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McCadden v. Flint

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

April 12, 2019

CAMERON McCADDEN, a minor, by his next friend, CHRYSTAL McCADDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FLINT, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART CITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT. NO. 15]

          Denise Page Hood, Chief Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On July 31, 2018, Plaintiff Cameron McCadden, a minor by his next friend, Chrystal McCadden, filed this action for alleged violations of Plaintiff's civil rights and his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). On October 9, 2018, Defendants City of Flint (the “City”) and City Police Chief Timothy Johnson (“Johnson”) (collectively, “City Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims against the City Defendants. Dkt. No. 15. The Motion has been fully briefed. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted as to the claim against Johnson and granted in part and denied in part with respect to the claims against the City.

         II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

         On October 12, 2015, Plaintiff, a seven-year-old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), experienced a disability-induced behavior episode. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 34. The after-school program administered by Defendant Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce (“FGCC”) contacted Defendant Terrance Walker, a City police officer who served as a school resource officer (“Walker”). Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 2, 35. Walker did not inquire whether Plaintiff had a disability or an individualized education plan (“IEP”), and Walker immediately placed Plaintiff in handcuffs. Plaintiff remained in those restraints for almost one hour. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 36-46.

         The City Police Department has an official policy on police interactions with children. Section III(C)(2) of this policy states:

Juveniles taken into custody for status offenses should normally be frisked for weapons prior to being transported and may be handcuffed or otherwise restrained at any time if, in the judgment of the officer, the juvenile poses a physical risk to the officer or others.

(emphasis added).

         Plaintiff's Complaint includes five claims in which Johnson or the City are sued: (1) a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Defendant Police Chief Timothy Johnson (“Johnson”) for unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Count I); (2) a Monell liability claim against the City (Count II); (3) a claim against the City for disability-based discrimination in violation of Title II of the ADA (Count III); (4) a claim for disability-based discrimination by the City for violating Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Count IV[1]); and (5) disability-based discrimination by the City in violation of Michigan's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (“PWDCRA”) (Count V).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. Accepting all factual allegations as true, the court will 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). As a 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 (2009).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Count I - Unreasonable Search and Seizure/Excessive Force (Johnson)

         Plaintiff has sued Johnson only in his official capacity. [Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 23; see also Complaint's Case Caption] The Complaint only references Johnson in the following manners:

(1) In the caption (“TIMOTHY JOHNSON, Chief of Police, City of Flint, in his official capacity”);
(2) At Paragraph 23 (“Defendant TIMOTHY JOHNSON is the Chief of Police for the City of Flint, and the official responsible for actions and inactions complained of herein, including policies, practices, customs, and training. Chief Johnson is a “person” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the PWDCRA. At all times relevant to this complaint, Chief Johnson and his predecessors were acting under color of state law. Chief Johnson is sued in his official capacity.”);
(3) In the heading of Count I (“COUNT I - UNREASONABLE SEIZURE AND EXCESSIVE FORCE IN VIOLATION OF THE FOURTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Against Chief Johnson and Officer Walker)”); and
(4) In the “Demand for Relief, ” where “Plaintiff requests that this Court: . . . award Plaintiff compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants City of Flint, Johnson, and Walker; . . .”

[Dkt. No. 1]

         The City Defendants argue that when “[a]n official-capacity claim against a person is essentially a claim against the municipality, ” Peatross v. City of Memphis, 818 F.3d 233, 241 (6th Cir. 2016), it is duplicative and appropriate to dismiss. Doe v. Claiborne Cnty., 103 F.3d 495, 509 (6th Cir. 1996). The City Defendants state that, assuming Plaintiff intends to hold the City liable pursuant to ...


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