United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights action brought by a federal prisoner against
state officials, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat.
1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss any
prisoner action brought 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), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). 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
for failure to state a claim against Defendants City of Grand
Rapids, Grand Rapids Police Department, Wu, and Unknown
Part(y)(ies). The Court will serve the complaint against
Defendants Mesman and Thompson.
is presently incarcerated with the Federal Bureau of Prisons
at the Milan Federal Correctional Institution. Plaintiff sues
Defendants City of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Police
Department (GRPD), together with the following GRPD
officials: Detective Michael Mesman; Officer Peter Thompson;
Sergeant Jonathan Wu; and unknown officials named as John and
Jane Doe ##1-8 (Unknown Part(y)(ies)).
alleges that he was under investigation by the GRPD for
distributing narcotics in the Kent County area. Plaintiff
resided with his girlfriend in an apartment complex, at 4346
Norman Drive, Apt. 4, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Due to
physical barriers, including a six-foot fence and a carport
structure, officers could not conduct visual surveillance of
Petitioner's address and car from the public street.
obtaining a warrant, Defendant Mesman and the other
Defendants decided to place a camera on a utility pole, above
the line of sight of an officer standing on the ground. The
camera was installed on January 26, 2016, and it remained in
place for several weeks, recording Plaintiff's activities
when he was at or near his vehicle. In early February 2016,
in order to get a still closer look at the location, a
surveillance utility van was stationed in the apartment
parking lot, where it gathered and recorded information.
February 18, 2016, after several weeks of continuous
surveillance of Plaintiff's home and vehicles, Defendants
allegedly trespassed into the curtilage of Plaintiff's
home without a warrant, in order to stand by Plaintiff's
two vehicles. One vehicle (a 2015 Chevy Tahoe) was parked in
a spot in front of the home, and the second vehicle (a 2003
BMW 745) was parked in the carport in parking spot “4,
” the space assigned to Plaintiff's apartment.
Defendants stood by the vehicles, awaiting the arrival of a
canine and handler to conduct a sniff of the vehicle.
Defendant Thompson led his canine into the carport. When the
canine alerted to something in the vehicle, Defendant Mesman
finally prepared an affidavit seeking an arrest warrant. In
his affidavit, Defendant Mesman advised the issuing judge
about the dog-sniff search, but he alleged that the vehicle
was located in an open parking lot, not in a carport.
receiving a warrant, Defendants searched the vehicles and
Plaintiff's home. They discovered cocaine, heroin,
marijuana, and $201, 833.16. Defendants seized the cash and
the 2003 BMW. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants never
provided him notice of either the seizure or the forfeiture
of those items.
was not at the residence at the time of the search.
Plaintiff's girlfriend arrived at the home during the
search, and she was arrested and charged with criminal
offenses. Plaintiff was charged and a warrant was issued for
his arrest by the 61st District Court of Michigan. Plaintiff
was arrested in June 2016 in New York, and he was held on the
Michigan warrant. In 2017, the State of Michigan dropped the
charges against Plaintiff.
contends that the individual Defendants' actions to
surveil and trespass on the curtilage of his apartment
violated the Fourth Amendment. He also claims that Defendants
deprived him of his property without due process, in
violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff
further alleges that Defendants City of Grand Rapids and the
Grand Rapids Police Department are liable for the actions of
their employees, because they failed to oversee and audit the
conduct of those employees.
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, including the return
of his forfeited property and the reimbursement of attorney
fees incurred in the dismissed criminal prosecution.
Failure to state a claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement,' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - ...