May 15--TERRE HAUTE -- Terre Haute and dozens of other Hoosier cities and towns may be in the final stage of a lawsuit involving police dogs trained at the Vohne Liche Kennels of northern Indiana.
City Attorney Chou-il Lee told the Board of Public Works and Safety Monday that the plaintiff in the suit, Kevin D. Miller of Schererville, is asking a federal judge to dismiss the portion of his lawsuit directed against Terre Haute and other entities that use dogs trained for drug detection at the Vohne Liche Kennels.
Miller is still suing the kennel, American Working Dogs United and Paul E. Whitesell in his capacity as the ex-officio chairman of the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board.
Miller's complaint, filed in federal court in January, states he and his wife were stopped in the town of Plymouth while driving from Munster to Fort Wayne. The complaint states that a Plymouth K-9 officer told Miller that his police dog detected drugs in the couple's car and Miller was ordered out of the vehicle where the dog sniffed his person. The dog then entered the car with Miller's wife inside, the complaint stated. Miller also was handcuffed after threatening to sue the officer, the complaint states.
Miller was not charged or taken to jail. No drugs were found in the vehicle.
Originally, Miller's suit, if successful, would have barred dogs trained at the Vohne Liche Kennels from being used in traffic stops. The K-9s used by the Terre Haute Police Department were trained at the kennels, which are in Denver, Ind., south of South Bend.
Lee told the Board of Works that the approximately 50 cities, towns and other entities named in the suit have asked the federal court to dismiss the case. Miller would be required to respond to each of those motions, he said.
Earlier this year, Lee asked the Board of Works to hire the Indianapolis law firm of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister to handle the case, which the board agreed to do. Lee works for the Taft firm, which handled the case for Terre Haute and about 14 other cities. The cities pooled their costs for the defense, significantly cutting their legal costs, Lee said.
The Board of Works approved paying a $650 invoice to the Taft Firm Monday. An additional invoice is expected, bringing the total cost to about $1,000, Lee said after the meeting.
n The Board of Works also voted to approve a request from the Terre Haute Police Department to seek a financial proposal for a four-year municipal lease for $501,407 to purchase 21 new police vehicles.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or [email protected].
Copyright 2012 - The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.