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Sexual Sin De Un Adbul Blue v. City of River Rouge

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 27, 2017

CITY OF RIVER ROUGE, et al., Defendants.


          MARK A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendants' motion for reconsideration (Dkt. 56), which asks the Court to reconsider its March 28, 2017 decision sustaining in part and overruling in part Plaintiff Sexual Sin De Un Adbul Blue's objections, accepting in part and rejecting in part the recommendation contained in the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and granting Defendants' motion to dismiss. See 3/28/2017 Op. & Order (Dkt. 53). Pursuant to this Court's order, see 9/12/2017 Order (Dkt. 100), Blue filed a response (Dkt. 103). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion for reconsideration.

         I. ANALYSIS

         Motions for reconsideration may be granted when the moving party shows: (i) a palpable defect; (ii) by which the court and the parties were misled; and (iii) the correction of which will result in a different disposition of the case. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(h)(3). A “palpable defect” is a “defect which is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest or plain.” Olson v. The Home Depot, 321 F.Supp.2d 872, 874 (E.D. Mich. 2004). Defendants also argue that they are entitled to relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), which allows for motions to alter or amend a judgment. These motions are generally granted when one of the following circumstances arises:

(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) evidence not previously available has become available; or (3) necessity to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.

Nagle Indus., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 175 F.R.D. 251, 254 (E.D. Mich. 1997) (citing Keweenaw Bay Indian Cmty. v. United States, 940 F.Supp. 1139, 1141 (W.D. Mich. 1996)). “Such motions, however, are ‘not intended as a vehicle to relitigate previously considered issues;' ‘should not be utilized to submit evidence which could have been previously submitted in the exercise of reasonable diligence' and are not the proper vehicle to attempt to obtain a reversal of a judgment ‘by offering the same arguments previously presented.'” Id. (quoting Keweenaw Bay, 904 F.Supp. at 1141).

         In their motion, Defendants contend the following: (i) Defendant officers had probable cause to arrest Blue; (ii) the officers acted with qualified immunity; (iii) Blue's claims of false arrest and false imprisonment are barred by the applicable statute of limitations; and (iv) Blue's claim for tortious interference with a contractual relationship should be dismissed because he did not have a valid lease with his new tenants.

         A. Probable Cause

         Defendants largely reargue the issue of probable cause. “A police officer determines the existence of probable cause by examining the facts and circumstances within his knowledge that are sufficient to inform ‘a prudent person, or one of reasonable caution, ' that the suspect ‘has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an offense.'” Fridley v. Horrighs, 291 F.3d 867, 872 (6th Cir. 2002) (quoting Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31, 37 (1979)). “In general, the existence of probable cause in a § 1983 action presents a jury question, unless there is only one reasonable determination possible.” Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir. 1995).

         In their response to Blue's objections, Defendants argued that Defendant Officer Edward Otis had probable cause to arrest Blue because, the day prior to Blue's arrest, Otis learned that Blue had removed the belongings of his previous tenants, Jennifer Gondenoky and Ryan Gregory, and changed the locks without their permission. Defendants also noted that, when prompted by Otis, Blue could not produce an order of eviction. After Otis was shown the purported agreement between Blue and Gondenoky, Otis deemed the agreement to be insufficient and ordered Blue not to return to the premises without an order of eviction. See Defs. Resp. at 10 (Dkt. 52). Defendants repeat these same factors in their motion for reconsideration. As noted above, motions to amend a judgment and for reconsideration are not intended as a vehicle to re-litigate past issues or offer the same previously presented arguments. Nagle, 175 F.R.D. at 254. As a result, the Court denies Defendants' motion as to this issue.

         B. Qualified Immunity

         Defendants first assert that Blue failed to meet his burden to establish that Defendant officers were not entitled to qualified immunity. However, Defendants already made this argument, stating in their reply brief that “Plaintiff is unable to meet such a burden because it was Plaintiff who was violating the law and probable cause existed for his arrest for trespassing. As such, Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity[.]” Defs. Reply at 7 (Dkt. 38). The Court has already ruled that Blue has raised a genuine issue regarding lack of probable cause for his arrest. Because the need for probable cause prior to a warrantless arrest was clearly established at the time of Blue's arrest, see Sutton v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 612 F. App'x 308, 317 (6th Cir. 2015), Blue met his burden of showing a triable issue on probable cause, thus precluding a pretrial ruling that Defendant officers were entitled to qualified immunity. Defendants' attempt to re-litigate this issue is not proper on a motion for reconsideration or to amend a judgment.

         Alternatively, Defendants argue that even if Blue met his burden, they are still entitled to qualified immunity as long as their conduct was “objectively reasonable” in light of clearly established law. In addition to determining whether the defendant violated a clearly established constitutional right, courts in the Sixth Circuit also determine “whether the plaintiff has offered sufficient evidence to indicate that what the official allegedly did was not objectively reasonable in light of the clearly established constitutional rights.” Feathers v. Aey, 319 F.3d 843, 848 (6th Cir. 2003)). “Whether an action was ‘objectively reasonable' in light of clearly established rules is ‘a fact-specific, case-by-case' inquiry focused on ‘whether a reasonable official in the defendant's position could have believed that his conduct was lawful, judged from the perspective of the reasonable official on the scene.'” Marcilis v. Township of Redford, 693 F.3d 589, 598 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Cochran v. Gilliam, 656 F.3d 300, 306 (6th Cir.2011)).

         Defendants have not established that the officers' conduct was objectively reasonable. Defendants note that Otis was informed by the city building department that Blue no longer owned the apartment, despite Blue's claims to the contrary. However, there is no evidence that Otis inquired into who actually owned the building and failed to determine whether that individual had ordered Blue off the property, as required by Michigan's trespassing statute. See Mich. Comp. Laws ยง 750.552(1)(a). Further, as noted in the Court's opinion, Otis made no further inquiry into whether Blue had a right of redemption to the property. Defendants' reliance on Otis's order to Blue not to return also lacks merit. Defendants still have not presented any authority that probable cause can be established when an officer orders a landlord not to reenter property after the landlord has presented the officer ...

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