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Vargas v. City of Novi

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 15, 2015

CLARA VARGAS, Plaintiff,


R. STEVEN WHALEN, Magistrate Judge.

On or about December 18, 2013, Plaintiff Clara Vargas filed a pro se civil complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Finding that proper venue was in the Eastern District of Michigan, the Texas Court transferred the case to this District, which received the file on February 3, 2014. Before the Court is Defendant City of Novi's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment [Doc. #99], which has been referred for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons discussed below, I recommend that the motion be GRANTED and that the City of Novi be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


This case arises out of two encounters between Ms. Vargas and police officers from the City of Novi. The first occurred on June 29, 2013, when Ms. Vargas shoplifted shoes from a Macy's Department Store in Novi.[1] Macy's personnel contacted the Novi Police Department, and the two officers who were dispatched arrested Ms. Vargas for retail fraud. She was taken to the Novi Police Department, booked, and released a few hours later, pending issuance of a warrant. A misdemeanor warrant was issued on July 24, 2013. Defendant's Exhibit 5.

The second encounter occurred on July 26, 2013, at approximately 11:30 p.m. Ms. Vargas' former boyfriend, Tim Robertson, called the Novi Police Department to report a hit-and-run automobile accident. Police Officer Rachel Meier was dispatched, and Robertson told her that Ms. Vargas had been knocking on his door for some time, but that he refused to answer. He said that when Ms. Vargas left, she side-swiped a neighbor's car and then left the area. Defendant's Exhibit 7 (Police Report). While on the scene, Officer Meier saw Ms. Vargas drive toward them, but then make a u-turn. Following the car, Officer Meier saw Ms. Vargas get out of her car and start walking back toward the original incident. The Officer made contact with Ms. Vargas, who stated that she was not aware that she had struck another car. Officer Meier was informed by the dispatcher that Ms. Vargas had an outstanding warrant for retail fraud, with a $300 bond. She arrested Ms. Vargas for the warrant and for failure to stop and identify at a property damage accident. Id.

Unable to post bond, Ms. Vargas was taken before a magistrate at 12:24 p.m. the next day, July 27, 2013. She was given-and posted-a $150 cash bond, with a bond continuation of $300 for the retail fraud charge, and told to appear at the Novi District Court on July 29, 2013. Id.

On September 9, 2013, Ms. Vargas appeared in the Novi District Court and pled no contest to the charges of third-degree retail fraud and deactivation of a theft detection device. Defendant's Exhibit 6, Register of Actions in 52-1 District Court Case No. 13-003600. On the same day, she pled guilty to the charge of failing to stop/identify after a property damage accident. Defendant's Exhibit 8, Register of Actions in 52-1 District Court Case No. 13-003640.

On September 20, 2013, Ms. Vargas filed a pro se civil complaint against the City of Novi in 52-1 District Court Case No. 13-C07233-GC, based on her encounters with the Novi Police Department.[2] Defendant's Exhibit 1. In somewhat rambling fashion, she raised claims of lack of probable cause to arrest (presumably a Fourth Amendment claim); unlawful search (Fourth Amendment); false arrest/false imprisonment; Fifth Amendment/violation of Miranda [3]; Sixth Amendment right to counsel; Due Process/improper identification procedure; Libel and Slander; and conspiracy.

On February 18, 2014, Judge Brian W. MacKenzie granted Defendant's motion to compel discovery, ordering Ms. Vargas to provide full and complete answer's to the Defendant's discovery requests, and to appear for a video deposition. The judge advised her that her failure to comply with the terms of the order would result in dismissal of her case. Defendant's Exhibit 10. Defendant subsequently filed a motion to dismiss based on Ms. Vargas' failure to comply with the discovery order. On March 31, 2014, Judge MacKenzie dismissed Plaintiff's entire complaint with prejudice. Defendant's Exhibit 2.

Ms. Vargas' complaint in the present case is largely a repetition of the claims she made in her dismissed Novi District Court case. In a similarly disjointed fashion, she brings claims of illegal warrantless search without probable cause; illegal interrogation/ Miranda violation[4]; unlawful identification procedure; violation of right to counsel; libel and slander; false arrest and imprisonment; conspiracy; and "personal injury, " which she describes in the following general terms:

"Scaring (sic) and healing to be assessed by physician; Assessment to be a total with further incarceration on which required treatment was not provided. Assessment includes injury for a total of 21 days in jail and two years of treatments already prescribed. Scaring (sic) healing will be assessed in degree of persistence and easy of healing as well as persistence of pain."

On July 21, 2014, I ordered Ms. Vargas to file a response to the Defendant's motion by August 4, 2014 [Doc. #101]. Even though Ms. Vargas is registered as an efiler, and thus received electronic notice of this order, a copy was also mailed to her. To date, Ms. Vargas has not responded to this motion.


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