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LeBlanc v. Kalamazoo Police Department

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

June 29, 2018

JEFFREY R. LEBLANC, Plaintiff,
v.
KALAMAZOO POLICE DEPARTMENT et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a civil action, brought by a recently discharged state prisoner, for violations of the United States Constitution, the Michigan Constitution, and various federal statutes. This is the one hundred and thirteenth such action Plaintiff has filed in the Michigan federal courts in this decade.

         Plaintiff sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Initially the Court granted that request, (ECF No. 4). Then, based on the misconception that Plaintiff filed this action while he was still incarcerated, the Court vacated that order and, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), required Plaintiff to pay the entire $400.00 filing fee because he had accumulated more than three strikes for filing meritless actions. (Op. & O., ECF Nos. 6, 7.)

         Plaintiff responded by informing the Court that he was discharged from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) custody before he filed the action. Because the “three strike” rule applies only to prisoners, the Court will vacate its “three strike” opinion and order. The Court will also reconsider Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) and grant Plaintiff leave to so proceed.

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss any action brought in forma pauperis 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). The screening required by § 1915(e)(2) applies to cases brought by prisoners and non-prisoners. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608-09 (6th Cir. 1997).

         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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint because it seeks relief from defendants who are immune and otherwise fails to state a claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff was discharged from incarceration by the MDOC on May 1, 2018. He filed his complaint the same day. Plaintiff bases his complaint on alleged constitutional flaws in the criminal proceedings that resulted in his incarceration and on alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

         Some understanding of the events that led to Plaintiff's conviction is helpful in interpreting the rambling allegations in his complaint. Those events are described in LeBlanc v. Kalamazoo County Sheriff, No. 1:14-cv-305 (W.D. Mich.):

Plaintiff Jeffrey R. LeBlanc . . . was sentenced to a prison term of one year and six months to five years, after he pleaded nolo contendere to malicious destruction of personal property of more than $1, 000.00 and less than $20, 000.00, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.337a. He sues the Kalamazoo County Sheriff.
Plaintiff's complaint is brief and somewhat confusing. Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested without a warrant by the Kalamazoo Police Department on November 28, 2012. He seeks monetary relief for wrongful incarceration and alleged falsification of documents. Plaintiff alleges that he filed a grievance about his “whole case, ” but that he has received no response. (Compl., docket #1, Page ID#2.)
Several weeks after he filed his complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking immediate release from prison (docket #7), together with a supplement (docket #8). According to the supplement and its attachments, Plaintiff drove a vehicle belonging to a customer of J&L Auto into a gas pump at a Marathon gas station. (Id., Page ID#26; Supp., docket #8, Page ID##43-48.) It appears that Plaintiff was an employee of J&L Auto, and that he was sleeping inside the office when the police arrived in response to the car owner's report of damage to her vehicle. (Supp., docket #8, Page ID#48.) Plaintiff argues that he was illegally prosecuted in the 9th Judicial District Court for malicious destruction of property, because he was on powerful medications and did not possess the intent to drive his customer's car into the gas pump.

(No. 1:14-cv-305, PageID.76.) Additional information is provided in LeBlanc v. Romanowski, No. 2:14-cv-13219 (E.D. Mich.):

On April 29, 2013, he was sentenced to three months in jail, three years probation, and restitution in the amount of $24, 897.97 to an insurance company that insured the owner of damaged property, and $350.15 to the owner of a vehicle damaged by Petitioner. Shortly after the restitution hearing, Petitioner violated the terms of his probation by absconding from a community-based residential probation facility. He then indicated that he wished to be discharged from that program. On September 3, 2013, he was resentenced to 1 year and 6 months to 5 years in prison.

(No. 2:14-cv-13219, PageID.1202)

         With that background, the role played by each Defendant is more readily apparent. Defendant Kalamazoo Police Department arrested Plaintiff for the incident at the gas station. Plaintiff was eventually detained by Defendant Kalamazoo County Sheriff[1] at the Kalamazoo County jail. Plaintiff sues Defendant City of Kalamazoo and Defendant County of Kalamazoo based on the actions of the City's police department and the County's sheriff's department, respectively. The City and County of Kalamazoo are also allegedly responsible for the myriad procedural improprieties that occurred during Plaintiff's criminal prosecution. Those improprieties also rendered Plaintiff's conviction invalid, Plaintiff contends, and Defendant State of Michigan and Defendant MDOC therefore are liable because they unlawfully imprisoned him. Defendant Michigan State Police allegedly failed to investigate Plaintiff's complaints regarding his prosecution. Defendant State Bar of Michigan similarly allegedly failed to investigate Plaintiff's complaints regarding the attorneys who were involved in his prosecution.

         Plaintiff sues Oshtemo Township, where the incident occurred, because the Oshtemo Township Police (actually the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department “acting as a police official for Oshtemo Township) told Plaintiff not to go to the Marathon station anymore at the request of the owner. Defendant United Petroleum Equipment and Defendant Corporate Marathon provided fraudulent information to the Kalamazoo courts regarding the proper amount of restitution for the damage Plaintiff caused. Defendant Social Security Administration stopped Plaintiff's disability payments based on the improper criminal prosecution.

         Petitioner also contests the propriety of his 2008 criminal prosecution in Kalamazoo County. Presumably, he sues the Kalamazoo Police Department, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, the City of Kalamazoo, and the County of Kalamazoo for those improprieties as well.

         Petitioner names as defendants 11 different MDOC Correctional facilities where he was placed during his incarceration. He sues them in part because the incarceration was unlawful and in part because of the horrific conditions of confinement he suffered.

         Finally, Plaintiff sues Kalamazoo County, Lenawee County, Manistee County, and the United States because the courts, on behalf of those entities, failed to properly handle Petitioner's post-conviction cases seeking relief.

         Plaintiff asks this Court to set aside his criminal convictions, remove any order for involuntary treatment, award millions of dollars in damages, award five years of social security benefits, and fine the Social Security Administration.

         Plaintiff list several bases for this Court's jurisdiction: eleven federal constitutional amendments or provisions; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e - 2000e - 17; the American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Conduct and Model Rules of Professional Conduct; the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 500 - 596; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 - 12213; the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671 - 2678, 2680; the Model Penal Code; the Statute of Frauds; six provisions from the Michigan Constitution of 1963; and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, 1346, and 1367.

         II. Improperly named defendants

         Plaintiff lists 26 separate defendants. Many of those defendants, however, are not separate entities capable of being sued. Plaintiff sues the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center (RGC), the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility (JCF), the Michigan Reformatory (RMI), the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC), the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU), the Macomb Correctional Facility (MRF), the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF), the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF), the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF), the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF), and the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility (ARF). These individual prisons are “buildings used by the MDOC to house prisoners.” Ryan v. Corizon Health Care, No. 1:13-cv-525, 2013 WL 5786934, at *7 (W.D. Mich. Oct. 28, 2013). “They are not the proper public entity for suit.” Id. *7; see also Cage v. Kent County Corr. Facility, No. 96-1167, 1997 WL 225647, at *1 (6th Cir. May 1, 1997) (“The district court also properly found that the jail facility named as a defendant was not an entity subject to suit under § 1983.”); Belcher v. Ottawa County Adult Corr. Facility, No. 1:09-cv-173, 2009 WL 1163412, at *2 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 28, 2009) (“The Ottawa County Adult Correctional Facility is a building, not an entity capable of being sued in its own right.”).

         Additionally, Plaintiff sues the Kalamazoo Police Department and the City of Kalamazoo. A suit against such a city police department is, in reality, a suit against the city. See Haverstick Enterprises, Inc. v. Financial Federal Credit, Inc., 32 F.3d 989, 992 n.1 (6th Cir. 1994) (court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Romulus Police Department because “[a] suit against a city police department in Michigan is one against the city itself, because the city is the real party in interest.”); see also Glenn v. Walker, 65 Fed.Appx. 53, 54 (6th Cir. 2003) (“[T]he district court properly dismissed . . . claims against the City of Detroit Police Department . . . [because t]he Police Department is not amenable to suit . . . .”). Similarly, Plaintiff sues the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department and the County of Kalamazoo. A “Sheriff's Department is not a legal entity subject to suit[.]” Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Kurz v. Michigan, 548 F.2d 172, 174 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 972 (1977)).

         The Court will drop as defendants the correctional facilities, the Kalamazoo Police Department, and the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department because those parties are not amenable to suit. Plaintiff has already named as defendants the proper ...


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