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Graves v. Malone

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

September 18, 2017

RONALD GRAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
DALE MALONE, Monroe County Sheriff, in his official capacity, AND SERGEANT GARY HEDGER, DEPUTY KURT POTRATZ, DEPUTY CHARLES MYERS, AND DEPUTY MELISSA CRAIN, in their official and individual capacities, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFFS STATE LAW CLAIMS

          ROBERT H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ronald Graves filed the instant complaint alleging the following counts:

• Count I: a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Defendant Officers Hedger, Potraz, Myers, and Crain for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
• Count II: a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Defendant Malone for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
• Count III: a gross negligence claim under Mich. Comp. Laws § 691.1407(8)(a); and
• Count IV: a claim for assault and battery under Michigan law. (Dkt. # 1.)

         Counts I and II allege federal claims over which the court has original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Counts III and IV are state-law claims. Because Plaintiff's state and federal law claims arise out of the same incident and share a common nucleus of operative fact, the court could exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367. However, because an exercise of supplemental jurisdiction would not promote judicial economy, the convenience of the parties, fairness, or comity, the court will dismiss the state law claims without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 16, 2015 he was suffering from psychotic symptoms that were secondary to alcohol withdrawal and consequently, he assaulted and battered his grandmother with a kitchen knife in their trailer home. During the attack, Plaintiff's grandmother was able to escape and sought help from a neighbor who called the police. Defendants Hedge, Crain, Potratz, and Myers are the Monroe County Sheriff's Department Officers who responded to the call.

         Defendants Hedger, Myers, and Potratz entered the trailer and located Plaintiff who was allegedly sitting inside of a bathtub with his knees and lower legs hanging over the side of the tub. The officers ordered Plaintiff to place his hands in the air multiple times and Plaintiff did not comply; instead he sat in the tub motionless staring without blinking. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Myers stumbled in the trailer making a noise and that Plaintiff reacted to said noise by raising his hand in the air. Defendant Myers allegedly reacted to Plaintiff's hand movements by discharging his gun at Plaintiff and the bullet hit the wall behind the tub. Defendant Potratz also reacted by discharging his gun at Plaintiff, but the bullet from his gun struck Plaintiff's right jaw, allegedly blowing apart the right side of his face, blinding him, and puncturing the right palate of his mouth. After both weapons were discharged, Plaintiff alleges that the officers again ordered him to put his hands in the air, but he did not comply due to the shock of his injuries from the bullet wound. Defendant Hedger allegedly discharged his taser, striking Plaintiff. Plaintiff was struck by a second unknown taser hit as well. Ultimately, Plaintiff was arrested for the assault of his grandmother, but was subsequently adjudged not guilty by reason of insanity.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A federal court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over each claim in an action that shares a common nucleus of operative facts with a claim that invokes the court's original jurisdiction. See United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966). However, supplemental jurisdiction “is a doctrine of discretion, not of plaintiff's right. Its justification lies in considerations of judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants; if these are not present, a federal court should hesitate to exercise jurisdiction over the state claims . . . .” Id. at 726. Supplemental jurisdiction may be denied “if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, ” if “it appears that the state issues substantially predominate, ” or “if the likelihood of jury confusion” would be strong without separation of the claims. Id. at 726-27.

         A federal court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, which recognizes a court's discretion to ...


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