Constantino et al v. Washington et al

Filing 51

OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)

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C o n s t a n t i n o et al v. Michigan Department of State Police et al D o c . 51 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 , D e f e n d a n t. / OPINION In an order dated April 16, 2010, this Court granted Defendants' request that P la in tif f s' official capacity claim against Defendant Peter Munoz, then director of the D e p a rtm e n t of Michigan State Police, be dismissed because the claim was duplicative of P la in tif f s' claim against the State of Michigan and the Department of State Police. (Dkt. No. 2 0 .) This matter is now before the Court on Defendant Michigan Department of State P o lic e 's motion to amend the April 16, 2010, order to dismiss the Michigan Department of S ta te Police and to substitute the current director of the Department of State Police, Colonel E d d ie L. Washington, Jr., in his official capacity, because the Director, rather than the State, is the proper party to this action. (Dkt. No. 28.) Plaintiffs oppose the motion on the basis that they have neither pled nor requested any relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and they have not requested damages. Plaintiffs further assert Dockets.Justia.com th a t the State has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity by voluntarily removing this a c tio n to federal court. Plaintiffs have not articulated a sound basis for their opposition to Defendant's m o tio n . Plaintiffs have alleged violations of their rights under the Fourth, Fifth and F o u r t e e n t h Amendments to the United States Constitution. Although Plaintiffs have not req u ested relief pursuant to 1983, neither have they alleged an alternative statutory a u th o riz a tio n for the remedies they seek. "The Fourteenth Amendment establishes binding s ta n d a rd s of conduct for state and local government, but it does not authorize remedies when its provisions are breached. Section 1983 fills this void." 1 Martin A. Schwartz, Section 1 9 8 3 Litigation, 1.05[D], at 1-21 - 1-22 (4th ed. 2010); see Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 3 5 1 (1979) (Brennan, J., concurring) (noting that Congress enacted 1983 pursuant to its p o w e r under 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment). Section 1983 serves the "vital function of a u th o riz in g individuals to assert their federal rights against defendants who acted under color o f state law." Schwartz, 1.05[D], 1-21. See L. Tribe, American Constitutional Law 4-14, a t 763 (3d ed. 2000) ("With rare exceptions, the [Supreme] Court has not read the C o n s titu tio n to require particular remedies for violations of its express prohibitions; the c h o ic e of remedies is peculiarly a matter of policy, which requires the exercise of legislative ju d g m e n t or equitable discretion."). The Court assumes that Plaintiffs' case is brought p u rsua n t to 1983 because Plaintiffs have not articulated an alternative statutory a u th o riz a tio n for the declaratory and injunctive relief they are seeking. 2 S ec tio n 1983 only allows claims against "persons." 42 U.S.C. 1983. "[N]either a S ta te nor its officials acting in their official capacities are `persons' under 1983." Will v. M ic h ig a n Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Nevertheless, "a state official in his o r her official capacity, when sued for injunctive relief, would be a person under 1983 b e c au s e `official-capacity actions for prospective relief are not treated as actions against the S ta te .'" Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (quoting Kentucky v . Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167 n.14 (1985), and citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 1 5 9 -16 0 (1908)). In other words, in order for Plaintiffs to obtain the relief they are re q u e st in g , the proper party is the Director of the Michigan Department of State Police, a c tin g in his official capacity. Accordingly, Defendant Michigan Department of State P o lic e 's motion to amend the April 16, 2010, order to dismiss the Michigan Department of S ta te Police and to substitute the current director of the Department of State Police, Colonel E d d ie L. Washington, Jr., in his official capacity, (Dkt. No. 28) will be granted. A n order consistent with this opinion will be entered. Dated: October 19, 2010 /s/ Robert Holmes Bell ROBERT HOLMES BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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