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Gale v. O'Donohue

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

January 30, 2018

Joseph Gale, Plaintiff,
Corrigan O'Donohue, et al., Defendants.


          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge

         Plaintiff has sued various members of the Royal Oak Police Department after he was allegedly stopped and frisked unconstitutionally. He seeks a preliminary injunction to halt the City of Royal Oak's alleged practice, policy, or custom of unconstitutional stop and frisks. He also has filed a Motion for Expedited Discovery.

         The Court declines to hold an evidentiary hearing on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction because it can be resolved as a question of law. See Certified Restoration Dry Cleaning Network, L.L.C. v. Tenke Corp., 511 F.3d 535, 552 (6th Cir. 2007) (“[A] hearing is only required when there are disputed factual issues, and not when the issues are primarily questions of law.”). The Court will also decide the motions on the briefs, the issues having been adequately presented therein. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2).

         For the reasons below, the Court shall deny the Motion for Preliminary Injunction because Plaintiff cannot show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his municipal liability claim (his only claim that plausibly seeks prospective relief) and cannot show irreparable harm. The Court shall also deny the Motion for Expedited Discovery.


         Around 2:30 a.m. on September 4, 2016, a Royal Oak resident called 911 and reported that a strange man had just knocked on her door. The caller described the man as a white male, about 5'10”, around 25 years old, and wearing jeans and a shirt. Royal Oak police officers were dispatched to check the area.

         Plaintiff Joseph Gale was walking down the sidewalk in the same neighborhood when he was stopped by Officer Phillip Klinge. Klinge asked Plaintiff if he had been knocking on doors and Plaintiff denied that he had been. Shortly thereafter, Officers Mike Paramo and Nathan Heppner arrived on the scene. Plaintiff alleges that Paramo and Heppner grabbed his arms and patted him down. Heppner removed Plaintiff's wallet and ran a warrant check.

         Plaintiff told the officers that he was going to his friend's house but could not provide them with an exact address. He indicated that his friend lived near The Rock on Third, a bar in nearby downtown Royal Oak. The officers initially offered to call Plaintiff a taxi but, after further conversation, offered to give him a ride downtown.

         Plaintiff followed Officer Paramo to his patrol car. Paramo told Plaintiff that he was not under arrest but that he was going to pat him down before Plaintiff entered the vehicle. Plaintiff alleges that Paramo then aggressively frisked him, bending Plaintiff's apartment key in the process. Once Plaintiff entered the vehicle, Paramo attempted to look up the address of Plaintiff's friend but Plaintiff did not provide his friend's last name.

         Plaintiff asked Paramo if he was “free to leave the vehicle, ” to which Paramo said, “Yeah. You're good.” Paramo also told him, “I'm just trying to get your buddy's name so I can get you to your buddy's instead of taking you to rock on third.” Plaintiff provided his friend's first name and then stated “If you're not going to take me, I'll just walk.” Paramo replied that Plaintiff was not under arrest or in trouble and that he was trying to get Plaintiff out of there so that nobody else would call the police on him. After another back and forth about Plaintiff's friend's name, Plaintiff stated, “I'll just walk to there, okay?”

         Paramo then began to drive the car. Plaintiff again asked if he was free to leave the vehicle or if he was under arrest. Paramo radioed that he would be taking Plaintiff to the Rock on Third and dropping him off. At this point, Plaintiff began repeatedly requesting to get out of the vehicle. Paramo refused these requests, reiterating that he did not want anyone to call on Plaintiff again and that he would not drop him off on Lincoln Street. When Plaintiff's protestations continued, Paramo dropped him off at a gas station on Lincoln Street and Main Street, located about .8 miles from where Plaintiff was initially stopped.

         Following the incident, Plaintiff filed a Citizen's Complaint with the Royal Oak Police Department. After he filed the complaint, Plaintiff met with Royal Oak Police Lt. Van Ness to discuss the incident. During their two-hour meeting, Van Ness explained that it is the department's policy to seek identification from individuals that officers stop. He also noted that the department does not ignore 911 calls and opined that the officers had reasonable suspicion that Plaintiff may have engaged in criminal activity.

         Plaintiff then sued the City of Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue and Officers Klinge, Paramo, and Heppner, raising § 1983 claims and state law claims of false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, assault and battery, and common law trespass.

         On August 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed this Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. # 12). Defendants have responded (Doc. # 18). ...

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