from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:15-cv-13479-Sean F.
Cox, District Judge.
Rick Martin, GLOTTA & ASSOCIATES, Detroit, Michigan, for
Michael T. Berger, SEWARD HENDERSON PLLC, Royal Oak,
Michigan, for Appellees/Cross-Appellants.
Before: MOORE, SUTTON, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
SUTTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
cars collided in a busy intersection in a Detroit suburb. The
police decided that one of the drivers, Dawn Green, ran a red
light, and said so in the accident report, though they opted
not to give her a ticket. Green sued the three officers and
their employer, the City of Southfield, alleging that the
investigation of the accident violated the U.S. Constitution.
The district court granted summary judgment to the
defendants. We affirm.
afternoon in October 2012, Green was driving west on Eight
Mile Road in Southfield, Michigan, twenty minutes north of
Detroit. William Patterson was heading northbound on
Southfield Road, taking his grandson to a medical
appointment. The two vehicles collided in the intersection,
Patterson's SUV ramming the driver-side door of
Green's sedan. After impact, the SUV blocked the
intersection and Green's car came to rest at a traffic
median several hundred feet away.
to Green, she was briefly knocked unconscious and, after
coming to, was dazed and in intense pain, struggling to
"recall[ ] everything that occurred." R. 185-6 at
7. Other drivers pulled over to help Green, disoriented and
with glass in her face, climb out of her car and lay down on
Officer Rafid Maya arrived at the scene soon after the
accident. He spoke briefly with Patterson, who was out of his
car and didn't look injured. Maya then went to Green,
still on her back on the median, appearing stiff and unable
to move her limbs. Because Green "didn't respond too
many times," saying just "a few words here and
there," Maya refrained from asking many questions after
getting her identification. R. 185-3 at 6-7.
Specialist Keith Birberick arrived within a few minutes of
Maya. By then, paramedics were looking after Green, and
Birberick initially blocked traffic at Patterson's end of
the crash scene. When he came over to Green, she was on a
gurney in an ambulance. He spoke to Green briefly, as Maya
told him Green couldn't remember the accident. Patterson
relayed that he had just entered the intersection with a
green light when his car "was struck" by
Green's car. R. 185-7 at 5-6. Birberick did not speak to
Patterson's fifteen-year-old grandson, because he
believed that, as a passenger, the grandson was not an
"independent witness" and that the accident was not
severe enough to warrant significant investigation.
Id. at 6. Birberick determined that the physical
evidence-the degree and location of the vehicles'
respective damage, the absence of skid marks around
Green's vehicle, and the spot where Green's vehicle
came to rest-corroborated Patterson's account.
did not consider the accident serious enough for criminal
proceedings or a traffic ticket, so he did not complete a
police incident report. He instead filled out the crash
report that the State of Michigan requires for highway-safety
planning purposes when car accidents lead to injuries. Mich.
Comp. Laws §§ 257.622, 257.624(1). In the
form's "Hazardous Action" box, Birberick wrote
"none" for Patterson and "disregarded traffic
[signal]" for Green. R. 185-2 at 2-3. Michigan law
provides that such crash reports "shall not be available
for use in a court action." Mich. Comp. Laws §
was hospitalized for several days. When she saw the accident
report, she contacted Detective Mark LaBrosse at the
Southfield Police Department, insisting it was Patterson who
ran the light and that she had an eye witness, Douglas
Harris, to back her up. LaBrosse followed up with Harris and
Patterson as well as with Officer Maya and Specialist
Birberick, but LaBrosse and his supervisor (Sergeant Brian
Bassett) decided against amending the report. LaBrosse simply
added Harris as a potential witness and ordered the records
bureau to attach his affidavit to the report.
sued Patterson in state court, eventually settling her
negligence claim after discovery, case evaluation, and
court-ordered facilitation. She then filed this § 1983
and § 1985 action against officers Birberick, LaBrosse,
Bassett, and the City of Southfield, alleging that the
investigation of the accident violated her equal protection
rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and her right of access
to the courts under the First (and Fourteenth) Amendment. The
district court concluded that the officers deserved qualified
immunity and granted summary judgment to several of the
defendants. The court refused each side's request for
sanctions against the other. Green appeals, and the
immunity protects police officers from liability for actions
that do not violate clearly established rights apparent to a
reasonable officer standing in their shoes. Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). At issue on
summary judgment is whether a material-fact dispute stands in
the way of the officers' qualified-immunity defense or
whether they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Northrup v. City of Toledo Police Dep't, 785
F.3d 1128, 1131 (6th Cir. 2015); see Plumhoff v.
Rickard, 572 U.S. 765, 768 ...