United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. LITKOVITZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Craig Davalos brings this pro se action against defendants
Greg Morgan, the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, and
former Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety John
Borne, in his official capacity, alleging a violation of his
civil rights. This matter is before the Court on
defendant Director of the Ohio Department of Public
Safety's motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 8),
plaintiffs response in opposition (Doc. 15), and
defendant's reply memorandum (Doc. 21).
amended complaint alleges that on August 25, 2016, Hamilton
County Sheriff Sergeant Greg Morgan confiscated plaintiffs
van without a warrant. The van was later impounded by
authorities. As it relates to defendant Director of the Ohio
Department of Public Safety, the amended complaint alleges:
[Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety] through
the policies at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, has made
private ownership of my van impossible without committing
fraud or perjury; depriving and preventing me from ownership
of my property, the place where I shelter, without due
process of law.
In an attempt on 8-26-16 at The Ohio Department of Safety
Bureau of Motor Vehicles location at 1214 W. Kemper Road,
Forest Park Ohio 45240 at about 10:00 a.m., due to internal
rules and regulations supervised, administered and directed
by John Borne, has made it impossible for someone without a
physical residence to obtain a certificate of title without
committing perjury and fraud on the application for
Certificate of Title, thereby allowing no procedure to obtain
ownership, registration or insurance.
at 2, 3). Plaintiff alleges that "[t]he policies of the
Ohio Department of Safety Bureau of Motor Vehicles has/is
preventing me from owning my van, the place where I use to
shelter." (Doc. 3 at 4). As relief, plaintiff seeks
damages, an injunction ordering the return of plaintiff s
property, and a Court order requiring "the Ohio Bureau
of Motor Vehicles to develop a procedure and methodology for
ownership of my van that has no valid place of residence to
apply for a Certificate of Title." (Id. at 4).
The Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings should be
apply the same analysis to motions for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c) as they apply to motions to
dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Warrior Sports,
Inc. v. Nat 7 Collegiate Athletic Ass % 623
F.3d 281, 284 (6th Cir. 2010). "For purposes of a motion
for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material
allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be
taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the
moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to
judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget,
510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and
quotation marks omitted)). However, the Court need not accept
as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.
Id. (citing Mixon v. Ohio, 193 F.3d 389,
400 (6th Cir. 1999)).
withstand a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings,
"a complaint must contain direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements under some
viable legal theory." Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v.
III. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007).
"The factual allegations in the complaint need to be
sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to what claims
are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead 'sufficient
factual matter' to render the legal claim plausible,
i.e., more than merely possible.'" Fritz v.
Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir.
2010) (citing As her ofl v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
677-78 (2009)). A "legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation" need not be accepted as true, nor are
recitations of the elements of a cause of action sufficient.
Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609
(6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Although the
plaintiff need not plead specific facts, the "[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level" and to "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570). A plaintiff
must "plead[ ] factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
well-settled that a document filed pro se is "to be
liberally construed" and that a pro se complaint,
"however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers
[.]" Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
However, the Sixth Circuit has recognized that the Supreme
Court's liberal construction case law has not had the
effect of "abrogating] basic pleading essentials"
in pro se suits. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594
(6th Cir. 1989).
to defendant's answer is a letter from plaintiff to the
Ohio Department of Safety, Bureau of Motor Vehicles dated
June 7, 2018, which clarifies the factual circumstances
surrounding plaintiffs pro se complaint. (Doc. 7 at 6-9).
In the letter, plaintiff states that he has been homeless
since 2003 and had been living in his van when it was
confiscated by the Hamilton County Sheriffs Department on
August 25, 2016. Plaintiff was advised he would need proof of
ownership of the vehicle, i.e., a title or current
registration, before the van would be released to him.
Plaintiff possessed the previous owner's certificate of
title, a bill of sale in plaintiffs name, and the release of
lien from the previous owner. Plaintiff was advised that
these documents were not acceptable. When plaintiff went to
register the vehicle in his name, he was advised by an
employee of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that he would need
to supply a valid State of Ohio street address. Plaintiff
states that he is homeless and did not have a physical street
address. Plaintiff states he would have to supply a
"false" address, signed under penalty of perjury,
to get the van titled in his name so he could retrieve it
from the impound lot, which he refused to do. Plaintiff then
had an individual in his home state of Michigan obtain a
Michigan Certificate of Title for the vehicle in that
individual's name. The individual retrieved the van from
the impound lot and plaintiff now possesses the van.
Plaintiff states he has no option to obtain "legal"
ownership of the van without committing perjury.
Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety seeks
judgment on the pleadings on the basis that: (1) plaintiff
lacks standing to bring this action as his claim no longer
presents a live case or controversy because plaintiffs
vehicle is now titled, and (2) plaintiff fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted because he has not
alleged that the Director of ...