United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Stephanie Dawkins Davis, United States Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#76] IN PART AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#78]
Gershwin A. Drain, United States District Court Judge.
Adam Gerics initiated this § 1983 action on August 17,
2015, alleging several constitutional rights violations at
the hands of three City of Flint police officers. Dkt. No. 1;
see Dkt. No. 36 (Amended Complaint). Defendants
--Officers Joseph Hall, Bobby Fowlkes, and Felix Trevino --
have moved for summary judgment on all Counts.
before the Court is Defendants' Joint Motion for Summary
Judgment. Dkt. No. 76. Plaintiff has also filed a
Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendant Hall on
three Counts set forth in the Complaint. A hearing on the
Motions was held on June 11, 2019. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will GRANT Defendants' Motion [#76] IN
PART and DENY Plaintiff's Motion [#78].
case arises out of an ongoing feud between Plaintiff and his
neighbor, Tim Monahan. Dkt. No. 76, p. 11 (Pg. ID 475).
According to Monahan, Plaintiff began harassing him in 2010,
frequently calling him profane and derogatory names such as
“HIV positive pedophile, ” “cocksucker,
” and “shithead.” Id. Often,
Plaintiff would make these comments by means of a megaphone
or by putting up signs on properties throughout the
neighborhood. Id. at pp. 11-12 (Pg. ID 475-76). On a
number of occasions, Monahan attempted to file a complaint
with the City of Flint Police Department, but was told that
officers could not intervene because this was a civil matter,
and not a criminal one. Id. at p. 12 (Pg. ID 476).
However, in the fall of 2013, Monahan had an opportunity to
speak directly with the Police Chief. Id. Based on
Monahan's representations, the Police Chief agreed to
send officers to investigate. Id.
September 27, 2013, Defendant Hall met Monahan near
Plaintiff's property. Id. Plaintiff, who was
standing outside his home, noticed the two men talking and
began recording them with his cellphone. Id. at p.
13 (Pg. ID 477). At the time, Plaintiff did not know
Defendant Hall was a police officer. Id. Thus,
Plaintiff addressed Monahan, stating: “And this
dude's a crook, he likes to rip people off, families
especially. I got it on video of him returning my property.
It's on Facebook all over the place. Total thief, took
two water heaters and a dryer.” Id. Plaintiff
then went on to say, “Why are you in front of my
fucking house anyways? Fucking harassment.”
Id. At that point, Defendant Hall approached
Plaintiff and placed him under arrest for a breach of the
the arrest, Defendant Hall grabbed Plaintiff's cellphone
and threw it on the ground. Dkt. No. 83, p. 9 (Pg. ID 920).
Defendant Fowlkes arrived on the scene soon after to help
secure Plaintiff. Id. at p. 10 (Pg. ID 921).
Defendant Trevino was observing from his vehicle a half block
away. Dkt. No. 76, p. 13 (Pg. ID 477). Following the arrest,
Plaintiff was transported to the City Lockup, where he was
booked and held. Dkt. No. 83, p. 9 (Pg. ID 921). In holding,
Plaintiff was searched by a Sheriff Deputy, who found what
was later determined to be marijuana. Dkt. No. 76, p. 14 (Pg.
ID 478). Despite this, Plaintiff was released from custody
three days later with only a citation for breach of the
August 17, 2015, nearly two years after being released from
police custody, Plaintiff filed the instant suit claiming,
among other things, wrongful arrest. Id. Roughly one
month later, the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office
initiated criminal charges against Plaintiff stemming from
that September 2013 arrest. Id. Specifically,
Plaintiff was charged with Furnishing Contraband to Prisoners
(Count One), Resisting Arrest (Count Two), and Possession of
Marijuana (Count Three). A state court judge found sufficient
probable cause for the prosecutor to proceed on those
charges; however, a second judge later suppressed the
evidence after finding Plaintiff's arrest violated the
Fourth Amendment. Dkt. No. 76, p. 15 (Pg. ID 479); Dkt. No.
83, p. 10 (Pg. ID 921).
Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in this case asserting
nine Counts: Retaliatory Arrest (Count One), Unlawful Arrest
(Count Two), Excessive Force (Count Three), Unlawful Seizure
of Cellphone (Count Four), Failure to Intervene (Count Five),
Malicious Prosecution (Count Six), Retaliatory Prosecution
(Count Seven), Abuse of Process (Count Eight), and Municipal
Liability (Count Nine). Dkt. No. 36. The Court Dismissed
Counts Eight and Nine on March 19, 2018. See Dkt.
No. 46. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all
remaining Counts on the basis of qualified immunity. Dkt. No.
76. Plaintiff moves for summary judgment against Defendant
Hall on Counts Two, Four, and Six. See Dkt. No. 78.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) “directs that 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) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The court must view the
facts, and draw reasonable inferences from those facts, in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. No. genuine dispute of
material fact exists where the record “taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus., Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (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.
qualified-immunity doctrine shields government officials
performing discretionary functions from civil liability
unless their conduct violates clearly established
rights.” Quigley v. Tuong, 707 F.3d 675, 680
(6th Cir. 2013). “Thus, a defendant is entitled to
qualified immunity on summary judgment unless the facts, when
viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, would
permit a reasonable juror to find that: (1) the defendant
violated a constitutional right; and (2) the right was
clearly established.” Id. (quoting Bishop
v. Hackel, 636 F.3d 757, 765 (6th Cir. 2011)).
“Once a defendant invokes qualified immunity, the
plaintiff bears the burden to show that qualified immunity is
inappropriate.” Id. at 681.
Defendants move for summary judgment on Counts One through
Seven of Plaintiff's Complaint on the basis of qualified
immunity. Plaintiff, in turn, has moved for summary judgment
against Defendant Hall on Counts Two, Four, and Six. The
parties address these claims out of order. The Court's
analysis will follow suit.
Defendants are Entitled to Qualified Immunity on
Plaintiff's Malicious Prosecution Claim (Count
Count Six of the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants
initiated criminal proceedings against him without any belief
that he was guilty of the charged crimes. Plaintiff maintains
that Defendants were motivated by malice, vexation, and
retaliation. However, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate how
Defendants unlawfully influenced his prosecution.
succeed on a malicious-prosecution claim under § 1983
when the claim is premised on a violation of the Fourth
Amendment, a plaintiff must prove the following: First, the
plaintiff must show that a criminal prosecution was initiated
against the plaintiff and that the defendant made,
influenced, or participated in the decision to prosecute.
Second, because a § 1983 claim is premised on the
violation of a constitutional right the plaintiff must show
that there was a lack of probable cause for the criminal
prosecution. Third, the plaintiff must show that, as a
consequence of a legal proceeding, the plaintiff suffered a
deprivation of liberty, as understood in our Fourth Amendment
jurisprudence, apart from the initial seizure. Fourth, the
criminal proceeding must have been resolved in the
plaintiff's favor.” Sykes v. Anderson, 625
F.3d 294, 308-09 (6th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations and
officer will not be deemed to have commenced a criminal
proceeding against a person when the claim is predicated on
the mere fact that the officer turned over to the prosecution
the officer's truthful materials.” Id. at
314. Even the submission of inaccurate materials does not
automatically render an officer liable. Rather, “in
order to show that [an officer] participated in or that his
actions influenced the commencement of criminal proceedings
as required to sustain a claim of malicious prosecution,
Plaintiffs [are] required to present some evidence that the
impact of [the officer's] misstatements and falsehoods in
his investigatory materials extended beyond the
Plaintiffs' initial arrest and ultimately influenced the
Plaintiffs' continued detention.” Id. at
316. Similarly, “in order to establish that a
testifying officer was responsible for commencing a criminal
proceeding for purposes of a malicious-prosecution claim, the
Plaintiffs [are] required to present evidence that [the
officer] (1) stated a deliberate falsehood or showed reckless
disregard for the truth at the hearing and (2) that the
allegedly false or omitted information was material to the
court's finding of probable cause.” Id. at
312 (internal quotations omitted).
Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim against Defendant
Trevino is predicated solely on the fact that he issued
Plaintiff's citation for breach of the peace, allegedly
without cause. But the charges that the Genesee County
Prosecutor's Office brought against Plaintiff did not
include any such violation. See Dkt. No. 76-11.
Furthermore, Plaintiff has not shown that Defendant Trevino
had any contact with the Genesee County Prosecutor's
Office, such as to encourage the pursuit of criminal charges.
Hence, Defendant Trevino cannot be said to have influenced
malicious prosecution claim against Defendant Fowlkes also
lacks merit. His claim is based on the fact that Defendant
Fowlkes testified at his preliminary hearing on the resisting
arrest charge. Dkt. No. 83, p. 15 (Pg. ID 926). While
Plaintiff contends that Defendant Fowlkes' testimony
cannot be trusted, he offers no supporting evidence other
than his own assertion. This does not satisfy Plaintiff's
burden of proving Defendant Fowlkes stated a deliberate
falsehood or showed reckless disregard for the truth.
Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim against Defendant
Hall fails. Plaintiff notes that Defendant Hall's police
report surrounding the September 2013 arrest contained an
inaccuracy. Specifically, Defendant Hall recanted the fact
that he personally heard Plaintiff yell a sexual innuendo at
Monahan on the day of the arrest. See Dkt. No. 78-1,
pp. 62-63 (Pg. ID 688-689). But even so, none of the charges
brought by the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office were
founded on this inaccuracy. Indeed, the exact words that
Plaintiff spoke that day in no way relate to furnishing
contraband to prisoners, resisting arrest, or the possession
of marijuana. Thus, there is no evidence that the impact of
Defendant Hall's misstatement extended beyond
Plaintiff's initial arrest. Furthermore, this single
misstatement, alone, does not suggest that Defendant