United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT  AND GRANTING IN PART
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
G. Edmunds United States District Judge.
January 2005, the Detroit City Council passed an ordinance
(the "Ordinance") granting special police powers to
officers working in the Animal Control Division
("ACD"). Specifically, the Ordinance provided that
ACD officers "shall have the right of entry",
without a warrant, "onto any . . . real property within
the City for the purpose of capturing . . . or restraining
any animal." Over a decade later, Plaintiffs, a group of
Detroit residents, filed this action challenging the
constitutionality of the Ordinance.
February 22, 2016, this Court granted Plaintiffs' request
for a preliminary injunction, finding that the Ordinance
"clearly [does] not comply with the Fourth
Amendment" because it "authorizes the City and its
agents to execute a search without a warrant or a legal
excuse for not obtaining one . . . ." Hardrick v.
City of Detroit, No. 15-13884, 2016 WL 692528, at *4
(E.D. Mich. Feb. 22, 2016). On this premise, Plaintiffs now
seek monetary damages against the City and Harry Ward, the
former Director of Detroit Animal Control. According to the
complaint, Defendants improperly seized Plaintiffs' pets
and failed to provide adequate post-deprivation remedies. In
addition to asserting two constitutional claims, Plaintiffs
maintain that Defendants operated the City shelter in a
grossly negligent manner, and that their conduct was
purposely designed to inflict emotional distress. Following
the close of discovery, both parties moved for summary
judgment, which the Court considers here. (Dkt. 54, 55). For
the reasons stated more fully below, the Court GRANTS IN PART
Defendants' motion and GRANTS IN PART Plaintiffs'
January 30, 2004, the Detroit City Council passed an
ordinance amending Chapter 6 of the City Code. Detroit City
Ordinance No. 04-04, § 1 (the “Animal Control
Ordinance” or the “Ordinance”). That
chapter, titled “Animal Control, Regulation and
Care”, governs the “care, control, regulation,
and disposition” of animals in the City of Detroit (the
“City”). Sec. 6-1-2. The Ordinance establishes a
framework for all-things related to the ownership of animals
within City limits- including, by way of example, licensing
and vaccination requirements, rabies control, and various
provisions specifically designed to address so-called
“dangerous” or “vicious” animals. A
violation of the Animal Control Ordinance is a misdemeanor
offense carrying a maximum fine of $500 and up to 90 days in
jail. Sec. 6-1-12(c).
case revolves around Section 6-1-2(e) of the Ordinance, which
[t]he animal control officers of the Animal Control Division
. . . shall have the right of entry, upon probable
cause of a violation of this chapter, onto any premises,
residence, or real property within the City for the purpose
of capturing, collecting, or restraining any animal. Further,
such officers shall have the right of entry, upon probable
cause, to any premises, residence, or real property for the
purpose of examining any animal suspected of having rabies,
having been exposed to rabies, or having attacked or bitten a
person or any animal.
Id. (“Section E”) (emphasis added).
While the Court has since enjoined the City from relying on
Section E,  see Hardrick v. City of Detroit,
No. 15-13884, 2016 WL 692528 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 22, 2016),
Plaintiffs' contend that Detroit Animal Control
("DAC") implemented "this ordinance by
routinely picking up [their] pets - without a warrant or any
recognized exception to the warrant requirement - on
penny-ante premises such as claims that the pets were
unlicensed." (Plfs' Mot. Summ. J., 1). The Court
endeavors to provide a brief overview of the specific facts
giving rise to Plaintiffs' individual
7, 2015, while Plaintiff Floyd Hardrick
("Hardrick") was at work, his dog
“Mama” jumped through a glass window and escaped
from the house. (Defs' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 2, Hardrick Dep.
Tr. 59:21-25). While Mama was running around the
neighborhood, a witness called the Detroit Police Department
or DAC and reported that she was loose. (Id. at Tr.
56:13-14). Upon arriving on the scene, Officer Malachi
Jackson testified that she "observed a white pit bull
mix (later identified as 'Mama') charging people and
fence jumping and going in and out of a broken window of the
house and acting in an aggressive fashion." (Defs'
Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 36, Jackson Aff. ¶ 5). According to
Hardrick, however, "witnesses on the block" later
told him that Mama wasn't vicious and that she didn't
attack anybody", (Id. at Tr. 56:13-14), but
rather that DAC chased her "with guns out, like they
were going to [shoot] . . . and that they scared the dog
outside the house and cornered it, . . . ."
(Id. at Tr. 61:15-23).
midst of DAC's pursuit, Mama successfully negotiated her
way back to the house, jumping through the broken window to
avoid capture. Fearing "an immediate threat to public
safety", Officer Clark pursued Mama into the house.
(Jackson Aff. ¶ 9). Once inside, Officers Clark and
Jackson located three dogs- “Puppy” who was in a
crate in the basement; “Rocky” who was secured to
a chain in the backyard; and Mama. (Id. at ¶
10). According to Officer Jackson, because "neither
Puppy nor Rocky were being properly cared for . . . . "
they seized all three dogs and transported them to the City
shelter. (Id.) There is no dispute that the Officers
entered Hardrick's home without a warrant or consent.
(Answer, Dkt. 11 at ¶¶ 23-29).
10 p.m. that evening, Hardrick returned from work "to
find all three of [his] dogs, including Puppy[, ] [missing] .
. . ." (Plfs' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 33, Hardrick Aff.
¶ 8). Neither "the DAC nor the Police Department
left a notice or otherwise advised [Hardrick] where [his]
dogs were taken." (Id.) After talking to his
neighbors and calling a number of local animal organizations,
Hardrick was able to deduce that his dogs were taken to the
City shelter. (Id. at ¶ 10). The following
morning, he reached out to DAC and was informed that he
"had to pay $130 [each] to get [his] dogs back."
(Hardrick Dep. Tr. 75:2-11). In the end, Hardrick was unable
to raise enough money to spring all three dogs, and he
"gave written consent for Mama and Puppy to be
euthanized." (Id. at Tr. 77: 11-16). As for
Rocky, Hardrick maintains that he "came home from the
DAC with a severe case of 'kennel cough'[, ] was
unable to bark at all and was coughing and spitting up a
white mucous/phlegm." (Hardrick Aff. ¶ 17). Rocky
died at home on the morning of July 21, 2015. (Id.).
12, 2015, DAC received a "Report of Animal Bite"
indicating that AT&T employee Julian Palmer was bit on
the left hand by a blue pitbull who allegedly resided at
16865 Wildemere in Detroit. (Defs' Mot. Summ J. Ex. 6,
Bite Report). Plaintiff Bianca Peterson lived at the address
identified in the report along with her fiancé and
blue pitbull, Rocco. Later that day, two DAC officers arrived
at Peterson's home and explained that, because Rocco
matched the description of the dog in the bite report, they
were required to take him to the shelter for a ten-day rabies
hold. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 7, Peterson Dep. Tr.
52-54). As Peterson explained, "I told them don't go
in my yard. I told them to get off my property without some
type of proof." (Id. at Tr. 58:23-25).
Eventually, however, she relented: "[t]hey told me
because of my refusal to turn him over that I would get
charged for harboring a vicious animal. With that charge, I
would have to pay $500. On top of that, I would serve 30 days
in jail for harboring a vicious animal . . . ."
(Id. at Tr. 58-59).
22, 2015, Rocco was released from the shelter. (Id.
at Tr. 64: 19-25). Three days later, he was taken to
Veterinary Emergency Service with "possible kennel
cough." (Plfs. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 6, Rocco Medical
Records). Rocco's condition continued to decline and, on
June 29, Peterson made the difficult decision to have him
euthanized. (Id.) While Rocco's cause of death
was never determined, he tested positive for heartworm
disease and his medical records indicate that "there
[was] a chance he could have . . . severe bronchopneumonia,
tracheal avulsion . . . or some other condition."
2015, Plaintiff Theresa Robinson ("Robinson") lived
with her two dogs, Sparkles and Diamond, on 7813 Warwick in
Detroit. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 42, Dep. Tr. 43-44).
At some point, Robinson defaulted on the terms of her lease
agreement, and she was ordered to vacate the premises.
(Id. Ex. 43, Judgment of Possession; Order of
Eviction). On October 5, 2015, several bailiffs arrived at
Robinson's home to reclaim the property. By the time
Robinson returned from running errands, "they had
already kicked the door in . . . . [and] Diamond and Sparkles
were already on the Detroit Animal Control truck."
(Id. Dep. Tr. 45:1-2; 47-48). After unsuccessfully
pleading with DAC to release Sparkles and Diamond, the dogs
were transported to the shelter and impounded. (Id.
Dep. Tr. 55-56). Neither dog was licensed or tagged at the
time they were removed from the residence. (Id. Dep.
two weeks later, Robinson went to the shelter to retrieve her
dogs. (Id. Dep. Tr. 56:23-25). Unfortunately,
Diamond had passed away, and DAC personnel were seemingly
unclear on the details. (Id. Dep. Tr. 57-58). After
paying $15 in license and vaccination fees, Sparkles was
released. (Id. Dep. Tr. 58: 8-11). According to
Robinson, when she "picked [Sparkles] up from the animal
shelter she had kennel cough, whatever that is, and she's
been making that same noise on and off ever since . . .
." (Id. Dep. Tr. 59:8-11). As of May 2016,
Sparkles was still alive. (Id. Dep. Tr. 58:13-14).
November, 2014, Plaintiff Rochelle Munson-Griffin's
("Griffin") dog Meijer killed a racoon in her
backyard. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 17, Griffin Dep. Tr.
30:3-6). While Meijer appeared to be fine, Griffin took him
to DAC to be examined. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 30:20-22).
Upon arriving, Griffin was informed by DAC personnel that,
due to Meijer's possible exposure to rabies, he was
required to be quarantined for ten-days at the shelter.
(Id. at Dep. Tr. 40:6-13). Griffin reluctantly
agreed, even though she later maintained that "they told
me I couldn't take my dog home, so I had no recourse at
that moment." (Id. at Dep. Tr. 40:17-20).
was released from the shelter on November 24. Despite
arriving "healthy as a lark", Griffin maintains
that Meijer's "entire body was in shock when he came
home to me. He had not been treated fairly. He had a cough.
He would not eat. [His] limbs were swollen . . . [and he]
walked with a limp." (Id. at Dep. Tr. 56:
6-14). Five days later, Meijer was admitted for emergency
treatment at Blue Pearl Veterinary. (Plfs. Mot. Summ. J. Ex.
9, Notice of Deceased Patient). Meijer's medical records
note that he "had moderate amounts of yellow-green
discharge OU from both nares, and was intermittently
coughing." (Id.). Ultimately, the attending
physician concluded "that this carries a poor prognosis
even with aggressive therapy in his current state", and
Griffin elected to have Meijer euthanized.
Frederick Douglass Weems
September 2015, Plaintiff Frederick Douglas Weems
("Weems") was living at 16560 Beaverland in Detroit
with his dog, Scrappy. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 40,
Weems Dep. Tr. 14:3-7). Weems was subleasing a room from an
individual known as "Fatman", who purportedly owned
the Beaverland property. On September 24, 2015, while Weems
was at work, he "received a call from a neighbor
indicating that the Detroit Land Bank was at the home with a
large truck, as well as the Detroit Police Department and
[DAC]." (Id. at Dep. Tr. 65:3-11). The neighbor
indicated that the Land Bank was removing Weems' personal
property from the home and preparing to take Scrappy to the
shelter. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 65:15-22). As it turned
out, the Wayne County Treasurer "acquired the
[Beaverland] property though foreclosure in 2014."
(Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 41, Camargo Aff. ¶3).
Despite Weems' request, DAC refused to release Scrappy to
the neighbor. (Id.).
days after Weems was evicted, he went to the shelter to check
on Scrappy. He soon learned that Scrappy's release was
conditioned on the payment of $130- covering a dog license,
vaccination, removal, and lodging fees. (Id. at Dep.
Tr. 70:7-25). Unfortunately, Weems did not have the cash on
hand, but indicated he would return on October 23 after he
was paid. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 73:13-15). On October 19,
Weems was informed that Scrappy had passed away.
(Id.) The DAC was unable to explain the
circumstances leading to Scrappy's death, but Weems
maintains that it was related to the condition of the
shelter. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 80:21-22). Aside from his
own general observations of the facility, Weems conceded that
he did not have any specific evidence in support of this
conclusion. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 81:3-6).
early June 2015, Plaintiff Rousia May ("May") was
sitting on the front porch with her two dogs,
"Brick" and "Pretty Mama"; neither dog
was restrained. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 3, May Dep. Tr.
42:13-17). Brick took off running towards Seven Mile.
(Id. at Dep. Tr. 42:23-25). May and Pretty Mama
separately pursued Brick until they reached the intersection
of Seven Mile and Strasburg. (Id. at Dep. Tr.
46:1-3). According to May, "I told Pretty Mama to stay
and sit [unrestrained] at the mailbox, and she did; so I
crossed Seven Mile to get Brick." (Id. at Dep.
Tr. 46:8-9). Shortly after crossing the street, May captured
Brick and carried him back to the mailbox. (Id. at
Dep. Tr. 47:2-6). To her surprise, "Animal Control had
already picked up Pretty Mama" and put her in the truck.
(Id. at Dep. Tr. 47:11-12). While it's unclear
exactly what happened next, May maintains that she
"picked Brick up and put him on the truck and asked
[Animal Control] to bring him [and Pretty Mama] home . . .
." (Id. at Dep. Tr. 48:9-11). Instead, DAC
transported both dogs to the shelter. May eventually
retrieved Pretty Mama after paying $100 in license and
vaccination fees, but Brick wasn't so lucky.
(Id. at Dep. Tr. 49). Because he was microchipped in
someone else's name, DAC policy required proof that
ownership was transferred to May. Unfortunately, Brick died
before May was able to acquire the proper documentation.
(Id. at Dep. Tr. 52:12-14).
9, 2015, Detroit Police were dispatched to 18973 Wormer on a
report that Frances Goodwin "was walking [eastbound]
¶ 7 mile pass[ed] Woodbine [street] with her son John
Sanford . . . . [when] a brown and white pitbull . . . took
off running . . . [and] chased after her son and bit him on
his right calf. The dog ran off after [the incident]."
(Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 22, Detroit Police Report at
1). Upon surveying the surrounding area, Officer Lauren
Russell observed "a brown and white pitbull loose with
his owner." (Id.). Plaintiff "Thomasina
McConnell of 18988 Woodbine  advised it was her dog. Ms.
McConnell stated her daughter Miah . . . took the dog outside
and he got off of the chain." (Id.). McConnell
agrees with this much, but "claims that nothing happened
between the time [her dog] Bam got out of the backyard and
the police showed up." (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 23,
McConnel Dep. Tr. 59:3-5). In other words, McConnell denies
that Bam ever bit anyone.
Russell advised McConnell that, in light of Sanford's
report-and presumably Bam's proximity to the scene of the
incident-Bam was required to be quarantined for ten-days at
the shelter. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 59:16-19). At the
Officers' direction, McConnell transported Bam to the
shelter. (Id. at Dep. Tr. 61:2-4). According to DAC
records, "Investigator Crosby spoke to [McConnell] who
[initially] said that she did not want the dog back and would
. . . permanently surrender all rights of ownership or
control of the dog." (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 25,
DPD Memorandum). Ultimately, however, McConnell refused to
sign the surrender form and was issued three misdemeanor
tickets for violating the following City ...