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Callahan v. Muskegon County

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

June 22, 2017

Daniel Edward Callahan, Plaintiff,
Muskegon County et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, pro se, is pursuing this action against eight Muskegon county officials in their official capacities, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims various civil rights violations relating to an investigation and criminal prosecution of plaintiff, as well as claims that he was denied needed medications during his thirty days of incarceration at the Muskegon County Jail. (Amended Complaint, ECF No. 26).

         This matter is before the Court on defendants Roesler, Burns, Waters, Steinholm, Poulin, Hilson, Hedges, and Davis' motions, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 38, 39, 41, 44, 45, 46). Plaintiff's response is styled as a “motion for default judgment and response to defense motion to dismiss complaint.” (ECF No. 48). The Court has determined that the motions can be denied without the need for oral argument. On October 10, 2016, prior to the instant motions, this Court granted defendant Muskegon County's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 43). Having considered defendants' written submissions and plaintiff's response, the Court will grant defendants' motions to dismiss.

         Rule 12(b)(6) Standards

         Rule 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.

         Generally, 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); see Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 695 F.3d 428, 435 (6th Cir. 2012).

         Pro 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).


         Plaintiff alleges various claims against individuals of the Muskegon County Prosecutor's office. (Amended Complaint, ECF No. 26, PageID.292-94). The various allegations against defendant Hedges, in his official capacity as a Muskegon County Prosecutor, include prosecutorial misconduct, malicious prosecution, “violation of the [] 6th Amendment Rights of Plaintiff when constant false Felony criminal charges had been manufactured and added as new Felony charges, ” and “making a Fair and Speedy Trial Impossible for this Plaintiff.” (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.292-93); (Defs. Hilson, Hedges, and Davis' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 46-1, PageID.547-49).

         Plaintiff alleges that defendant Hedges' “prosecutorial misconduct” occurred under the supervision of defendant Hilson, in his official capacity as Elected Muskegon County Prosecutor. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.292); (ECF No. 46-1, PageID.547). The allegation against defendant “Randy” Davis, [1] in his capacity as a Muskegon County Prosecutor, was the wrongful pursuit of “Attempted Resisting Arrest charges while knowingly and willingly violating Brady Disclosure.” (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.293); (ECF No. 46-1, PageID.548). Finally, plaintiff alleges that his computer was the subject of a “study” that was talked about within the Prosecutor's office and among visitors, but plaintiff does not identify defendants Hilson, Hedges, or Davis as participants in the aforementioned study. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.292-93); (ECF No. 46-1, PageID.548).

         Plaintiff further alleges that defendant Waters, acting in her official capacity as the Muskegon County Clerk, “engaged in the Obstruction of Justice when [she] failed to forward Plaintiff's ‘Renewed Pleadings' as properly filed by this Plaintiff with the Muskegon County Clerks Office, ” and that the “County Clerk's office knowingly violated the Michigan Freedom of Information Act rights of Plaintiff upon denying access to public records to Plaintiff.” (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.293); (Def. Waters' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 41-1, PageID.456-57).

         The allegations against defendant Poulin, in his official capacity as the Muskegon County Emergency Response Team Commander, include violation of plaintiff's 4th and 8th Amendment rights for “conducting an unreasonable search and seizure, resulting in excessive bail in the amount of $70, 000.00 and violation of citizenship rights and equal protection of laws.” (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.293); (Def. Poulin's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 45-1, PageID.517-18). Finally, plaintiff alleges that defendants Roesler, Burns, and Steinholm, acting in their official capacities of Muskegon County Sheriff, Jail Administrator, and Jail Corrections Officer respectively, “enforce[d] a jail policy to absolutely deny life sustaining medications to inmates, ” including plaintiff. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26, PageID.294); (Defs. Roesler, Burns, and Steinholm's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 38-1, 39-1, 44-1, PageID.427, 441, 502). Assuming plaintiff's allegations are true, and construing them in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the complaint fails to state a claim against the defendants.

         A. Official Capacity Claims

         Official-capacity lawsuits “generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (citing Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690, n. 55 (1978)). An official-capacity suit is to be treated as a suit against the entity itself. Id. at 166 (citing Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-72 (1985)); See also Matthew v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). “Individuals sued in their official capacities stand in the shoes of the entity they represent, ” and the suit is not against the official personally. Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003); Graham, 473 U.S. at 165-66 (cited by Baar v. Jefferson County Bd. Of Education, 476 F. App'x 621, 634 (6th Cir. 2012)). See, e.g., Constantino v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 707 F.Supp.2d 724, 732 (W.D. Mich. 2010); Swartz Ambulance Serv., Inc. v. Genesee County, 666 F.Supp.2d 721, 726 (E.D. Mich. 2009); R.S.S.W., Inc. v. City of Keego Harbor, 18 F.Supp.2d 738, 750 (E.D. Mich. 1998); see also Thompson v. Connick, 578 F.3d 293 (5th Cir. 2009) (holding that it is proper to dismiss allegations against government ...

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