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Vaduva v. City of Xenia

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

October 23, 2017

VIRGIL VADUVA, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF XENIA, OHIO, et al., Defendants.

          Thomas M. Rose District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION[1] THAT: (1) DEFENDANT CAUPP'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (DOC. 12) BE GRANTED; (2) THE MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS FILED BY DEFENDANTS THE CITY OF XENIA, ENGLE, LONG, SMITH, MILLS, BAYLESS, OSBURN, AND PAZYNSKI BE GRANTED (DOC. 13); (3) PLAINTIFF'S OFFICIAL CAPACITY CLAIMS BE DISMISSED; AND (4) THAT THIS CASE REMAIN PENDING WITH REGARD TO CLAIMS AGAINST THE CITY

          Michael J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

         This civil case is before the Court on: (1) the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Defendant John Caupp (doc. 12), [2] to which Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition (doc. 18) and Caupp filed a reply (doc. 20); and (2) the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Defendants the City of Xenia, Michael Engle, Joshua Long, Wesley Smith, Jeanne Mills, Marsha Bayless, Jeffrey Osburn, and David Pazynski (doc. 13), [3] to which Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition (doc. 19) and Defendants file a reply (doc. 21). The Court has carefully considered all of the foregoing, and Defendants' motions are now ripe for decision.

         I.

         Plaintiff Virgil Vaduva (“Vaduva”), through counsel, brings this civil action against a number of officials and employees of the City of Xenia, Ohio (“the City”). Doc. 1 at PageID 1-9. The facts set forth herein include the allegations plead by Vaduva viewed in the light most favorable to him, as well as matters of public record. See infra.

         At the time relevant to the claims in this case, Defendants Michael Engle, Joshua Long, John Caupp, Wesley Smith and Jeanne Mills were all members of the Xenia City Council; Defendant Marsha Bayless was Xenia's Mayor; and Defendants Jeff Osburn and Dave Pazynski were employees of the Xenia Police Department. Id. at PageID 4-5. In June 2013, via the actions of Defendants Engle, Long, Caupp, Smith, Mills and Bayless, the City passed an ordinance -- Xenia Codified Ordinance (“XCO”) § 648.12 -- restricting panhandling within the City to limited areas. Doc. 1 at PageID 5.

         In February 2015, Vaduva was collecting donations for charity outside of Xenia City Hall and was cited for violating XCO § 648.12(b)(13). See id. at PageID 5-6; see also State v. Vaduva, 66 N.E.3d 212, 214 (Ohio Ct. App. 2016). Notably, XCO § 648.12(b)(13) states “[n]o person shall solicit for panhandling . . . [w]ithin 20 feet of the entrance or exit of any public facility[.]” Vaduva, 66 N.E.2d at 217. Panhandling is defined as “requesting, either verbally, in writing, or by gesture or other actions, money, items of value, donation, or other personal financial assistance.” XCO § 604.01; see also Vaduva, 66 N.E.2d at 217. Defendants Osburn and Pazynski issued the panhandling citation. Doc. 1 at PageID 6.

         Following issuance of the citation, Vaduva challenged the ordinance and the citation in Xenia Municipal Court as violative of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. at PageID 6. Vaduva's challenges were unsuccessful, and he was ultimately found guilty after trial and sentenced for panhandling in March 2015. Id. On appeal to the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals, Vaduva's conviction was reversed and the case remanded for a new trial. Vaduva, 66 N.E.3d at 223.[4] On remand, the case was dismissed by the prosecution. Doc. 1 at PageID 7.

         Vaduva now brings this action against Defendants alleging a violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as a claim alleging a conspiracy to violate his rights. Id. at PageID 7. In addition to asserting his constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Vaduva also purports to assert conspiracy claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985(c) and 1986.

         II.

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) operates to test the sufficiency of the complaint and permits dismissal for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The standard for reviewing a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same standard employed for reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Sensations, Inc. v. City of Grand Rapids, 526 F.3d 291, 295 (6th Cir. 2008).

         To show grounds for relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires that the complaint contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” While Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations' . . . it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Pleadings offering mere “‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In determining a motion to dismiss, “courts ‘are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Further, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id.

         In order “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In addition to well-pleaded allegations in the complaint, the Court may also consider “matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint, ” as well as documents attached to a defendant's motion to dismiss that are important to the plaintiff's claims or if referred to in the complaint. Amini v. Oberlin College, 259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted); Composite Tech., L.L.C. v. Inoplast Composites S.A. de C.V., 925 F.Supp.2d 868, 873 (S.D. Ohio 2013).

         A claim is plausible where “plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plausibility “is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but it has not ...


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