COA affirms dismissal of mom’s false arrest claims

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a mother’s complaint against a deputy chief of police, which alleged he created a false affidavit for her arrest after she allegedly touched her child in an “abusive” manner.

After bystanders took offense at Heather Stone’s handling of her two-year-old child during a temper tantrum and claimed she acted abusive and committed assault, Stone filed a complaint alleging the city of Clinton and Deputy Chief of Police Doyle Wright conspired with Vermillion County deputy prosecutor Gregory Carter to charge her with a felony. Stone argued Wright executed a false probable cause affidavit asserting she touched the child in a rude, insolent or angry manner resulting in bodily injury, and that she was wrongfully arrested and held in the Vermillion County Jail.

Wright and the city filed, and were granted, a motion to dismiss Stone’s second amended complaint pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6) and asserted she failed to timely provide notice of her tort claim regarding her allegation of false arrest. The Vermillion Circuit Court then denied Stone’s motion for leave to file a third amended complaint alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal in Heather Stone v. Doyle T. Wright and The City of Clinton, Indiana, 18A-CT-3151, first finding the trial court did not err in dismissing Stone’s second amended complaint. It disagreed with Stone’s assertion that the date on which the period in the statute of limitations begins should be extended for her false arrest claims.

“In addition to the statute of limitations, we conclude that dismissal of the false arrest and false imprisonment claims was proper based upon the Indiana Tort Claims Act (‘ITCA’),” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the appellate court, concluding Stone’s ITCA notice was untimely.

The appellate court also found Stone failed to allege Wright committed the alleged acts outside the scope of his employment as a deputy chief, concluding that he acted within the scope of his employment and that the trial court did not err in dismissing the claim of malicious prosecution.

It also concluded Stone had filed her motion to leave to file a third amended complaint almost two years after her initial complaint, after the Indiana Southern District Court dismissed her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims and after the trial court dismissed her claims in June 2018. Thus, the appellate court concluded, the trial court also did not abuse its discretion in denying Stone’s motion for leave to file a third amended complaint.

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