United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
PETER C. TAYLOR, #311226, Plaintiff,
LIVONIA POLICE DEPARTMENT, SGT. CAIDE, & CITY OF LIVONIA, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND
DENYING, AS MOOT, MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Michigan prisoner Peter C. Taylor
(“Plaintiff”), confined at the Bellamy Creek
Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, alleges his
constitutional rights were violated during his state criminal
proceedings. In particular, he asserts that the investigating
officer provided false testimony during court proceedings and
violated his rights during interrogations. He names the
Livonia Police Department, Livonia Police Sergeant Caide, and
the City of Livonia as the defendants in this action. He sues
the defendants in their personal and official capacities and
seeks monetary damages and other relief. Plaintiff has been
granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the fees for
this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua sponte
dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service if it
determines the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is similarly required to
dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government
entities, officers, and employees that it finds to be
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set
forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as well as
“a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is 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 such notice pleading does not require
detailed factual allegations, it does require more than the
bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned,
the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or
immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the
United States; and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person
acting under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v.
Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978); Harris v.
Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009). A pro se
civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Despite this liberal pleading standard, the Court finds that
the civil rights complaint is subject to summary dismissal.
Plaintiff names the Livonia Police Department as a defendant
in this action. That body, however, is not an entity subject
to suit under § 1983. See Boykin v. Van Buren
Twp., 479 F.3d 444, 450 (6th Cir. 2007) (police
department is an improper defendant in a § 1983 case);
Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir.
1991) (sheriff's department may not be sued under §
1983); Edward v. Jail, 2:16-cv-11596, 2016 WL
2937146, at *2 (E.D. Mich. May 20, 2016) (citing cases and
ruling that county jails, sheriff departments, and other
governmental agencies are not legal entities amenable to suit
under § 1983); Laise v. City of Utica, 970
F.Supp. 605, 608 (E.D. Mich. 1997) (city police department is
an agency of the city and not a proper defendant in a §
1983 action). Plaintiff's claims against the Livonia
Police Department must, therefore, be dismissed.
any claims against the City of Livonia must be dismissed
because Plaintiff fails to allege facts demonstrating the
personal involvement of the City of Livonia in the events
giving rise to the complaint. It is well-settled that a civil
rights plaintiff must allege the personal involvement of a
defendant to state a claim under § 1983. See Monell
v. Department of Social Svs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92
(1978) (Section 1983 liability cannot be based upon a theory
of respondeat superior or vicarious liability); Everson
v. Leis, 556 F.3d 484, 495 (6th Cir. 2009) (same);
see also Taylor v. Michigan Dep't of
Corrections, 69 F.3d 716, 727-28 (6th Cir. 1995)
(plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant
participated, condoned, encouraged, or knowingly acquiesced
in alleged misconduct to establish liability). Plaintiff
makes no such factual allegations against the City of
Livonia. Plaintiff also does not allege facts showing that
any claimed injury is the result of any policy or regulation,
or that any improper conduct arose from the deliberate
failure to adequately investigate, train, or supervise
employees. See Ellis v. Cleveland Mun. Sch. Dist.,
455 F.3d 690, 700 (6th Cir. 2006) (setting forth three-part
test for such claims). Conclusory allegations are
insufficient to state a claim under § 1983.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555-57; Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588
(1998); Moldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351,
390-91 (6th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff thus fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted against the City of Livonia.
as to Plaintiff's allegation that Sgt. Caide gave false
testimony at Plaintiff's trial, Sgt Caide benefits from
absolute immunity. The United States Supreme Court stated in
Briscoe v. Lahue, 460 U.S. 325, 343 (1983) that a
police officer who gives false testimony at trial cannot be
held liable for a § 1983 violation.
Subjecting government officials, such as police officers, to
damages liability under § 1983 for their testimony might
undermine not only their contribution to the judicial process
but also the effective performance of their other public
duties. Section 1983 lawsuits against police officer
witnesses, like lawsuits against prosecutors, “could be
expected with some frequency.” Police officers testify
in scores of cases every year and defendants often will
transform resentment at being convicted into allegations of
perjury by the state's official witnesses.
Briscoe, 460 U.S. at 343; Moldowan v. City of
Warren, 578 F.3d 351, 390 (6th Cir. 2009)
(“‘all witnesses -- police officers as well as
lay witness -- are absolutely immune from civil liability
based on their trial testimony in judicial proceedings.'
Briscoe, 460 U.S. at 328. A witness is entitled to
testimonial immunity ‘no matter how egregious or
perjurious that testimony was alleged to have
event, Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed because he
challenges the validity of his state criminal proceedings in
his complaint, which fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A claim under
§ 1983 is an appropriate remedy for a state prisoner
challenging a condition of his imprisonment, Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973), not the validity of
continued confinement. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 486-87 (1994) (holding that a state prisoner does not
state a cognizable civil rights claim challenging his
imprisonment if a ruling on his claim would necessarily
render his continuing confinement invalid, until and unless
the reason for his continued confinement has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254). This holds true regardless of the relief
sought by the plaintiff. Id. at 487-89.
and other Supreme Court cases, when “taken together,
indicate that a state prisoner's § 1983 action is
barred (absent prior invalidation) - no matter the relief
sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of
the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to conviction
or internal prison proceedings) - if success in that action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement
or its duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544
U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005). The underlying basis for the holding
in Heck is that “civil tort actions are not
appropriate vehicles ...