United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
AND ORDER (1) GRANTING DEFENDANT JAMES FARRIS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #40); (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING
IN PART DEFENDANT SCOTT CHAMPINE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (ECF #43); AND (3) DISMISSING CLAIMS AGAINST
DEFENDANT CITY OF FERNDALE
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Larry Stallworth alleges Defendant police
officers Scott Champine and James Farris violated his Fourth
Amendment rights and caused him physical injury during a
traffic stop. (See First Am. Compl., ECF #14.)
Defendants have now moved for summary judgment. (See
ECF ## 40, 43.) For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS Defendant Farris' motion and
GRANTS IN PART and
DENIES IN PART Defendant Champine's
March 1, 2014, Stallworth was at a nightclub in the City of
Ferndale when another man, Francis Thomas, offered to drive
Stallworth home. (See Stallworth Dep. at 138, ECF
#45-2 at Pg. ID 137.) Stallworth accepted Thomas' offer,
and the two of them left in Thomas' Lincoln Towncar.
(See Id. at 138, 140, Pg. ID 137.) Stallworth sat in
the back seat as Thomas drove. (See id.)
Champine, a City of Pleasant Ridge police officer, witnessed
Thomas driving erratically as Thomas was traveling northbound
on Woodward Avenue. (See Champine Dep. at 21-24, ECF
#43-5 at Pg. ID 687.) He pulled his marked police car behind
Thomas' vehicle, activated his police lights, and
effectuated a traffic stop. (See Id. at 28-29, Pg.
had been drinking and did not have a valid driver's
license, and he was concerned about facing possible criminal
charges as a result of his driving. (See Thomas Dep.
at 24-25, 29-31, ECF #54-2 at Pg. ID 1262-63, 1264.) So, once
Thomas brought his vehicle to a complete stop, he
“jumped over” to the front passenger seat,
“grabbed [Stallworth] up under [his] arms[, ] and
pulled [Stallworth] into the front [driver's]
seat.” (Stallworth Dep. at 141, ECF #45-2 at Pg. ID
saw Thomas and Stallworth switch places, and he called for
backup. (See Champine Dep. at 33-35, ECF #43-5 at
Pg. ID 690.) Champine explained that he “needed the
backup” because he was “working by [him]self,
” and the seat switching signaled to him that
“somebody didn't want to be seen as the
driver.” (Id. at 35, Pg. ID 690.) Shortly
after Champine called for assistance, Defendant Farris, a
City of Ferndale police officer, arrived on the scene.
(See Id. at 38, Pg. ID 691.)
asked Stallworth to exit the vehicle, and Stallworth did so
on his own. (See Stallworth Dep. at 144, 181-82, ECF
#45-2 at Pg. ID 866, 876.) Stallworth says that after he
stepped out of the car, Farris “grabbed” his arm
so hard that his hearing aide fell out, “turned [him]
around, ” and handcuffed him. (Id. at 146 180,
Pg. ID 867, 875.) Farris then “pushed [Stallworth]
towards the car and started patting [him] down.”
(Id. at 147, Pg. ID 867.) Once Farris completed the
pat down, he again grabbed Stallworth's arm - hard enough
to leave a “red” mark - and placed Stallworth
into the back seat of an unoccupied police car. (Id.
at 157-58, Pg. ID 870.)
says that Champine later entered the police car and sat in
the front seat. (See Id. at 174, 220, Pg. ID 874,
885.) Stallworth says that he immediately told Champine that
the handcuffs were injuring his wrists. (See id.)
Champine did not respond to Stallworth's complaints.
Instead, after the passage of some undetermined period of
time, and near the end of the stop, either Champine or Farris
took the cuffs off.
eventually issued Stallworth a misdemeanor ticket for
interfering with a police officer, and Champine then drove
Stallworth home. (See Id. at 176, 189-90, Pg. ID
874, 878.) The state court ultimately dismissed
Stallworth's ticket after two preliminary hearings.
(See Id. at 230-31, Pg. ID 888.)
filed this action on February 26, 2016. (See ECF
#1.) He amended his Complaint on August 29, 2016.
(See ECF #14.) In the First Amended Complaint,
Stallworth brings the following constitutional claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983:
. Excessive force against Defendants Farris
. Unreasonable seizure/false arrest against
Defendant Champine; and
. Malicious prosecution against Defendant
Defendants moved for summary judgment on July 10, 2017, and
July 31, 2017.
(See ECF ## 40, 43.) The Court held a hearing on the
motions on January 8, 2018.
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. A movant is entitled to
summary judgment when it “shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact....” SEC v.
Sierra Brokerage Servs., Inc., 712 F.3d 321, 326-27 (6th
Cir. 2013) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)) (quotations omitted). When
reviewing the record, “the court must view the evidence
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw
all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Id.
“The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of the [non-moving party's] position will be
insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for [that party].” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 252. Summary judgment is not appropriate when
“the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to
require submission to a jury.” Id. at 251-52.
Indeed, “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of
the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from
the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge....”
Id. at 255.
also assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity “protects government officials from
liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not
violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person should have known.”
Green v. Throckmorton, 681 F.3d 853, 864 (6th Cir.
2012) (quoting Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223,
231 (2009)). “Once raised, it is the plaintiff's
burden to show that the defendant[ ] [is] not entitled to
qualified immunity.” Kinlin v. Kline, 749 F.3d
573, 577 (6th Cir. 2014).
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals “has generally used a
two-step [qualified immunity] analysis: (1) viewing the facts
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, [the court]
determines whether the allegations give rise to a
constitutional violation; and (2) [the court] assesses
whether the right was clearly established at the time of the
incident.” Id. (internal punctuation omitted).
“[U]nder either prong [of this inquiry], courts may not
resolve genuine disputes of fact in favor of the party
seeking summary judgment.” Tolan v. Cotton,
134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014). Indeed, in Tolan, the
Supreme Court vacated a grant of summary judgment on a
qualified immunity defense because, among other things, the
lower court “credited the evidence of the party seeking
summary judgment and failed to properly acknowledge key
evidence offered by the party opposing that motion.”
Id. at 1867- 68. The Supreme Court explained that
“[b]y weighing the evidence and reaching factual
inferences contrary to [the non-moving party's] competent
evidence, the court below neglected to adhere to the
fundamental principle that at the summary judgment stage,
reasonable inferences should be drawn in favor of the
nonmoving party.” Id. at 1867. Simply put,
“where the legal question of qualified immunity turns
upon which version of the facts one accepts, the jury, not
the judge, must determine liability.” Green,
681 F.3d at 864.