United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING THE MOTIONS OF DEFENDANTS
HALL AND DOLUNT TO DISMISS
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is presently before the Court on the motions of
defendants Hall and Dolunt for judgment on the pleadings or
to dismiss [docket entries 70 and 71]. Plaintiff has
not responded to these motions, and the time for him to do so
has expired. Pursuant to E.D. Mich. 7.1(f)(2), the Court
shall decide these motions without a hearing.
a former Detroit police officer, alleges that he was
wrongfully suspended (in 2010), prosecuted (in 2011), and
discharged (in 2013) after being falsely accused of receiving
pay for hours he had not worked. He also alleges that certain
of the defendants withheld information that would have
enabled him to disprove this accusation. Plaintiff asserts
claims against defendants, nine current and former members of
the Detroit Police Department, for violation of his due
process and equal protection rights, treating him differently
than similarly situated female police officers, negligence,
tortious interference with his rights under a collective
bargaining agreement, fraud, emotional distress, and
make a number of arguments in their motions, but the Court
finds one to be dispositive: “Plaintiff's claims
against [Defendants Hall and Dolunt] fail to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted where [plaintiff] fails to
establish any connection between [these Defendants] and the
allegations in his Second Amended Complaint”
(“SAC”). Defs.' Mots. at 2.
Court has searched the SAC and can find no substantive
allegations directed specifically to defendants Hall or
Dolunt. These two defendants are identified in the
“Parties” section of the SAC in ¶¶ 8
and 11, but specific allegations relating to them are
non-existent. Under Count I, plaintiff alleges that Dolunt
(along with defendants Moore, Walton, Serta, Lewis, and
Williams) “are liable to Plaintiff for violating his
Constitutional rights, ” SAC ¶ 49, but he does not
state what Dolunt allegedly did. Similarly under Count II,
plaintiff alleges that “[d]efendants Godbee, Craig,
Lever, Lewis, Dolunt, Moore, Walton, Sevenkesen, and
Williams” violated his due process and equal protection
rights, id. ¶ 55, but again he does not state
what Dolunt allegedly did. Under Count V, plaintiff alleges
that “[d]efendants Godbee, Lewis, Dolunt, Moore,
Walton, Sevenkesen, Williams, Hall and Lever”
interfered with his rights under a collective bargaining
agreement without alleging what each defendant specifically
did. Id. ¶ 73-74. In short, plaintiff makes no
allegations as to Dolunt or Hall that state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), [j]udgment on the pleadings is
proper “when no material issue of fact exists and the
party making the motion is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law.” Paskvan v. City of Cleveland Civil Serv.
Comm'n, 946 F.2d 1233, 1235 (6th Cir. 1991). The
“complaint must contain direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements under some
viable legal theory.” Commercial Money Ctr., Inc.
v. Ill. Union Ins., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007).
Accordingly, the court construes the complaint in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, accepts the well-pled
factual allegations as true, and determines whether the
complaint contains enough facts to make the legal claims
facially plausible. Id. (citing United States v.
Moriarty, 8 F.3d 329, 332 (6th Cir. 1993)).
Arsan v. Keller, No. 18-3858, 2019 WL 3494330, at *5
(6th Cir. Aug. 1, 2019). Similarly, under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), dismissal for failure to state a claim is proper if
the complaint does not “contain sufficient factual
matter . . . to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.
“Threadbare recitals of all the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. “Factual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
noted, plaintiff alleges only that “defendants, ”
collectively, violated his rights without alleging
specifically how each defendant did so. In Marcilis v.
Twp. of Redford, 693 F.3d 589 (6th Cir. 2012), the Sixth
Circuit affirmed the partial dismissal of the complaint due
to plaintiff's similarly general pleading style:
On appeal, Doyle and Livingston argue that the
Marcilises' complaint fails because it is a generalized
pleading that refers to all defendants generally and
categorically. Though we have not yet addressed this issue in
a published opinion, we have found, in an unpublished
opinion, that a complaint failed where a plaintiff “did
not allege that particular defendants performed the acts that
resulted in a deprivation of [plaintiff's] constitutional
rights. This is a requirement in Bivens actions such
as this one.” Kesterson v. Moritsugu, 149 F.3d
1183, No. 96-5898, 1998 WL 321008, at *4 (6th Cir. June 3,
1998) (unpublished table decision). The Tenth Circuit has
found that a complaint containing only collective references
to defendants does not adequately state a Bivens
claim. See Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1250
(10th Cir. 2008) (“Given the complaint's use of
either the collective term ‘Defendants' or a list
of the defendants named individually but with no distinction
as to what acts are attributable to whom, it is impossible
for any of these individuals to ascertain what particular
unconstitutional acts they are alleged to have
committed.”); see also Atuahene v. City of
Hartford, 10 Fed.Appx. 33, 34 (2d Cir. 2001) (“By
lumping all the defendants together in each claim and
providing no factual basis to distinguish their conduct, [the
plaintiff's] complaint failed to satisfy [the] minimum
standard” that “a complaint give each defendant
fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the
ground upon which it rests.” (internal quotation marks
omitted)). We have made similar statements in the context of
non-Bivens constitutional tort claims against
government actors. See, e.g., Lanman v. Hinson, 529
F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2008) (“This Court has
consistently held that damage claims against government
officials arising from alleged violations of constitutional
rights must allege, with particularity, facts that
demonstrate what each defendant did to violate the asserted
constitutional right.”). Requiring that federal
defendants be identified with particularity is also in accord
with how the Supreme Court discussed Bivens
liability in Iqbal: “Absent vicarious
liability, each Government official, his or her title
notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own
misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
677, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
The complaint mentions Doyle and Livingston only in paragraph
six, for the purposes of identifying them as employees of the
Drug Enforcement Administration. Otherwise, the complaint
makes only categorical references to
“Defendants.” We conclude that the district court
did not err in dismissing the claims against Doyle and
Livingston for failing to “allege, with particularity,
facts that demonstrate what each defendant did to violate the
asserted constitutional right.” Lanman, 529
F.3d at 684.
Id. at 596-97. This Court, following
Marcilis, has also dismissed the complaint where
“the complaint consists almost entirely of generalized
allegations against ‘defendants' collectively, as
opposed to specific allegations as to ‘what each
defendant did to violate the asserted constitutional
right.'” Campbell v. Worthy, No.
12-CV-11496, 2013 WL 2446287, at *2 (E.D. Mich. June 5,
in this case suffers from the same infirmity as the
complaints in Marcilis and Campbell. It
alleges that “defendants” violated his rights
without alleging how each defendant did so personally. The
Court concludes that the SAC fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted as to defendants Dolunt or Hall.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the motions of defendants
Dolunt and Hall to dismiss are granted.