United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment. Plaintiff commenced suit against Defendants
alleging equal protection and/or retaliation violations under
42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
Choice Causey commenced suit against the City of Bay City,
Michael Cecchini, the Public Safety Director, Tom Pletzke,
the Acting Director of the Bay City Public Safety Department,
and City Manager Richard Finn. For the reasons discussed
herein, the Court will grant in part and deny in part
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
December 24, 2002, Plaintiff Choice Causey filed a complaint
against the Bay City Police Department and Thomas Pletzke.
Complaint, Causey v. City of Bay City, et al., No.
2:02-cv-10318 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 24, 2002). Plaintiff alleged
unlawful search and seizure. Amended Complaint at 3-6, Causey
v. City of Bay City, et al., No. 2:02-cv-10318 (E.D. Mich.
Jan. 9, 2002). The City moved for summary judgment, which the
Court granted in part and denied in part. Opinion and Order
at 37, Causey v. City of Bay City, et al., No. 2:02-cv-10318
(E.D. Mich. Jan. 7, 2005). The Court dismissed Pletzke from
the lawsuit. Id. Plaintiff settled with the City.
See Order of Dismissal, Causey v. City of Bay City,
et al., No. 2:02-cv-10318 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 4, 2007).
the lawsuit concluded, Plaintiff continued to run his
company, which bought and sold houses. Dkt. No. 26-2, pg. 4
(Pg. ID 535). In 2015, he liquidated the company's assets
in order to lease the Prime Event Center (“Event
Center”); he also bought a bar called Trix's
(Plaintiff later changed the name to Northern Lights).
Id. On March 1, 2016, Plaintiff entered into a lease
with Dore Real Estate, LLC to lease the Event Center in Bay
City, Michigan. Dkt. No. 1-1. Plaintiff had a lease purchase
agreement with Mr. Art Dore in which Plaintiff planned to buy
the Event Center from Mr. Dore for $300, 000. Dkt. No. 26-2,
pg. 6 (Pg. ID 537).
to Plaintiff, Mr. Stephen Coppler ran events at the Event
Center for Mr. Dore. Dkt. No. 26-5, pg. 10 (Pg. ID 610).
Plaintiff then took over the management and control of the
Event Center. Dkt. No. 1, at pg. 4 (Pg. ID 4). Plaintiff
alleges that after he took control of the Event Center,
Defendants began to pressure Dore Real Estate, LLC to end its
contract with Plaintiff. Id.
John Roszatycki owns the bowling alley next to the Event
Center. Dkt. No. 23-3, pg. 8-9 (Pg. ID 276-77). On the night
of March 5, 2016, Mr. Roszatycki's staff contacted him
and told him that there was a huge fight outside, in front of
the bowling alley. Id. at pg. 14 (Pg. ID 282);
see Dkt. No. 23-4, pg. 9 (Pg. ID 312). This prompted
Roszatycki to call Mr. Finn. Id. On March 11, 2016,
Mr. Roszatycki met with Mr. Finn, Mr. Pletzke, and Mr.
Stamiris (the commissioner from Roszatycki's ward).
Id. at pg. 18 (Pg. ID 321). At the meeting with Mr.
Pletzke, Roszatycki told Pletzke that there was an extremely
violent fight outside of the Event Center. Id. at
pg. 20 (Pg. ID 288). Roszatycki claims that he also told Mr.
Pletzke that the fight appeared to be gang related based on
what his employees told him. Id. However, Mr.
Finn's memorandum of the meeting does not say that
Roszatycki mentioned anything about gangs. See Dkt.
No. 22-6. Roszatycki also expressed concern about an upcoming
event on March 19, 2016 at the Event Center. Dkt. No. 23-6,
pg. 2 (Pg. ID 369). Roszatycki asked if the City could
contact the owner of the Event Center, Mr. Art Dore to alert
Mr. Dore to his concerns. Id.
Finn communicated Roszatycki's concern to Public Safety,
Mr. Pletzke. Dkt. No. 23-4, pg. 20 (Pg. ID 323). Mr. Pletzke
instructed Sergeant Potts and Officer Chad Warren to look
into the March 19, 2016 event for potential violence.
Sergeant Potts then instructed Officer Warren to investigate
the Event Center through Facebook. Dkt. No. 23-7, pg. 12 (Pg.
ID 384). Officer Warren found that members of two rival gangs
were promoting and planning on attending the event.
Id. at pg. 17 (Pg. ID 15). On March 11, 2017, Finn
and Pletzke conducted a conference call with Mr. Art Dore.
Dkt. No. 23-6, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 369). Sergeant Potts entered the
phone call about halfway through in order to provide the
information that Officer Warren gathered, which indicated
that two rival gangs were planning to attend the March 19,
2016 event. Id. Mr. Pletze and Sergeant Potts shared
their concerns with Dore that the event had a high potential
for becoming a major disruption. Id. at pg. 3 (Pg.
ID 370). On that same day-March 11, 2016, Mr. Dore cancelled
the lease contract that Dore Real Estate, LLC had with
Plaintiff. Dkt. No. 26-2, pg. 6 (Pg. ID 537). Mr. Dore
maintains that he cancelled Plaintiff's contract because
“[Plaintiff] didn't pay rent.” Dkt. No.
23-11, pg. 13 (Pg. ID 493). However, Mr. Dore called
Plaintiff on the day of March 11, 2016 and said, “The
police department, the city manager, everybody is on my ass.
They're saying that some gangs from Saginaw are promoting
the event starting tomorrow and they're scared shitless
that something is going to happen. . . . [s]o the deal is
off.” Id. at pg. 12 (Pg. ID 492). Shortly
after Mr. Dore left this message, he instructed Plaintiff to
call Mr. Pletzke and get approval from the City regarding his
lease with Mr. Dore. Dkt. No. 26-2, at pg. 8 (Pg. ID 539). If
Plaintiff could get approval from the City, then Mr. Dore
would reinstate the contract. Id.
March 16, 2016, Plaintiff met with Mr. Pletzke and Mr.
Stephen Coppler. Id. at pg. 9 (Pg. ID 540). At this
meeting, Plaintiff asked Mr. Pletzke what was going on
regarding the Event Center. Id. One of the first
things that Mr. Pletzke said to Plaintiff was that he did not
want another lawsuit. Id. at pg. 19 (Pg. ID 550).
Mr. Pletzke also told Plaintiff that some gangs were doing
promoting at the events taking place at the Event Center.
Id. at pg. 9 (Pg. ID 540). Plaintiff also alleges
that Pletzke told Plaintiff that he (Plaintiff) was
“doing bad business, ” and he (Pletzke) was going
to “shut [Plaintiff] down over at Trix's.”
Id. This meeting lasted about ten minutes.
the initial meeting with Pletzke, Plaintiff tried to get
another meeting with Pletzke in order to secure his approval
so that Plaintiff could reinstate his contract with Mr. Dore.
Id. at pg. 11 (Pg. ID 542). Plaintiff called and
texted Pletzke several times; Pletzke did not return any of
these calls or texts. Id. Plaintiff saw Pletzke at
Jimmy John's not long after his phone calls and texts,
and Pletzke acknowledged his receipt of Plaintiff's
communications. Id. Pletzke told Plaintiff that he
would get back with Plaintiff, but he never did. Id.
Plaintiff and his wife met with Mr. Art Dore, Mr. Jason Dore
(who handled the finances for Dore Real Estate, LLC), and Mr.
Stephen Coppler at some point after Plaintiff's initial
meeting with Pletzke. Id. at pg. 18 (Pg. ID 549). At
this meeting, Mr. Dore explained to Plaintiff that the City
had a problem with the “black acts” that were
coming to perform at the Event Center. Id. Plaintiff
never heard from Pletzke, and his contract with Mr. Dore
remained terminated. After Dore Real Estate terminated its
lease with Plaintiff, Mr. Stephen Coppler took over the
management of the Event Center. Dkt. No. 26-5, pg. 10 (Pg. ID
610). Plaintiff now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he
moved to find new opportunity. Id. at pg. 3 (Pg. ID
534). Plaintiff maintains that he was “basically driven
out of town by [the] Bay City Police Department.”
Id. at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 536).
25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants
alleging violations of Equal Protection and retaliation. Dkt.
No. 1. Defendants filed this Motion for Summary Judgment on
August 11, 2017. Dkt. No. 23. Plaintiff opposed the Motion
September 15, 2017. Dkt. No. 26. Defendants then filed a
reply on October 3, 2017.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) governs summary judgment. The
Rule states, “summary judgment shall be granted if
‘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.'” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's
Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 1998).
“All factual inferences ‘must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion.'” Id. (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986)). There is a genuine issue of material fact
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986)). Ultimately, the court evaluates
“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.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
under 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1981, “[a]ll persons . . . have the
same right . . . to make and enforce contracts . . .
includ[ing] the making, performance, modification, and
termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits,
privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual
relationship.” 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (2012). The Sixth
Circuit holds that “the express cause of action for
damages created by § 1983 constitutes the exclusive
federal remedy for violation of the rights guaranteed in
§ 1981 by state governmental units.” Arendale
v. City of Memphis, 519 F.3d 587, 598-99 (6th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Jett v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., 491 U.S.
701, 733 (1989)). Plaintiff concedes that he does not have a
cause of action against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. §
1981. Dkt. No 26, pg. 14 (Pg. ID 516).
these reasons, this Court will grant Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment in regards to Plaintiff's claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The Court will therefore only
consider Plaintiff's Equal Protection and retaliation
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against the ...