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Jackson v. City of Highland Park

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

May 27, 2015



NANCY G. EDMUNDS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Andrew Jackson Jr. filed this civil rights lawsuit against the City of Highland Park, the City of Grosse Pointe Park, and various police officers employed by the municipalities. According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff was arrested and severely beaten by Defendant Officers in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Michigan state law. Plaintiff has asserted various Monell claims against the municipalities and further maintains that all Defendants are liable for gross negligence, excessive force, conspiracy, and deliberate indifference.

Currently before the Court is Defendant City of Highland Park and Officer Ronald Dupuis' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. 12). Highland Park's motion is joined by Defendants Grosse Pointe Park and Officer James Vogler. (Dkt. 20). For the reasons stated more fully below, the Court GRANTS Highland Park's request and allows Plaintiff leave to amend to replead Count VI.

I. Background

The universe of facts giving rise to Plaintiff's amended complaint are as follows:

15. On the evening of January 12, 2015, ... Mr. Jackson was placed under arrest by the Defendants.
16. Mr. Jackson did not resist the arrest, and followed all commands of the Police Officers.
17. During the arrest, and after being handcuffed while face down on the ground, Mr. Jackson was severely kicked and beaten by the Defendants.
18. As a result of the Defendants actions, Mr. Jackson's injuries were inclusive of, but not limited to, injuries to his head, right eye, ribs, and legs.

(Compl. ¶¶ 15-18).

Plaintiff asserts six counts against Defendants.[1] While the complaint is extremely vague on many levels, Plaintiff appears to be pursuing a single claim for gross negligence under Michigan law and five claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. With respect to the § 1983 claims, Counts II-IV appear to be claims for municipal liability premised on the theory that Highland Park and Grosse Pointe Park (1) failed to adequately train/supervise the Defendant Officers, (2) maintained customs and policies which permitted the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights, and (3) were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's wellbeing. Finally, Counts V and VI assert claims for conspiracy and excessive force, respectively.

II. Standard of Review

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that Defendants' motion to dismiss-brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)-is procedurally improper. Indeed, where, as here, the defendant has proffered an answer to the complaint, relief under this subsection of the Rule is no longer available. See 5B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357 (3d ed. 2004). As such, the Sixth Circuit has treated post-answer Rule 12(b)(6) motions as requests for the entry of judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). See Satkowiak v. Bay Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 47 F.Appx. 376, 377 n. 1 (6th Cir. 2002). The Court thus considers Defendants' request under Rule 12(c), which is evaluated under the same standard applicable to Rule 12(b)(6).

The Sixth Circuit recently noted that under the United States Supreme Court's heightened pleading standard laid out in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), "a complaint only survives a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Estate of Barney v. PNC Bank, Nat'l Assoc., 714 F.3d 920, 924-25 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal quotations and citations omitted). The court in Estate of Barney goes on to state that under Iqbal, "[a] claim is plausible when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted). Furthermore, "[w]hile the plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' the plausibility standard does ask for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). If the ...

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