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Jennings v. Noble

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

December 20, 2016

MARK C. JENNINGS, II, Plaintiff,
DEPUTY NOBLE, et al., Defendants.


          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge.

         Prisoner Mark Jennings is confined at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, Michigan after being convicted of first, second, and third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor between the age of 13 and 15 years old. He sued Deputy Noble, Deputy Ford, Corrections Officer Babcock (collectively, "Defendants"), and two unknown officers for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that arose from his temporary imprisonment at the Ogemaw County Sheriff's Department in West Branch, Michigan. Before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss, Jennings's response to that motion, which doubles as a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, and Jennings's motion to strike Defendants' reply brief. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the Defendants' motion, and dismiss the case.


         Jennings mailed his Complaint on May 24, 2016 and it was filed on the docket two days later.[1] The Court reproduces Jennings's statement of facts verbatim as follows:

At the ogemaw county sheriffs department in West Branch Michigan at about 10:00pm on 9-2-07 officers Ford, Noble, Babcock and other unknown persons did use excessive force against the plaintiff by repeatedly tazering him and placing there [sic] bodies upon his body causing his right acromioclavicular to permanently become dislocated. At no time did these officers have the authority to assault and batter the plaintiff in any manner. The plaintiff was told to get into a holding cell. The plaintiff was experiencing a panic attack caused by his post traumatic stress disorder. He advised the defendants what was happening to him and that he needed his medication and a second to catch his breath. Instead of giving him medical care they all jumped on him while he was already handcuffed and began tazering, assaulting and battering him. They also withdrew blood out of him without his consent, court order or warrant. This occurred at the direction of the defendants at tolfree hospital in West Branch Michigan.

         Pg ID 4, ECF No. 1. Jennings claims that the defendants' actions constituted excessive force and deliberate indifference to his medical needs such that his constitutional rights were violated. As relief, he requests appointed counsel, tolling of the statute of limitations due to his mental disability, a jury trial, a declaration that Defendants' actions were unconstitutional, $2, 000, 000 in punitive and compensatory damages from each defendant, and the opportunity to amend his complaint after discovery is provided. Id. at 4-5.

         On October 25, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. ECF No. 13. It appears that they also seek, in the alternative, summary judgment: the motion is titled "Motion to Dismiss in Lieu of an Answer, Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(a) and 12(b)(6), " but states in the body that the Court should grant summary judgment for the Defendants. Id. at 1. And in their reply, Defendants argue that Jennings has failed to create a genuine issue of material fact, and ask the Court to grant "summary judgment, thereby dismissing Plaintiff's case in its entirety, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Reply i-ii, ECF No. 17. Notwithstanding the confusion over the proper standard of review, the Court will construe their motion as one to dismiss and, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

         On November 14, 2016, Jennings filed a response to the motion, titled "Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss . . . and Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) and Motion for this Court to Treat This Motion as a Motion for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56." Resp., ECF No. 14. Despite the procedural error of combining a motion with the response to a separate motion, the Court will construe Jennings's filing as a motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. On December 14, 2016, Jennings filed a motion to strike Defendants' Reply. The Court will now address each of the outstanding motions.


         I. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)

         Civil Rule 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Court may only grant a Civil Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss if the allegations are not "sufficient 'to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ' and to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). In evaluating the motion, the Court presumes the truth of all well-pled factual assertions. Bishop v. Lucent Techs., 520 F.3d 516, 519 (6th Cir. 2008). Moreover, the Court must draw every reasonable inference in favor of the non-moving party. Dubay v. Wells, 506 F.3d 422, 427 (6th Cir. 2007). But a "pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         II. Judgment on the Pleadings

         Rule 12(c) provides that "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). That type of motion is evaluated under the same standard as a motion to dismiss. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007). And in ruling on the motion, the Court may consider documents attached to, incorporated by or referred to in the pleadings. Weiner v. Klais and Co., Inc., 108 F.3d 86, 88-89 (6th Cir. 1997). The well-pleaded material allegations of the non-moving party must be taken as true, but the Court need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. JPMorgan, 510 F.3d at 581-82.

         III. Sum ...

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