United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING
IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt.
97); and (2) DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ORDER TO NAME
KELLY SUPPES AS DEPUTY DOE NO. 1 (Dkt. 98)
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is currently before the Court on Defendants Sheriff
William Federspiel and Saginaw County - Office of
Sheriff's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 97) and
Plaintiffs Gerald and Royetta Ostipow's motion for an
order to name Kelly Suppes as Deputy Doe No. 1 (Dkt. 98).
Because oral argument will not aid the decisional process,
the motions will be decided based on the parties'
briefing. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2); Fed.R.Civ.P.
78(b). For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that
Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiffs' federal claims and, therefore, dismisses
those claims with prejudice. Because the dismissal of these
federal claims means that this case no longer retains a
federal character, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs'
state-law claims without prejudice and denies those portions
of Defendants' motions challenging the state-law claims
against Defendant Federspiel without prejudice. The Court
also denies Plaintiffs' motion for an order to name Kelly
Suppes as Deputy Doe No. 1.
case stems from the 2008 execution of search warrants on
Plaintiff Gerald Ostipow's properties. On April 25, 2008,
Saginaw County Sheriff's Deputies searched Gerald
Ostipow's properties - 3551 and 3996 E. Allan Road in
Owosso, Michigan - and discovered a large indoor marijuana
growing operation at 3551 E. Allan Road. Defendants'
Statement of Material Facts (“SMF”) ¶¶
1-2 (Dkt. 97). Gerald Ostipow and his wife, Plaintiff Royetta
Ostipow, did not reside at 3551 E. Allan Road, but their son,
Steven Ostipow, did. Id. ¶ 1. Steven Ostipow
was later charged with, and pleaded guilty to, manufacturing
and possessing marijuana, in addition to other crimes.
Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiffs deny any knowledge of their
son's activities. Id.
executing the search warrants, deputies seized paraphernalia,
marijuana growing equipment, a snow mobile, a motor vehicle,
U.S. currency, and firearms. Id. ¶ 3. The
Saginaw County Prosecutor initiated forfeiture proceedings on
June 13, 2008, for the real and personal property located at
3551 E. Allan Road and for the personal property located at
3996 E. Allan Road. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiffs filed
an answer in the forfeiture proceedings, alleging that they
were third-party innocent owners and had no knowledge of any
illegal activity. Id. ¶ 9.
January 13, 2009, the circuit court granted summary
disposition in favor of the county and entered an order of
forfeiture, ordering that “all of the right, title and
interest of the claimants in the above described real and
personal property is FORFEITED to the Saginaw County
Sheriff's Department and shall be disposed of by said
Department as provided by statute, MCL 333.7524.”
See Order Granting Motion for Summary Disposition
and Order of Forfeiture, Ex. I to Defs. Mot. (Dkt. 97-10).
Plaintiffs filed a claim of appeal, and motion for bond and
stay of proceeding, for which a hearing was conducted on May
26, 2009. SMF ¶ 11. At the hearing, Plaintiffs'
counsel requested a stay contingent upon the posting of a
bond, and the trial court authorized a bond in the amount of
$150, 000. Id. ¶ 12; see also
5/26/2009 Tr., Ex. J. to Defs. Mot., at 14-15, PageID.2389-
2390 (Dkt. 97-11). The court confirmed that the stay would
not go into place until the bond was filed. 5/26/2009 Tr. at
15, PageID.2390. Plaintiffs did not post a bond, but did ask
the Michigan Court of Appeals to review the bond conditions.
SMF ¶ 13. The Court of Appeals denied this request on
June 4, 2009. Id.
2009, Sheriff's deputies secured the structures at 3551
E. Allan Road and proceeded to remove Plaintiffs'
personal property. Id. ¶ 16. The Saginaw County
Purchasing Manager, Kelly Suppes, listed and sold the real
property at 3551 E. Allan Road through an independent realtor
and sold the personal property on Ebay. Id. ¶
17. The sales were consummated in 2009. Id.
January 11, 2011, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined
that Plaintiffs' affirmative defenses raised material
issues of fact such that the circuit court's grant of
summary disposition was inappropriate. See In re
Forfeiture of a Quantity of Marijuana, 805 N.W.2d 217
(Mich. Ct. App. 2011). The court of appeals reversed the
trial court's decision and remanded for further
case went to trial on March 20, 2012. SMF ¶ 21. The
circuit court determined that Plaintiffs were not innocent
owners; following another appeal, the court of appeals held
that Royetta Ostipow, but not Gerald, was an innocent owner.
Id. ¶¶ 21-23; see also In re
Forfeiture of Marijuana, No. 310106, 2013 WL 5731508
(Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 22, 2013). On August 2, 2016, the
circuit court entered a final judgment describing which of
the real and personal property was and was not forfeited. SMF
August 3, 2016, Plaintiffs made a written demand on Sheriff
Federspiel for the return of the real and personal property
which was previously seized and sold. Id. ¶ 26.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have neither returned the
property nor compensated them for the value of their
non-forfeited property. Pls. Resp. at 11, PageID.5109 (Dkt.
then filed the instant lawsuit on August 24, 2016. Plaintiffs
allege claims for (i) trover/conversion, (ii) substantive due
process violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (iii)
procedural due process violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, (iv) violation of the Fifth Amendment pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (v) excessive fines in violation of
the Eighth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (vi)
a Monell claim, and (vii) violation of the Michigan
Freedom of Information Act. Defendants now move for summary
judgment, while Plaintiffs seek to name Kelly Suppes as a
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56 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 genuine dispute of material fact exists
when there are “disputes over facts that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). “[F]acts must be viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a
‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.”
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
“Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there
is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
the movant satisfies its initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of any genuine issue of material fact, the burden
shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts
showing a triable issue of material fact. Scott, 550
U.S. at 380; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323 (1986). The nonmoving party “must do more than
simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts, ” Scott, 550 U.S. at 380
(quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586), as the
“mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment, ”
id. (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-248)
(emphasis in original); see also Babcock & Wilcox Co.
v. Cormetech, Inc., 848 F.3d 754, 758 (6th Cir. 2017)
(“A mere scintilla of evidence or some metaphysical
doubt as to a material fact is insufficient to forestall
put forth several reasons why Plaintiffs' claims should
be dismissed; generally, these are (i) that the Sheriff's
Office and the Deputy Does are improper defendants, (ii) that
the claims fail on the merits, and (iii) that the statute of
limitations has run on Plaintiffs' claims. Because the
Court finds that Plaintiffs' claims cannot succeed on the
merits, the issues regarding the statute of limitations need
not be addressed.
Whether the Sheriff's Office and Deputy Doe No. 1 are
Defendant Saginaw County - Office of Sheriff
argue that the Saginaw County - Office of Sheriff is not a
separate legal entity subject to suit. Plaintiffs respond
that the “Office of Sheriff” is a formal office,
not just an individual constitutional officer, and cites
several cases that they claim contradict Defendants'
position. They note that the circuit court's order in
2009 forfeited their property to the “Saginaw County
Sheriff's Department.” Pls. Resp. at 14,
PageID.5112 (citing Order Granting Mot. for Summ. Disp. and
Order of Forfeiture, Ex. D to Pls. Resp. (Dkt. 118-5)).
authorities are persuasive. In Hughson v. County of
Antrim, 707 F.Supp. 304, 306 (W.D. Mich. 1988), the
court explained that “Michigan is a jurisdiction in
which the sheriff and prosecutor are constitutional officers,
and there does not exist a sheriff's department or a
prosecutor's office. Instead, the sheriff and the
prosecutor are individuals, elected in accordance with
constitutional mandates. Mich. Const. Art. 7, § 4. Since
the sheriff's department and the prosecutor's office
do not exist, they obviously cannot be sued.” Other
courts have found similarly, noting that the Sheriff's
Office is simply an agent of the county. See, e.g.,
Dayson v. Rondeau, No. 12-1310, 2013 WL 1818628, at
*8 n.2 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 29, 2013) (“The drug
enforcement team is alleged to be a task force of the Cass
County Sheriff's Department, which does not exist as a
separate legal entity. The drug enforcement team, like the
Cass County Sheriff's Department, is simply an agent of
the county.”); Veliz v. Bouchard, No.
05-60039, 2008 WL 719251, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 14, 2008)
(“Finally, the claim against the Oakland County
Sheriff's Department shall be dismissed, as under
Michigan law the Sheriff's Department is not a separate
legal entity from Oakland County, and therefore not subject
cases relied upon by Plaintiffs do not contradict
Defendants' authorities. Rather, they seem consistent
with the analysis in Hughson. See, e.g.,
Brownstown Twp. v. Wayne Cty., 242 N.W.2d 538, 539
(Mich. Ct. App. 1976) (“The state has constitutionally
delegated the duty of law enforcement to the county by
providing for the office of sheriff.”); Mich. Labor
Mediation Bd. v. Marr, 181 N.W.2d 44, 46 (Mich. Ct. App.
1970) (“The office of a sheriff is a constitutional
Defendant Saginaw County - Office of Sheriff is dismissed.