United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
a civil rights action originally brought by a former county
jail pretrial detainee in the Marquette County Jail, for
violations of the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, which the Court
construes as an action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The action was removed to this Court by
Defendant United States Marshals Service. 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. § 1915A; 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se
complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations
as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly
incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33
(1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiff's action will
be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
John Francis Lechner was a former federal pretrial detainee
held at the Marquette County Jail (MCJ). He sues Marquette
County, the Marquette County Sheriff's Department (MCSD),
the Marquette County Board of Commissioners (MCBC), and the
following individuals: MCBC Chair Gerald O. Corkin; MCBC
Vice-Chair Debbie Pellow; MCBC Members Steve Pence, Paul
Arsenault, Bruce Heikkila, and Greg Seppanen; MCSD Sheriff
Michael H. Lovelace; MCSD Undersheriff Jack Schneider; MCSD
Deputies “John Does A-Z” (Unknown Parties);
Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch; and the United
States Marshals Service.
complains that while he was detained at MCJ between September
21, 2011, and July 18, 2012, the non-supervisory individual
MCSD Defendants conspired to deprive him of his rights under
the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments by
refusing to deliver his personal and legal mail on various
occasions. By refusing to deliver Plaintiff's legal mail,
Defendants allegedly prevented him from assisting his
attorney at his criminal trial. In addition, Plaintiff
contends that Marquette County, the MCSD, the Sheriff, the
Undersheriff, the MCBC and the individual MCBC members are
liable for failing to supervise, failing to train,
negligently hiring, and failing to discipline the other
Defendants. He also alleges that Defendants' actions
violated the state law torts of gross negligence and
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, together with
compensatory and punitive damages.
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[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.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies
to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
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.
complaint is untimely. He asserts claims arising between
September 21, 2011 and July 17, 2012. Plaintiff had reason to
know of the “harms” done to him at the time they
occurred. Hence, his claims accrued not later than July 17,
2012. However, he did not file his complaint until January 9,
2017, 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).
addition to state actors and agencies, Plaintiff sues the
United States Marshals Service, a federal agency, apparently
because the Marshals Service had official custody over him
during his pretrial detention on a federal claim. Section
1983 does not provide a cause of action against a federal
agency. Instead, a federal agency is only subject to suit for
tort claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28
U.S.C. § 1346. The FTCA bars any tort claim against the
United States unless it is presented in writing to the
appropriate federal agency “within two years after such
claim accrues.” 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b). A claim
accrues within the meaning of § 2401(b) when the
plaintiff knows both the existence and cause of his injury.
United States v. Kubrick, 444 U.S. 111, 115 (1979).
fails even to allege that he presented his claim to the
Marshals Service, much less that he did so within two years.
As with the § 1983 claims, Plaintiff was aware of his
injuries and their causes not later than July 17, 2012. His
claim against the United States Marshalls Service therefore
is time-barred as well.
the allegations [of a complaint] show that relief is barred
by the applicable statute of limitations, the complaint is
subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim . . .
.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007). As
a consequence, ...