United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
F. Cox U.S. District Judge
Stephen Anjorin (“Plaintiff”) has filed a pro
se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff is proceeding without prepayment of the
filing fee for civil actions under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(1). Plaintiff names the following as defendants in
this action: (1) the City of Detroit; (2) Detroit Police
Chief James Craig; (3) Detroit Police Officer Morris Joseph;
(4) Detroit Police Officer Sheila Homic; and (5) Boulevard
& Trumbull Towing. Plaintiff's complaint stems from
the towing and resulting damage to several of Plaintiff's
vehicles. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in excess of $2
million as a result of Defendants' alleged conduct.
City of Detroit, James Craig, and Boulevard & Trumbull
have filed motion for summary judgment. This matter is
currently before the Court on both motions. (Doc. # 25,
Def.s' Br.; Doc. # 23, B&T Br.).
Boulevard & Trumbull argues that Plaintiff's claim
against it should be dismissed on three alternative grounds:
(1) that Boulevard & Trumbull complied with Michigan law
when it removed Plaintiff's vehicles at the direction of
the Detroit Police Department; (2) that Plaintiff's gross
negligence claim is barred by the signed release that
Plaintiff signed waiving any potential claims for damages
associated with the towing and storage of his vehicles; and
(3) that the evidence establishes that Boulevard &
Trumbull did not damage Plaintiff's vehicles.
City of Detroit and James Craig seek dismissal of
Plaintiff's complaint on various grounds, including: (1)
Defendant Craig and the defendant officers are immune from
tort liability; (2) Defendant Craig and the defendant
officers did not engage in conduct which was the proximate
cause of Plaintiff's injuries; (3) Plaintiff fails to
make any particularized factual allegations implicating
Defendant Craig; (4) Plaintiff fails to offer any evidence of
constitutional violations; and (5) Plaintiff's municipal
liability claim against the City of Detroit fails because
Plaintiff has not established that any alleged deprivation
occurred due to a policy, custom or practice.
Court heard oral argument as to the motions on May 11, 2017.
For the reasons stated below, the Court shall
GRANT Defendants' motions and dismiss
alleges that on September 29, 2014, at approximately 7 a.m.,
he was at his house located at 2440 West Euclid Street in
Detroit, Michigan. (Doc. # 30, Am. Compl. at ¶ 10). Upon
hearing noise downstairs, Plaintiff stepped outside of the
house and saw two unnamed Detroit police officers (presumably
Defendants Morris Joseph and Sheila Homic) and two tow trucks
belonging to Defendant Boulevard & Trumbull Towing.
(Id. at ¶¶ 12-13).
alleges that he was told by the Defendant officers that four
of his vehicles were being towed because they were stolen
property. (Id. at ¶ 15). Plaintiff further
claims that upon request, he was able to provide Defendants
with the title, registration, and insurance belonging to one
of his vehicles (a 1998 Toyota Corolla). (Id. at
¶ 17). According to Plaintiff, the Toyota Corolla was
subsequently released but the remaining three vehicles were
towed. (Id. at ¶ 18). Plaintiff alleges that
the 1998 Toyota was damaged.
claim that the 2440 West Euclid property did not belong to
Plaintiff and that Plaintiff was illegally squatting there at
the time of the incident at issue. The 2440 West Euclid
property was issued a Judgment of Foreclosure on March 30,
2012, which became final and unappealable on April 20, 2012.
(Def.s' Br. at Pg ID 273). The property then vested to
the Wayne County Treasurer and reverted back to the City of
Detroit on February 7, 2013. (Def.s' Br. at Pg ID 274).
The City of Detroit later Quit Claimed the property to the
Detroit Land Bank Authority on November 20, 2014. (Def.s'
Br. at Pg ID 275).
September 26, 2014, Defendants claim that the Seventh
Precinct received complaints regarding abandoned
vehicles/inoperable motor vehicles in the area of the 2440
West Euclid property. Defendants Joseph and Homic
subsequently investigated several vehicles in the area. On
September 30, 2014, Defendant Boulevard & Trumbull was
called to perform towing services by the Detroit Police
Department. (Ex. 1 to B&T's Br. at ¶ 2).
At the direction of the defendant officers, Boulevard &
Trumbull impounded a 2008 Toyota Camry and a 1999 Mercedes
Benz. (Ex. 1 to B&T's Br. at ¶¶ 5-6; Ex. B
to Def.s' Br. at Pg ID 294-95). The Impounded Vehicle
reports, dated September 30, 2014, indicate that the vehicles
were impounded because they were parked on private property.
eventually retrieved his vehicles from Defendant Boulevard
& Trumbull. Plaintiff paid the towing and storage fees
incurred upon the 2008 Toyota Camry and the 1999 Mercedes,
and signed a release discharging Boulevard & Trumbull
from any cause of action or claims for damages associated
with the towing and impounding of the vehicle in question.
(Ex. 2 & 3 to B&T Br.). Plaintiff alleges that upon
retrieving the vehicles, he discovered that the 1999 Mercedes
was damaged and that the 2008 Toyota Camry no longer moved on
drive. (Am. Compl. at 22, 24).
subsequently went to the Tenth Precinct to launch a formal
complaint and requested to speak to the supervisor.
(Id. at ¶ 23). According to Plaintiff, he was
advised that the vehicles were impounded “due to
violation of Environmental laws.” (Id.).
support of Plaintiff's version of the facts, he provides
a sworn statement by John Olivier, Plaintiff's neighbor,
stating that on an unspecified date in the Fall of 2014,
Olivier witnessed “some police officers with the tow
truck company at the Plaintiff's residence towing his
vehicles out of his building to the street while [Olivier]
was standing outside of [his] building.” (Doc. # 31 at
Pg ID 350-51).
also provides a document entitled, “Damage Claim Form,
” which is dated October 4, 2014. (Doc. # 28 at Pg ID
316). Defendant Boulevard & Trumbull's address is
located on the upper lefthand side of the document. The
document includes information regarding alleged loss/damage
to Plaintiff's 1999 Mercedes. The document contains the
following handwritten notes describing the loss/damage as
follows: “right side mirror half broken left side hub
cap missing.” (Id.). There is no indication as
to whether Boulevard & Trumbull provided this document to
Plaintiff. Nor is there any indication as to who filled the
document out. Plaintiff additionally provides copies of the
Detroit Police Department Impounded Vehicle report for the
1999 Mercedes and the 2008 Toyota Camry. (Doc. # 28 at Pg ID
support of their motion, Defendants City of Detroit and James
Craig provide, in relevant part: (1) Wayne County Deeds
regarding the 2440 West Euclid property; (2) the Impounded
Vehicle reports, which contain information regarding the
impound of the 1999 Mercedes and the 2008 Toyota Camry; and
(3) Detroit Police Department's Impounding of Vehicles
Boulevard & Trumbull provides the following in support of
its motion: (1) affidavit of Boulevard & Trumbull
employee, Scott Kopke; (2) Towing Records of the 2008 Toyota
Camry and the 1999 Mercedes; and (3) photos of the 2008
Toyota Camry and the 1999 Mercedes.
filed the instant § 1983 action on March 11, 2016. (Doc.
# 1). After the close of discovery, Defendant Boulevard &
Trumbull and Defendants City of Detroit and James Craig filed
motions for summary judgment, respectively. (Doc. # 23; Doc.
# 25). Plaintiff filed responses opposing the motions. (Doc.
# 28; Doc. # 31).
January 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed a “First Amended
Complaint” (Doc. # 30) without first seeking leave from
the Court. On February 15, 2016, Plaintiff was ordered to
show cause why the Court should not strike the unauthorized
amended complaint. (Doc. # 32). On March 28, 2017, the Court
held an on-the-record status conference. At the conference,
Defendants stated that they do not object to Plaintiff having
filed an amended complaint in order to name the two Detroit
police officers alleged in the complaint as Defendants. ...