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Gupta v. Crane

February 26, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Robert Holmes Bell


Plaintiff Jiya Lal Gupta is a resident of Okemos, Michigan. Defendants Barton Crane and Dale Hausermann are police officers employed by Defendant Meridian Charter Township ("Township"). Plaintiff's action arises from the alleged assault, arrest, detention, and imprisonment of Plaintiff by Defendants on June 1, 2007. Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants. (Dkt. No. 14.) After consideration of Defendants' motion, the Court has determined that oral argument is not necessary.

I. Background

Shortly after 10:00 p.m. on the evening of June 1, 2007, a 911 caller reported that a man walking down the sidewalk in a residential area of the Township "appeared intoxicated" because he was "walking slowly" and "stumbling." Officers Crane and Hausermann responded to a dispatch to investigate.*fn1 Shortly before arriving at Plaintiff's location, Officer Hausermann pulled over and spoke with the caller. She told him:

He's on Yosemite headed that way now. He appears to be pretty drunk. I think. You know, he just stopped [inaudible] gonna go for a walk and he just stopped and he's staring, so, and he doesn't look familiar to me.... (Id.) Officer Crane made first contact with Plaintiff and asked him to stop. According to his affidavit, Plaintiff told Officer Crane that he was on his way home to have dinner, and pointed across the street to his house. (Dkt. No. 17, Pl.'s Br. in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A, Gupta Aff. ¶ 6.) At an evidentiary hearing in state court, Officer Crane testified that he smelled the odor of intoxicants on Plaintiff's person and saw Plaintiff stumbling and having difficulty standing. (Dkt. No. 15, Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 3, 04/12/2007 Hr'g Tr. 9.) The video, which this Court viewed in conjunction with this motion, shows that, when Officer Hausermann arrived at the scene, Plaintiff was standing on the sidewalk surrounded by several officers. Plaintiff told the officers that his name was "Jay"*fn2 and his last name was "Gupta." Plaintiff told Defendants that he was on private property and that Defendants should talk to "Dave" their "chief" because "he knows me." Defendants asked if he was referring to Dave Hall, and Plaintiff replied that he was. An officer asked Plaintiff if his name was "Gupta, Gupta" and Plaintiff responded "Yes, yes." Officer Crane asked Plaintiff for his date of birth and Plaintiff responded, "Okay, talk to Dave Hall, good-bye. Dave Hall, go talk to Dave Hall." One of the officers told Plaintiff that they were concerned for Plaintiff's safety because he was stumbling and having difficulty walking. Plaintiff repeated "No, no, Dave Hall." An officer told Plaintiff that he was being loud. Plaintiff told the officers that he was on private property, said "good-bye" several times and walked away toward the street. The officers told Plaintiff several times to "hang on" and "come here." Officer Crane and another officer followed Plaintiff. One officer stated "Listen to me sir," and another stated, "Okay, now you're intoxicated in public. Whoa," as Plaintiff walked into the street and out of view of the camera. Officer Hausermann remained on the sidewalk until the other officers following Plaintiff walked out of view of the camera. Officer Hausermann then ran across the street toward the location of the other officers. Plaintiff is not seen running on the video, but Defendants allege that he started running toward his house. Plaintiff alleges that he walked across the street and that, when he made it to the front lawn of his home, he was pulled down to the ground by one of the officers and placed into handcuffs. Plaintiff stated repeatedly that he was on his own property. Plaintiff was placed into Officer Hausermann's cruiser, wherein he gave his full name and refused to take a breathalyzer test. After some time, Plaintiff's wife came out of the house and spoke to him through the window of the cruiser. Plaintiff was then taken to jail in East Lansing. Plaintiff alleges that he was injured during the arrest and that, at the jail, officers aggressively attempted to remove his wedding ring and injured his finger. Plaintiff was kept in jail overnight and issued a ticket for disturbing the peace.

The prosecutor's office issued a complaint in 55th Judicial State District Court charging Plaintiff with obstructing/opposing law enforcement in violation of Township ordinance 50-141. Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss the charge. Prior to an evidentiary hearing on that motion, the prosecutor dismissed the disturbing-the-peace ticket and proceeded with the complaint. After an evidentiary hearing, the court dismissed the complaint.

Plaintiff's civil complaint alleges the following counts of violation of state and federal law: (Count I) assault and battery, (Count II) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (Count III) false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and abuse of process based on alleging criminal activity without probable cause and with malice, (Count IV) abuse of process based on using criminal process for ulterior motives or in retaliation for Plaintiff's constitutional right to disengage from an encounter with police, (Count V) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim based on failure to provide adequate training and instruction, (Count VI) § 1983 claim for violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments due to arrest and imprisonment without probable cause, (Count VII) § 1983 claim for punitive damages based on arrest without probable cause, (Count VII)*fn3 unfair and unjust treatment in violation of Art. I, § 17 of the Michigan Constitution, (Count VIII) gross negligence and recklessness, and (Count IX) claim for damages.

II. Analysis

A. Voluntarily Dismissed Claims

Plaintiff concedes to dismissal of his § 1983 claims against the officers in their official capacities. (Dkt. No. 17, Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss 5.) He also concedes to dismissal of his state law claims against the Township. (Id. at 20.) Finally, Plaintiff concedes to dismissal of the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim in Count II, the abuse-of-process claim in Count IV, his § 1983 claim for failure to train in Count V, and his claim for violation of the Michigan constitution in Count VII. (Id. at 6, 20, 21, 23.) Accordingly, the Court will dismiss foregoing claims with prejudice.

B. Section 1983 Claims

On a motion for summary judgment, the movant must show that "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In considering such a motion, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). To defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Plaintiff contends that his arrest and confinement violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Defendant officers contend that their actions did not violate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments and that, in ...

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