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Wilson v. City of Shaker Heights

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

April 4, 2017

THE CITY OF SHAKER HEIGHTS, et al, Defendants.


          DONALD C. NUGENT United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint (ECF #1) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted filed by Defendant City of Shaker Heights ("City"). (ECF #12). In a separate Motion to Dismiss, Defendant Randolph Keller, Shaker Heights Prosecutor, ("Keller") moves to dismiss claims against the parties for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (ECF #13). Plaintiff, Gladys Wilson, opposes both Motions to Dismiss by Memorandum in Opposition. (ECF #16). The Defendants jointly replied with a brief in support of their Motions to Dismiss. (ECF #18). Defendant Officer Dunn has not moved for dismissal. For the reasons set forth herein. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (ECF #12, ECF #13) are GRANTED.


         In evaluating a motion to dismiss, a court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its factual allegations as true, and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). The court will not, however, accept conclusions of law or unwarranted inferences cast in the form of factual allegations. See Gregory v. Shelby County, 220 F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000); see also City of Heath, Ohio v. Ashland Oil, Inc., 834 F.Supp 971, 975 (S.D.Ohio 1993).

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide the grounds of the entitlement to relief, which requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. See Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. (internal citation omitted); see also Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland, No. 06-3823, 2007 WL 2768285, at *2 (6th Cir. Sept. 25, 2007) (recognizing that the Supreme Court "disavowed the oft-quoted Rule 12(b)(6) standard of Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)"). Accordingly, the claims set forth in a complaint must be plausible, rather than conceivable. See Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. Conclusory allegations, or legal conclusions asserted in lieu of factual allegations are not sufficient. Bishop v. Lucent Tech, Inc., 520 F.3d 516, 519 (6th Cir. 2008).

         On a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6), the court's inquiry is limited to the content of the complaint, although matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint may also be taken into account. See Amini v. Oberlin College, 259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001).


         In December of 2014, Plaintiffs neighbors complained to the police about handwritten signs Plaintiff had placed in her windows. (Complaint ¶ 11). On March 31, 2015, Officer Dunn executed an "Affidavit to Establish Probable Cause for the Issuance of Arrest Warrant" against the Plaintiff, seeking to charge her with Disorderly Conduct. (Complaint ¶ 13). Defendant Keller. in his role as Prosecutor for Shaker Heights, executed a "Complaint by Prosecuting Attorney upon Affidavit" against Plaintiff, charging her with Disorderly Conduct. (Complaint ¶ 14). On August 18, 2016, [2] Defendant Keller dismissed the charges against Plaintiff. (Complaint ¶ 20).

         Plaintiff filed suit on August 31, 2016. against the City of Shaker Heights, Officer Martin Dunn, and Prosecutor Keller alleging 42 U.S.C. § 1983 malicious prosecution; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 deprivation of equal protection; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 deprivation of due process; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 deprivation of free speech; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 deprivation of the rights to liberty, safety, and privacy; and intentional infliction of emotional distress.


         I. Federal § 1983 Claims

         A. City of Shaker Heights

         Plaintiff alleges five § 1983 claims against Defendant City of Shaker Heights: (1) malicious prosecution; (2) deprivation of equal protection; (3) deprivation of substantive and procedural due process; (4) deprivation of free speech and freedom of expression; and (5) deprivation of liberty, safety, and privacy. To establish liability against a city for a § 1983 claim, the plaintiff must allege that: (1) a Constitutional violation occurred, and (2) the City is "responsible for that violation." Graham v. County of Washtenaw, 358 F.3d 377, 382 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Doe v. Claiborne Cty., 103 F.3d 495, 505-06 (6th Cir. 1996)). "[I]t is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983/' Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). A plaintiff may prove the existence of a municipality's illegal policy or custom in one of four ways: (1) the municipality's legislative enactments or official agency policies; (2) actions taken by officials with final decision-making authority; (3) a policy of inadequate training or supervision; or (4) a custom of tolerance or acquiescence of federal rights violations. Thomas v. City of Chattanooga, 398 F.3d 426, 429 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 694). Respondeat superior or vicarious liability does not attach under § 1983. City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 694).

         "To merely state that the City has a policy or custom is not enough; Plaintiff must allege facts, which if true, demonstrate the City's policy, such as examples of past situations where law enforcement officials have been instructed to ignore evidence.'' Williams v. City of Cleveland, No. 1:09-CV-1310, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61346, *12 (N.D. Ohio Jul. 16, 2009). Here, Plaintiff neither alleges an unconstitutional policy or custom of the City, nor supports her claims with any facts regarding an unconstitutional policy or custom of the City. Instead, Plaintiffs Complaint offers nothing more than threadbare assertions and conclusory ...

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