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Romeo v. City of Dearborn Heights

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

March 15, 2017

FRANCIS ROMEO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF DEARBORN HEIGHTS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          MARIANNE O. BATTANI United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court are Plaintiff Francis Romeo's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 23). Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen considered Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and, on February 22, 2017, entered a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). (Doc. 22). In the R&R, Magistrate Judge Whalen recommended that the Court grant Defendants' motion and dismiss the case with prejudice. For the reasons that follow, the Court ADOPTS the R&R, GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 10), and DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE the present action.

         II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

         As the parties have not objected to the R&R's recitation of the facts, the Court adopts that portion of the R&R. (See Doc. 22, pp. 1-3).

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to statute, this Court's standard of review for a magistrate judge's report and recommendation requires a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Id.

         The legal standards for determining motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b) and Rule 12(c) are the same. Lindsay v. Yates, 498 F.3d 434, 437 n.4 (6th Cir. 2007). When ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, the court must take as true "all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party, " and "the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting So. Ohio Bank v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 479 F.2d 478, 480 (6th Cir.1973)). However, the court "need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences." Id. at 581-82 (quoting Mixon v. Ohio, 193 F.3d 389, 400 (6th Cir.1999)). The court is to grant a Rule 12(c) motion "when no material issue of fact exists and the party making the motion is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. at 582 (quoting Paskvan v. City of Cleveland Civil Serv. Comm'n, 946 F.2d 1233, 1235 (6th Cir.1991)). "There must be no material issue of fact that could prevent judgment for the moving party." Monroe Retail, Inc. v. RBS Citizens, N.A., 589 F.3d 274, 2009 WL 4749352, at *3 (6th Cir. 2009).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         In his objections to the R&R, Plaintiff challenges the Magistrate Judge's conclusions that Sgt. Nason had probable cause for issuing a hit and run ticket; that the Defendant police officers were engaged in discretionary duties; and that Defendant City of Dearborn failed adequately to train its officers.

         First, the R&R notes that an essential element in claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution is the absence of probable cause, citing Peterson Novelties, Inc. v. City of Berkley, 672 N.W.2d 351, 362 (Mich. Ct. App. 2003) and Walsh v. Taylor, 689 N.W.2d 506, 516-17 (Mich. Ct. App. 2004). (Doc. 22, p. 4). It goes on to discuss as follows:

“Probable cause to arrest exists where the facts and circumstances within an officer's knowledge and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.” People v. Champion, 452 Mich. 92, 115, 549 N.W.2d 849 (1996). Information or complaints that police officers receive from identified citizens or other police officers is presumptively reliable. People v. Powell, 201 Mich.App. 516, 523, 506 N.W.2d 894 (1993). That the Plaintiff might believe the information from the other driver to be false is irrelevant to the probable cause analysis, as is his actual innocence of the charged offense. Peterson Novelties, at 18. Also irrelevant is the Plaintiff's allegation that the officers' probable cause determination was based on hearsay. “A finding of probable cause may be based on hearsay evidence....” People v. Manning, 243 Mich.App. 615, 621-22, 624 N.W.2d 746 (2000); M.C.R. 6.102(B).
Because Plaintiff's complaint alleges that Sgt. Nason issued a ticket based on information he received from a named citizen, he ipso facto concedes the issue of probable cause. Thus, the complaint fails to allege plausible claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution.

(Id. at pp. 4-5). Plaintiff contends that Defendants lacked probable cause to issue him a ticket for a hit and run on January 24, 2013, because the information regarding the fender bender incident was already in their files. Plaintiff submits an unreadable document that is purportedly a copy of the incident report dated December 14, 2012. (Doc. 23, Ex. A). Even assuming Plaintiff's allegations to be true, the incident report in Defendants' files would have been based on a summary of events as described by Plaintiff. There was no reason for Defendants to assume that the information received from the ...


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