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Curran v. City of Dearborn

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan

July 31, 2013

MARIANNE CURRAN as guardian ad litem for CHRISTINE KAY SCHMIDT, a legally incapacitated person. Plaintiff,

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For Marianne Curran, as guardian ad litem for Christine Schmidt, Plaintiff: Scott Murdoch, Murdoch Law Firm, Dearborn, MI.

For Dearborn, City of, Elizabeth L Disanto, City Attorney, Officer Walter Anhut, Police Officer, Officer George Earhart, Police Officer, Officer Daniel Goebel, Police Officer, Michael Ball, Police Officer, Officer Howard Harison, Police Officer, Defendants: Laurie M. Ellerbrake, Dearborn City Legal Department, Dearborn, MI.

For Nabil Hawily, Defendant: R. Soren Andersen, R Soren Andersen, Attorney, Royal Oak, MI.


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Honorable DAVID M. LAWSON, United States District Judge.


Plaintiff Christine Schmidt rented a house in Dearborn, Michigan from defendant Nabil Hawily. In March 2008, in the midst of an apparent rent dispute, Hawily secured the assistance of Dearborn city police officers, who arrested Schmidt and removed her from the house without a warrant or other legal process. Schmidt was prosecuted for a misdemeanor, but the case was dismissed. She filed a complaint

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on January 25, 2012 alleging a violation of her civil rights and various state law claims. Defendants City of Dearborn, assistant city attorney Elizabeth L. Disanto, police officers Walter Anhut, Michael Ball, George Earhart, Daniel Goebel, and Howard Harrison (the Dearborn defendants) moved for summary judgment. The dispositive issue is whether the plaintiff's claims are time barred, and that issue turns on whether the plaintiff was " insane" within the meaning of Michigan's tolling statute. The Court finds that the plaintiff has not presented evidence that creates a genuine question of fact on whether she was mentally incapacitated when her claim accrued continuously until at least one year before she filed her lawsuit. Therefore, the statute of limitations bars all her claims except her claim for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. However, the record facts do not support those claims. The Court will grant the motion for summary judgment and dismiss the case against all defendants except Nabil Hawily.


On the evening of March 15, 2008, plaintiff Christine Schmidt was at her rented home at 5287 Mead, in Dearborn, Michigan. According to Schmidt, she and her husband rented the house from their landlord, defendant Nabil Hawily. Schmidt had lived at the Mead address for four or five months. She and her husband shared both the upstairs and downstairs areas of the house, but Schmidt spent some time alone in the upstairs portion, because she smoked and her husband did not like the smell of smoke in the parts of the house that he used. At the time, Hawily was trying to sell the house, and he had come to the house to show it to buyers a number of times while Schmidt was there.

Around 10:30 p.m. on the evening of March 15, Hawily came by the house while Schmidt was home and knocked on the door. According to Hawily, he was attempting to collect overdue rent. Schmidt refused to let him in due to the late hour and because her husband was not home. Hawily got angry and told Schmidt he would call the police. He returned in the company of Dearborn Police officers around 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. According to the arrest report logged by defendant officer Walter Anhut, he and defendant officer Daniel Goebel responded to 5287 Mead in response to a complaint of " landlord tenant trouble." Hawily told the officers that he owned the home and had rented out part of it to a tenant living on the lower floor, but that the upper floor was supposed to be vacant. According to Hawily, an unknown person had illegally entered and was inside the upper floor portion of the house, refusing to leave. Hawily let the officers into the home, and they went upstairs to knock on the door to the second floor area. Schmidt refused to open the door, and a series of verbal exchanges ensued, the contents of which are disputed by the parties. According to the officers and Hawily, Schmidt cursed at them, insulted them, and told them to go away. Schmidt maintains that she told the officers several times that she was a tenant of the house, that she rented it from the owner, and that she had paid her rent.

Eventually, Anhut and Goebel summoned their superior, defendant Sergeant George Earhart, who came to the scene along with defendant officers Michael Ball and Howard Harrison. On Sergeant Earhart's order, and with Hawily's consent, the officers broke down the door to the apartment, went inside the second floor area, and arrested Schmidt. Schmidt was taken to the Dearborn police department and booked for unlawful entry. On March 17, 2008, Schmidt was released on bond. On the day after the arrest, Hawily went to the house while Schmidt's husband was there, and Hawily removed some of

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Schmidt's furniture and other property from the second floor area. According to Hawily, Schmidt's husband told him only then that his wife had been living in the house with him and occupying the second floor.

The criminal case lingered for more than a year while Schmidt remained out on bond, and on March 31, 2009, the case was dismissed. The trial court found that Hawily's testimony was " totally incredible," that the house at 5287 Mead was a single-family residence, and that at the time of her arrest Schmidt had a Michigan driver license on her person that had a secretary of state change of address sticker affixed to the back listing her address as 5287 Mead. Schmidt has submitted various utility and tax bills addressed to her at the 5287 Mead home, which she asserts were in the apartment at the time the officers entered and arrested her. The trial court concluded that Hawily " used the police department to help collect rent for him," and admonished Hawily on the record: " Next time you want to enter somebody's premises [and] move somebody's goods out . . . you have to get an order from the court. That's what Landlord-Tenant court is for." Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 5, Hr'g Tr. at 98.

Schmidt filed her complaint in this Court on January 25, 2012. On April 9, 2012, she filed an amended complaint that contains fifteen counts. Her federal claims are pleaded under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and include allegations of unlawful arrest (count I), unlawful detention and confinement (count II), conspiracy to violate constitutional rights (count III), supervisory liability (count IV), malicious prosecution (count V), malicious abuse of process (count VI), deprivation of property (count VII), conversion (count XIII), and negligent supervision (count XV). She also pleads state law claims for false arrest and imprisonment (count VIII), assault and battery (count IX), conspiracy (count X), intentional infliction of emotional distress (count XI), negligent infliction of emotional distress (count XII), and gross negligence (count XIV). All defendants answered the amended complaint, and all defendants other than Hawily filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court heard oral argument on May 1, 2013.


Summary judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the Sixth Circuit has explained:

Both claimants and parties defending against a claim may move for summary judgment " with or without supporting affidavits." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (b). Such a motion presumes the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. The court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, and determine " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

Alexander v. CareSource , 576 F.3d 551, 557-58 (6th Cir. 2009).

" The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts." 576 F.3d at 558. (citing Mt. Lebanon Personal Care Home, Inc. v. Hoover Universal, Inc. , 276 F.3d 845, 848 (6th Cir. 2002)). " ...

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