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Jezowski v. Thompson

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

May 18, 2018




          Patricia T. Morris United States Magistrate Judge.


         For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that Defendant Schabel's Motion To Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 32), be GRANTED, that Defendant Thompson's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 33), be GRANTED, and that Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. 1), be DISMISSED.

         II. REPORT

         A. Introduction

         On September 8, 2016, Plaintiffs Theodore Jezowski, Sr. and Stephanie Jezowski (“Plaintiffs”) filed the instant action for damages under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3) against Defendants County of Arenac, Tina Thompson, Arenac County Department of Health and Human Services, Josett Gracey, Matt Engster, Kim Bejcek, Deb Bonnau, Brian Millikin, Steve Yager, Orlene Hawks, Tobin Miller, Arenac County Sheriff Department, Randy Schabel, Ryan Schmidt, and Does #1-50, inclusive. (Doc. 1). Because Plaintiffs proceeded in forma pauperis, the complaint was subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), which requires dismissal to the extent an action sets forth frivolous or malicious claims, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant immune from such relief. On May 15, 2017, I issued a Report and Recommendation (“R. & R.”) urging this Court to dismiss the Complaint except to the extent it asserted claims against Defendants Randy Schabel and Tina Thompson (“Defendants”) in their individual capacities, (Doc. 26), and on June 13, 2017, this Court issued an Order adopting my R. & R.

         Thereafter, Defendants filed the instant Motions To Dismiss or in the alternative for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 32), and for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 33), to which Plaintiff's responded, (Doc. 37). Defendants replied to Plaintiffs' Response on March 21, 2018. (Docs. 38-39). Accordingly, the instant Motions are ripe for report and recommendation.

         B. Factual Background

         The facts in this case relevant to the remaining claims against Defendants involve the events leading up to the Arenac County Circuit Court's termination of Plaintiffs' parental rights. I must construe these facts liberally. E.g., Younis v. Pinnacle Airlines, Inc., 610 F.3d 359, 362 (6th Cir. 2010).

         On September 10, 2014, “after a day of homeschool studies and after a home cooked lunch, ” Plaintiffs' son, Michael, wandered off while they were “replacing a large pane of glass that had been broken during a recent storm.” (Doc. 1 at 3). “[W]ithin minutes, ” Plaintiffs and their other children “were out . . . looking for him.” (Id.). Defendant Schabel located Michael at a gas station and passed him off to Deputy Switek, who brought him home “despite having been told by Michael that no one was home.” (Id.). When Deputy Switek approached the dwelling, he “looked into the home through the windows . . . .” (Id.). Michael was then taken to the Sheriff's Department “where they proceeded to question him extensively and detained him for almost an hour and a half without a parent or lawyer present, ” which Plaintiffs allege constituted an arrest without a warrant. (Id.).

         “Deputies” then contacted Theodore, Sr., who arrived in “under 10 minutes” as he was “already on his way there to report” Michael's disappearance. (Id.). He was greeted by Thompson, “whom [sic] had also been involved in the questioning of Michael.” (Id.). Thompson later testified that she “received a complaint that a child had been missing for an extended period of time, ” and was informed when she arrived at the sheriff's department that the deputies had identified the boy. (Doc. 32, Ex. 2 at 15). In Plaintiffs' view, “[t]he fact that Deputies called Theodore, Sr. shows that they had not exhausted their resources for finding [Plaintiffs] and unlawfully and unnecessarily held Michael under arrest as there was no way for him to leave nor did he have any reasonable expectation that he would be allowed to leave.” (Doc. 1 at 4).

         Thereafter, Defendants followed Theodore, Sr. to his home, where “the children were playing in the yard.” (Id.). Thompson then “demanded to see the inside of the home” without explanation, and Stephanie refused access absent a warrant or court order. (Id.). In response, Defendants told Plaintiffs “they were not allowed to leave the property in any way, ” and Deputy Schabel “blocked [Plaintiffs'] vehicle in the driveway with his patrol vehicle.” (Id.). In addition, Stephanie “was threatened with arrest if she called 911 to get the State Police involved, . . .” (Id.).

         To obtain a court order from the Arenac County Circuit Court, Plaintiffs allege that Thompson “generated a report with allegations that cited the first illegal search” alongside other “false information, ” and despite Stephanie's offer to “find an alternative place for the children to stay while the situation was discussed, ” Thompson nevertheless “did not inform the judge that there may be alternative placement and options available to prevent the removal as required by state law.” (Id.). Rather, Thompson “stated that the only way the children were leaving was with her and that if she was not given entry into the home, she would remove the children.” (Id.). Thompson, unsurprisingly, remembered this interaction differently, and testified that “when [Plaintiffs] refused entrance to the ...

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