United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [#26] AND ALLOWING PLAINTIFF TO FILE A MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT
Gershwin A. Drain, United States District Court Judge.
before the Court is Defendant City of Detroit's Motion
for Summary Judgment. Defendant suspended Plaintiff Jeff
Robert, a former Detroit City Police Officer, for about three
months with pay after Plaintiff was involved in a motor
vehicle accident and left the scene of the accident.
Plaintiff filed suit against the City of Detroit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
violations. Plaintiff also filed concurrent state law claims
under the Michigan constitution and a state law claim
alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. For
the reasons discussed herein, the Court will grant
Defendant's Motion and allow Plaintiff to file a motion
to amend his complaint.
case stems from a motor vehicle accident that occurred in the
early morning hours of April 18, 2015. Dkt. No. 28-1, pg. 8
(Pg. ID 300). Plaintiff Jeff Robert is a former police
officer with the City of Detroit; he is currently a detective
with the City of Detroit. Id. at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 297).
On August 17, 2017, Plaintiff attended a party for police
officers graduating from the police academy. Id. at
pgs. 8-9 (Pg. ID 300-01). Plaintiff consumed two beers and
one shot of alcohol at the party. Id. at pg. 9 (Pg.
ID 301). After the party, Plaintiff gave a Student Police
Officer, Officer Kimberly Buckner, a ride home on his
motorcycle. Id. At approximately 2:05
while giving Buckner a ride home, Plaintiff encountered a
sharp turn and was not able to complete the turn.
Id. at pgs. 9-10 (Pg. ID 301-02). Plaintiff's
motorcycle struck the curb, and the motorcycle went down and
slid a short distance. Id. at pg. 10 (Pg. ID 302).
Plaintiff and Officer Buckner got up and brushed dirt off of
themselves. Id. Plaintiff asked Officer Buckner if
she was okay, and she responded yes. Id. Officer
Buckner then called another officer, Officer
Reason, to pick her up from the accident scene.
Id. Officer Reason showed up within four minutes and
took Officer Buckner home. Id.
before Plaintiff started his motorcycle back up, he called
Sergeant Jeremy James, his supervisor. Id. at pg. 11
(Pg. ID 303). Plaintiff reached Sergeant James'
voicemail. Id. Plaintiff left a message, informing
Sergeant James that he had Officer Buckner on his motorcycle
and that he had “dropped the bike.” Id.
After Plaintiff left the voice message, he picked up his
motorcycle and started to drive home. Id. While
driving, Plaintiff noticed he was having an issue shifting.
Id. He drove the bike to the parking lot at 7310
Woodward, his old police station base. Id.
Plaintiff's wife picked him up from the parking lot and
he left the motorcycle in the parking lot. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 3
(Pg. ID 3).
approximately 2:15 am on April 18, 2015, Lieutenant Kelly
Fitzgerald received a notification from Sergeant Michelle
Zberkot that Sergeant Zberkot received a phone call from
Officer Buckner. Dkt. No. 28-2, pg. 5 (Pg. ID 313). Officer
Buckner's phone call notified Sergeant Zberkot that she
and Plaintiff had been involved in an accident. Officer
Buckner went to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, on
the night of the accident. Dkt. No. 26-3, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 243).
At the hospital, she was treated for a small laceration on
the left side of her forehead and severe abrasions on her
left leg. Id. That same night, Captain Darin Szilagy
canvassed the area near where the accident had allegedly
occurred and did not observe any signs of an accident; he
also did not see Plaintiff at the scene. Id. At 3:00
am on April 18, 2015, Lieutenant Fitzgerald directed Sergeant
Bernadette Dunbeck and Sergeant Steven Peil to conduct a
preliminary investigation into the accident. Id. At
5:18 am on April 18, 2015, Sergeants Dunbeck and Peil
interviewed Officer Buckner. Id. Officer Buckner
described her version of the accident to the Sergeants.
approximately 9:50 am on April 18, 2015, Sergeant Dunbeck
faxed a search warrant request to apprehend and collect a
blood sample from Plaintiff to the Wayne County Assistant
Prosecuting Attorney. Id. at pg. 4 (Pg. ID 245). At
approximately 10:15 am, Sergeant Lora Stanton informed
Sergeant Dunbeck that there were no requests or reports for
calls for service regarding the accident around the area
where the accident allegedly took place. Id. At
10:20 am, Sergeant Peil notified Sergeant Tony Coppola that
members of the Detroit Police Department were going to arrest
Plaintiff for leaving the scene of an injury accident.
to Plaintiff, three officers showed up to his house around
noon or 1:00 pm on April 18, 2015 and placed him under
arrest. Dkt. No. 28-1, pg. 12 (Pg. ID 304). When Plaintiff
asked what he was being arrested for, a lieutenant told him
it was for leaving the scene of an injury accident.
Id. Plaintiff was examined by the Michigan
Department of Corrections Register Nurse for his injuries,
which included abrasions to the left side of his face, nose,
and chin, and abrasions on both of his hands, arms, and legs.
Dkt. No. 26-3, pg. 5 (Pg. ID 246). At approximately 12:34 pm,
Sergeants Peil and Dunbeck interviewed Plaintiff under the
provisions of Miranda. Id. Plaintiff refused to make
a statement. Id. At approximately 1:27pm, Defendant
released Plaintiff. Id. At 1:55pm, Sergeant Peil and
three other officers travelled to 7310 Woodward and observed
Plaintiff's motorcycle parked there, with damage to the
left side and the windshield. Id.
Peil recommended that Plaintiff be suspended with pay pending
the departmental adjudication of the incident. Id.
Sergeant Peil also recommended that Plaintiff be charged with
Conduct Unbecoming An Officer. Id. at pg. 6 (Pg. ID
247). On April 18, 2015, Defendant suspended Plaintiff with
pay. See Dkt. No. 26-3, pg. 8 (Pg. ID 249).
April 20, 2018, Captain Brian Mounsey and Lieutenant
Fitzgerald spoke with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Robert
Donaldson of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
Id. at pg. 11 (Pg. ID 252). During the conversation,
it was determined that charges against Plaintiff would not be
presented and that Defendant would conduct a misconduct
investigation. Id. On May 28, 2015, Commander
DeShaune Sims found it unlikely that Defendant would prevail
in a termination of Plaintiff. Id. Commander Sims
recommended that Defendant restore Plaintiff to full duty
pending the completion of the investigation. Id. On
June 5, 2015, Chief of Police James Craig recommended that
Plaintiff be restored to full duty pending the departmental
adjudication of the motor vehicle incident. Id. at
pg. 15 (Pg. ID 256). Plaintiff returned to work in August of
2015. Dkt. No. 28-1, pg. 12 (Pg. ID 304). On November 12,
2015, Defendant issued a formal memorandum to Plaintiff
informing him that the investigation into the motor vehicle
incident had been closed. Dkt. No. 26-3, pg. 16 (Pg. ID 257).
On December 8, 2015, Defendant charged Plaintiff with Neglect
of Duty in violation of the Detroit Police Department Manuel
Series 100. Dkt. No. 28-2, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 310). Plaintiff
alleges that during his suspension, he was unable to work in
secondary employment and earn overtime. Dkt. No. 28-1, pg. 12
(Pg. ID 304).
27, 2016, Plaintiff filed his complaint against the City of
Detroit. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff alleged false arrest, false
imprisonment, and malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Id. at pgs. 4-8 (Pg. ID
4-8). Plaintiff also alleged a state law claim
of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id.
at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 5). On July 27, 2017, Defendant filed its
first Motion for Summary Judgment-three months after the
dispositive motion cutoff date. Dkt. No. 15. The parties
thereafter entered into settlement agreements and agreed upon
a settlement amount that the Detroit City Council rejected.
After settlement negotiations proved unsuccessful, this Court
struck Defendant's first Motion without prejudice on
March 30, 2018. Dkt. No. 25. On April 26, 2018, Defendant
re-filed its Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 26.
Plaintiff filed his response opposing the Motion on May 17,
2018. Dkt. No. 28. Plaintiff's response also requested
leave to amend his complaint should this Court rule in favor
of Defendant. Id. at pg. 14 (Pg. ID 291). Defendant
did not file a reply.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) governs summary judgment. The
Rule states, “summary judgment shall be granted if
‘there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter
of law.'” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's
Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 1998).
“All factual inferences ‘must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion.'” Id. (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986)). There is a genuine issue of material fact
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986)). Ultimately, the court evaluates
“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.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
of Plaintiff's complaint alleges deprivation of
constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Dkt. No. 1, pg. 4 (Pg. ID 4). Counts III and IV of
Plaintiff's complaint allege false arrest and false
imprisonment. Id. at pg. 6 (Pg. ID 6). Count V of
Plaintiff's complaint alleges malicious prosecution.
Id. This Court will consider Plaintiff's federal
claims first. To prevail in a § 1983 claim against a
municipality, one must demonstrate: (1) the deprivation of a
constitutional right; and (2) that the ...