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Thompson v. City of Detroit

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

May 1, 2018

CITY OF DETROIT, et al., Defendants.


          Denise Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court


         Plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on November 18, 2016, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they wrongfully searched his house and made him lay naked for 35-45 minutes during the execution of search. On February 8, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, and the Motion is fully briefed. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.


         Plaintiff Andrjon Thompson bought the house at 16089 Manning, [1] Detroit, Michigan (the “Property”) in 2012 or 2013, and the deed was filed with Wayne County's Register of Deeds. The address on his driver's license reflects the 16089 Manning address. Plaintiff has lived at that address since he purchased the Property, and his girlfriend and their young daughter also live there. Plaintiff represents that the house on the Property is and was secured with locks and security doors at the time of the events relevant to this lawsuit.

         On July 6, 2016, based on a search warrant obtained through the efforts of Defendant Craig Stewart, a Detroit Police Department officer, the house on the Property was searched by officers from the Detroit Police Department. The officers involved in the search included Sergeant Diaz Graves, Jason Clark, Stewart, Leo Rhodes, and Nicholas Bukowski (the “individual Defendants”). Stewart had caused the Wayne County Prosecutors Office to request, and 36th District Court Magistrate Millicent D. Sherman to issue, a search warrant on that date. Stewart's affidavit in support of the search warrant application for 16089 Manning stated that he had observed narcotic trafficking activity on the Property on May 23, 2016, July 4, 2016, and July 5, 2016. Based on submitted police activity logs, it appears May 23, 2016 may be a typo (because there is no indication of surveillance or activity on Manning Street on the May 23, 2016 police activity log). The intended date for Stewart's affidavit (and the one the Court will use for purposes of this Order) likely was May 24, 2016, even though the closest address to 16089 Manning that was listed as being under surveillance on the May 24, 2016 police activity log was 15889 Manning (presumably about two blocks away).

         When the individual Defendants knocked on the door at the house on the Property on July 6, 2016, no one answered. The individual Defendants then forced entry into the house. Plaintiff was showering during the knock and entry, and he opened the bathroom door to discover the officers with their firearms pointed at him. Plaintiff's request to be allowed to get dressed was denied, and he was ordered to the floor and required to lay there naked for an extended period of time. None of the individual Defendants intervened or allowed him to get some clothes to wear. The individual Defendants did not find any evidence of narcotics and eventually released Plaintiff without any charges. Plaintiff was detained for 35-45 minutes before the Defendant officers left. Defendants Graves and Stewart allowed Plaintiff to get up and put on some shorts before the officers left - though it is unclear how long prior to the Defendant officers' departure that Plaintiff was allowed to put on the shorts.

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint alleges the following counts: (1) 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims against the individual Defendants with respect to the search itself and the manner in which the search was executed; (2) a municipal liability claim against Defendant City of Detroit. Plaintiff claims he has suffered “significant emotional distress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and appetite loss due to” the execution of the search warrant. Plaintiff also claims that he suffered from humiliation and embarrassment because he had to lay naked on the floor for an extended period of time.


         A. Rule 56

         Rule 56(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedures provides that the court “shall grant summary judgment 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). The presence of factual disputes will preclude granting of summary judgment only if the disputes are genuine and concern material facts. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. Although the Court must view the motion in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, where “the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment must be entered 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. In such a situation, there can be “no genuine issue as to any material fact, ” since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. A court must look to the substantive law to identify which facts are material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         B. Qualified Immunity

         As recently stated by the Supreme Court:

The doctrine of qualified immunity shields officials from civil liability so long as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. A clearly established right is one that is sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right. We do not require a case directly on point, but existing precedent must have placed the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate. Put simply, qualified immunity protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.

Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Qualified immunity is a two-step process. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001). First, the Court determines whether, based upon the applicable law, the facts viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff show that a constitutional violation has occurred. Second, the Court considers whether the violation involved a clearly established constitutional right of which a reasonable person in the defendant's position would have known. Saucier v. Katz, supra.; Sample v. Bailey, 409 F.3d 689 (6th Cir. 2005). Only if the undisputed facts, or the evidence viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff fail to establish a prima facie violation of clear constitutional law can this court find that the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Turner v. Scott, 119 F.3d 425, 428 (6th Cir. 1997).

         Once a government official has raised the defense of qualified immunity, the plaintiff “bears the ultimate burden of proof to show that the individual officers are not entitled to qualified immunity.” Cockrell v. City of Cincinnati, 468 Fed.Appx. 491, 494 (6th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). A plaintiff also must establish that each individual defendant was “personally involved” in the specific constitutional violation. See Salehphour v. University of Tennessee, 159 F.3d 199, 206 (6th Cir. 1998); Bennett v. Schroeder, 99 Fed.Appx. 707, 712-13 (6th Cir. 2004) (unpublished) ...

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