United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 28)
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 illegal entry, wrongful arrest, excessive
force, and retaliatory arrest suit arises out of Defendant
Dean Vann's warrantless arrest of Plaintiff Dwain Barton
in his home for animal cruelty after Barton shot his gun in a
residential area at his neighbor's cat and refused to
cooperate with the police officers and an animal control
officer when they arrived at his home to investigate the
matter. Barton also brings state law claims of unreasonable
search and seizure, assault and battery, false arrest and
imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Now before the court
is Officer Vann's motion for summary judgment. For the
reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion shall be
court construes the factual allegations in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, here, Barton. On November
3, 2014, Barton shot his bb gun at a neighbor's cat in
his backyard. He claims he missed the cat but hit a pole on
his daughter's trampoline. He then went to the home of
his neighbor, Jill Porter, who lived a few doors down because
he knew that she was in the habit of feeding feral cats in
the neighborhood. Her habit was a bone of contention between
the two, and he had called the Lincoln Park police on
numerous occasions to complain about her feeding of the cats.
While holding his gun, he threatened Porter that “the
next time I see a cat in my yard attacking my children, it
will be a dead one.” Porter then telephoned the Lincoln
Park police and reported that Barton had shot her cat in the
control officer Adam Manchester responded to Barton's home to
investigate. According to Manchester's deposition
testimony, after speaking to one of Barton's relatives,
Barton eventually came to the door and admitted to shooting a
cat. Barton disputes this claim, and contends that he denied
hitting the cat, but told Manchester that he had hit a
trampoline pole with his bb gun. Barton refused to show his
identification and ordered Manchester off his property.
According to Barton's wife, Jennifer Barton, he may have
used profanity towards Manchester. Feeling threatened,
Manchester returned to his vehicle and requested back up
assistance. All Lincoln Park police officers on duty
responded to the scene because of the report that an armed
individual was refusing to cooperate.
was not Barton's first encounter with the Lincoln Park
Police. In 2012, Lincoln Park police responded to a complaint
by Barton's prior employer, Verizon Wireless, who had
recently terminated him, that Barton had threatened to fight
everyone working there and to vandalize their cars. In June,
2016, Lincoln Park police responded to a complaint that
Barton was shouting profanities at his neighbor. Also, in
2012, Lincoln Park police responded to a report by Porter
that Barton had threatened to shoot her.
now to the date of the incident in question, after police
arrived on the scene, one of the officers approached
Barton's front door and spoke to his mother-in-law
telling her of a report that a man was shooting animals with
a gun and refusing to come outside. She denied these
allegations. While the officers were on the front porch,
there were several family members present, who according to
Officer Vann, were shouting profanities at the police. Barton
remained behind the screen door, although he would walk back
and forth between the front door and the kitchen. The
officers asked Barton to come outside and to produce
identification but he refused, ordered the officers to leave,
and retreated into his house. Barton's wife walked in and
out of the house repeatedly. According, to Officer Vann, this
conduct made the officers feel threatened that she might be
procuring a weapon.
officers then told Barton he was under arrest for animal
cruelty and asked him to come outside, but he retreated
further into the house. According to Officer Vann's
deposition testimony, he feared for his own safety and that
of his fellow officers that Barton was going to get his
firearm and thus, entered Barton's home to arrest him.
According to Barton's deposition, Officer Vann then
removed the front door screen, entered the home, arrested
Barton, and placed him in handcuffs. Barton was taken away in
a patrol car and was released on bond several hours later. He
was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, but the charges
were later dismissed. Barton claims his handcuffs were too
tight, and that he injured his shoulder and elbow during his
arrest. Barton has not submitted any medical evidence in
support of his claimed injuries, but relies solely on his
Standard of Law
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render
summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530,
532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the
court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of
the fair and efficient administration of justice. The
procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986);
see also Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53
F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).
standard for determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate is "'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.'" Amway Distributors Benefits
Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable
inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986);
Redding, 241 F.3d at 532 (6th Cir. 2001).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in
original); see also National Satellite Sports, Inc. v.
Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).
movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule
56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the
opposing party must come forward with "specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S.
253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario,
Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere
allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will
not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence
supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248, 252. Rather, there must be evidence on which a jury
could reasonably find for the non-movant. McLean,
224 F.3d at 800 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
alleges four claims under § 1983: (1) illegal entry (2)
wrongful arrest, (3) excessive force, and (4) retaliatory
arrest. Officer Vann argues he is entitled to qualified
immunity on all claims because there were no constitutional
violations. 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 would have known.'” Stanton v.
Sims, 571 U.S. 3, 4-5 (2013) (quoting Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009)). It protects all
officers except “the plainly incompetent or those who
knowingly violate the law.” Hunter v. Bryant,
502 U.S. 224, 229 (1991) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). As the Supreme Court has explained,
“[t]his accommodation for reasonable error exists
because ‘officials should not err always on the side of
caution' because they fear being ...