Constantino et al v. Washington et al
OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN S O U T H E R N DIVISION
S T A N L E Y CONSTANTINO, et al., P l a i n t if f s , F ile No. 1:09-CV-506 v. H O N . ROBERT HOLMES BELL M IC H IG A N DEPARTMENT OF STATE P O L IC E , et al., D e f e n d a n ts . / OPINION In this action for injunctive and declaratory relief, Plaintiffs Abate of Michigan (" A b a te " ), a Michigan non-profit corporation, and seven of its members, challenge M ic h ig a n 's motorcycle helmet law, Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.658(4),1 on its face and as a p p li e d . The action was originally filed in the Ingham County Circuit Court. Defendants
The Michigan motorcycle helmet law provides, in pertinent part:
A person operating or riding on a motorcycle . . . shall wear a crash helmet on h i s or her head. Crash helmets shall be approved by the department of state p o lic e . The department of state police shall promulgate rules for the im p le m e n ta tio n of this section pursuant to the administrative procedures act o f 1969, 1969 PA 306, MCL 24.201 to 24.328. Rules in effect on June 1, 1 9 7 0 , shall apply to helmets required by this act. Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.658(4). Violation of the statute is a civil infraction. Mich. Comp. L a w s § 257.656(1).
S ta te of Michigan, Department of State Police, and Col. Peter C. Munoz, Director of the M ic h ig a n Department of State Police, removed the action on the basis of federal question ju ris d ic tio n . Defendants have now moved to dismiss the entire action on the basis of lack o f standing, claim preclusion, failure to state a claim, and failure to demonstrate the need for injun ctiv e relief. (Dkt. No. 5.) For the reasons that follow the motion will be granted in part a n d denied in part. I. D ef en d an ts contend that Plaintiffs lack standing because their claims of future injury a re too speculative. In order to meet the case or controversy requirement of Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff must have standing, i.e., "a sufficiently concrete and redressable interest in the d is p u te ." Warshak v. United States, 532 F.3d 521, 525 (6th Cir. 2008) (en banc). To satisfy th e standing requirement, a plaintiff must establish that: (1 ) he or she has suffered an "injury in fact" that is (a) concrete and p a rtic u la riz e d and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) th e injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed b y a favorable decision. In the context of a declaratory judgment action, a lle g a tio n s of past injury alone are not sufficient to confer standing. The p l a in tif f must allege and/or demonstrate actual present harm or a significant p o s s ib ility of future harm. F ieg e r v. Mich. Sup. Ct., 553 F.3d 955, 962 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Fieger v. Ferry, 471 F .3 d 637, 643 (6th Cir. 2006)). "An association may obtain `standing to bring suit on behalf o f its members when its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right, 2
th e interests at stake are germane to the organization's purpose, and neither the claim asserted n o r the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.'" C le v e la n d Branch, NAACP v. City of Parma, 263 F.3d 513, 524 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting F r ie n d s of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., 528 U.S. 167, 181 (2000)). Where, as here, Defendants base their Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss on Plaintiffs' f a ilu re to allege sufficient facts in their complaint to create subject matter jurisdiction, the C o u rt is required to take the allegations in the complaint as true. See Nichols v. Muskingum C o ll., 318 F.3d 674, 677 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Jones v. City of Lakeland, 175 F.3d 410, 413 (6 th Cir.1999)). Defendants contend that because Plaintiffs are alleging only possible future injuries that they may be stopped, detained, and issued a helmet citation at some undetermined p o in t in the future their injuries are too speculative to confer standing. Defendants refer th e Court to Fieger, where the Sixth Circuit held that the plaintiffs' assertion that the threat o f being disciplined for violating the Michigan Supreme Court's courtesy and civility rules " c h ille d " his speech and conduct were not sufficient to confer standing. Id. at 962. The S ix th Circuit explained its holding as follows: [W]hile the challenged rules have been enforced, plaintiffs fail to sufficiently a rtic u la te their intended speech or conduct. They make only vague suggestions o f a general desire to criticize the Michigan judiciary. They have not presented su f f icie n t facts to demonstrate a threat of sanction arising from their u n s p e c if ie d future criticisms. Id . at 964.
In contrast to the allegations of unspecified future conduct that might trigger e n f o rc e m e n t of the disciplinary rule in Fieger, the conduct that might subject the Plaintiffs in the case before this Court to enforcement of the motorcycle helmet law is neither vague n o r unspecified. Each of the individual Plaintiffs has been stopped, detained, and issued a c ita tio n for wearing an illegal helmet. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Abate's mission is to protect the s ta tu to ry and constitutional rights of its members regarding motorcycling in Michigan and to champion the rights of motorcyclists to equitable, fair, and legal treatment regarding en fo rce m en t of the current motorcycle helmet law, Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.658(4). (C o m p l. ¶ 6.) The possibility that the individual Plaintiffs or other members of Abate may b e stopped, detained, and issued a helmet citation in the future for wearing apparently illegal m o to rc yc le helmets is neither conjectural nor hypothetical. There is a significant possibility th a t they may be stopped and cited for wearing an apparently illegal helmet in the future. P la in tif f s have alleged a sufficient likelihood of future harm to confer standing. Accordingly, D e f en d a n ts ' motion to dismiss for lack of standing will be denied. II. D e f e n d a n ts contend that Plaintiffs' claims are barred under the doctrine of claim p re c lu s io n or res judicata because they could have been raised in state court when the in d iv id u a l Plaintiffs challenged their citations. Plaintiffs respond that their claims are not b arred because Michigan district courts do not have jurisdiction to render declaratory ju d g m e n ts to enjoin enforcement of a Michigan statute.
" `[ A ] federal court must give to a state-court judgment the same preclusive effect as w o u ld be given that judgment under the law of the State in which the judgment was re n d e re d .'" Daubenmire v. City of Columbus, 507 F.3d 383, 389 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting M ig r a v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 465 U.S. 75, 81 (1984)). Michigan courts e m p lo y the doctrine of res judicata "to prevent multiple suits litigating the same cause of a c ti o n . " Adair v. State of Michigan, 680 N.W.2d 386, 396 (Mich. 2004). "[C]laim
p r e c lu s io n `bars a second, subsequent action when (1) the prior action was decided on the m e rits , (2) both actions involve the same parties or their privies, and (3) the matter in the s e c o n d case was, or could have been, resolved in the first.'" Executive Arts Studio, Inc. v. C ity of Grand Rapids, 391 F.3d 783, 795 (6th Cir. 2004) (quoting Adair, 680 N.W.2d at 396). " [ T ]h e party asserting preclusion bears the burden of proof." United States v. Dominguez, 3 5 9 F.3d 839, 842 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Detroit v. Qualls, 434 Mich. 340, 357-58, 454 N .W .2 d 374 (1990)). Defendants contend that all three elements of res judicata are present here: (1) the in d iv id u a l plaintiffs challenged the issuance of their citations (Compl. ¶ 5(e)); (2) both the p rio r actions regarding the citations and the current action involve the same individual P la in t if f s and the Michigan State Police; and, (3) the individual Plaintiffs could have c h a lle n g e d the enforceability of Michigan's helmet law as a defense in their civil infraction h e a rin g s in district court.
A lth o u g h Michigan has adopted a "broad approach to the doctrine of res judicata," A d a ir, 680 N.W.2d at 397, it is not as broad as Defendants suggest. As the Michigan S u p re m e Court explained in Adair, in applying the third element of the res judicata test w h e th e r the claim could have been brought in the earlier proceeding "the determinative q u e stio n is whether the claims in the instant case arose as part of the same transaction as d id the claims in [the earlier proceeding]." 680 N.W.2d at 398 (emphasis added). "Whether a factual grouping constitutes a transaction for purposes of res judicata is to be determined p ra g m a tic a lly, by considering whether the facts are related in time, space, origin or m o tiv a tio n , [and] whether they form a convenient trial unit . . . ." Id. (quoting 46 Am. Jur. 2 d , Judgments 533, at 801). In the case before this Court, the prior actions were prosecutions f o r civil infractions in the past. Those prior violations are not being challenged in this case. In s te a d , this case seeks an injunction against prosecutions for civil infractions in the future. P lain tiff s ' claims in the instant case arise out of future transactions that are not related in tim e , space, or origin to the prior prosecutions. Plaintiffs' claims in this case do not meet the th ird element of the res judicata test. The Court also notes that the two actions would not form a convenient trial unit. A h e lm e t citation is a civil infraction that is tried in state district court. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.656(1) (violation of § 257.658 is a civil infraction); Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.8301 (d is tric t court has jurisdiction over civil infraction actions). The district court is a court of rec o rd with authority to issue declaratory judgments. Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.8101(1);
M ic h . Ct. R. 2.605(A)(1). However, a district court's equitable jurisdiction is limited, and it has no authority to render the type of injunctive relief Plaintiffs seek in this action. See M ic h . Comp. Laws § 600.8302 (describing district court's limited equitable jurisdiction). Accordingly, because the Court finds that a prosecution for a civil helmet law in f ra c tio n and an action challenging future enforcement of the helmet law do not arise out o f the same transaction and would not form a convenient trial unit, the Court concludes that M ic h ig a n courts would not apply the doctrine of res judicata to bar this action. I I I. D e f en d a n ts move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against Defendant Munoz and P la in tif f s' facial and as-applied challenges to the constitutionality of Michigan's helmet law p u rs u a n t to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Fed. R. C iv . P 12(b)(6). "`[T]o survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain either direct or i n f e re n tia l allegations respecting all material elements to sustain a recovery under some v ia b le legal theory.'" In re Travel Agent Comm'n Antitrust Litig., 583 F.3d 896, 903 (6th C ir. 2009) (quoting Eidson v. State of Tenn. Dep't of Children's Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634 ( 6 t h Cir. 2007)). In reviewing the motion, the Court must "`construe the complaint in the lig h t most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable in f e re n c es in favor of the plaintiff,'" but "`need not accept as true legal conclusions or u n w a rra n te d factual inferences.'" Hunter v. Sec'y of U.S. Army, 565 F.3d 986, 992 (6th Cir.
2 0 0 9 ) (quoting Jones v. City of Cincinnati, 521 F.3d 555, 559 (6th Cir. 2008)). The c o m p la in t's factual allegations must be sufficient to "`raise a right to relief above the s p e c u la tiv e level,'" and "`state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" In re Travel A g en t Comm'n, 583 F.3d at 903 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2 0 0 7 )) . A. Claims against Defendant Munoz D e f en d a n ts move for dismissal of the claims against Defendant Munoz , Director of th e Michigan State Police. Defendants contend that the claims against Defendant Munoz in his individual capacity should be dismissed because Plaintiffs have neither requested m o n e y damages nor have they alleged any action taken by Defendant Munoz in his personal c a p a c ity. "Just as a plaintiff cannot sue a defendant in his official capacity for money damages, a plaintiff should not be able to sue a defendant in his individual capacity for an injunction in situations in which the injunction relates only to the official's job, i.e., his official c a p a c ity." Cmty. Mental Health Servs. of Belmont v. Mental Health & Recovery Bd., 150 F. A p p 'x 389, 401 (6th Cir. 2005) (unpublished). Although this statement is found in an u n p u b lish e d opinion, it is consistent with the positions adopted by the Second and Seventh C ir c u its . See Ameritech Corp. v. McCann, 297 F.3d 582, 586-87 (7th Cir. 2002) (holding th a t an action to hold state officials responsible to federal law cannot be achieved by a la w s u it against a state official in his or her individual capacity because "individual (or
p erso n al) capacity suits do not seek to conform the State's conduct to federal law; rather, su c h suits seek recovery from the defendant personally"); Frank v. Relin, 1 F.3d 1317, 1327 (2 n d Cir. 1993) (holding that a claim for equitable relief in the form of reinstatement could o n ly be obtained against the defendant in his official, not his individual, capacity); Feit v. W a r d , 886 F.2d 848, 858 (7th Cir. 1989) (holding that the plaintiff failed to state a claim a g a i n s t the defendants in their individual capacity where the equitable relief sought a d e c la ra tio n that the Forest Service policy was unconstitutional and an injunction barring the d e f en d a n ts from implementing the policy in the future could only be obtained from the d e f e n d a n ts in their official capacities, not as private individuals); see also Milligan v. United S ta te s, No. 3:07-CV-1053, 2008 WL 1994823, at *15 (M.D. Tenn. May 2, 2008) (holding th a t because any injunctive or declarative relief could only be obtained from the defendants in their official capacities, the claim for injunctive or declarative relief against defendants in their individual capacities was improper). In this action Plaintiffs seek to enjoin enforcement of the Michigan helmet law or, in th e alternative, to enjoin the state troopers' practice of stopping and detaining anyone on the b a sis of wearing an allegedly illegal helmet, of utilizing the state police publication "How to Recognize a Novelty Helmet" for purposes of determining whether a helmet is illegal, and o f detaining violators of the helmet law as a pretext for searching for evidence of other c rim in a l or civil infractions. The relief Plaintiffs seek can only be obtained from Defendant
M u n o z in his official capacity. Plaintiffs have accordingly failed to state a claim against D e f e n d a n t Munoz in his individual capacity. Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' claim against Defendant Munoz in his official c a p a c ity should also be dismissed because the claim is duplicative of Plaintiffs' claim against th e State of Michigan and the Department of State Police. Individuals sued in their official capacities stand in the shoes of the entity they re p re s e n t. Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802 (6th Cir.2003) (citing Kenktucky v. Graham, 473 U .S . 159, 165 (1985)). Accordingly, "[a] suit against an individual in his official capacity is the equivalent of a suit against the governmental entity." Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1 0 4 9 (6th Cir.1994). Consequently, Plaintiffs' claim against Defendant Munoz in his official c a p a c ity is duplicative of their claim against the State of Michigan and the Michigan State P o lice . Plaintiffs have articulated no reason and this Court can conceive of none not to d is m is s the official-capacity claims against Defendant Munoz, given that the plaintiffs have a lle g e d identical claims against the State and the State Police. See, e.g., Swartz Ambulance S e rv ., Inc. v. Genesee County, 666 F. Supp. 2d 721, 726 (E.D. Mich. 2009) (dismissing c la im s against county commissioners in their individual capacity as duplicative of the claims a g a in st the county); R.S.S.W., Inc. v. City of Keego Harbor, 18 F. Supp. 2d 738, 750 (E.D. M ic h . 1998) (dismissing claims against defendants in their official capacity as duplicative o f the claims against the municipality); see also Thompson v. Connick, 578 F.3d 293 (5th Cir. 2 0 0 9 ) (holding that it is proper to dismiss allegations against government officers in their
o f f icia l capacities when the allegations duplicate claims against the governmental entity itse lf ). Accordingly, Defendants' motion to dismiss the claims against Defendant Munoz in h is official capacity will be granted. B. Facial Challenge to the Helmet Law P la in t if f s have raised several facial challenges to the helmet law and the rules p r o m u l g a t e d under it. "[F]acial invalidation of a statute is a remedy that courts employ `s p a rin g ly and only as a last resort.'" Fieger v. Mich. Sup. Ct., 553 F.3d 955, 960 (6th Cir. 2 0 0 9 ) (quoting Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 613 (1973)). 1. Unconstitutional Delegation of Power Claim In Count II of their complaint, Plaintiffs assert that the helmet law violates the M ic h ig a n constitution because it illegally delegates legislative powers to the Department of S ta te Police. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that because the helmet law directs the
D e p a rtm e n t of State Police to "promulgate rules for the implementation of this section," but d o e s not contain any standards for those rules, it allows the State Police to "promulgate the law " in violation of Article 4, § 1 2 and Article 3, § 2 3 of the Michigan Constitution. (Compl. ¶ 35.)
Article 4, § 1 of the Michigan Constitution vests legislative power in a senate and a h o u s e of representatives. Article 3, § 2 of the Michigan Constitution provides for the separation of powers am o n g the three branches of State government and prohibits those who exercise the powers o f one branch of government from exercising the powers belonging to another branch. 11
In reviewing an improper delegation-of-powers claim, the Court is mindful that "`[t]he L e g is la tu re cannot delegate its power to make a law; but it can make a law to delegate a p o w e r to determine some fact, or state of things, upon which the law makes, or intends to m a k e , its own action depend.'" Michigan Cent. R. Co. v. Mich. R.R. Comm'n, 160 Mich. 3 5 5 , 361, 125 N.W. 549, 551 (Mich. 1910) (quoting King v. Concordia Fire Ins. Co., 140 M ic h . 258, 268, 103 N. W. 616, 620 (1905)). The Michigan helmet law requires a person operating or riding on a motorcycle to w e a r a "crash helmet" approved by the Department of State Police. As noted by the M ic h ig a n Supreme Court, a helmet is designed "to reduce injury to the cyclist," and the h e lm e t law furthers the legislature's permissible interest in designing a highway safety p ro g ra m "to reduce the consequences of accidents." City of Adrian v. Poucher, 247 N.W.2d 7 9 8 , 800 (Mich. 1976). The Michigan legislature has required helmets to reduce injuries, but h a s left the determination as to what kind of helmets will reduce injuries to the Michigan S tate Police. In so doing, the legislature did not delegate its power to make a law, but merely d e leg a ted the power to determine what facts would serve its intended goals. The statute o f f ers as reasonably precise guidance as the subject matter requires. The statute is not an u n c o n s titu tio n a l delegation of legislative powers. 2. Void for Vagueness Claim Defendants also move for dismissal of Plaintiffs' claim that the Rule adopted by the
D e p a rtm e n t of State Police is void for vagueness.4 Plaintiffs' complaint does not explicitly a lleg e that the Rule is unconstitutionally vague, but Plaintiffs do allege that although the Rule re q u ire s helmets to meet the "model specifications" established by the U.S. Department of T ra n sp o rta tio n (DOT) in 49 C.F.R. § 571.218, those regulations contain "performance r e q u ir e m e n t s" rather than "model specifications," and Plaintiffs further allege that those p e rf o rm a n c e requirements cannot be understood by a non-engineer. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 12.) To th e extent Plaintiffs made these allegations in an effort to state a void-for-vagueness claim, th e Court finds that the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. "It is a basic principle of due process that an enactment is void for vagueness if its p ro h ib itio n s are not clearly defined." Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1982). In order to survive a void-for-vagueness challenge, a law must "give the person of ordinary in te llig e n c e a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited," so that he may act
On July 27, 2000, the Department of State Police adopted the following rule pursuant to the Michigan Administrative Procedures Act: A p p ro v e d Equipment Rule 1. Motorcycle helmets shall meet the model s p e c if ic a tio n s established by the United States Department of Transportation, N a tio n a l Highway Safety Administration. These specifications, located at and id e n tif ie d as "Motor cycle Helmets", 49 C.F.R. § 571.218, published April 15, 1 9 8 8 in the Federal Register (53 FR 12529), effective October 3, 1988, are ad o p ted in these rules by reference. Printed copies of 49 C.F.R. § 571.218 are a v a ila b le for inspection and for distribution to the public at cost at the offices o f the Michigan Department of State Police . . . [and] from the United States G o v e rn m e n t Printing Office . . . . Mich. Admin. R. 28.951.
ac co rdin g ly, and "provide explicit standards for those who apply [the law]" so that arbitrary a n d discriminatory enforcement can be prevented. Id. at 108-09. "The degree of vagueness th a t the Constitution tolerates . . . depends in part on the nature of the enactment." Village o f Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, Hoffman Estates, Inc., 455 U.S. 489, 498 (1982). The S u p r e m e Court has expressed "greater tolerance of enactments with civil rather than criminal p e n a ltie s because the consequences of imprecision are qualitatively less severe." Id. at 49899. T h e federal standards contained in the U.S. DOT Rule, whether they are deemed " p e rf o rm a n c e requirements" or "model specifications," are not unconstitutionally vague. The D O T Rule describes with specificity the requirements concerning the portion of the head that m u st be covered, the positioning of the helmet on the head, the ability of the helmet to p ro v id e peripheral vision, the impact and penetration forces the helmet must be able to w ith s ta n d , the ability of the helmet to retain its position on the head during use, the labeling th a t must appear on the helmet, and the requirements for testing and certification by the m a n u f ac tu re r. 49 CFR § 571.218. The more technical aspects of the DOT Rule guide e n g in e e rs who design and certify the helmets and do not have to be understood by nonenginee rs . Accordingly, to the extent Plaintiffs' complaint raises a void-for-vagueness claim, th e claim is dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. C . Reliance on Guideline Defendants move for dismissal of Plaintiffs' allegation that the Michigan State Police
d o c u m e n t entitled "How to Recognize a Novelty Helmet" is illegal because the document w a s not promulgated pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act and does not have the f o rc e or effect of law. Defendants acknowledge that the Michigan State Police may not c irc u m v e n t the APA requirements by adopting a guideline in lieu of rules. See Mich. Comp. L a w s § 24.226 ("An agency shall not adopt a guideline in lieu of a rule."). Defendants c o n t e n d , however, that use of its internal publication as a field tool does not allow the M ic h ig a n State Police to do anything more extensive or different than does Rule 28.951. The standard enunciated by Michigan courts in determining whether something is an a c ce p ta b le guideline rather than an impermissible rule is whether the agency is seeking to do b y guideline what it could not otherwise do by rule. Am. Fed'n of State, County & Mun. E m p lo y e e s (AFSCME), AFL-CIO v. Dep't of Mental Health, 550 N.W.2d 190, 193 (Mich. 1 9 9 6 ) (citing Detroit Base Coal. for the Human Rights of the Handicapped v. Dep't of Soc. S e r v s ., 431 Mich. 172, 188, 428 N.W.2d 335 (1988)). "The label an agency gives to a d ire c tiv e is not determinative of whether it is a rule or a guideline under the APA." Id. Instead, the court is required "to review the `actual action undertaken by the directive, to see w h e th e r the policy being implemented has the effect of being a rule.'" Id. (quoting Detroit B a s e Coalition, 431 Mich. at 188.) Plaintiffs have alleged that Defendants rely on the document rather than on the Rule to determine the legality of a helmet, and they further allege that the document contains provisions, such as the thickness of the foam lining, that are not covered by the Rule.
(C o m p l. ¶¶ 13, 14.) Construing the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the C o u rt is satisfied that the complaint's factual allegations are sufficient to raise the right to re lie f above a speculative level and to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See In re Travel Agent Comm'n, 583 F.3d at 903. Accordingly, Defendants' motion for dismissal o f the claim regarding Defendants' reliance on the Rule will be denied. D. As-Applied Challenges to the Helmet Law P la in tif f s raise three challenges to the manner in which the helmet law is enforced. P la in tif fs allege that the helmet law as applied is invalid under Michigan law because tro o p e rs require the removal of helmets for inspection and detain motorcyclists longer than is necessary to prepare a written citation in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.742(1).5 (C o m p l. ¶¶ 15, 16.) Plaintiffs allege that the helmet law as applied violates their rights under th e Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution because the tro o p e rs do not have probable cause to believe that helmet-wearing motorcyclists are
The Michigan statute which governs citations for civil infractions provides in p e rtin e n t part: A police officer who witnesses a person violating this act or a local ordinance s u b s ta n tia lly corresponding to this act, which violation is a civil infraction, m a y stop the person, detain the person temporarily for purposes of making a re c o rd of vehicle check, and prepare and subscribe, as soon as possible and as c o m p l e te ly as possible, an original and 3 copies of a written citation, which s h a ll be a notice to appear in court for 1 or more civil infractions. M ic h . Comp. Laws § 257.742(1).
v io la tin g the helmet law. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Finally, Plaintiffs allege that the helmet law as a p p lie d violates their rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U n ite d States Constitution because the troopers use the helmet law as a pretext for examining w h e t h e r motorcyclists have the required motorcycle endorsement on their driver's licenses. (C o m p l. ¶¶ 18-19.) Defendants move for dismissal of Plaintiffs' as-applied challenges to the helmet law f o r failure to state claims on which relief can be granted. Defendants contend that when tr o o p e r s see a motorcyclist wearing a helmet that does not appear to meet federal standards, they have reasonable suspicion for an investigative stop under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1 9 6 8 ). Defendants further contend that the degree of intrusion involved in requiring m o to rc yc lis ts to remove their helmets for inspection is minimal and no more intrusive than is necessary to determine whether the helmet meets the federal standards adopted by the M ic h ig a n State Police in implementing Michigan's helmet law. See United States v. Perez, 4 4 0 F.3d 675, 683 (6th Cir. 2006) (holding that under Terry the investigative means used sh o u ld be "the least intrusive means reasonably available to verify or dispel the officer's s u s p ic io n s in a short period of time."). Defendants contend, in the alternative, that when an in iti al view leads a trooper to believe that a helmet is not compliant with the federal sta n d a rd s, the trooper has probable cause to perform a warrantless search under the plain v ie w doctrine and the vehicle exception to the warrant requirement. Defendants contend that
th e re is similarly no violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.742(1) based on either reasonable s u s p ic io n or probable cause. Several Sixth Circuit cases have identified a conflict in the circuit as to whether re a s o n a b le suspicion is sufficient to justify a traffic stop for a civil infraction. See, e.g., U n ited States v. Blair, 524 F.3d 740, 748 (6th Cir. 2008) ("Whether the police may stop a v e h ic le based on mere reasonable suspicion of a civil traffic violation is the subject of a c o n f lic t in our case law."); United States v. Sanford, 476 F.3d 391, 394 (6th Cir. 2007) (s a m e ). More recently, the Sixth Circuit has held that there is no conflict. United States v. S im p s o n , 520 F.3d 531, 538, 540 (6th Cir. 2008). The controlling Sixth Circuit authority on th e standard to be applied to traffic stops is United States v. Freeman, 209 F.3d 464 (6th Cir. 2 0 0 0 ), which invalidated a traffic stop where the police lacked probable cause. Simpson, 520 F .3 d at 538, 540. The Sixth Circuit noted that"virtually every other circuit court of appeals h a s held that reasonable suspicion suffices to justify an investigatory stop for a traffic v io la tio n ." Id. at 540. While the Simpson panel expressed "grave doubts" about the c o rre c tn e ss of Freeman in light of this "overwhelming precedent," it explained that Freeman is controlling authority because one panel of the Sixth Circuit cannot overrule the decision o f another panel. Id. In light of Simpson, this Court concludes that in the Sixth Circuit, p ro b a b le cause is required to justify a traffic stop on a civil infraction. "Probable cause is a reasonable ground for belief supported by less than prima facie proof but more than mere
s u s p ic io n ." Blair, 524 F.3d at 748 (citing United States v. Jackson, 470 F.3d 299, 306 (6th C ir. 2006)). Plaintiffs allege in their complaint that if a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet, there e x is ts no probable cause to stop and detain a motorcyclist for a helmet violation because a D O T sticker is not indicative of a helmet's compliance with the Rule, and the inside of the h e lm e t, which must be viewed to determine the helmet's compliance with the Rule, is not in p lain sight. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Whether troopers have probable cause to stop motorcyclists on the basis of apparently n o n -c o n f o rm in g helmets, and whether they have authority to require motorcyclists to remove t h e ir helmets for further examination, involve mixed issues of fact and law that are not p ro p e rly resolved in a motion to dismiss. The Court is satisfied that the complaint, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, is sufficient to state a claim that the Michigan helmet la w , as applied, violates Plaintiffs' rights under federal and state law. Accordingly,
D e f en d a n ts ' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' as-applied challenge to the helmet law for lack of p ro b a b le cause will be denied. However, to the extent Plaintiffs claim that the traffic stops a re unconstitutional because they are a pretext for examining licenses, Plaintiffs fail to state a claim on which relief can be granted. "[T]he legality of a traffic stop turns on the validity o f the officers' objective explanation for making the stop, not on the subjective intentions of th e officers in initiating the stop." United States v. Herbin, 343 F.3d 807, 809 (6th Cir. 2 0 0 3 ) (citing Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 812-13 (1996)). "A traffic stop
s u p p o rte d by probable cause, Whren makes clear, may not be invalidated under the Fourth (a n d Fourteenth) Amendment on the ground that the officers stopped the car for `pretextual' re a s o n s . . . ." Id. Accordingly, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss P la in tif f s' as-applied challenge to the extent it is based on the pretextual nature of the stop. IV. D e f en d a n ts have also moved for dismissal of Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief b ase d on their failure to demonstrate the need for the extraordinary remedy of preliminary o r permanent injunction. Defendants contend that Plaintiffs have not demonstrated either a s u b s ta n tia l likelihood of success on the merits of any of their claims, or irreparable injury, a n d that the public interest in upholding a statute regarding highway safety outweighs any in ju ry. Defendants are essentially requesting the Court to weigh the merits of Plaintiffs' c o m p l ain t to determine whether Plaintiffs are ultimately entitled to relief. That is not the p ro p e r purpose of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. "[W]hen a complaint a d e q u ate ly states a claim, it may not be dismissed based on a district court's assessment that th e plaintiff will fail to find evidentiary support for his allegations or prove his claim to the s a tis f a ctio n of the factfinder." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007). Accordingly, Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief will be d e n ie d .
V. F o r the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted in part a n d denied in part. To the extent Defendants move to dismiss the complaint on the basis of lac k of standing and claim preclusion, the motion will be denied. To the extent Defendants m o v e to dismiss the claims against Defendant Munoz in both his individual capacity and his o f f ic ia l capacity, the motion will be granted. To the extent Defendants move to dismiss P la in tif f s' facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute, the motion will be granted. T o the extent Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' "as applied" challenge to the c o n stitu tio n a lity of the statute, the motion will be granted as to the pretext argument, but d e n ie d in all other respects. To the extent Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claim for in ju n c tiv e relief, the motion will be denied. An order consistent with this opinion will be entered.
Dated: April 16, 2010
/s/ Robert Holmes Bell ROBERT HOLMES BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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