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Crippen v. City of Midland

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

May 19, 2015

KRISTIE CRIPPEN, as Guardian and Next Friend of KIMBERLY CRIPPEN, a legally incapacitated individual, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MIDLAND, JEFFREY A. DOYLE, and GERALD LADWIG, in his individual capacity as the Midland Police Chief, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS CITY OF MIDLAND AND GERALD LADWIG'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL, AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT AS TO DEFENDANTS CITY OF MIDLAND AND GERALD LADWIG

THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, District Judge.

Defendants City of Midland and Chief Gerald Ladwig[1] move for summary judgment against Plaintiff Kimberly Crippen.[2] Defendants assert that Crippen cannot meet the high standard of municipal and individual liability required to maintain a 28 U.S.C. ยง 1983 cause of action. Crippen responds that she is able to establish that the City maintained an unconstitutional policy or custom of poor training and indifference to constitutional violations. She concedes, however, that she cannot meet the high standard of supervisory liability required to maintain her case against Chief Ladwig. Because Crippen cannot meet either standard, Defendants City of Midland and Chief Gerald Ladwig's motion for summary judgment will be granted and they will be dismissed from the case.

Crippen has also filed a motion to compel discovery from Defendant City of Midland. She seeks disciplinary records from Chief Ladwig's tenure as police chief. She claims that these documents are relevant to her cause of action because they are evidence of the City of Midland Police Department's unconstitutional policy and/or custom of inadequate supervision and acquiescence to constitutional violations by its police officers. But since the information sought-records of investigations actually undertaken and discipline actually meted out-is not relevant to the claim that the Department had a policy of not doing those things, the motion will be denied.

I.

The primary assertion in the case is that City of Midland police officer Jeffrey Doyle sexually assaulted Kimberly Crippen while investigating a theft Crippen perpetrated.

A.

On February 15, 2011, the City of Midland Police Department received a report of a "larceny from a building." Dep. of Steven L. London, ECF No. 29, Ex. 1 at 40. Kimberly Crippen had stolen a plant from a laundromat in Midland. Dep. of Kimberly Crippen, Id., Ex. 2 at 83. Crippen returned home with the plant after taking it. Id. at 83-84.

Officer Jeffrey Doyle received a dispatch from 911 to investigate the robbery. Dep. of Jeffrey Doyle, Id., Ex. 5. Doyle was unable to locate Crippen on the day of the incident. Doyle took the investigation back up the next day when he went to Crippen's house. Crippen lived in Sanford, Michigan at the time, outside the normal jurisdictional scope of the Midland City Police Department.

Upon arriving at Crippen's house, Doyle questioned her about the incident. Crippen admitted to stealing the plant but then stated that she had thrown it away in a dumpster behind her apartment building. Doyle retrieved the plant and placed it in his police vehicle. At that point, Doyle came back inside. What followed was the sexual assault of Kimberly Crippen.[3] After committing the assault, Doyle warned Crippen against telling anyone about what transpired.

B.

Once Doyle had left, Crippen informed her mother and daughter of the incident. Her mother immediately reported the attack to the City of Midland Police Department. Her report was met with incredulity by Sergeant London, the officer with whom Crippen's mother was put in contact.

Despite this initial resistance, Police Chief Gerald Ladwig informed the Michigan State Police of the allegations and the State Police initiated an investigation. Doyle was eventually arrested on charges of criminal sexual conduct, obstruction of justice, and extortion. Doyle pled no contest and is currently serving a term of 72 months' imprisonment.

C.

The sexual assault of Kimberly Crippen by Doyle was not the first time Doyle had been accused of improper sexual conduct while on duty. In 2009 a woman filed a complaint with the Midland Police Department alleging that Doyle sexually assaulted her while he was on duty. This individual claimed that Doyle was investigating a larceny at her home when he sexually assaulted her by fondling and digitally penetrating her. The complainant suffered from mental limitations. Chief Ladwig initiated an internal investigation of the incident and referred the incident to the Michigan State Police for a criminal investigation. The investigations were conducted completely separate from each other. Both investigations deemed the allegations to be unfounded and no charges were brought against Doyle.

The second incident arose in 2010. Doyle was accused of carrying on an extramarital sexual affair with a married woman while he was on duty. An investigation was opened into the accusations but they were deemed unfounded when the woman and her husband refused to speak with the investigating officer and when Doyle denied any sexual relationship with the woman. Doyle later admitted that he was in a consensual sexual relationship with the woman and had sexual contact with her once while on duty and once while off duty.

II.

A motion for summary judgment should be granted 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). The focus must be "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, 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of identifying where to look in the record for evidence "which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden then shifts to the opposing party who must set out specific facts showing "a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (citation omitted).

The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant when reviewing the evidence 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." Id. at 251-52, see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). "Entry of summary judgment is appropriate against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the ...


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