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Anderson v. Muskegon Police Department

United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division

April 17, 2015

MICHAEL LYNN ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MUSKEGON POLICE DEPARTMENT et al.. Defendants.

OPINION

Janet T. Neff, United States District Judge

This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiffs allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards. Plaintiffs action will be dismissed as frivolous because it is barred by the statute of limitations.

Factual Allegations

Plaintiff is incarcerated in the E.C. Brooks Correctional Facility. He is serving a sentence of 35 to 65 years following his conviction in the Muskegon County Circuit Court for second-degree murder. In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff sues the Muskegon Police Department, County of Muskegon, City of Muskegon, Detective Emilio Treja, Assistant Prosecutor Brett Gardner, Probation Officer Karen Buie, Attorney Carl Kruger and two unknown Muskegon Police Officers.

Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested at his home by the two Defendant police officers on September 26, 2003. The following day, Plaintiff was taken before a judge for a probation violation and a hearing was scheduled for October 3, 2003. Following the hearing on October 3, the court determined that there were no grounds for finding a probation violation and ordered Plaintiff to be released. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Buie, Gardner and Treja conspired to fabricate the probation violation charge for the purpose of detaining Plaintiff in connection with a murder investigation, which constituted an illegal arrest. Plaintiff alleges that, “As a result of the 8-day delay without bringing Plaintiff to a Magistrate on murder charges, Defendants Treja and Gardner did obtain a recorded statement under duress . . ..” (Compl. ¶ 8, docket #1, Page ID#5.) According to Plaintiff, Treja and Gardner had made numerous previous attempts to speak with him about Wendy Curry’s murder, but Plaintiff had refused. Plaintiff further contends that in order to obtain an arrest warrant on the murder charge, Gardner and Treja presented false evidence and withheld exculpatory evidence. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Muskegon Police Department, City of Muskegon, County of Muskegon, Gardner, Buie and others gave false accounts of the evidence to the news media, which defamed Plaintiff’s character and prejudiced potential jurors and witnesses.

In addition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kruger, who was appointed to represent him on October 10, 2003, conspired with other Defendants to waive Plaintiff’s arraignment without consulting with Plaintiff.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and monetary damages of $250, 000.

Discussion

State statutes of limitations and tolling principles apply to determine the timeliness of claims asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268-69 (1985). For civil rights suits filed in Michigan under § 1983, the statute of limitations is three years. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(10); Carroll v. Wilkerson, 782 F.2d 44, 44 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam); Stafford v. Vaughn, No. 97-2239, 1999 WL 96990, at *1 (6th Cir. Feb. 2, 1999). Accrual of the claim for relief, however, is a question of federal law. Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220 (6th Cir. 1996); Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1984). The statute of limitations begins to run when the aggrieved party knows or has reason to know of the injury that is the basis of his action. Collyer, 98 F.3d at 220.[1]

Plaintiff’s complaint is untimely. He asserts claims arising in October 2003. Plaintiff had reason to know of the “harms” done to him at the time they occurred. Hence, his claims accrued in 2003. However, Plaintiff did not file his complaint until February 2015, well past Michigan’s three-year limit. Moreover, Michigan law no longer tolls the running of the statute of limitations when a plaintiff is incarcerated. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5851(9). Further, it is well established that ignorance of the law does not warrant equitable tolling of a statute of limitations. See Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir. 1991); Jones v. Gen. Motors Corp., 939 F.2d 380, 385 (6th Cir. 1991); Mason v. Dep’t of Justice, No. 01-5701, 2002 WL 1334756, at *2 (6th Cir. June 17, 2002).

A complaint “is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint may be dismissed as frivolous if it is time-barred by the appropriate statute of limitations. See Dellis v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508, 511 (6th Cir. 2001). The Sixth Circuit has repeatedly held that when a meritorious affirmative defense based upon the applicable statute of limitations is obvious from the face of the complaint, sua sponte dismissal of the complaint is appropriate. See Dellis, 257 F.3d at 511; Beach v. Ohio, No. 03-3187, 2003 WL 22416912, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 21, 2003); Castillo v. Grogan, No. 02-5294, 2002 WL 31780936, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 11, 2002); Duff v. Yount, No. 02-5250, 2002 WL 31388756, at *1-2 (6th Cir. Oct. 22, 2002); Paige v. Pandya, No. 00-1325, 2000 WL 1828653 (6th Cir. Dec. 5, 2000). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s action must be dismissed as frivolous.[2]

Conclusion

Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court determines that Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).

The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611 (6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the $505.00 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the “three-strikes” rule of § 1915(g). If he is barred, he will be required to pay the $505.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.

This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.


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