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Hall v. Berrien County

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

July 13, 2018

BERRIEN COUNTY, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 33). The parties have consented to proceed in this Court for all further proceedings, including trial and an order of final judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). By Order of Reference, the Honorable Janet T. Neff referred this case to the undersigned. For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants' motion is granted and this matter is terminated.

         I. Background

         The following allegations are contained in Plaintiffs complaint. (ECF No. 1). On April 10, 2015, Plaintiff was driving his vehicle when he was stopped and detained by Berrien County Sheriffs Deputies Tim Dyer and John Doe. Deputies Dyer and/or Doe accused Plaintiff of being a drug dealer and possessing illegal drugs. The deputies, however, discovered no illegal drugs on Plaintiffs person or within his vehicle. Deputies Dyer and/or Doe had previously reported information which led to Plaintiff being falsely charged with criminal activity.

         Plaintiff initiated this action on December 29, 2016, against Berrien County, the Berrien County Sheriffs Department, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, Deputy Dyer, and Deputy Doe. Plaintiff alleges that his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated. Plaintiff also alleges several state law causes of action: false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants now move for summary judgment. Plaintiff has failed to respond to Defendants' motion.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment "shall" be granted "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). A party moving for summary judgment can satisfy its burden by demonstrating "that the respondent, having had sufficient opportunity for discovery, has no evidence to support an essential element of his or her case." Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir. 2005). Once the moving party demonstrates that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case," the non-moving party "must identify specific facts that can be established by admissible evidence, which demonstrate a genuine issue for trial." Amini v. Oberlin College, 440 F.3d 350, 357 (6th Cir. 2006).

         While the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the party opposing the summary judgment motion "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Amini, 440 F.3d at 357. The existence of a mere "scintilla of evidence" in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Daniels v. Woodside, 396 F.3d 730, 734-35 (6th Cir. 2005). The non-moving party "may not rest upon [his] mere allegations," but must instead present "significant probative evidence" establishing that "there is a genuine issue for trial." Pack v. Damon Corp., 434 F.3d 810, 813-14 (6th Cir. 2006).

         Moreover, the non-moving party cannot defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment by "simply arguing that it relies solely or in part upon credibility determinations." Fogerty v. MGM Group Holdings Corp., Inc., 379 F.3d 348, 353 (6th Cir. 2004). Rather, the non-moving party "must be able to point to some facts which may or will entitle him to judgment, or refute the proof of the moving party in some material portion, and. . .may not merely recite the incantation, 'Credibility,' and have a trial on the hope that a jury may disbelieve factually uncontested proof." Id. at 353-54. In sum, summary judgment is appropriate "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." Daniels, 396 F.3d at 735.

         While a moving party without the burden of proof need only show that the opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial, a moving party with the burden of proof faces a "substantially higher hurdle." Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002). Where the moving party has the burden, "his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party." Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986). The Sixth Circuit has emphasized that the party with the burden of proof "must show the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it." Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561. Accordingly, summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of persuasion "is inappropriate when the evidence is susceptible of different interpretations or inferences by the trier of fact." Huntv. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999).

         III. John Doe

         As noted above, Plaintiff has asserted this action against an unidentified John Doe described by Plaintiff as the Deputy Sheriff accompanying Deputy Sheriff Tim Dyer on patrol on April 10, 2015. Defendants have submitted evidence that the Deputy Sheriff in question is Richard Johnson. (ECF No. 34, Exhibits 1-2, 5). Deputy Johnson has appeared in this matter and joined the present motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has failed to respond to the present motion and, therefore, has presented no evidence on the question of John Doe's identity. Defendants' unrefuted evidence is persuasive. Accordingly, the Court will proceed, substituting Deputy Sheriff Richard Johnson for John Doe.

         IV. Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment - Defendants Bailey, Dyer, and Johnson

         There is no dispute that Plaintiff was arrested on the night in question. Plaintiff alleges that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because he was arrested "without probable cause. . .in reckless ...

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