Gillispie v. Miami Twp.

Decision Date01 May 2019
Docket NumberCase No. 3:13-cv-416
PartiesROGER DEAN GILLISPIE, Plaintiff, v. MIAMI TOWNSHIP, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio

District Judge Thomas M. Rose

Magistrate Judge Sharon L. Ovington


After two trials, numerous appeals, and over twenty years in prison for crimes he alleges he did not commit, Plaintiff Roger Dean Gillispie brings this suit against Defendants alleging under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, suppression of exculpatory material, suggestive identification, fabricated evidence, malicious prosecution, and destruction of exculpatory evidence; and under Ohio law, malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional distress, spoliation of evidence, and indemnification. See Doc. #18.

This case is presently before the Court upon Defendants Robert Miller and Richard Wolfe's Motions to Dismiss (Doc. #s 117, 131); Defendant Matthew Scott Moore's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. #121); Defendant Miami Township's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. #123); Plaintiff'sResponses (Doc. #s 135-36, 139, 142); Defendants' Replies (Doc. #s 143, 144, 146, 147); and the record as a whole.


Because Defendants seek dismissal under Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(c), the Court accepts as true the Amended Complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, construes the Amended Complaint in Mr. Gillispie's favor, and draws all reasonable inferences in Mr. Gillispie's favor. Bickerstaff v. Lucarelli, 830 F.3d 388, 396 (6th Cir. 2016).

The events giving rise to the present case began in August 1988, when three women—one in Harrison Township and two sisters in Miami Township—were attacked and sexually assaulted. (Doc. #18, PageID #81). Mr. Gillispie alleges that he was "framed for [those] sexual assaults that he did not commit, and has spent over 20 years incarcerated as an innocent man." Id. at 77. He insists that "his conviction was no accident, as his wrongful conviction was the result of police misconduct perpetrated by officers from the Miami Township Police Department [(the Department)]." Id.

At the time of the assaults, Mr. Gillispie worked as a security guard for GM. Id. at 80. He alleges that Defendant Wolfe—a "high-ranking supervisor" at GM and a part-time officer at the Department—and the other GM Defendants (Miller, Stapleton, D. Burke, and R. Burke) "harbored malice" against him; targeted him for unfair treatment; and "agreed amongst themselves to cause him difficulties in his job." Id. at 83. GM eventually terminated Mr. Gillispie's employment; the harassment did not stop. Id. Instead, "in furtherance of the agreement to harass Mr. Gillispie and as a way to prevent him from [taking] action following his termination, the GM Defendants chose to useDefendant Wolfe's connections and ... employment with the Department to implicate Mr. Gillispie in the rapes." Id.

In Miami Township, Sergeant-Detective Steven Fritz and Detective-Corporal Gary Bailey investigated the assaults. Id. at 82. As part of the investigation, the Department created a flyer with a composite image of the perpetrator. Id. In an attempt to direct the rape investigation towards Mr. Gillispie, Defendant Wolfe and another GM Defendant took a copy of Mr. Gillispie's ID badge to a meeting with the investigating detectives and their superiors—Defendants Angel and Scothorn—and "claimed falsely that some GM employees had seen a composite, thought it looked like Mr. Gillispie ...." Id. at 84. After the meeting, Defendants Angel and Scothorn instructed Sergeant Fritz and Detective Bailey to investigate the GM Defendants' contention that Mr. Gillispie committed the assaults. Id. They "conducted an extensive investigation ..., and documented the steps of their investigation in supplementary reports." Id. at 85. Ultimately, they excluded Mr. Gillispie as a suspect. Id.

According to Mr. Gillispie, in June 1990—almost two years after the attacks—Defendants Angel, Scothorn, and Wilson reassigned the investigation of the sisters' sexual assaults to Defendant Moore. Id. at 86. According to Mr. Gillispie, "Thereafter, Defendants Moore and Wolfe set out to frame [him] for the sexual assault of the twins." Id. Defendant Wolfe returned to the Department—this time with several GM identification badges (including Mr. Gillispie's)—in "an attempt to make it appear as if [he] came to the Department with these photographs without Moore's assistance and that this was the first time Mr. Gillispie had been named by Defendant Wolfe or anyone atGM as the perpetrator of the rapes." Id. at 85-87. To that end, Defendant Officers removed several of Detective Bailey and Sergeant Fritz's supplemental reports from the case file. Id. at 87. These reports contained Detective Bailey and Sergeant Fritz's notes from the first meeting with Defendant Wolfe; their investigation of Mr. Gillispie; the pant size of the perpetrator that had been reported later by one of the victims; and a "myriad [of] other reasons Mr. Gillispie was eliminated as a suspect." Id. Eventually, the reports were destroyed. Id. Further, Defendant Moore "created unduly suggestive photo line-ups" and made "suggestive comments" to the victims. Id. at 87-88. Because of Defendant Moore's deceptive tactics, the victims identified Mr. Gillispie as their attacker. Id. at 88.

After Mr. Gillispie's arrest and leading up to his trial, the co-conspirators "pressured and manipulated witnesses, convincing some not to testify ...." Id. at 89. Defendant Moore altered transcriptions of witness interviews and eventually destroyed recordings. Id. He refused Mr. Gillispie's request to take a polygraph examination. Id. at 90. Defendant Officers destroyed evidence of Mr. Gillispie's alibi. Id. The conspiracy continued into the trial. As prosecuting witnesses, they "provided false and misleading testimony before the jury." Id. at 91.

Ultimately, in February 1991, a jury found Mr. Gillispie guilty of assaulting of all three victims. State of Ohio v. Gillispie, 1990 CR 02667, *1 (C.P. Montgomery Cnty. Nov. 30, 2015) (citing Gillispie v. Timmerman-Cooper, 835 F.Supp.2d 482, 487 (S.D. Ohio 2011) (Merz, M.J.). Based on newly discovered evidence, Mr. Gillispie wasgranted a new trial. Id. (citation omitted). In June 1991, he was convicted again and sentenced to prison for twenty-two to fifty years. Id. (citation omitted).

Throughout his incarceration (of over twenty years), Mr. Gillispie maintained his innocence and sought relief in both state and federal court. (Doc. #18, PageID #s 93-94); see Gillispie, 1990 CR 02667, *1-4 (citations omitted). His efforts eventually led to the remand of his case for a third trial. But before the third trial began in the Common Pleas Court of Montgomery County, Judge Steven K. Dankof granted Mr. Gillispie's "Motion to Compel Discovery, and If Required Discovery Is Not Produced, to Dismiss Indictment" and dismissed the Indictment. Gillispie, 1990 CR 02667. Upon appeal by the State, the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Dankof's judgment and the Ohio Supreme Court did not accept the State's appeal. See State v. Gillispie, 2016-Ohio-7688, 65 N.E.3d 791 (Ohio App. 2d 2016); State v. Gillispie, 150 Ohio St. 1409, 2017-Ohio-6964, 78 N.E.3d 909 (Table).


Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, "A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain: ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and ... a demand for the relief sought ...." This standard "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986)).

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. See RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.' A claim has facial plausibility when the 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citations omitted); see also Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) ("a complaint must contain (1) 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible,' (2) more than 'a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements,' and (3) allegations that suggest a 'right to relief above a speculative level.'") (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955); Adkisson v. Jacobs Eng'g Grp., Inc., 790 F.3d 641, 647 (6th Cir. 2015) ("when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the district court must 'construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all factual allegations as true.'") (quoting Laborers' Local 265 Pension Fund v. iShares Trust, 769 F.3d 399, 403 (6th Cir. 2014)).

"The standard of review for a Rule 12(c) motion is the same as for a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted)

A. Defendants Richard Wolfe & Robert Miller

Mr. Gillispie brings five counts against Defendants Richard Wolfe and Robert Miller under 42 U.S.C. § 1983—Count I: Suppression of Exculpatory Material; Count II: Suggestive Identification; Count III: Fabricated Evidence; Count IV: Malicious Prosecution; and Count V: Destruction of Exculpatory Evidence. Defendants Wolfe and Miller move to dismiss Counts I through V...

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