United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MONA K. MAJZOUB JUDGE.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT.
TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
in this case is the driver of a vehicle that was stopped,
searched and impounded by the Detroit Police on February 1,
2012. Plaintiff claims that in the course of this stop and
search Defendants, three individual police officers, their
supervisor and the City of Detroit, violated his First,
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and
that Defendants are liable under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
which permits federal lawsuits for violations of
constitutional rights. After conducting discovery, Defendants
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims, asserting
qualified immunity, and Plaintiff filed a Response (Dkts. 47,
49). The Court heard oral argument on Defendants' motion
on October 11, 2016 in Flint, Michigan.
reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is
GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's
municipal liability, supervisor liability, and Fifth, Sixth
and Fourteenth Amendment claims and DENIED
with respect to Plaintiff's First and Fourth Amendment
general outline of what happened on February 1, 2012 is not
disputed. At approximately 8:30 p.m., Defendant Officers
Brandon Shortridge, Jeffrey Elgert and Adam Verbeke
(“the Officers”) were working in the area of E.
Seven Mile Road and Hull Street in Detroit, Michigan. They
were assigned to “Special Operations, ” a patrol
focused on “major crime involvement.” (Dkt. 49,
Ex. 3 at 7). The Officers initiated a traffic stop of
Plaintiff Christopher Cain, a veteran with a physical
disability that impedes his walking. They directed Plaintiff
to exit his vehicle, patted him down (the parties dispute the
degree of force used here), issued him a ticket for failing
to possess a driver's license and drove his vehicle to
the police station before impounding it. After the incident,
Plaintiff called the Officers' supervisor, Sergeant
Michael Jackson, to relay what occurred and ask how to
recover his car.
parties' accounts differ regarding the details of what
happened during the incident and its aftermath. Officer
Shortridge testifies that the Officers pulled Plaintiff over
because he was speeding. (Dkt. 49, Ex. 1 at 6). Defendants
state in their brief that upon approaching Plaintiff's
vehicle, they observed him reach between the door and the
seat, in a manner consistent with attempting to conceal a
weapon. (Dkt. 47 at 4). The brief further states, with no
citation to the record, that Officer Shortridge then asked
Plaintiff to exit his car, patted him down for weapons, and
issued him a ticket and impounded his vehicle because he was
unable to produce his driver's license. (Id.).
In their deposition testimony, the Officers do not recall any
details of the incident except that Plaintiff was issued a
citation and his vehicle was impounded. (Dkt. 49, Ex. 1 at 7;
Ex.2 at 5; Ex.3 at 7).
to Plaintiff's testimony, he recalled exactly what
happened. Plaintiff denies that he was speeding and states
that the Officers were in no position to have made this
determination because they drove toward his vehicle from a
side street at a high rate of speed. (Dkt. 49, Ex. 5).
Plaintiff specifically denies that he made any type of
reaching movement as the Officers walked toward his vehicle.
(Id.) He notes too that they could not have seen
inside his car because it has heavily tinted windows.
(Id.). Plaintiff adds that when the Officers
surrounded his car, they were in black tactical gear without
badges and Officer Verbeke had his gun drawn. (Dkt. 49, Ex. 4
to Plaintiff, Officers Elgert and Shortridge pulled him out
of his car, without explanation, and placed him in a
“subdue position, ” injuring his arm and wrist.
(Dkt. 49 at 16-17). Specifically, Plaintiff
testifies that Officer Elgert “took my right hand, put
it up behind my back and basically spreaded [sic] my
legs” on the “hood” of the police car.
(Dkt. 49, Ex. 4 at 6-7). Officer Elgert then searched
Plaintiff, taking his wallet from his pants' pocket,
while Officers Verbeke and Shortridge searched his entire
vehicle and strew his property, including his cane, on the
ground outside. (Id. at 17). When Plaintiff
questioned the Officers' right to take these actions, he
said that Officer Shortridge replied, inter alia,
“Detroit is a dangerous city. We don't need a
damned search warrant.” (Id.). Plaintiff
states that the Officers then demanded his license and
registration and he responded that they were probably in the
car but the Officers refused to let him look for them.
(Id.). Instead, against the backdrop of
Plaintiff's continued protestations and demands for the
Officers' information, Officer Verbeke drove
Plaintiff's car away and Officer Shortridge stated
(presumably to Officer Elgert), “Fuck it. Do you want
to take him to jail?” (Id. at 18). Plaintiff
then stated, inter alia, “I don't
understand why you guys can do this? You don't know the
damn law? I don't see a badge, I don't see anything,
you didn't give me your name, ” to which he stated
that Officer Shortridge replied, “fine I'll give
you a ticket for no identification.” The Officers then
drove away, leaving Plaintiff stranded. (Id. at
Defendant Officers Elgert and Shortridge drove away,
Plaintiff testifies, he called Sergeant Jackson to explain
what happened, request a ride home and inquire about
retrieving his car. Plaintiff states that Sgt. Jackson told
him the police could not transport him, that he did not know
where Plaintiff's car was and that he should call back.
(Id. at 19). Finally, Plaintiff testifies that his knee
popped out on his walk home that night, he had to pay $150 to
get his car back, the ticket he received was eventually
dismissed and his license was actually inside the vehicle
when he retrieved it from the tow lot. (Id. at 20).
The Summary Judgment Standard in Qualified Immunity
succeed on summary judgment the movant must “show 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). According to the doctrine of qualified
immunity, however, government officials are shielded
“from standing trial for civil liability in their
performance of discretionary functions unless their actions
violate clearly established rights.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Consequently, at
the summary judgment stage of a § 1983 action against
police officers, even where the officers are the movants,
plaintiff has the burden to show that (1) the officers
violated a constitutional right and (2) that right was
clearly established. Quigley v. Tuong Vinh Thai, 707
F.3d 675, 680 (6th Cir. 2013)). Stated differently, plaintiff
must first make out a prima facie case for a violation of a
constitutional right and second, must establish that the law
was so clear at the time of the incident that a reasonable
officer in such a scenario would have known she was violating
it. Smith v. City of Wyoming, 821 F.3d 697, 708-09
(6th Cir. 2016).
plaintiff carries the burden of production where defendant
asserts qualified immunity, on summary judgment the Court
must still view the evidence, and draw all reasonable
inferences, in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). In
addition, “[a] party may object that the material cited
to support … a fact cannot be presented in a form that
would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(2), and “the burden is on the proponent to show
that the material is admissible as presented or to explain
the admissible form that is anticipated.” Id.
advisory committee's note to 2010 amendment.
district court determines plaintiff's evidence creates a
genuine issue of fact-i.e. is evidence on which a
jury could reasonably find for plaintiff-it must deny
Defendant summary judgment. DiLuzio v. Vill. of
Yorkville, 796 F.3d 604, 609 (6th Cir. 2015); see
also Gradisher v. City of Akron, 794 F.3d 574, 586 (6th
Cir. 2015) (“[w]here…the legal question of
qualified immunity turns upon which version of the facts one
accepts, the jury, not the judge, must determine
liability.”). The Sixth Circuit has “explicitly
found that a plaintiff's testimony is itself sufficient
to create a genuine issue of material fact.” Moran
v. Al Basit LLC, 788 F.3d 201, 206 (6th Cir. 2015).
Plaintiff's Municipal Liability, Fifth, Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendment Claims
initial matter, the Court will enter summary judgment in
favor of Defendants where Plaintiff's claims are
voluntarily conceded, admitted to have been unintentionally
brought or found to be redundant of other claims. At oral
argument, Plaintiff's counsel conceded that
Plaintiff's municipal liability claim was
unfounded. Plaintiff also admitted that his inclusion
of claims under the Fifth and Sixth Amendment in the Amended
Complaint was in error; he did not intend to make such
claims. (Dkt. 26). In addition, Plaintiff's counsel
stated that the Amended Complaint invoked the Fourteenth
Amendment only for purposes of the incorporation doctrine.
Because Congress intended § 1983 to provide statutory
authority to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment, it is
“redundant” to raise a Fourteenth Amendment claim
solely for incorporation purposes in a § 1983 claim.
Terrace Knolls, Inc. v. Dalton, Dalton, Little
& Newport, Inc., 571 F.Supp. 1086, 1090 (N.D. Ohio