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Anderson v. Clinton TWP. Police Department

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

June 30, 2019

ROBERT ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CLINTON TWP. POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          Terrence G. Berg United States District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS (DKTS. 32, 37, 46)

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff brought this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1981. (Dkt. 1). District Judge Terrence G. Berg referred all pretrial matters in this case to the undersigned on May 29, 2018. (Dkt. 12). Defendants Wolchek, Aldea, and Chase Bank have filed motions to dismiss Anderson's complaint. (Dkts. 32, 37, 46). The motions are fully briefed, and the matter is now ready for report and recommendation.

         For the reasons that follow, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that defendants Wolcheck, Aldea, and Chase Bank's motions to dismiss (Dkts. 32, 37, 46) be GRANTED, and that these defendants be dismissed from plaintiff's complaint. The undersigned further RECOMMENDS that Wolchek's and Aldea's request for surety bond be DENIED.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Anderson's complaint is about the alleged shortcomings of the Clinton Township Police Department and a news story aired on Fox 2 by defendant Wolcheck concerning Anderson's trucking business. Plaintiff operated a trucking business in which he bought and then rented trucks. (Dkt. 1, at ¶ 12-13). Defendant Aldea operated a similar trucking business. (Id. at ¶ 24). Aldea informed Anderson that Anderson was in possession of a check made payable to Aldea, but Anderson was unaware of this. (¶¶ 25-27). Aldea made a report with the Clinton Township Police. (¶ 30). On February 14, 2013, a person working on Aldea's behalf approached plaintiff and threatened him with violence. Anderson called the Clinton Township Police; the police refused to write a police report on this occasion and for later threats against Anderson. (¶ 32-33, 47, 48, 50, 75, 78). On March 4, 2013, Clinton Township Police informed Anderson's ex-wife that Anderson was the focus of an investigation regarding the check, but on March 7, 2013, his ex-wife informed the police that she was at fault and was willing reimburse Aldea. (¶ 42-43). On March 12, 2013, Chase Bank processed a search warrant from the Clinton Township Police Department and froze Anderson's accounts; the bank had not released those funds at the time of plaintiff's complaint. (¶ 44-45).

         Anderson says that the Clinton Township Police later sought an arrest warrant for him, he received a “PR” (presumably personal recognizance) bond and attended all court proceedings. (¶ 51-52). During the preliminary examination, Aldea testified but was found not credible. (¶ 54). On July 24, 2013, the Clinton Township case was dropped. (¶ 55).

         Andrew Johnson[1] entered into an agreement with Anderson for a truck on February 6, 2015. (¶ 57). On October 10, 2014, Willy Gilmore entered into a similar agreement. (¶ 61). Both Johnson and Gilmore did not provide required documents, so they were not able to pick up their trucks. On July 8, 2015, defendant Wolcheck ran a news story in which defendants Aldea, Johnson, and Gilmore were interviewed on camera and the Clinton Township Police were used “as unnamed sources.” (¶ 65-66). According to Anderson, the defendants conspired and gave subsequent interviews stating that Anderson stole and cashed checks made payable to Aldea's company, even though charges were dropped against Anderson. (¶ 68). Anderson says Wolcheck did not check the facts before running the story. (¶ 70, 72).

         Anderson pleads the following claims: Count One - “Violation and Deprivation of Constitutional Rights, ” Count Two - Right to Privacy, Count Three - Equal Protection, Count Five[2] - First Amendment Retaliation, Count Six - Malicious Prosecution, Count Seven - Conspiracy, Count Eight - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Count Nine - “Section 1983 Deprivation of Federal Rights, ” Count Ten - First Amendment Free Expression and False Light, and Count Eleven - Conversion.

         III. ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must first comply with Rule 8(a)(2), which requires “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order 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, 545 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A plaintiff is also obliged “to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief, ” which “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)). In Iqbal, the Supreme Court explained that a civil complaint only survives a motion to dismiss if it “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009). “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 678. And, while a complaint need not contain “detailed” factual allegations, its “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)); see also League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen, 500 F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original) (the factual allegations in a complaint need not be detailed but they “must do more than create speculation or suspicion of a legally cognizable cause of action; they must show entitlement to relief.”).

         A complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff must be “liberally construed” and “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted). Thus, when applying Twombly, except as to a claim of fraud, the Court must still read plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (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); Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93-94 (The Court of Appeals ...


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