United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
GEORGE MARVASO, MARY MARVASO, and GEORGE F. MARVASO, Plaintiffs,
JOHN ADAMS, MICHAEL J. REDDY JR. and MICHAEL J. REDDY SR., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
civil rights action, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
arises from a May 8, 2013 fire at a restaurant and pool hall
in Westland, Michigan. In a First Amended Complaint filed
February 6, 2019, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants conspired
to violate their Fourth Amendment rights. The matter is
presently before the Court on the following motions: (a)
Defendants Michael J. Reddy, Jr. and John Adams' motion
to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c)
(ECF No. 24); and, (b) Defendant Michael Reddy Sr.'s
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) or for summary judgment under Rule 56. (ECF No. 25.)
The motions have been fully briefed. Finding the facts and
legal issues sufficiently presented in the parties'
briefs, the Court is dispensing with oral argument pursuant
to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f). For the
following reasons, the Court is denying Defendants'
Applicable Standard of Review
initial matter, Defendant Michael Reddy Sr. (“Mr.
Reddy”) seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs' claim
against him pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, Rule
56. Mr. Reddy attaches a single document to his motion that
is a matter outside the Complaint: an affidavit from Michigan
State Police Lieutenant Richard Sanchez dated October 30,
2018. The Court does not find it necessary to consider this
document to decide Mr. Reddy's motion and, in any event,
finds his request for summary judgment premature. See CLT
Logistics v. River West Brands, 777 F.Supp.2d 1052, 1076
(E.D. Mich. 2011) (quoting Wells v. Corporate Accounts
Receivable, 683 F.Supp.2d 600, 602 (W.D. Mich. 2010))
(noting that courts in this Circuit generally find motions
for summary judgment filed before the close of discovery
premature); see also Vance By & Through Hammons v.
United States, 90 F.3d 1145, 1149 (6th Cir. 1995)
(reversing summary judgment because “no discovery was
conducted before the motion for summary judgment was filed
and decided”). The Court is therefore reviewing Mr.
Reddy's motion solely under Rule 12(b)(6)'s standard.
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal
sufficiency of the complaint. RMI Titanium Co. v.
Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir.
1996). A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is
subject to the same standard of review as a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d
416, 421 (6th Cir. 1998).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain
“detailed factual allegations, ” but it must
contain more than “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action . . ..” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint does not “suffice
if it tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Supreme Court provided in Iqbal and
Twombly, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. At 678
(quoting 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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard “does not
impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it
simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal
[conduct].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
deciding whether the plaintiff has set forth a
“plausible” claim, the court must accept the
factual allegations in the complaint as true. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). This presumption is not
applicable to legal conclusions, however. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 668. Therefore, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Ordinarily, the court may
not consider matters outside the pleadings when deciding a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Weiner v. Klais &
Co., Inc., 108 F.3d 86, 88 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing
Hammond v. Baldwin, 866 F.2d 172, 175 (6th Cir.
following facts are derived from Plaintiffs' Complaint.
8, 2013, shortly before 8:15 a.m., a fire broke out in the
kitchen of Marvaso's Italian Grille
(“Marvaso's”), a restaurant located on Wayne
Road in Westland, Michigan. Plaintiffs George and Mary
Marvaso leased and operated Marvaso's, as well as an
adjacent pool hall and charity poker facility called Electric
Stick. Their son, Plaintiff George F. Marvaso, was an
employee of Electric Stick. No. one was inside Marvaso's
or Electric Stick when the fire broke out. Wayne-Westland
Fire Department Firefighter Brian Woehlke died from smoke and
soot inhalation while fighting the fire.
from the Wayne-Westland Fire Department initially
investigated the fire, refusing the Michigan State Police
Department's offer to conduct the fire origin and cause
investigation. The Wayne-Westland Fire Marshal, Plaintiff
John Adams (“Fire Marshal Adams”), conducted an
on-scene investigation which revealed no accelerants.
Investigators who investigated the fire for the companies
that insured the buildings' landlord and the tenant
businesses classified the cause of the fire as
May 8, 2013 and June 30, 2013, the Michigan Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (“MIOSHA”)
investigated Woelke's death, conducting its
“closing conference” with Wayne-Westland Fire
Department officials on the latter date. The Fire Chief for
the Wayne-Westland Fire Department at the time was Defendant
Michael J. Reddy Jr. (“Fire Chief
Reddy”). During the meeting between MIOSHA and the
city's fire department officials, MIOSHA indicated that
it would be issuing citations to the fire department for
safety violations resulting in Woelke's death. On August
30, 2013, MIOSHA issued a citation to the City of Westland
for a “serious” violation of health and safety
regulations. The City subsequently acknowledged the citation
and agreed to pay the $3, 500 penalty assessed against it.
the Summer of 2013, Mr. Reddy invited Sunday Gains to lunch.
Mr. Reddy is the father of Fire Chief Reddy and was
previously the Fire Chief for the Westland Fire Department.
According to the initial complaint Plaintiffs filed in this
case, Sunday Gains is the daughter of George and Mary Marvaso
and was an employee of Electric Stick. During their
meeting, Mr. Reddy “leaned over and ...