United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 14)
CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joshua Brennan brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that defendants Deputy James Dawson,
individually and in his official capacity, Sheriff John
Wilson, in his official capacity, and Clare County violated
his Fourth Amendment rights. This matter is presently before
the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment.
(Doc. 14). Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), the Court shall
rule without oral argument. For the reasons stated below,
defendants' motion is GRANTED.
was placed on probation on August 11, 2014, following an
assault and battery conviction in Gladwin County. (Doc. 14-4
at PageID 113). On February 21, 2015, Clare County
Sheriff's Department Deputy James Dawson traveled to 2184
Oakridge Drive in Farwell, Michigan, to conduct a probation
check on plaintiff. (Doc. 14-3 at PageID 109). This check was
to include a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). (Id.).
The eighth term of plaintiff's probation states that he
must “[n]ot possess or consume alcoholic beverages nor
enter any establishment which allows for the consumption of
alcoholic beverages on its premises, nor be in the company of
anyone consuming alcohol. You are subject to random PBT upon
demand at your expense.” (Doc. 14-4 at PageID 113).
Dawson was aware that Clare County Sargent Miller and Deputy
Piwowar had attempted to check on plaintiff the night before,
February 20, 2015. (Doc. 14-3 at PageID 109). An individual
named Joshua Dishneau emerged from plaintiff's home as
the officers arrived. (Id.). He indicated that
plaintiff was awake inside the home. (Id.). Miller
and Piwowar attempted to contact plaintiff by knocking and
announcing for over a half hour, but no one answered.
arrived at plaintiff's mobile home at 8:18pm. (Doc. 14-3
at PageID 111). He approached and knocked on the front doors.
(Doc. 14-3 at PageID 109). No one answered. (Id.).
Dawson heard people moving and speaking inside the home and
believed that someone was inside. (Id.). He walked
around the home knocking on various windows. (Id.).
No one answered, but Dawson continued to hear some movement
and speech. (Id.). Dawson then returned to his
vehicle and activated his emergency lights and siren. (Doc. 1
at PageID 4). Dawson also noticed surveillance cameras on
plaintiff's porch. (Id.). Dawson adjusted the
cameras to alter their viewpoint and thereafter obscured the
lenses with caution tape. (Id.).
Wright arrived at plaintiff's home around 9:12pm. (Doc.
14-3 at PageID 111). Dawson and Wright's interaction
lasted approximately 20 minutes. Wright initially told Dawson
that she received a call stating the home's occupant was
on vacation and asking her to visit to determine why officers
were present. (Doc. 14-3 at PageID 109). Dawson questioned
Wright's story. In response, Dawson alleges that she
changed her story to reflect that her brother had received a
call from the home occupants. Dawson followed up on this
story. Wright changed her statement again, stating that her
father received a call. (Doc. 14-3 at PageID 109). Dawson
spoke with Wright's father and determined that was not
true. Wright became flustered and Dawson responded that she
could leave and that he would simply wait for plaintiff or
another occupant to answer. (Doc. 14-6).
exited his home around 9:50pm. (Doc. 14-3 at PageID 109). He
stated that he was ill and had been asleep. He submitted to a
PBT. (Doc. 14-3 at PageID 110). Test results indicated that
plaintiff had 0.000 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of
breath. (Id.). Dawson arrested plaintiff for
violating his probation term ordering submission to PBT on
demand. (Id.). These circumstances, where others
told multiple lies to deceive officers about plaintiff's
presence in the home, and the efforts plaintiff went to in
order to remain inaccessible, could reasonably lead officers
to believe that plaintiff was violating his conditions of
probation by obstructing the administration of the PBT.
Plaintiff was transported to the Clare County jail.
(Id.). He remained there until his arraignment on
February 24, 2015, where Magistrate Karen Willing of the 80th
District Court dismissed the alleged probation violation.
(Doc. 1 at PageID 5).
56(c) empowers a court to render summary judgment “if
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law.” Williams v. Mehra, 186 F.3d
685, 689 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). The standard for determining whether summary judgment
is appropriate is “‘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.'” Amway Distrib. Benefits
Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). Mere allegations or denials in
the non-movant's pleadings will not meet this burden, nor
will a mere scintilla of evidence supporting the non-moving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 252. There must
instead be evidence from which a jury could reasonably find
for the non-movant. McLean, 224 F.3d at 800 (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).The evidence and all
reasonable inferences must be construed in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986); Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530, 532
(6th Cir. 2001).
brings five claims against Dawson. Count I alleges that
Dawson illegally entered the curtilage of plaintiff's
home. Count II alleges that the PBT was an illegal search.
Count III and V allege that plaintiff's arrest was an
illegal seizure. Count IV alleges that Wilson and Clare
County failed to adequately train Dawson and are liable for
the resulting harm to plaintiff.
asserts that he is entitled to summary judgment on the basis
of a qualified immunity defense. “Qualified immunity
shields federal and state officials from money damages unless
a plaintiff pleads facts showing (1) that the official
violated a statutory or constitutional right, and (2) that
the right was ‘clearly established' at the time of
the challenged conduct.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd,
563 U.S. 731, 735 (2011) (citing Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, (1982)). A right is
clearly established if “the contours of a right are
sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have
understood that what he is doing violates that right.”
Id. at 741 (internal citations omitted). The Court
has discretion to decide which element to address first.
Id. (citing Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S.
223, 236 (2009)).
Fourth Amendment Claims ...