United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Tania Grove, has sued Defendants Kent Wallace, Kinross
Charter Township, and Kim Holland regarding an incident that
occurred on September 2, 2013, in which Wallace forcefully
entered Grove's residence during a “civil
standby.” In her first amended complaint, Plaintiff
alleges that (1) Wallace violated her Fourth Amendment rights
(Count I); (2) the Township is liable for Wallace's
violation (Count II); (3) Holland committed assault and
battery (Count III); and (4) Wallace and Holland both
committed the tort of invasion of privacy-unlawful intrusion
on seclusion (Count IV).
and the Township move for summary judgment/dismissal on
Counts I, II, and IV, and Plaintiff moves for summary
judgment on Count I against Wallace. The Court heard oral
argument on the motions on December 7, 2016.
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Plaintiff
summary judgment and deny Wallace summary judgment on Count
I, grant the Township summary judgment on Count II, and grant
Wallace summary judgment on Count IV.
facts material to the instant motions are largely undisputed.
morning of September 2, 2013, Defendant Wallace, a police
officer with the Kinross Township Police Department, was
dispatched to 81 Evergreen Drive, Kincheloe, Michigan, for a
so-called “civil standby” requested by Defendant
Kim Holland. Plaintiff owned the residence, and Jason Grove,
Holland's ex-husband, who was Plaintiff's
then-fiancé, stayed there occasionally. Grove's
and Holland's three children, for whom they shared joint
custody, were staying with Plaintiff and Grove that week so
that the children could participate in 4-H competitions at
the Chippewa County Fair. Holland requested police presence
while she picked up the children from Grove.
morning, Plaintiff, Grove and the children had gone to the
fair grounds to take care of the children's animals.
After they returned home, around 9:00 a.m., they went to the
family room in the basement to watch movies. Later that
morning, before noon, Plaintiff left the residence to get
some exercise and locked the front door.
called the police around 11:00 a.m. When Wallace and Reserve
Officer Gary Grabendike arrived at the Evergreen address,
Holland told them that she was there to pick up her children
and no one was answering the knocks on the door even though
both vehicles (Plaintiff's and Grove's) were in the
driveway. Wallace knocked on the front door several times
without a response. Holland told Wallace that she was
supposed to pick up the children between 11:00 a.m. and noon;
Wallace suggested that they come back around noon and try
again. Wallace and Officer Grabendike returned to their
office, and Holland went to the fair grounds to search for
Grove and the children.
and Officer Grabendike returned to the residence around noon,
where they met Holland and her husband. Wallace, Officer
Grabendikek and the Hollands went to the front door, and
Wallace knocked several times. Receiving no answer, Wallace
told Holland and that there was nothing else he could do and
suggested that she file a complaint with the friend of the
court. As Wallace turned to walk away, he heard a baby or a
child crying. Wallace told Officer Grabendike that he
was going into the residence. Wallace then knocked on the
front door, announced himself, and yelled that he was going
to come in if the occupants did not answer. Receiving no
response, Wallace kicked the door several times with his foot
and forced it open. Wallace entered and yelled “police
department, ” at which point Grove came up the stairs.
Wallace demanded that Grove produce identification, and Grove
complied. Wallace left the residence after about ten minutes.
Fourth Amendment Claim Against Wallace
Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Wallace violated her Fourth
Amendment rights by entering her house without a warrant.
Wallace concedes that he lacked a warrant, but argues that
there were exigent circumstances and that, therefore, he is
entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff argues that she is
entitled to summary judgment because there were no exigent
circumstances and Wallace is not entitled to qualified
the doctrine of qualified immunity, ‘government
officials performing discretionary functions generally are
shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.'” Phillips v. Roane Cnty., 534 F.3d
531, 538 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738
(1982)). Once a defendant raises the qualified immunity
defense, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate
that the defendant official violated a right so clearly
established “that every ‘reasonable official
would have understood that what he [was] doing violate[d]
that right.'” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563
U.S. 731, 741, 131 S.Ct. 2074, 2083 (2011) (quoting
Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640, 107 S.Ct.
3034, 3039 (1987)). An officer is entitled to qualified
immunity either if he did not violate the plaintiff's