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Anjorin v. City of Detroit

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

May 21, 2018

STEPHEN ANJORIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF DETROIT, JAMES CRAIG, BOULEVARD & TRUMBULL, and CHARLES LYNEM, Defendants.

         OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT BOULEVARD & TRUMBULL'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DE 22), DEEMING MOOT THE CITY OF DETROIT DEFENDANTS' INITIAL MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DE 23), and GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND (DE 30)

          ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. OPINION

         A. Background

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in pro per on May 24, 2017, based on the alleged events of April 26, 2017, when Plaintiff claims three vehicles were removed from his dwelling. Defendants are the City of Detroit, Police Officer Charles Lynem, Chief of Police James Craig (hereinafter, collectively, the “City of Detroit Defendants”), and Boulevard & Trumbull (“B & T, ” allegedly the towing company). Defendants have filed answers and affirmative defenses.

         This case is before me by the consent of the parties. (DEs 20 & 21.) As set forth in the Court's initial scheduling order, the deadlines for the exchange of initial disclosures, amendments to pleadings/joinder of parties without leave of court, the completion of discovery, and dispositive motions have passed. (DE 19 at 3.) Thus, the Court now proceeds to consider the motions currently pending in this case.

         B. Defendant Boulevard & Trumbull's Dispositive Motion

         1. B & T's motion is unopposed

         Among the motions currently pending before the Court is Defendant Boulevard & Trumbull's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Among other things, Defendant B&T claims that, “[p]ursuant to the records produced by The City of Detroit, the vehicles in question were towed by Javion & Sam's Towing, and not Boulevard & Trumbull Towing[, ]” and “Boulevard & Trumbull Towing was not the responsible party for the towing of the vehicles in question.” (DE 22 ¶ 2, 4.) Defendant B&T requests that the Court: (1) grant its motion for summary judgment; (2) dismiss all claims against it with prejudice; (3) enter judgment in its favor; and, (4) grant any other appropriate relief. (DE 22 at 3-4.)

         Plaintiff's response was due on or before March 2, 2018, and a hearing was noticed for May 23, 2018. (DEs 24, 29.) Notwithstanding Defendant B&T's representation that its January 30, 2017 telephonic concurrence request was denied (DE 22 ¶ 8), Plaintiff has failed to file a response to this motion. Thus, it is unopposed. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(c)(1) (“A respondent opposing a motion must file a response, including a brief and supporting documents then available.”).

         Plaintiff's motion for extension - dated February 18, 2018 and filed February 20, 2018 - does not clearly specify to which pending motion for summary judgment (DEs 22, 23, and/or 25) it relates. (See DE 27.) Although it mentions the “identity of the Service Towing company . . . [, ]” it also mentions attempts to contact the “Defendant Municipal City Attorney . . . .” (See DE 27 ¶¶ 3, 5, 6.) The Court's February 23, 2018 notice of hearing extended the response deadline to April 2, 2018 and set the motion hearing for May 23, 2018. (DE 28.) Unfortunately, the copy of that notice mailed to Plaintiff at 2440 West Euclid Street, Detroit, MI 48206 was returned to the Court as undeliverable. (DE 32.) Nonetheless, the time within which Plaintiff should have filed a response to Defendant B&T's January 30, 2018 motion (DE 22) has long passed, and the arguments within the response Plaintiff filed on April 2, 2018 focus on the government defendants. (See DE 33 at 5-27). Also, the response's caption refers to Defendant “Javion & Sam Towing.” (DE 33 at 1.) Thus, the response's references to the trucker or the “4th Defendant” do not seem to refer to Defendant B&T. (See DE 33 at 4, 8, 14, 25.)

         2. B & T's motion is appropriately granted on the merits

         Nonetheless, because “a district court abuses its discretion when it grants summary judgment solely because the non-moving party has failed to respond to the motion within the applicable time limit[, ]” Miller v. Shore Fin. Servs., Inc., 141 Fed.Appx. 417, 419 (6th Cir. 2005), the Court will consider whether Defendant B&T has demonstrated “the absence of a genuine issue as to a material fact.” Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454 (6th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted). As Rule 56 expressly provides: “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). Moreover, the Court “should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.” Id.

         The identification of the towing company has been questioned from the outset of this case. Although Plaintiff's complaint lists “Boulevard & Trumbull” as a defendant in the caption of this case, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) (“Caption; Names of Parties.”), there are no less than three places within the complaint where the towing company seems to be referred to as the “third Defendant.” (DE 1 ¶¶ 12, 13, 18.) By comparison, Defendant B&T argues that it “was not responsible for the services in question.” (DE 22 at 14-16.) In addition, it supports its motion with the affidavit of an employee, Matt Bancroft, who attests that B&T “was not responsible for the towing services performed at 2440 W. Euclid[, ]” and that “Javion & Sam's Towing was responsible for the towing services in question at 2440 W. Euclid on April 26, 2017.” (DE 22-2 ¶¶ 4-5.) Defendant B&T attaches copies of Detroit Police Department records, ...


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