United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court
Rodney Mayberry filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on
November 16, 2017, alleging that Defendants violated his
constitutional rights when they unreasonably seized him,
searched his vehicle, and ticketed him after falsely claiming
that he was driving on a suspended license. Plaintiff amended
his complaint on January 6, 2017 (the
“Complaint”). [Dkt. No. 3] On March 16, 2107,
Defendants filed a Rule 12(c) Motion to Dismiss for Failure
to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted
(“Motion to Dismiss”). [Dkt. No. 9] The Motion to
Dismiss was fully briefed, and the Court held a hearing
regarding the Motion to Dismiss on July 12, 2017.
reasons that follow, the Court denies Defendants' Motion
November 16, 2014, Defendants Michael Fechik and Mark Kelso,
both of whom were City of Ann Arbor (the “City”)
police officers, made a traffic stop of Plaintiff. When
Plaintiff asked Defendant Fechik why Plaintiff had been
stopped, Defendant Fechik stated that Plaintiff was stopped
because Plaintiff's vehicle had tinted windows. [Dkt. No.
3, ¶ 16] Defendant Kelso opened the back door of
Plaintiff's vehicle, without notice or consent.
Id. at ¶ 17. When Plaintiff inquired why
Defendant Kelso did so, Defendant Kelso stated that he was
making sure nobody was pointing a gun at him. Id.
Defendant Kelso closed the back door after Plaintiff asked
him a second time what Defendant Kelso was doing.
Id. at ¶ 18. Defendant Kelso then asked
Plaintiff to roll down his back window. Id.
Plaintiff complied with Defendant Kelso's request and
rolled down the back window. Id. at ¶ 19.
Plaintiff alleges the rolled down window enabled Defendant
Kelso to look into Plaintiff's car. Id.
point, Defendant Fechik asked Plaintiff's permission to
search the vehicle, but Plaintiff declined to give that
consent. Id. at ¶ 20. Defendant Fechik then
told Plaintiff that Defendant Fechik did not care if there
was weed in the car, as Defendant Fechik “was looking
for weapons and hard drugs.” Id. at ¶ 21.
Plaintiff again refused to give consent to search his
vehicle. Id. at ¶ 22. Defendants Kelso and
Fechik walked back to their police vehicle and when they
returned to talk to Plaintiff, they advised Plaintiff that
his driver license was suspended. Id. at
¶¶ 23-24. Defendant Fechik asked Plaintiff a third
time for permission to search the car. Id. at ¶
25. Plaintiff denied consent to search his car for a third
time and stated that he did nothing wrong because his license
was not suspended. Id.
Plaintiff denied consent to search the vehicle for a third
time, Defendant Fechik allegedly replied, “I tried to
give you a break and you wouldn't cooperate” before
ordering Plaintiff to get out of the vehicle. Id. at
¶¶ 26-27. Plaintiff got out of the vehicle, was
handcuffed, and was seated on the ground. Id. at
¶¶ 28-29. Defendants Fechik and Kelso then began
searching Plaintiff's vehicle based on Plaintiff's
allegedly suspended license. Id. at ¶ 30. When
a third City of Ann Arbor police officer (Defendant John Doe)
arrived, Defendant Fechik advised Defendant Doe to continue
searching the vehicle while Defendant Fechik wrote the
ticket. Id. at ¶ 37. When Plaintiff asked why a
tow truck was there to take his vehicle, Defendant Kelso
allegedly stated to Plaintiff, “you want to be an
asshole, I can be one to[o].” Id. at ¶
38. After the search of Plaintiff's vehicle was complete
(and no contraband was found) and Plaintiff's vehicle was
towed, Defendant Fechik removed the handcuffs from Plaintiff,
handed Plaintiff the ticket, and told Plaintiff that he was
lucky he did not get arrested. Id. at ¶ 40.
twice went to court regarding the ticket before the ticket
was dismissed because there was no record of Plaintiff's
license being suspended on November 16, 2014. Id. at
¶ 42. Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the City,
wherein he: (1) complained of Defendants Fechik's and
Kelso's conduct at the time of his arrest; and (2) sought
reimbursement for the costs and damages incurred in
conjunction with getting his car out of towing and damages to
his dashboard and other parts of his car. Id. at
¶ 43. Plaintiff was reimbursed for the tow cost, but he
did not receive any reimbursement for damage to his vehicle
or any information regarding discipline or actions taken
regarding Defendants Fechik and Kelso. Id. at ¶
seven-count Complaint includes the following claims: (1)
unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth
Amendment; (2) malicious prosecution under the Fourth
Amendment; (3) malicious prosecution under Michigan law; (4)
unlawful detention in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (5)
intentional infliction of emotional distress under Michigan
law; (6) gross negligence under Michigan law; and (7) a
Monell claim pursuant to Section 1983. The first six
claims are against Defendants Fechik, Kelso, and Doe, and the
Monell claim is against the City.
APPLICABLE LAW & ANALYSIS
deciding a motion brought pursuant to Rule 12(c), the
standard is the same as that used in evaluating a motion
brought under Fed.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Stein v
U.S. Bancorp, et. al, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18357, at *9
(E.D. Mich. February 24, 2011). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff's
complaint. The Court must accept all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and review the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Eidson v. Tennessee
Dep't of Children's Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634
(6th Cir. 2007); Kottmyer v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684, 688
(6th Cir. 2006).
general rule, to survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint
must state sufficient “facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The complaint must
demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that the
defendant's conduct was unlawful. Id. at 556.
Claims comprised of “labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. at 555. Rather, “[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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
recently stated by the Supreme Court:
The doctrine of qualified immunity shields officials from
civil liability so long as their conduct does not violate
clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of
which a reasonable person would have known. A clearly
established right is one that is sufficiently clear that
every reasonable official would have understood that what he
is doing violates that right. We do not require a case
directly on point, but existing precedent must have placed
the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate. Put
simply, qualified immunity protects all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.
Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015)
(citations and quotation marks omitted).Qualified immunity is
a two-step process. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194
(2001). First, the Court determines whether, based upon the
applicable law, the facts viewed in a light most favorable to
the plaintiff show that a constitutional violation has
occurred.Second, the Court considers whether the violation
involved a clearly established constitutional right of which
a reasonable person would have known. Saucier v.
Katz, supra.; Sample v. Bailey, 409
F.3d 689 (6th Cir. 2005). Only if the undisputed facts, or
the evidence viewed in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff, fail to establish a prima facie violation of clear
constitutional law can this court find that the defendants
are entitled to qualified immunity. Turner v. Scott,
119 F.3d 425, 428 (6th Cir. 1997).
government official has raised the defense of qualified
immunity, the plaintiff “bears the ultimate burden of
proof to show that the individual officers are not entitled
to qualified immunity.” Cockrell v. City of
Cincinnati, 468 Fed.Appx. 491, 494 (6th Cir. 2012)
(citation omitted). A plaintiff also must establish that each
individual defendant was “personally involved” in
the specific constitutional violation. See Salehphour v.
University of Tennessee, 159 F.3d 199, 206 (6th Cir.
1998); Bennett v. Schroeder, 99 Fed.Appx. 707,
712-13 (6th Cir. 2004) (unpublished) ...