Watts et al v. The Corrections Commission of the State of Michigan et al
ORDER re 2 granting Application to Proceed Without Prepaying Fees or Costs filed by Antonio Berry and dismissing the complaint. The Court certifies that an appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis because it would not be taken in good faith. Signed by District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds. (CBet)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
DORIAN DUANE WATTS and
Case No. 17-12958
Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds
THE CORRECTIONS COMMISSION OF
THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, et al.,
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA
PAUPERIS  AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' application to proceed in forma
pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Court has reviewed Plaintiffs' application and
affidavit and GRANTS their request to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. # 2). For the
reasons that follow, however, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs' complaint as frivolous pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
The standards governing in forma pauperis motions are set forth in 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a). The district court may authorize the commencement of a civil action without the
prepayment of fees or costs by a person who submits an affidavit that he “is unable to pay
such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Plaintiffs claim that they are
unemployed and rely on disability or worker's compensation payments for subsistence.
Based on this affidavit, the Court
grants Plaintiffs' application to proceed without
prepayment of fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
Even when a plaintiff establishes indigence, the district court must screen the
complaint as mandated by Congress in § 1915(e)(2). See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also
McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997). Specifically, the district court
is obligated to dismiss a civil complaint if it is “frivolous . . .; [or] fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted." § 1915(e)(2)(B). While the Court is mindful that a pro se
litigant’s complaint is held to “less stringent standards” than a complaint drafted by counsel,
it must contain facts sufficient to show that a redressable legal wrong has been committed.
See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). Dismissal
is appropriate where "the claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory[.]" Wilson
v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 600 (6th Cir. 1998).
Here, Plaintiffs sue fifteen Defendants for several unrelated reasons bringing a
number of constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 . The complaint contains vague
and general allegations of harassment by police and 36th District Court Judges. Plaintiffs
make allegations of "cover-ups," but it is unclear who covered up what. The complaint also
includes allegations against individuals and entities not named as defendants.
After reviewing the complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to follow the
rules of pleading set forth in Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which
requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Even liberally construing the complaint, the Court finds that
Plaintiffs have failed to allege factual grounds showing that they are entitled to any relief
from Defendants. As to Defendants Corrections Commission of the State of Michigan,
Detroit Federal Bureau of Investigation, Barbara McQuade, City of Detroit Traffic and
Ordinance Division, Mike Duggan, Detroit Friend of the Court, James Craig, Arthur
McNamara, Charles Reed, Robert Wallet, and James Raby, the complaint contains no
factual allegations of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
The Court further finds that some of Plaintiffs' claims are untimely. State law provides
the statute of limitations to be applied in a Section 1983 action for damages, and Michigan
has a three-year statute of limitations for such claims. Carroll v. Wilkerson, 782 F.2d 44,
45 (6th Cir.1986) (citing Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(8)). "The statute of limitations
begins to run when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis
of his action.” Trzebuckowski v. City of Cleveland, 319 F.3d 853, 856 (6th Cir. 2003)
(quotations and citations omitted).
As to Defendants Benny Napoleon and Marvin
Redmond, the allegations in the complaint relate to a drug raid that took place in October
1994--well before the three years prior to the filing of the complaint. As to Defendant Judge
Franco, the allegations in the complaint relate to a sentence of five days in jail that he
imposed on Plaintiff Watts in 1988, also well outside the statute of limitations period.
Additionally, Plaintiffs' allegations against Judge Franco and other 36th District Court
Judges fail because judges and judicial employees are entitled to absolute immunity on
claims for damages. See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9-10 (1991) (finding that a judge
performing judicial functions is absolutely immune from suit seeking monetary damages
even if acting erroneously, corruptly or in excess of jurisdiction); Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d
211, 221 (6th Cir.1996) (citing Mireles, 502 U.S. at 9); see also Kircher v. City of Ypsilanti,
458 F. Supp. 2d 439, 446-47 (E.D. Mich. 2006) (noting that judges are entitled to absolute
Lastly, Plaintiffs bring malicious prosecution, false arrest, and false imprisonment
claims against Defendant David Harmon, FBI agent. Where probable cause to arrest
exists, no constitutional violation occurs. Criss v. City of Kent, 867 F.2d 259 (6th Cir.
1988). Further, a plaintiff must allege four elements to proceed on a malicious prosecution
claim: (1) that a criminal prosecution was initiated against the plaintiff, and that the
defendant made, influenced, or participated in the decision to prosecute; (2) that there was
a lack of probable cause for the criminal prosecution; (3) that as a consequence of the legal
proceeding, the plaintiff suffered a deprivation of liberty, apart from the initial seizure; and
(4) that the criminal proceeding was resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Sykes v. Anderson,
625 F.3d 294, 308 (6th Cir. 2010).
The complaint in this case states:
Federal Agent Harmon did order Officer Pettit, Badge #2619, Precinct NWD to
arrenst [sic] Plaintiff on or around May 22, 2008, for threatening 36th District
Court Judge Marilyn E. Atkins on the telephone. The Plaintiff was arraigned
on May 23, 2008 and the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor charge.
Federal Agent David Harmon intentionally kept [the case] in the lien system for
6 years as a felony. Plaintiff continued to be arrested on felony charges for 6
years and he kept giving Plaintiff excessive bonds . . . . Plaintiff's case . . . was
eventually dismissed on September 12, 2014. The complaining witness
refused to prosecute Plaintiff again.
(Dkt. # 1 at 2).
Noticeably absent from the complaint is any allegation that Plaintiff Watts did not
threaten Judge Atkins or that Harmon lacked probable cause; any allegation regarding the
subsequent arrests; or any allegation that Harmon influenced or participated in the
decision(s) to prosecute. Accordingly, even assuming the above allegations are true,
Plaintiffs have failed to allege facts sufficient to show that Harmon committed a legal wrong.
The Court concludes that Plaintiffs have failed to state any claim against Defendants
upon which relief may be granted. This action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. In
addition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), this Court hereby certifies that an appeal may
not be taken in forma pauperis because it would not be taken in good faith. This order
closes the case in its entirety.
S/Nancy G. Edmunds
Nancy G. Edmunds
United States District Judge
Dated: October 17, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record
on October 17, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
S/Carol J. Bethel
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