Jordan v. Detroit, City of et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part 17 Motion to Dismiss; granting in part and denying in part 19 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JASMINE GUY JORDAN,
Case No. 11-10153
DETROIT, CITY OF, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO DISMISS
Plaintiff initiated this action on January 20, 2011, under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985,
and 1986 alleging violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. On May
31, 2011, Defendant Wayne County brought the instant motion under Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(c), asserting that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the
statute of limitations. Plaintiff responded on July 9, 2011. Defendant City of Detroit
joined this motion on June 14, 2011, and Plaintiff untimely responded on July 26, 2011.
Having reviewed the briefs, the court concludes a hearing on the motion is
unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons stated below, the court will
grant in part and deny in part Defendants’ motions.1
Two additional Defendants have not yet been identified or served in
conjunction with this action.
On October 30, 2007, Defendant police officers arrested Plaintiff, a seventeen
year-old African-American male, in the City of Detroit. The arrest was part of an
investigation into the armed robbery and murder of a man in front of his own apartment
building. Plaintiff was transported to the scene of the murder, where the victim’s fiancé
identified him as the shooter. Upon this identification, Plaintiff was charged with murder
and subsequently incarcerated in the adult section of the Wayne County Jail pending
trial. He remained incarcerated there until February 25, 2008, when all charges against
Plaintiff were dismissed after forensic tests and other exculpatory evidence established
When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff and accept all the factual allegations as true. Evans-Marshall v. Bd. of Educ.,
428 F.3d 223, 228 (6th Cir. 2005); Rossborough Mfg. Co. v. Trimble, 301 F.3d 482, 489
(6th Cir. 2002). “[T]he court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). However, “the tenet
that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).
The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Though decidedly
For purposes of this motion, the court accepts all facts alleged and recounts
the facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiff.
generous, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal
[A] plaintiff’s obligation to provide the “grounds” of his “entitle[ment]
to relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of a cause of action’s elements will not do. Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the complaint’s allegations are true.
Id. at 555 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). Further, the complaint must “give the defendant
fair notice of what the plaintiff’s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) abrogated on other grounds by Twombly, 550 U.S. 544.
In application, a “complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations
respecting all material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory.”
Eidson v. State of Tenn. Dep’t of Children’s Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634 (6th Cir. 2007)
(citation omitted). Therefore, “to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege
facts that, if accepted as true, are sufficient to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level and to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Hensley Mfg.
v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations and internal quotation
omitted). A court cannot, however, grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) based
upon its disbelief of a complaint’s factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
“In determining whether to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court primarily
considers the allegations in the complaint, although matters of public record, orders,
items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint, also
may be taken into account.” Amini v. Oberlin College, 259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001)
(emphasis omitted) (quoting Nieman v. NLO, Inc., 108 F.3d 1546, 1554 (6th Cir. 1997)).
An action may be properly dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) based on a statute-of-
limitations defense. See Rauch v. Day & Night Mfg. Corp., 576 F.2d 697 (6th Cir.
In assessing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(c), the courts employ the same
standards used in analyzing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See In Re DeLorean Motor Co.,
991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993).
A. Counts I and II
Defendants assert that the factual allegations demonstrate conclusively that
Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Because there is no
specific limitations period provided within 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 or 1985, “federal courts
apply the state personal injury statute of limitations.” Moore v. Potter, 47 F. App’x 318,
320 (6th Cir. 2002). In Michigan, the appropriate limitations period for these actions is
therefore three years. See Mich. Comp. Law § 600.5805(10); McCune v. City of Grand
Rapids, 842 F.2d 903, 906 (6th Cir. 1988). Under Defendants’ analysis, Plaintiff’s claim
accrued when he was arrested on October 30, 2007, and as a result his claims became
time-barred on October 31, 2010.
Even though it is well settled that the limitation period is governed by state law,
“the question of when a federal civil rights claim accrues remains one of federal law.”
Bowden v. City of Franklin, Ky., 13 F. App’x 266, 272 (6th Cir. 2001). Defendants
correctly state that a civil rights claim generally “accrues when the plaintiff knows or had
reason to know of the injury that is the basis of his action.” Id. at 273. However,
malicious prosecution claims accrue upon termination of the state criminal proceeding
because favorable termination of that proceeding is a required element of the claim.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 489-90 (1994). Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim
thus accrued in February 2008. His claim for damages arising from the alleged
malicious prosecution is therefore timely, as this action commenced in January 2011.
Any § 1983 claims for Plaintiff’s alleged false arrest or false imprisonment are
barred by the statute of limitations. Those causes of action accrued at the time Plaintiff
was arraigned or otherwise held pursuant to legal process. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384, 389-90 (2007); Heck, 512 U.S. at 484. The complaint and briefs are silent on the
exact date on which Plaintiff became held pursuant to such process. Therefore, the
court does not assume that this occurred after January 20, 2008—nearly three months
subsequent to his arrest. Once held subject to legal process, damages related to his
detention would be subsumed into the claim of malicious prosecution. See Wallace,
549 U.S. at 390.
Plaintiff argues his status as a minor at the time of his arrest, incarceration, and
prosecution tolled the statute of limitations on his claims until he reached the age of
majority, thus making an action brought within three years of his eighteenth birthday
timely. For this proposition, Plaintiff relies on Wallace, in which the Court recognized
the proper limitations period in Illinois for § 1983 claims was two years, id. at 387, and
because of plaintiff’s minor status he had two years after his eighteenth birthday in
which to bring such an action, id. at 392.
However, Wallace is properly read as simply endorsing the proposition that the
relevant state’s tolling provisions be adopted. It is well established that federal courts
borrow the tolling rules of state tort actions for purposes of federal civil rights actions.
Hardin v. Straub, 490 U.S. 536, 543-44 (1989). The Court in Wallace applied a two
year statute of limitations because that was the period provided by the Illinois tolling
statute, not because that was the original statutory period. See 549 U.S. at 387-88
(citing 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-211). Michigan’s disability tolling provisions granted
Plaintiff an additional year after his eighteenth birthday in which to bring claims that
accrued while he was a minor and for which the limitations period had already run. See
Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5851(1). This extended the time to bring such claims to March
8, 2009. Since this action was commenced on January 20, 2011, more than one year
after Plaintiff’s eighteenth birthday, his disability will provide him no relief in this
Having reviewed the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the court finds
that any claims for damages related to false arrest or imprisonment are barred by the
statute of limitations. Plaintiff may maintain a claim under § 1983 solely for damages
related to his alleged malicious prosecution.
B. Count III
Defendants also assert Plaintiff’s § 1986 claims are barred by Michigan’s threeyear statute of limitations. However, Congress included a limitations period within the
text of § 1986. 42 U.S.C. § 1986 (“But no action under the provisions of this section
shall be sustained which is not commenced within one year after the cause of action
has accrued.”). Since Congress has provided a limitations period within the statute
itself, neither Michigan’s statute of limitations nor disability tolling provision apply. See
Johnson v. Ry. Exp. Agency, Inc., 489 F.2d 525, 530 (6th Cir. 1974) (“The state statute
of limitations and its savings clause are never reached in this case because the federal
statute is not silent.”). Plaintiff’s claims under § 1986 are, therefore, time-barred since
they accrued more than one year prior to commencement of this action.
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ motions to dismiss [Dkt. # 17 & 19] are
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. They are denied with respect to Plaintiff’s
claim for malicious prosecution, and granted with respect to all other claims.
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: July 29, 2011
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record
on this date, July 29, 2011, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/Lisa G. Wagner
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
S:\Cleland\JUDGE'S DESK\C1 ORDERS\11-10153.JORDAN.Motion.Dismiss.12(b)(6).SoL.bh.wpd
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