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Wise v. Moro

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

July 9, 2019

LARRY C. WISE, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN MORO and WILLIAM DOBBERSTEIN, Michigan State Police Officers in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          ROBERT H. CLELAND DISTRICT JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Larry C. Wise alleges that Defendants Officer Ryan Moro and Officer William Dobberstein violated his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's motion for declaratory judgment (docket no. 16) and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (docket no. 20). This case has been referred to the undersigned for all pretrial proceedings, including a hearing and determination of all non-dispositive matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and/or a report and recommendation on all dispositive matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Docket no. 14.) The Court has reviewed the pleadings and dispenses with oral argument pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2).

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned recommends that the Court DENY Plaintiff's motion for a declaratory judgment (docket no. 16) and DENY Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (docket no. 20).

         II. REPORT

         A. Background

         Plaintiff Larry C. Wise filed this action alleging that Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (Docket no. 1.) Plaintiff seeks damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id.)

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendants, who are officers of the Michigan State Police, wrongfully seized and searched his vehicle on July 3, 2017 in Holy Township, Michigan. (Id. at 3-4, 22.) On that date, Defendant Moro observed a vehicle with an “unrecognized license plate that appeared to be homemade” and initiated a traffic stop. (Id. at 22.) Plaintiff, who was driving the vehicle, declined to provide a driver's license. (Id.) Defendant Moro directed Plaintiff to exit the vehicle and placed him in handcuffs. (Id.) Defendant Moro then performed a “pat down” on Plaintiff and removed his wallet from his pocket. (Docket no. 28-2, p. 3.) Defendant Moro “ran the vehicle through the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network, which revealed the vehicle as unregistered.” (Id.)

         After Defendant Dobberstein arrived on the scene, Defendant Moro asked Plaintiff's permission to search the vehicle. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff withheld permission, but because the vehicle was being impounded, Defendant Moro conducted an inventory search of the vehicle. (Id.) Defendant Moro issued a citation to Plaintiff for unlawful use of a license plate, and the homemade plate was “taken into custody and subsequently destroyed.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed the present complaint on December 12, 2018. (Docket no. 1.) On April 15, 2019, the Court opened discovery through January 6, 2020. (Docket no. 26.) Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on his claims that Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and that Defendants defamed and falsely imprisoned him under Michigan law. (Docket no. 20.) Plaintiff also moves for a “declaratory judgment” that “[i]f a citizen is not engaged in commerce or using the roads for profit or gain, and does not request or apply to the state for the license privilege, . . . the citizen [has] retained their right to travel under the common law upon the public roads without regulation.” (Docket no. 16.) Defendants oppose both motions. (Docket no. 21; docket no. 28.)

         B. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party 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). The moving party has the burden of showing an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Covington v. Knox Cnty. Sch. Sys., 205 F.3d 912, 915 (6th Cir. 2000). Rule 56 provides that:

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). “The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

         Once the moving party has met its burden of production, the non-moving party must come forward with significant probative evidence showing that a genuine issue exists for trial. Covington, 205 F.3d at 915. A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment; rather, “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Ultimately, a district court must determine whether the record as a whole presents a genuine issue of material fact, drawing “all justifiable inferences in the light most favorable to ...


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