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Thomas v. City of Ferndale

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

October 18, 2017

Randall Thomas, Plaintiff,
City of Ferndale, et al., Defendants.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis U.S. Magistrate Judge


          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior U.S. District Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff Randall Thomas filed a Complaint [Dkt. #1] on March 6, 2016 against multiple defendants, including, among others, the City of Ferndale, the Ferndale Police Department, and individual Ferndale police officers.[1] Plaintiff states that this action is brought pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (“PWDCRA”), and the Michigan Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. However, it appears that this action is better construed as one for money damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as Plaintiff brings claims for excessive force, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, class, and marital status, and seeks $1, 000, 000.00 in damages. (Compl. at Pg. ID 26).

         Defendants filed a Motion for Partial Dismissal [17] on July 27, 2016. Because this case has been administratively closed since February 28, 2017, this motion has not been briefed and the case has not proceeded.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff's Request to Reopen the Case [48]. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend/Correct [54] is GRANTED. Defendants Ferndale Police Department, Officer Schwartz, Detective Wilson, and Dan Christ are DISMISSED. Plaintiff is also directed to SHOW CAUSE why the case should not be dismissed against Defendants the City of Ferndale, City Manager, Linda Carroll, Timothy Collins, Lieutenant Whiting, Tamika Brooks, and Officer Pearce for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Factual Background

         Because Defendants move for dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), Plaintiff's “well-pleaded material allegations . . . must be taken as true.” Tucker v. Middleburg Legacy Place, 539 F.3d 545, 549 (6th Cir. 2008) (internal citations and quotations omitted)

         The actions underlying this lawsuit appear to stem from events that occurred in or around March 2013 and February 2014 at the Ferndale Police Department at 310 East Nine Mile Road. Plaintiff would often pick up and drop off his son at that location, where Sherry Richardson, the son's mother, worked. Plaintiff claims that on these occasions, he tried to file complaints, but the department failed to accommodate his disability. Plaintiff further alleges that the department sent plainclothes officers to follow him with guns to intimidate him and discourage him from exercising his rights. He maintains that the department failed to intervene when Richardson assaulted him or to arrest Richardson for the assault, and even destroyed a videotape of the assault. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Officer Pearce hit him in the head without provocation, referred to him using profane language, and threatened to kill him. He also contends that the department refused to issue a missing child report on his behalf and entrapped and arrested him in connection with meeting a detective about his child being missing.

         Plaintiff alleges that the department arrested him on various charges without a valid basis. On one occasion in March 2013, the department allegedly sent several officers, along with officers from the Pleasant Ridge Police Department, to arrest Plaintiff at his son's school on false charges of assault or disorderly conduct. Plaintiff submits that Defendant Lieutenant Whiting physically attacked him during his booking for this incident, in view of other officers who did not intervene. Plaintiff claims the attack was videotaped and that the department refused to produce the video in response to his FOIA request. The department produced a video in response to a request by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which was investigating a complaint by Plaintiff. However, Plaintiff claims the department altered the video before producing it to the Commission.

         Plaintiff accuses Defendants Dan Christ (Ferndale city attorney) and Linda Carroll (a court administrator in Michigan's 43rd District Court) of aiding and abetting the Ferndale police department's corruption of justice in a case before Judge Joseph Longo (misspelled “Lango”). His allegations regarding the case are unclear. It seems that during a court proceeding on or around February 2014, Ms. Carroll hit a security alarm, and Ferndale police officers allegedly responded by surrounding Plaintiff. Plaintiff went to the department to make a written complaint. Carroll was there and attempted to dissuade him. Plaintiff made his complaint verbally to Defendant Timothy Collins, the chief of the department, who responded that the officers did well to surround him. Carroll then revealed to Plaintiff that she had hit the security alarm.

         Legal Standard

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings “may be granted only if the moving party is [ ] clearly entitled to judgment.” Tucker, 539 F.3d at 549. To establish entitlement to relief, Plaintiff must do more than set forth “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). Plaintiff's factual allegations must provide Defendants with “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). The Court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Moreover, “[o]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 679.


         Although a pro se litigant's complaint is to be construed liberally, Middleton v. McGinnis, 860 F.Supp. 391, 392 (E.D. Mich. 1994), the Court has the authority to sua sponte dismiss complaints filed without prepayment of fees that fail to state a claim on which relief can be granted. See Irby v. Enter. Rentals, No. 10-11712, 2010 WL 1751831, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 30, 2010); see also Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007) (“A complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show the plaintiff is not entitled to relief.”); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         As mentioned previously, the Court presumes that Plaintiff is attempting to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, given Plaintiff's representation that

The acts complained of in the suit violate Federal Laws regarding race[, ] gender, disability, excessive force, police brutality, retaliation, harassment, intimidation, racketeering, oppression, malicious prosecution, failure to protect, lying under oath, perjury, fraud, and bribery, jury tampering [sic].

(Compl. Pg. ID 6).

         Plaintiff also brings a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, although it is unclear against whom this particular claim is brought. Id. at Pg. ID 14. The Court will exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over this state law claim because it is “so related to” the federal claims such “that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         To state a § 1983 claim, Plaintiff must “establish that a person acting under color of state law deprived [him] of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Waters v. City of Morristown, 242 F.3d 353, 358-59 (6th Cir. 2001). To establish a prima facie case of intentional infliction of emotional distress, Plaintiff must provide evidence of “(1) the defendant's extreme and outrageous conduct, (2) the defendant's intent or ...

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