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Wilson-Trattner v. Campbell

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 11, 2017

Jennifer R. Wilson-Trattner, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Robert Campbell, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued March 27, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. l:14-cv-1083-LJM-DML - Larry J. McKinney, Judge.

          Before Bauer and Easterbrook, Circuit Judges, and DeGuilio, District Judge. [*]

          DeGuilio, District Judge.

         In this appeal, the Plaintiff argues that the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment for the defense on three of her claims: a substantive due process claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a failure to train claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim under Indiana law. Each of these is based on allegations that officers of the Hancock County, Indiana Sher-riff's Department improperly responded to the Plaintiff's complaints of domestic abuse. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I.

         Plaintiff Jennifer Wilson-Trattner began dating Scott Roeger (then a deputy with the Hancock County Sherriffs Department) in 2010. By 2012, the couple's relationship had become combative. The allegations in this case center on four incidents that followed.[1]

         First, on June 17, 2012, Roeger locked Wilson-Trattner out of her house by stealing her house key and reprogramming her garage door opener. When she called the police, officers from both Hancock County and another agency, the McCordsville, Indiana Police Department, responded. Lieutenant Jeff Rasche of Hancock County asked Roeger to return the key to Wilson-Trattner, but Roeger refused. Wilson-Trattner also showed Rasche a text message she had received from Roeger that said "you have fucked with the wrong person, " though Rasche did not find that message inappropriate. Rasche later told Wilson-Trattner "we can't help you; this is between you and him." He also instructed Roeger that, though Roeger's personal life is not typically a department issue, it becomes a department issue when Wilson-Trattner contacts the police. Rasche drafted an internal memorandum regarding this incident, though no disciplinary action was taken against Roeger.

         On June 29, 2012, Roeger became angry after learning that Wilson-Trattner had made plans on his night off. He yelled at her, threw her against a wall and choked her to the point she couldn't speak. Wilson-Trattner wanted to avoid an official police response, so she called an officer she believed to be off-duty to get Roeger out of her house. That officer then called his supervisor and four or five officers ultimately arrived at Wilson-Trattner's home from both the Hancock County and McCordsville departments. They first spoke with Roeger downstairs, who told them that Wilson-Trattner had hit him and that he pushed her away to defend himself. They then met with Wilson-Trattner, who was upstairs in her bedroom, and told her that she could go to jail based on what Roeger had said. Wilson-Trattner felt intimidated and was too scared to fully provide her side of the story. Rather, she denied Roeger's account, stated that she did not hit Roeger until he slammed her head into the wall and declined to talk further. A McCordsville officer encouraged her to speak when she was ready to do so and left her with a domestic violence handout and a business card.

         Following this incident, Hancock County Deputy Jarrod Bradbury drafted a memorandum to Captain Bobby Campbell, which stated that Roeger had been ordered to not return to Wilson-Trattner's house or contact her. Hancock County Sheriff Mike Shepherd also assigned Detective Ted Munden to draft a report. Munden spoke with Wilson-Trattner, but she was unwilling to discuss the incident and said that she did not want Roeger to get in trouble. Munden also interviewed Roeger, who said that he had acted in self-defense. Munden concluded that Roeger had violated departmental regulations, though did not specifically recommend any personnel action. While Munden delivered his report to Shepherd on or before July 23, 2012, Shepherd does not remember receiving it. He later found it in a filing cabinet, though does not recall putting it there.

         On July 8, 2013, Roeger became angry after seeing Wilson-Trattner get a phone call from another man. He sent that man and Wilson-Trattner numerous lewd and threatening text messages, including sexually explicit photos and videos of Wilson-Trattner. He also told Wilson-Trattner that she had "fucked with the wrong person" and wished that she would die. This prompted Wilson-Trattner to file a formal complaint with Campbell. Campbell said he did not see anything threatening about Roeger's text messages. He told Wilson-Trattner that he was "sick of dealing with this shit" and that she "shouldn't call [Hancock County] for this personal shit." He then advised her to obtain a protective order. There is no evidence that she ever did so. Campbell also told Roeger that his conduct was inappropriate and instructed him not to contact Wilson-Trattner. Campbell initiated an internal investigation, though says he misplaced the investigation paperwork in the trunk of his car. He never delivered the findings of his investigation to Shepherd.

         Things culminated on October 6, 2013, when Roeger broke into Wilson-Trattner's house while he was extremely intoxicated. When Wilson-Trattner confronted him, he pushed her out of the way. He then saw a male friend of Wilson-Trattner's and became enraged. He screamed and punched a hole in a door and knocked three pictures off of the wall. He left the house briefly, only to return and threaten Wilson-Trattner and her friend. Wilson-Trattner's friend then called 911 and Roeger left before the police arrived. Hancock County Deputy Gary Achor responded and told Wilson-Trattner "we're sick of getting these calls from you" and "if you keep crying wolf, we're just going to stop responding." The McCordsville Department subsequently arrested Roeger. He pled guilty to criminal charges and resigned from the Hancock County Sherriff's Department following the initiation of termination proceedings against him.

         Wilson-Trattner filed this lawsuit on June 27, 2014 against Roeger, Shepherd, Campbell and Munden, as well as Hancock County Officer Brad Burkhart.[2] On summary judgment, as is relevant here, the district court granted judgment for the defense on Wilson-Trattner's § 1983 substantive due process claim (against Shepherd, Campbell, Munden, Burkhart and Roeger in their individual and official capacities), § 1983 failure to train claim (against Shepherd in his official capacity) and intentional infliction of emotional distress claim (against Shepherd in his official capacity). It declined to grant judgment on the battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against ...


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