Miller v. Detroit, City of et al
ORDER GRANTING 36 MOTION OF DEFENDANTS WASHTENAW COUNTY, RUSH AND ARMSTRONG TO DISMISS. Signed by District Judge Bernard A. Friedman. (Loury, R)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Civil Action No. 12-CV-10186
HON. BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN
CITY OF DETROIT, et al.,
ORDER GRANTING MOTION OF DEFENDANTS
WASHTENAW COUNTY, RUSH AND ARMSTRONG TO DISMISS
This matter is presently before the Court on the motion of defendants Washtenaw
County, and Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies Eugene Rush and Steve Armstrong (“the
Washtenaw defendants”) to dismiss the complaint [docket entry 36]. Plaintiff has filed a response
in opposition. Pursuant to E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2), the Court shall decide this motion with a
This is a police misconduct action. In addition to the Washtenaw defendants, the
complaint names the City of Detroit and five Detroit police officers. Plaintiff alleges that on
12. . . . Defendants arrived at Plaintiff’s home and falsely arrested
Plaintiff for various crimes he did not commit . . . .
13. . . . Defendants unlawfully searched Plaintiff’s house and
intentionally tore the house up and damaged personal belongings of
14. Any warrants issued were lacking probable cause and were based
on false and/or misleading information.
15. . . . at the time the various crimes were allegedly committed,
Plaintiff was at work, a fact Defendants knew or should have known,
thereby [sic] Plaintiff could not have committed the crimes
Defendants falsely accused him of.
16. Plaintiff told Defendants of his alibi, but they refused to listen to
17. On the day of Plaintiff’s false arrest, Defendant Wideman came
into an interrogation room with a very large black man who was
“cracking his knuckles,” thereby intimidating and terrifying Plaintiff.
18. Plaintiff was then taken to the Ninth Precinct of the Detroit Police
Department where he stayed in jail for approximately the next three
21. A man named Tomicko, one of the individuals who was robbed,
informed Plaintiff that Defendant Wideman and the other Defendants
tried to get him to lie about the murders and robberies and tried to
coerce him into saying that Plaintiff was responsible.
23. Defendant Wideman and the other Defendants told Tomicko that
he was going to pick out Plaintiff as the perpetrator, but he refused
because Plaintiff was not involved.
24. Defendant Wideman threatened Plaintiff and told Plaintiff that
“he was coming after him.”
25. As a result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiff suffered
injuries and damages.
28. . . . Defendants acted under color of law and unreasonably when
they violated Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights . . . .
29. Defendants acted unreasonably and failed in their duty when they
detained/seized Plaintiff . . . .
30. Defendants acted under color of law and are not entitled to
qualified immunity . . . .
32. Defendants’ illegal acts were the direct and proximate cause of
Plaintiff’s deprivation of liberty and illegal incarceration and
33. Due to Defendant’s [sic] illegal acts, Plaintiff’s Fourth
Amendment rights were violated . . . .
35. That Plaintiff was illegally incarcerated for a crime that
Defendants knew he did not commit.
36. . . . Defendants had no actual knowledge or probable cause to
believe the charges would succeed . . . .
37. Defendants failed to properly and thoroughly conduct an
investigation, they manufactured probable cause, lied, and wrongfully
incarcerated Plaintiff for a crime Defendants knew he did not
38. Defendants were the initiators of Plaintiff’s wrongful prosecution
39. Defendants knew they falsely and recklessly built a case against
Plaintiff, . . . .
40. Defendants’ acts were the direct and proximate cause of
Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution, . . . .
44. . . . Defendants made a conscious decision to threaten and coerce
Plaintiff to make him confess to crimes he did not commit.
45. . . . the individual Defendants were acting in both their individual
and official capacities . . . .
46. That as a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ unlawful
actions against Plaintiff as described above, Plaintiff has suffered
injuries and damages.
47. As a result of Defendants’ violation/deprivation of Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights, Plaintiff has a viable claim . . . .
Comp. ¶¶ 12-47. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants City of Detroit and Washtenaw County are
liable due to their failure to train and supervise their officers, id. ¶¶ 48-53; and that “Defendants
were acting as police officers of the Detroit Police Department” and violated plaintiff’s rights “with
deliberate indifference and/or gross negligence.” Id. ¶¶ 54-61.
The Washtenaw defendants seek dismissal of the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. They rely on Marcilis v. Twp. of Redford, 693 F.3d 589 (6th
Cir. 2012). In that case – a multi-defendant police misconduct action filed by the same attorney who
represents plaintiff in the instant action – the district court dismissed the complaint as to two of the
defendants because plaintiff made only general allegations about the defendants collectively, but
failed to allege specifically how each individual defendant violated his rights. The district court
noted that “[c]ourts are hesitant to accept this form of generalized pleading, especially where § 1983
and/or Bivens claims are involved.” Marcilis v. Redford Twp., No. 09-11624 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 16,
2010), at 5. The district court dismissed the complaint as to the defendants who sought dismissal
on the strength of “post-Twombly/Iqbal cases dismissing § 1983 and/or Bivens claims where the
personal involvement of individual defendants was not pleaded.” Id. at 7. In affirming, the Sixth
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 plaintiffs 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
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.
The complaint in the present case suffers from the identical infirmity as did the
complaint in Marcilis. In both cases, 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.” Plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary are
the same arguments which were raised before and rejected by the district court and the court of
appeals in Marcilis. Plaintiff’s effort to limit Marcilis to Bivens actions is also unavailing, in light
of the court of appeals’ statement that more specificity than “defendants violated plaintiff’s rights”
is required not only in Bivens actions but also “in the context of non-Bivens constitutional tort claims
against government actors.” Id. at 596. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the Washtenaw defendants’ motion to dismiss is granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff may file a motion seeking leave to amend
the complaint within ten (10) days of the date of this order. If plaintiff files such a motion, the
proposed amended complaint must be attached thereto and it must comport with the pleading
requirements of Marcilis.
_s/ Bernard A. Friedman_________________
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: June 5, 2013
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