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Anderson v. Muskegon Police Department

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

September 29, 2017

MICHAEL LYNN ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MUSKEGON POLICE DEPARTMENT et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. 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. §§ 1915(e)(2), 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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff Michael Lynn Anderson presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (LRF). He sues the Muskegon Police Department (MPD), Muskegon County, the City of Muskegon, the MDOC, and the following individual Defendants: Assistant Prosecutors Brett Gardner and Les Bowen; Prosecuting Attorney D.J. Hilson; City of Muskegon City Attorney Theodore Williams, Jr.; MDOC Probation Officer Karen Buie; MPD Detective Emilio Treja; LRF Warden Shirlee Harry; Two unidentified police officers (Unknown Part(y)(ies) #1 and #2); and unnamed other actors (Unknown Part(y)(ies) #3).

         In September 2003, Plaintiff was on probation, under the supervision of Defendant Buie. On September 26, 2003, Unknown Part(y)(ies) #1 and #2 arrested Plaintiff in his home. Plaintiff was taken before a judge the following day for a preliminary probation-violation hearing, at which the court set the full probation-violation hearing for October 3, 2003. Plaintiff was held in the Muskegon County Jail from the time of the arrest until the formal hearing. On October 3, 2003, the court found that no grounds existed to find that Plaintiff had violated his probation. The court therefore ordered Plaintiff released from jail.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Buie fabricated the allegations that Plaintiff had violated his probation, in order to detain Plaintiff on a murder for which he was never charged. More specifically, he contends that Defendant Buie conspired with Defendants Prosecutor Gardner and Detective Treja to obtain a warrant to arrest him on the falsified probation violations, because they could not obtain a warrant on the murder charge.

         Plaintiff complains that Defendants Buie, Treja, and Gardner conspired in his false arrest and imprisonment. He also alleges that Defendants Muskegon Police Department, City of Muskegon, MDOC, Warden Harry, Prosecutors Bowen, Gardner, and Hilson, and Detective Treja, as well as others not named as Defendants, restrained his liberty without due process of law. In addition, Plaintiff contends that Defendants Buie, Treja, and Gardner deprived him of a fair and impartial investigation, in violation of the Michigan constitution, and subjected him to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A 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)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         State 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.[1]

         Plaintiff's complaint is untimely. He asserts claims arising in September and October 2003. Plaintiff had reason to know of the “harms” done to him at the time they occurred. Hence, his claims accrued in 2003. However, he did not file his complaint until August 2017, many years after Michigan's three-year limitations period expired. 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).

         When a plaintiff's allegations “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). Because Plaintiff's complaint is clearly ...


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