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Bass v. Bomber

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

April 2, 2018

EUGENE BOMBER, JOHANNA TODD, and the CITY OF DETROIT, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.



         On December 1, 2017, Defendant City of Detroit, Defendant Eugene Bomber, and Defendant Johanna Todd (collectively "Defendants") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [29]. The Court held a hearing on this matter Wednesday, February 21, 2018. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [29] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Facts

         Defendant officers Bomber and Todd (collectively "Officers") were part of the "Operation Restore Order" team for the Detroit Police Department, which is tasked with the execution of already-issued warrants. Defendant Bomber states in his deposition "we would come in and there would be a stack of [warrants] -- pretty much a stack of known offenders that we would be going after for the day." (Def. Bomber Dep. 24:23-25; Dkt. 32-5, at 8; PgID 246.) He states, "[w]e would divvy them up no rhythm or reason, no who gets what, just grab some, and then make attempts to make an arrest. . . .one of the first things that my partner, Johanna Todd, and I would do between one of us is re-run and make sure the LEIN[1] -- the warrant's still in LEIN." (Id, at 9; PgID 247.)

         On May 14, 2015, Operation Restore Order assigned the Defendant Officers to make two arrests at Plaintiff Monique Bass's ("Plaintiff") home, based on two outstanding warrants. The first warrant was for Plaintiff's husband. He was not home and the officers had no interaction with him. The second felony warrant, for check forgery, was over fourteen years old and related to Plaintiff's alleged use of a bad check to pay for gas in Taylor, Michigan. The name on the warrant was "Monique Wright." Plaintiff's maiden name is Monique Wright.

         The Officers arrived at Plaintiff's house and knocked on the door. They spoke to Plaintiff through her storm door. She confirmed her identity as "Monique Bass" and acknowledged her maiden name was "Wright." The Officers informed her, they had a warrant for her arrest, for writing a bad check in Taylor, Michigan in November 2000. Plaintiff explained she had not written a check for gas in Taylor, and that the warrant was not for her. Plaintiff ultimately let the Officers into her home. The Officers instructed Plaintiff to change into appropriate clothing for the arrest. They allowed Plaintiff to call someone to stay with her three children, who were in the house at the time. They instructed her to bring her ID and some money with her, but never checked the Id. The Officers did not handcuff her leaving her home. The Officers executed the warrant without incident and they have no specific memory of the interaction.

         For the duration of the interaction at Plaintiff's home, she insisted the warrant was for someone else. In addition to the warrant, Officers had a second piece of paper with them which included a copy of Plaintiff's photo ID ("ID Page"). The ID Page and warrant listed a Taylor address associated with Monique Wright. Plaintiff asserted then, and now, she has never lived in Taylor, and never been associated with the address on the warrant. The ID Page had at the bottom, a handwritten name "Monique Whyte" (instead of Wright) although the officers never asked for "Whyte" and only ever asked for "Monique Wright." Plaintiff told the Officers the photo was of her but reiterated often, she knew no "Monique Whyte."

         A copy of the original warrant is not available to the Court, only the LEIN report. (Redacted LEIN Rep., Dkt. 32-2, PgID 205-06.) The LEIN report lists the name "Monique Wright" and describes an African-American female Plaintiff's age. Other information on the LEIN report does not match Plaintiff. Plaintiff's date of birth is November 1967, while the LEIN states a date of birth a few months earlier in April 1967. The LEIN report lists an incorrect social security number, describes Monique Wright as 5'6" and 220 pounds, while Plaintiff is in truth three inches taller and only 150 pounds. The LEIN report lists an address in Taylor, Michigan, where Plaintiff states she has never lived. The Officers explain in their deposition they do not typically note such discrepancies during an arrest. They additionally state, declarations of innocence or claimed mistaken identity are common and generally not given much credence.

         The Officers took Plaintiff to the Detroit Detention Center, and only handcuffed her before exiting the vehicle at the facility. The Detroit Detention Center photographed her, took fingerprints, and processed her through booking. She remained in the female holding area until her video arraignment hearing the following morning. After less than 48 hours in custody, at 1:00am on May 16, 2015, her daughter posted a $5, 000 bond and Plaintiff returned home.

         On May 29, 2015, Plaintiff appeared for a preliminary examination at the State of Michigan 36th District Court for the City of Detroit. There, the Wayne County Prosecutor dropped the charges against Plaintiff and dismissed the case. The prosecutor stated that the age of the case was a factor as was the "possibility [of] someone taking the defendant's identity and using it to commit this crime." (Tr. May 29, 2015 Preliminary Examination; Dkt. 32-4 at 4, PgID 236.) The prosecutor never stated that, in arresting Plaintiff, the Officers arrested the wrong person.

         On February 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a five count complaint against Defendants. The five counts are: (1) a federal claim for violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights due to unreasonable seizure without probable cause; (2) a state claim for false arrest and/or false imprisonment; (3) a state claim for malicious prosecution; (4) a federal claim for violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights through malicious prosecution; and (5) Monell violations against Defendant City of Detroit.

         Defendants filed this Motion for Summary Judgment on December 1, 2017. Defendants state Plaintiff's arrest and detainment were based on a facially valid warrant, that any claims against the Officers should be dismissed because they are immune from tort liability since they acted in good faith, and the federal charges against them are due qualified immunity. Defendants assert the claims against the City of Detroit should be dismissed since no custom, policy, practice and/or procedure is constitutionally arbitrary or deliberately indifferent, such that it is egregious to the point of "shocking the conscience."

         II. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the Supreme Court has explained, “the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         In deciding a motion brought under Rule 56, the Court must view the evidence “in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, giving that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences.” Smith Wholesale Co. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 477 F.3d 854, 861 (6th Cir. 2007). Yet, the nonmoving party may not rely on bare allegations or denials, but instead must support a claim of disputed facts by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record" as establishing that one or more material facts are "genuinely disputed." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Finally, “[a] mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient” to withstand a summary judgment motion; rather, “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party.” Smith Wholesale, 477 F.3d at 861 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         III. ...

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