Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bogan v. Berrien County Sheriffs Department

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

January 7, 2020

JAMES DEMARCO BOGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
BERRIEN COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner 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 federal claims with prejudice for failure to state a claim. The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's state claims without prejudice.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at the Westville Correctional Facility in Westville, Indiana. However, the events which Plaintiff is complaining occurred in Berrien County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the Berrien County Sheriff's Department, Officer Joshua Sutherland, and Old National Bank employee Heath Watson.

         Plaintiff's complaint consists largely of conclusory assertions of wrongdoing, which culminated in the seizure of documents that were handed over to the Indiana State Police. Plaintiff's confinement in Indiana is presumably a result of this conduct. Plaintiff specifically alleges that on December 31, 2015, Defendant Watson told Defendant Sutherland that Old National Bank had suffered a loss of a promissory note made out by Plaintiff's father. Plaintiff asserts that neither Defendant Watson nor Defendant Sutherland are qualified to claim or enforce a loss on a note made out by Plaintiff's father.

         Plaintiff states that prior to December 31, 2015, Defendant Sutherland and other officers unlawfully executed a warrant on the home of Plaintiff's father. During the search, they ransacked several rooms and took several valuable documents that belonged to Plaintiff, his parents, and his children. Plaintiff asserts that this action constituted an assault on Plaintiff's elderly parents, who were present during the search. Defendant Sutherland left an inventory at the house, stating that he had taken “miscellaneous paperwork.” Following the search, Defendant Sutherland communicated with Defendant Watson in order to justify the unlawful search, knowing that Defendant Watson, who was a fraud investigator, was not authorized to report losses or gains on behalf of the bank. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Sutherland gave certain documents to the Indiana State Police, which affected Plaintiff's business interests. Plaintiff never actually identifies the nature of the documents taken or explains how he was harmed by that seizure.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under both state and federal law. Plaintiff further states that Defendant Sutherland's conduct constituted robbery and violated the rights of his parents, causing his mother to suffer significant mental anguish.[1] Plaintiff states that Defendant Berrien County Sheriff's Department is responsible for the conduct of its employees. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A 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-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         III. Conclusory assertions

         Initially, the Court notes that Plaintiff's complaint consists of vague and conclusory assertions of wrongdoing on the part of the named Defendants. 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. 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. The court need not accept “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . .” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. As noted above, Plaintiff fails to specify what documents were taken by Defendant Sutherland and how they impacted Plaintiff. Nor does Plaintiff allege how the communications between Defendant Watson and Defendants Sutherland violated Plaintiff' rights. Under the circumstances, Plaintiff's complaint fails to include sufficient facts to support a plausible claim for relief. Id. Because Plaintiff's complaint is supported by mere conclusory statements, it fails to state a claim.

         IV. Statute ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.