Peterson v. Clanton, et al
OPINION AND ORDER (1) Overruling Plaintiff's Objections (Dkt. 26 ), (2) Accepting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Dkt. 25 ), and (3) Granting Defendant County of Monroe's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 21 ). Signed by District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith. (Sandusky, K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
BRADLEY T. PETERSON,
Civil Action No. 16-CV-10353
HON. MARK A. GOLDSMITH
DANIEL CLANTON, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS (Dkt. 26), (2)
ACCEPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
(Dkt. 25), AND (3) GRANTING DEFENDANT COUNTY OF MONROE’S MOTION TO
DISMISS (Dkt. 21)
Plaintiff Bradley T. Peterson, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights case against
Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Compl. (Dkt. 1). The matter was referred to
Magistrate Judge David R. Grand for all pretrial proceedings. See Order of Referral (Dkt. 12).
On July 27, 2016, the magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Dkt. 25),
recommending that Defendant County of Monroe’s motion to dismiss (Dkt. 21) be granted and
that Peterson’s complaint be dismissed. Peterson filed an objection to the R&R (Dkt. 26). To
date, Monroe County has not filed a response. The Court reviews de novo any portion of the R&R
to which specific objections are timely filed. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). For the reasons discussed
below, the Court accepts the recommendation contained in the R&R and grants Monroe County’s
motion to dismiss.1
A. Peterson’s Objection
The factual background of this case is sufficiently explained in the magistrate judge’s R&R and
need not be repeated here.
Plaintiff begins his objection by summarizing his past and current litigation before this
Court. Peterson notes that the first lawsuit, Peterson v. County of Monroe, et al., No. 12-cv-11460,
was dismissed on a defense motion for summary judgment. Pl. Obj. at 2. Peterson then filed a
second suit against the same parties, in which he alleged that a fellow prisoner, Michael Green,
received favorable treatment from prison officials after threatening Peterson with a loaded shotgun.
See 3/27/2015 Op. & Order Peterson v. County of Monroe, et al., No. 14-cv-12863. Peterson
alleged that this was done in retaliation for earlier complaints made by Peterson against Monroe
County officials. Id. at 2. The lawsuit also alleged county officials failed to properly investigate
Peterson’s complaints. Id. This Court ultimately dismissed Peterson’s claims in that action. Id.
at 8. Peterson also notes that a third lawsuit, Peterson v. Moore, No. 15-cv-14190, is still pending
before this Court. Pl. Obj. at 3.
Regarding the current action, Peterson alleges that Defendants “have a history of revenge,
hatred, [and] assault” against him and that this pattern continued on September 11, 2015 when
Daniel Clanton, a corporal with the Monroe City Police Department, filed a police report, in which
he stated that Peterson made “terrorist threats” against law enforcement. Pl. Obj. at 2-4. Peterson
alleges that he was simply attempting to peacefully protest both his treatment while incarcerated,
as well as the previous dismissals of his lawsuits. Id. at 3. Peterson states that his “constitutional
rights to peacefully protest ended in police slander, deformation [sic, defamation], [and] threats of
use of violence against plaintiff with force.” Id. at 4-5. Peterson requests that this Court overrule
the R&R (Dkt. 25) and deny Monroe County’s motion to dismiss (Dkt. 21).
As the R&R recognized, a motion to dismiss tests a complaint’s legal sufficiency. The
complaint must contain “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While a court must construe all factual
allegations in the complaint as true, the same courtesy is not extended to bare legal conclusions,
even where such conclusions are couched as factual allegations. Id. The complaint’s factual
allegations must give rise to a “plausible claim for relief.” Id. at 679. “[A]llegations of a complaint
drafted by a pro se litigant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers in the sense that a pro se complaint will be liberally construed in determining whether it
fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th
1. Deprivation of a Constitutional Right
Peterson’s objection is that the evidence demonstrates Defendants have a history of
“revenge, hatred, [and], assault” against him, and that this behavior once again manifested itself
on September 11, 2015, when Clanton filed a police report in which he stated Peterson was making
“terrorist threats” against him. Peterson’s claim against Monroe County fails for multiple reasons.2
“A § 1983 claim must present two elements: (1) that there was the deprivation of a right
secured by the Constitution and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color
of state law.” Wittstock v. Mark A. Van Sile, Inc., 330 F.3d 899, 902 (6th Cir. 2003). Peterson
alleges in his complaint that he was defamed by the contents of Clanton’s police report. Compl. ¶
33. In Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693 (1976), the Supreme Court addressed whether a plaintiff is
deprived of any constitutional rights as the result of being defamed by state actors. In Paul, the
plaintiff brought suit after police officers handed out flyers that included his picture, which were
Peterson also alleges, for the first time in his objection, that “Defendants of Monroe County are
instigating and provoking the use of police-violence and threatening to use all police force against
the plaintiff in the future.” Pl. Obj. at 4. The Court will not consider new factual assertions made
for the first time in an objection to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation. Murr v.
United States, 200 F.3d 895, 901 n.1 (6th Cir. 2000).
entitled “active shoplifters.” Id. at 695. While the Sixth Circuit held that the plaintiff’s claim
amounted to a denial of procedural due process, the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that “the
interest in reputation alone” could not serve as the basis for a procedural due process claim. Id. at
711. The Sixth Circuit has since recognized that “[a]bsent a further injury, such as loss of a
government job or loss of a legal right or status, defamation, by itself, does not constitute a
remediable constitutional claim.” Voyticky v. Vill. of Timberlake, Ohio, 412 F.3d 669, 677 (6th
Cir. 2005). Peterson has alleged no such further injury. Because Peterson has failed to allege that
Monroe County deprived him of a constitutional right, his §1983 claim must be dismissed.
2. Municipal Liability
Even if Peterson could establish that Clanton’s police report deprived him of a
constitutional right, the actions of Clanton cannot be imputed to Monroe County. “A municipality
‘may not be sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents.’” Burgess
v. Fischer, 735 F.3d 462, 478 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of
N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). Rather, “[a] plaintiff raising a municipal liability claim under §
1983 must demonstrate that the alleged federal violation occurred because of a municipal policy
or custom.” Id. “A plaintiff can make a showing of an illegal policy or custom by demonstrating
one of the following: (1) the existence of an illegal official policy or legislative enactment; (2) that
an official with final decision making authority ratified illegal actions; (3) the existence of a policy
of inadequate training or supervision; or (4) the existence of a custom of tolerance or acquiescence
of federal rights violations.” Id.
Peterson fails to allege any policy, practice, or custom of Monroe County to deprive him
or others of their constitutional rights. His only allegation of wrongdoing is his claim that Clanton
defamed him in his September 11, 2015 police report. Compl. ¶ 33. This does not rise to the level
of an illegal official policy, a policy of inadequate training, a ratification of an illegal act, or a
custom of tolerance of federal rights violations.
Because Peterson has failed to allege that Monroe County deprived him of a constitutional
right, his claims against the county are dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court overrules Peterson’s objection (Dkt. 26), accepts the
recommendation contained in the magistrate judge’s R&R (Dkt. 25), and grants Monroe County’s
motion to dismiss (Dkt. 21).
Dated: February 22, 2017
s/Mark A. Goldsmith
MARK A. GOLDSMITH
United States District Judge
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record and any
unrepresented parties via the Court's ECF System to their respective email or First Class U.S. mail
addresses disclosed on the Notice of Electronic Filing on February 22, 2017.
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