Court affirms dismissal of lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision to dismiss a man’s Section 1983 lawsuit claiming malicious prosecution by a police officer and bank, finding the man never presented a viable constitutional violation to support the claim.

Marshall Welton had a line of credit with National Bank of Indianapolis for seven years, but in March 2002, the bank declined to extend the line of credit and asked him to pay off the balance. The bank and Welton reached an agreement in 2006 to pay off the debt. Welton sent checks to NBI that were never cashed; he later sent a certified check in the amount of the uncashed checks.

George Kelley, the bank’s vice president of loan administration, contacted Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Shani Anderson to initiate a criminal investigation against Welton. Welton was eventually charged with felony theft and fraud on a financial institution, but found not guilty of both crimes in 2011.

He then sued Anderson, Keely and the bank, alleging their actions resulted in malicious prosecution and denied him rights under the Fourth and 14th amendments. He also said their actions were malicious prosecution under state law. The defendants moved to dismiss the claims, which the District Court granted. After dismissing the federal claims, the judge declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.

In Marshall G. Welton v. Shani J. Anderson, et al., 13-3336, the 7th Circuit affirmed that Welton’s Fourth Amendment claim was foreclosed by 7th Circuit precedent. The court has repeatedly rejected the concept of “continuing seizure” in the Fourth Amendment context.  In addition, Welton never presented facts suggesting a restriction on his freedom of movement. He was arrested, processed, released on his own recognizance and eventually prosecuted, Judge William Bauer wrote.  

The 14th Amendment claim must fail because it is well-settled that there is no constitutional right not to be prosecuted without probable cause, the 7th Circuit pointed out.

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