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Baez v. City of Cleveland

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

December 27, 2019

ANTONIO BAEZ, Plaintiff,
CITY OF CLEVELAND, et al., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Defendant City of Cleveland (“Cleveland”) moves for judgment on the pleadings on the claims asserted in Plaintiff Antonio Baez's (“Baez”) first amended complaint. ECF Doc. 27. The parties consented to my jurisdiction. ECF Doc. 16. After construing the allegations in the complaint in a light most favorable to Baez, the court must GRANT Cleveland's motion for judgment on the pleadings as further explained below. The court will DENY Baez's alternative motion for leave to file second amended complaint.

         II. Statement of Facts

         The following facts, taken from the pleadings, must be assumed to be true for purposes of this motion. On January 9, 2017, Richard Jackson, an employee of the Cleveland Police Department began investigating a sex crime involving a minor who was “touched” by a family friend named Antonio Baez. ECF Doc. 24 at 3-4. The case was referred to a grand jury on September 13, 2017; and, unfortunately, an indictment was returned on January 18, 2018, which charged the wrong Antonio Baez with rape, gross sexual imposition and kidnapping. ECF Doc. 24 at 5 and ECF Doc. 24-2 at 3.

         Plaintiff, who is the “wrong” Antonio Baez (“Baez”), works as a deputy sheriff with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office providing security in the Parma City School District. He is also an active member of the United States Army Reserve. He was deployed on active duty from approximately June 2018 to May 2019. ECF Doc. 24 at 6.

         In February 2018, Baez was informed by law enforcement that there was an active arrest warrant against him. His school employer was also informed and received a copy of the indictment charging Baez with crimes against a minor. When Baez's mistaken identity was realized, the case against him was dismissed and expunged on February 27, 2018. ECF Doc. 24 at 6-7.

         On November 19, 2018, Baez filed a complaint against the City of Cleveland and (ironically) the wrong detective, Quentin Johnson. His complaint was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and removed to this court on March 21, 2019. On September 4, 2019, Baez sought leave to name Defendant Richard Jackson as the detective who investigated and incorrectly charged Baez. ECF Doc. 19. The City of Cleveland opposed Baez's motion. ECF Doc. 22. However, on October 7, 2019, the court granted Baez's motion to amend (ECF Doc. 23); and he filed an amended complaint on October 15, 2019. ECF Doc. 24.

         Baez's amended complaint asserts the following claims: 1) a § 1983 action against Jackson for unlawful search and seizure; 2) a § 1983 action against Jackson for malicious prosecution; 3) a § 1983 action against Cleveland for customs and policies causing constitutional violations (a Monell claim); 4) defamation claims against both defendants; and 5) a malicious prosecution claim against both defendants. ECF Doc. 24.

         On November 4, 2019, Cleveland filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. ECF Doc. 27. Cleveland argues that Baez's Monell claim should be dismissed because he has failed to state, with any clarity, what constitutional rights were violated and has failed to articulate any factual allegations regarding a policy or custom that violated his constitutional rights. Cleveland also asserts that it is immune from Baez's state law tort claims pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code § 2744 et seq. ECF Doc. 27. Baez filed an opposition to Cleveland's motion on December 4, 2019. ECF Doc. 28. Cleveland filed a reply in support of its motion for judgment on the pleadings on December 17, 2019. ECF Doc. 30.

         III. Standard of Review

         A “motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is generally reviewed under the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Mellentine v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co., 515 Fed.Appx. 419, 423, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 3353 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing EEOC v. J.H. Routh Packing Co., 246 F.3d 850, 851 (6th Cir. 2001)). The court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all factual allegations as true. Kottmyer v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684, 688 (6th Cir. 2006). The factual allegations must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). In other words, the Rule 12(b)(6) standard requires that a plaintiff provide enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 569.

         While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Bare allegations without a factual context do not create a plausible claim. Ctr. for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Napolitano, 648 F.3d 365, 374 (6th Cir. 2011). A complaint must contain direct or inferential factual allegations respecting all the material elements under some viable legal theory. Mezibov v. Allen, 411 F.3d 712, 716 (6th Cir. 2005). The bare assertion of legal conclusions is not enough to constitute a claim for relief. Id. at 716.

         IV. Law ...

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