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D.J.Y. v. Ypsilanti Community Schools

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 12, 2015

D.J.Y., by and through his Next Friend, Kelly York, Plaintiff,
v.
Ypsilanti Community Schools, Sharron Irvine, Paula Sizemore, Kimberly Ferrell, Ann Robinson, Thomas Woodard, Washtenaw County, Aaron Hendricks, Katrina Bourdeau, and Jasmine Gates, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS YPSILANTI COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, SHARRON IRVINE, PAULA SIZEMORE, KIMBERLY FERRELL, ANN ROBINSON, THOMAS WOODARD, WASHTENAW COUNTY, AARON HENDRICKS, AND KATRINA BOURDEAU'S MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS [51, 56, 57]

JUDITH E. LEVY, District Judge.

Pending before the Court are defendants Ypsilanti Community Schools, Sharron Irvine, Paula Sizemore, Kimberly Ferrell, Ann Robinson, Thomas Woodard, Washtenaw County, Aaron Hendricks, and Katrina Bourdeau's motions for judgment on the pleadings.[1] (Dkts. 51, 56, 57.) Pursuant to E.D. Mich. Local R. 7.1(f)(2), the Court will decide the motion without oral argument.

I. Background

On April 17, 2012, plaintiff, then a thirteen-year-old student at Ypsilanti Middle School, was accused by a fellow female student of inappropriately touching her in the hallway. Ann Robinson, a teacher at the school, removed plaintiff from his fourth-hour art class and required plaintiff to go to Assistant Principal Paula Sizemore's office.

Plaintiff alleges that Robinson and/or Sizemore threatened him with criminal prosecution, falsely told him that he had been caught committing a criminal act on videotape, and demanded he write out a statement concerning the incident.[2] Plaintiff further alleges that he had asked for his mother to be present at the time Robinson questioned him. Plaintiff claims that Sizemore forced him to stay in her office against her will, and that he refused to sign a statement confessing to the crime.

Plaintiff did write out a single statement stating only that "I did not do it." (Dkt. 40 at ¶ 27.) At some point, someone at the school called plaintiff's mother, who came to the school. Plaintiff's mother then removed plaintiff from the school until a videotape of the incident, which plaintiff and his mother believed would exonerate him, was reviewed.

On April 18, 2012, plaintiff's mother telephoned Sizemore to ask if she had reviewed the video footage. Sizemore was unavailable, and plaintiff alleges that Sizemore did not return his mother's call despite the fact that she left a message requesting a return phone call. On April 19, 2012, plaintiff's mother attempted to speak to Sizemore via telephone again; Sizemore was again unavailable, and plaintiff's mother left a second message.

Later on April 19, 2012, plaintiff's mother went to the school to speak to Sizemore. The two met for thirty-five minutes, during which time Sizemore stated that she had not yet been able to view the video. On April 20, 2012, plaintiff's mother again called Sizemore to inquire whether Sizemore had viewed the video; Sizemore was again unavailable and did not return the call.

On April 23, 2012, plaintiff's mother went to the school for a second time to speak to Sizemore. Plaintiff's mother was informed that Sizemore was unavailable to speak to her. On April 24, 2012, plaintiff's mother called Sizemore again, and again Sizemore was unavailable. Later on April 24, 2012, plaintiff's mother went to the school and spoke with Principal Ferrell about whether the video of the incident had been reviewed. Ferrell informed plaintiff's mother that she was unaware of the incident.

On April 26, 2012, plaintiff's mother went to the school to speak to Sizemore a third time. Plaintiff alleges that Sizemore refused to speak to his mother. Plaintiff's mother then left the school and went to the administration building, where she spoke with Sharron Irvine, the Director of Human Resources. Plaintiff's mother informed Irvine of the situation, and her concerns about the investigation.

On the evening of April 26, 2012, Sizemore telephoned plaintiff's mother. Sizemore informed her that she had viewed the video, but that it was "hard to make out" and that the school had to "clean it up" to look at it from different angles. (Dkt. 40 at ¶ 48.) At the end of the call, Sizemore and plaintiff's mother agreed to meet on April 27, 2012 to review the video.

Meanwhile, on April 26, 2012, plaintiff alleges that Sizemore contacted Deputy Aaron Hendricks, a Washtenaw County Sherriff's Department liaison officer for the school, and informed him of the allegation. Plaintiff further alleges that Sizemore did not inform Deputy Hendricks that a videotape existed of the incident. That day, Deputy Hendricks initiated a complaint against plaintiff in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, entitled a Request for Delinquency Proceedings. At some point in May 2012, Deputy Katrina Bourdeau, another Washtenaw County Sherriff's Department employee, authorized the petition.

On April 27, 2012, plaintiff alleges that Sizemore called his mother and stated that plaintiff was "off the hook" and that the video showed "another little boy grabbing her." (Id. at ¶ 56.) Sizemore is also alleged to have told Deputy Hendricks that plaintiff did not commit the crime at issue.

Plaintiff returned to Ypsilanti Middle School at some point between May 1, 2012, and May 4, 2012. During that timeframe, Thomas Woodard, a teacher at Ypsilanti Middle School, stopped plaintiff and asked him various questions about the incident. Plaintiff alleges that Woodard also witnessed the April 17, 2012 incident.

On May 16, 2012, Deputy Hendricks allegedly contacted plaintiff's mother to discuss additional allegations against plaintiff. Plaintiff's mother again removed plaintiff from school "for his own protection and safety." (Id. at ¶ 65.) At that point, Deputy Hendricks had not, according to plaintiff, interviewed plaintiff.

On July 24, 2012, Deputy Bourdeau signed off on the delinquency proceedings against plaintiff. In August 2012, plaintiff was formally charged with "CSC Fourth Degree - Forcible Contact, " a criminal offense. (Id. at ¶ 75.) On September 14, 2012, plaintiff and his mother went to Washtenaw County Circuit Court for a preliminary inquiry that was adjourned.

Also on September 14, 2012, plaintiff's mother requested a copy of the video footage of the incident from Irvine. That evening, Irvine informed plaintiff's mother that the video footage had been deleted.

On February 27, 2013, Deputy Hendricks met with the victim of the incident. At that meeting, the victim admitted that plaintiff had not inappropriately touched her. On March 27, 2013, the case against plaintiff was dismissed.

Plaintiff filed suit on April 10, 2014. On October 7, 2014, the Court granted Washtenaw County, Bourdeau and Hendricks' motion to dismiss (Dkt. 17) without prejudice, and granted leave to plaintiff to amend his complaint by October 28, 2014. (Dkt. 39.) Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on October 28, 2014. (Dkt. 40.)

Defendants Ferrell, Irvine, Robinson, Sizemore, Woodard, Bourdeau, Hendricks, Washtenaw County, and Ypsilanti Community Schools filed their answer on November 10, 2014. (Dkts. 41, 45.) Defendants Bourdeau, Hendricks, and Washtenaw County filed their motion for judgment on the pleadings on December 2, 2014. (Dkt. 51.) Defendant Sizemore filed her motion for judgment on the pleadings on December 19, 2014. (Dkt. 56.) Defendants Ferrell, Irvine, Robinson, Woodard and Ypsilanti Community Schools filed their motion for judgment on the pleadings on December 19, 2014. (Dkt. 57.) The Court has already dismissed defendant Jasmine Gates from this suit. (Dkt. 67.)

The motions are now fully briefed.

II. Legal Standard

A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) is analyzed using the same standard as for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Tucker v. Middleburg-Legacy Place, 539 F.3d 545, 549 (6th Cir. 2008).

When deciding a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all allegations as true." Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir.2012). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plausible claim need not contain "detailed factual allegations, " but it must contain more than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

III. Analysis

Plaintiff alleges the following counts against the following defendants:

1) False Arrest/Imprisonment under Michigan law against defendants Sizemore, Robinson, Woodard, Deputy Hendricks and Deputy Bourdeau.
2) Malicious Prosecution under Michigan law against Sizemore, Deputy Hendricks, and Deputy Bourdeau.
3) Unreasonable Search and Seizure under the Fourth Amendment against Sizemore, Robinson, Woodard, Deputy Hendricks, and Deputy Bourdeau.
4) Malicious Prosecution under the Fourth Amendment against Sizemore, Deputy Hendricks, and Deputy Bourdeau.
5) Constitutional Violations against Ypsilanti Community Schools and Washtenaw County.
6) Gross Negligence against Irvine, Sizemore, Ferrell, Robinson, Woodard, Deputy ...

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