United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
HONORABLE ROBERT J. JONKER JUDGE
a civil rights action brought pro se by a former
Kalamazoo County inmate under 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Compl.,
ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by a
fellow inmate on August 13, 2013; that sheriff deputies
failed to timely and effectively intervene; and that a
sheriff deputy used excessive force against plaintiff
immediately after the assault. (Id., PageID.2).
Plaintiff claims that he suffered serious back and neck
matter is now before the Court on defendant's motion to
dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 6). Also
before the Court is plaintiff's motion to amend the
complaint, seeking to replace the Kalamazoo County Sheriff
Department with two new defendants: Kalamazoo County and the
Kalamazoo County Administrator. (ECF No. 14). Defendant
objects to the motion to amend, arguing that the amendment
would be futile, as it also fails to state a claim against
the proposed defendants. (ECF No. 16).
October 11, 2016, I conducted a hearing on the motions.
(Minutes, ECF No. 17). For the reasons set forth herein, I
recommend that defendant's motion to dismiss the
complaint against the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department
(ECF No. 6) be granted, and that plaintiff's motion to
amend the complaint (ECF No. 14) be denied.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department's Motion to
12(b)(6) authorizes the dismissal of a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under Rule 8(a)(2) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must
provide “ ‘a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief' in
order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'
” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957), and Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). While this notice
pleading standard does not require “detailed”
factual allegations, it does require more than labels and the
bare assertion of legal conclusions. See Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555.
when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to
plaintiff, accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as
true, and draw all reasonable factual inferences in
plaintiff's favor. See Total Benefits Planning
Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552
F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008). “[C]ourts ‘are not
bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.' ” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286
(1986)). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555;
see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680-81 (2009);
Albrecht v. Treon, 617 F.3d 890, 893 (6th Cir.
2010). Courts are not required to conjure up unpleaded
allegations, nor accept unwarranted factual inferences.
See Total Benefits Planning, 552 F.3d at 434.
“To survive a motion to dismiss, [plaintiff] must
allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.' ” Traverse Bay Area
Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Michigan Dep't of Educ.,
615 F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570.
se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by licensed attorneys. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Even the lenient
treatment generally given pro se pleadings has its
limits, however. See Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108,
110 (6th Cir. 1991). “A plaintiff must ‘plead [ ]
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.' ” Albrecht, 617 F.3d at 893
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “A plaintiff
falls short if  he pleads facts ‘merely consistent
with the defendant's liability' or if the alleged
facts do not ‘permit the court to infer more than the
mere possibility of misconduct[.]' ”
Albrecht, 617 F.3d at 893 (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678-79).
complaint names as the only defendant the Kalamazoo County
Sheriff Department. Under Michigan law, “a municipal
police department is a creature of the municipality.”
Haverstick Enterprises, Inc. v. Federal Financial Credit,
Inc., 32 F.3d 989, 992 n.1 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing
M.C.L. § 92.1). Thus, suit against the police department
is actually a suit against the municipality. Id.
(citing Moomey v. City of Holland, 490 F.Supp. 188,
190 (W.D. Mich. 1980); Michonski v. City of Detroit,
162 Mich.App. 485, 413 N.W.2d 438, 441 (1987)). The
complaint, having named the wrong defendant, should be
dismissed. See Boykin v. Van Buren Twp., 479 F.3d
444, 450 (6th Cir. 2007) (affirming district court's
ruling that, under Michigan law, the township police
department is subsumed within the township as a municipal
entity to be sued under § 1983, and thus the police
department was improperly included as a separate defendant
(citing Laise v. City of Utica, 970 F.Supp. 605, 608
(E.D. Mich. 1997)); Watson v. Gill, 40 Fed.
App'x 88, 89 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding that the county
jail is simply a department of the county, and not the
appropriate party to address plaintiff's suit); Vine
v. Ci ty of Ingham, 884 F.Supp. 1153, 1158 (W.D. Mich.
1995) (holding that, under Michigan law, a sheriff department
is not a legal entity subject to suit).
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint
plaintiff may amend his complaint once as a matter of course,
assuming it is done within 21 days of serving the complaint,
or within 21 days after service of a Rule 12(b) motion to
dismiss. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). Thereafter,
the party must obtain either the opposing party's written
consent or leave of court. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(2). In this case, plaintiff's motion to amend was
filed more than 21 days after the service of the Kalamazoo
County Sheriff Department's ...