United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Gershwin A. Drain, United States District Court Judge.
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. Dkt. No. 20. Defendant alleges that Plaintiff has
failed to show any policy or custom of malicious prosecution
by the City of Wyandotte. For the reasons that follow, the
Court will grant Defendant's Motion.
case arises from the stop and arrest of Plaintiff Charles
Cratty by Wyandotte police officers. On January 1, 2008,
officers Kenneth Groat, Daniel 0Torolski, Todd Scheitz,
Michael Sadowski, and Detective Joseph Carr pulled Plaintiff
over on his way home from the grocery store. Dkt. No. 28-5,
pg. 28 (Pg. ID 669). Plaintiff alleges that the police
officers told him “[w]e don't know what you're
getting a ticket for, but you will be getting one.”
Id. Plaintiff alleges another officer told him
“[y]ou are going to jail. We're not sure for what
yet, but you are going to jail.” Id. at pg. 36
(Pg. ID 670). At one point, the officers told Plaintiff that
they stopped him for failure to signal before turning.
Id. at pg. 28 (Pg. ID 669). During the stop, the
officers searched Plaintiff's vehicle. Id. at
pg. 29 (Pg. ID 670). The officers then confiscated
Plaintiff's cell phone, his oscillating lights, and an
invaluable prayer cloth. Id. at pg. 30 (Pg. ID 671).
Then, the officers arrested Plaintiff and took him into
custody. Id. They told Plaintiff that they were
taking him into custody for failure to signal and for having
oscillating lights. Id. At the police station, the
officers charged Plaintiff with a violation of the safety
belt law, failure to signal/observe, no proof of insurance,
and driving while license suspended. Dkt No. 20-6, pg. 1, 4,
7, 10 (Pg. ID 251, 254, 25, 2607).
dismissed the driving while license suspended charge on
December 21, 2010. Id. at pg. 13 (Pg. ID 263).
Defendant dismissed the remaining three charges against
Plaintiff on February 11, 2014. Id. at pg. 3, 6, 9
(Pg. ID 253, 256, 259). Plaintiff claims that Defendant never
returned his cell phone, oscillating lights, or prayer cloth
February 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present action in this
Court. Dkt. No. 2. Plaintiff brings a federal malicious
prosecution claim, state and federal abuse of process claims,
and three state law claims of conspiracy, conversion, and
unjust enrichment. Dkt. No. 2, pg. 2-17 (Pg. ID 20-35).
Plaintiff only brings suit regarding the three January 1,
2008 charges that Defendant dismissed on February 11, 2014.
Dkt. No. 28, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 594). On October 9, 2017,
Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 20.
Plaintiff opposed the Motion on October 27, 2017. Dkt. No.
28. In his response, Plaintiff noted that he had not gotten
the opportunity to depose Wyandotte's Mayor. Id.
at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 597). Plaintiff argued that deposition of
the Mayor would support a finding of a policy or custom of
constitutional rights violations. See Id. Defendant
replied to Plaintiff's response on November 10, 2017.
Dkt. No. 32. On January 3, 2018, this Court extended the
discovery deadline to allow Plaintiff to depose the City of
Wyandotte's Mayor, Joseph Peterson. Dkt. No. 34. This
Court also allowed supplemental briefing by both parties
regarding Mayor Peterson's deposition. Id. On
January 10, 2018, Plaintiff deposed Mayor Peterson. Dkt. No.
38-3. Plaintiff filed his supplemental brief on February 1,
2018. Dkt. No. 38. Defendant filed its supplemental brief on
February 8, 2018. Dkt. No. 39. Defendant argued that
Plaintiff still failed to show a policy or custom of
constitutional rights violations by Defendant. Id.
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.
complaint alleges a federal malicious prosecution claim
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a municipality.
Dkt. No. 2, pg 2 (Pg. ID 20).
prevail in a § 1983 claim against a municipality, one
must demonstrate: (1) the deprivation of a constitutional
right; and (2) that the defendant (municipality) is liable
for the violation. Ellis ex rel. Pendergrass v. Cleveland
Mun. Sch. Dist., 455 F.3d 690, 700 (6th Cir. 2006).
Deprivation of a Constitutional Right
federal malicious prosecution claim requires a plaintiff to
prove four elements. Plaintiff must show that: (1) “a
criminal prosecution was initiated against the plaintiff and
that the defendant ma[d]e, influence[d], or participate[d] in
the decision to prosecute;” (2) “a lack of
probable cause for the criminal prosecution”; (3)
“as a consequence of a legal proceeding, the plaintiff
suffered a deprivation of liberty”; and (4) “the
criminal proceeding must have been resolved in the
plaintiff's favor.” Skyes v. Anderson, 625
F.3d 294, 308-09 (6th Cir. 2010).
the police officers that arrested Plaintiff on January 1,
2008, initiated a criminal prosecution against Plaintiff.
However, the record does not show that there was a lack of
probable cause. Plaintiff contends that there was no probable
cause. However, a magistrate Judge issued an arrest warrant
for Plaintiff on January 3, 2008, stating that there was
probable cause. Dkt. No. 20-8, pg. 1 (Pg. ID 266). Plaintiff
suffered a deprivation of liberty because he was arrested and
spent time in jail. Dkt. No. 28-5, pg. 31 (Pg. ID 672). The
criminal proceeding was resolved in Plaintiff's favor
because Defendant dismissed all of the January 1, 2008
charges against Plaintiff. Most of the elements of a
malicious prosecution claim are met in this case. However,
the record does not support a lack of probable cause. In
fact, the record supports a finding that there was probable
cause. Therefore, the first prong of a § 1983 claim,
showing a constitutional deprivation, has not been met in
Defendant's Liability for the Violation
Plaintiff can meet the above requirements of prong one,
Plaintiff does not meet the requirements of the second prong
of a § 1983 claim against a municipality. Therefore,
Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim still fails. The
second prong of a § 1983 claim requires the plaintiff to
show that Defendant is liable for the constitutional
violation. To do this, Plaintiff “must demonstrate that
the alleged federal violation occurred because of a municipal
policy or custom.” Burgess v. Fischer, 735
F.3d 462, 478 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing Monell v. Dep't
of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). Plaintiff
must show one of the following to prove this claim:
(1) the existence of an illegal official policy or
(2) that an official with final decision making authority
ratified illegal actions;
(3) the existence of a policy of inadequate training or
(4) the existence of a custom of tolerance or acquiescence of
federal rights violations.
Burgess, 735 F.3d at 478 (citing Thomas v. City
of Chattanooga, 398 F.3d 426, 429 (6th Cir. 2005)
(emphasis added)). “A municipality ‘may not be
sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its
employees or agents.'” Id. (quoting
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694).
does not specify which element of the Burgess test
he believes precludes summary judgment. Rather, Plaintiff
states that his “[c]omplaint illustrates the
Defendant's illegal municipal policy, practice and/or
custom.” Dkt. No. 28, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 594). Therefore,
the Court will consider each element.
one requires proof of an illegal official policy or
legislative enactment. Nowhere in the record does Plaintiff
specifically allege or provide documentation of an official
illegal policy. Nor do any documents in the record show that
Defendant had an official illegal policy or legislative