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Jones v. City of Detroit

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

June 4, 2019

S. BAXTER JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF DETROIT ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 34) AND DISMISSING CERTAIN DEFENDANTS

          AVERN COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Table of Contents

         I. Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………2

         II. Background…………………………………………………………………….…………...3

A. The Arrest………………………………………………………………………….4
B. The Arresting Officers…………………………………………………………..5
C. The Post-Arrest Transportation………………………………………………6
D. The City of Detroit's ADA Procedures………………………………………..7

         III. Legal Standard………………………………………………………………………….…7

         IV. The ADA…………………………………………………………………………….……….8

A. The Scope of the ADA…………………………………………………………….8
B. The ADA's remedial Scheme……………………………………………………..10
C. Municipal Liability under the ADA……………………………….……………..12
D. Individual Liability under §1983 for ADA violations…………………………14

         V. Qualified Immunity …………...……………………………………………………………16

         VI. Michigan's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act………………………………17

         VII. Fourth Amendment - Excessive Force……………………………………………….18

         VIII. Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………….20

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case involves the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), [1] the Rehabilitation Act, [2] and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, Baxter Jones (“Jones”), is a wheelchair-bound individual qualified for protections provided by the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. Jones is suing the City of Detroit (“the City”) and certain police officers[3] for disability discrimination and for the use of excessive force during his arrest. Jones says that his rights were violated while being transported to a detention center in an ill-equipped police van following a lawful arrest. Jones also says that the City is non-complaint with the ADA because it lacks adequate procedures related to ADA grievances. The amended complaint contains the following counts (Doc. 32):

Count 1: ADA claims against the City based on the actions of its officers
Count 2: ADA claims against individual police officers
Count 3: Rehabilitation Act claims against the City
Count 4: Rehabilitation Act claims against individual officers
Count 5: Fourth Amendment Excessive Force claims against individual officers
Count 6: Michigan's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act claims against the City
Count 7: ADA claims against the City based on its ADA procedures

         In previous proceedings, the Court bifurcated Jones' claims for injunctive relief from his claims for damages because the parties say that the claims for injunctive relief are in the process of being resolved. (Doc. 51). Specifically, the parties are currently working together to resolve the issues relating to the police department's ADA procedures. (Doc. 53). Therefore, the Court will not address Count 7 at this time.

         The way in which Jones alleges his claims and theories of liability present issues of law that have not been squarely addressed by the Sixth Circuit and are the subject of reasonable dispute.[4] For instance, Jones' claims require the Court to interpret the language of Title II of the ADA, which in relevant part states “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from the participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12132. The Court must decide whether this statute (1) extends to police activities, and (2) permits an action against a municipality based on respondeat superior liability. Further, the Court must decide whether Jones' 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim provides a remedy against individual officers for causing a deprivation of the federal rights provided by the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

         Now before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 34). For the following reasons the motion is GRANTED in part, and DENIED in part.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Pursuant to the Court's motion practice guidelines, a motion for summary judgment is to be accompanied by a separate document that details the relevant facts, which are to be organized into numbered paragraphs. (Doc. 19, p. 4-11). Here, the parties' enumerated statement of facts are oversimplified and do not contain all the relevant facts that the parties discuss in their briefs. This makes it difficult for the Court to be certain that its recitation of the factual record accurately reflects the material facts not in dispute. The Court's motion practice places an onus on the parties to consolidate all the relevant facts into one document. This helps reveal factual disputes. Because the parties failed to consolidate a full factual record, the Court sourced its understanding of the record from several documents filed by the parties. The facts, as best can be gleaned from the record, are as follows.

         A. The Arrest

         A protest took place at the Homrich Contractor Facility on W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan on July 18, 2014 regarding residential water shutoffs for nonpayment of water bills. (Doc. 48). Jones was a protester and participated in the obstruction of the entranceway of the Homrich Contractor Facility. (Doc. 48). Police officers were called to the scene and the protesters were ordered to move from the entranceway. (Doc. 48). When Jones refused to obey, he was arrested. (Doc. 48). Jones does not claim that his arrest was unlawful or improper. (Docs. 32, 48).

         Jones was arrested with eight other individuals for disorderly conduct. (Docs. 40, 48). The eight other arrestees were transported to the detention center on a bus. (Docs. 34, 40). However, Jones could not be transported on the bus due to his wheelchair. (Docs. 34, 40). So, the police officers decided to transport Jones in a van. (Docs. 40, 48). Jones says that after he was loaded into the van he informed the police officers that his neck was in pain-which was caused by him having to duck his head due to the height of his wheelchair and the low ceiling in the van. (Doc. 40). The parties submitted a video and photo evidence of Jones being loaded into the van. (Docs. 34-8, 40-8, 40-17, 40-18).

         B. The Arresting Officers

         The police officers named in the complaint are: (1) Sergeant Reuben Fluker, (2) Officer Robin Cleaver, (3) Sergeant Edward Hudson, (4) Commander Elvin Barren, (5) Officer Gregory Robson, (6) Capitan Kyra Hope, and (7) John Doe.

         1. ...


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