ILNews

Judge dismisses prisoner suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A federal judge in Fort Wayne has dismissed a pro se complaint against a local sheriff and jail officials because it doesn't adequately state a claim to recover for alleged sexual harassment during a weapons strip search.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon ruled in Nathan W. Romine v. Nick Yoder, et al., No. 1:08-CV-036 PS, which involved a suit from an Adams County Law Enforcement Center inmate. Romine said he was sexually harassed at the jail during a strip search for a razor blade but didn't make accusations that he was improperly touched or that the search wasn't proper.

The complaint claimed a guard snickered during the search and made "unnecessary, sexual comments" about his genitals.

In his decision, Judge Simon relied on caselaw changes in the past year from the Supreme Court of the United States to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. He relied on Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007), and Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197 (2007), that dealt with pleading standards - Twombly held that factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above speculation, while Erickson held in the context of pro se suits that complaints must be liberally construed and held to less stringent standards than those where attorneys are involved.

Interpreting those two SCOTUS rulings, the 7th Circuit in August read those two cases together in Airborne Beepers & Video Inc v. AT&T Mobility, 499 F.3d 6663 (7th Cir. 2007), to mean that "at some point, the factual detail in a complaint may be so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which defendant is entitled."

Judge Simon determined that Romine didn't state a claim and that fear of an injury that didn't occur doesn't state a claim.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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