitutional claims. So, it fails here as it would have failed in 1957. Allowing this case to proceed absent factual allegations that match the bare-bones recitation of the claims’ elements would sanction a fishing expedition costing both parties, and the court, valuable time and resources. [ILB emphasis]

In Suarez v. Town of Ogden Dunes (ND Ind., Magistrate Judge Rodovich), a 15-page opinion, Judge Tinder writes:
After the termination of their criminal proceedings, the Suarezes filed a § 1983 action against a multitude of defendants. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Suarezes’ claims fell into two basic types. First, they alleged that the search of their house and their arrests violated the Fourth Amendment. Second, William alleged that the police used unnecessary force when they arrested him. All of the defendants were awarded summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claims. Most defendants were similarly granted summary judgment on the excessive force claim, except for officers Tomasko, Smith, and Radic, who prevailed at a jury trial. The Suarezes appeal the denial of summary judgment on the illegal search and arrest claims and raise an evidentiary issue arising from the excessive force trial. They limit their appeal to their claims against the town of Ogden Dunes and six individual officers from the variety of law enforcement entities responsible for the Indiana Dunes environs. * * *

For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 11, 2009 10:58 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions