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Taylor v. City of Saginaw

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

August 27, 2019

ALISON PATRICIA TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SAGINAW and TABITHA HOSKINS, Defendant.

          ORDER DIRECTING DEFENDANTS' ANSWER OR RESPONSIVE BRIEFING

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On April 5, 2017, Plaintiff Alison Taylor filed a complaint alleging that the City of Saginaw's practice of placing a chalk mark on parked cars while enforcing parking regulations violated the Fourth Amendment. ECF No. 1. Taylor named the City of Saginaw and Tabitha Hoskins, a City of Saginaw parking enforcement official, as Defendants. After Taylor filed an amended complaint, ECF No. 9, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. ECF No. 10. The Court determined that even if a search had occurred, the search was reasonable under the community caretaking exception. ECF No. 14. Accordingly, Defendant's motion was granted and Plaintiff's complaint dismissed. Id.

         Plaintiff appealed and on April 22, 2019, the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion remanding the case. ECF No. 19. The Sixth Circuit concluded that chalking a tire is a search, but that it “chalk[ed] this practice up to a regulatory exercise, rather than a community-caretaking function” but then reversed. Id. at 2.

         Three days later, the Sixth Circuit docketed an “Amended Opinion.” ECF No. 20. The amended opinion did not provide an explanation for the amendment nor why the original opinion required amending. The only difference between the two opinions was an additional paragraph at the end of the amended opinion which provided:

Taking the allegations in Taylor's complaint as true, we hold that chalking is a search under the Fourth Amendment, specifically under the Supreme Court's decision in Jones. This does not mean, however, that chalking violates the Fourth Amendment. Rather, we hold, based on the pleading stage of this litigation, that two exceptions to the warrant requirement-the “community caretaking” exception and the motor-vehicle exception-do not apply here. Our holding extends no further than this. When the record in this case moves beyond the pleadings stage, the City is, of course, free to argue anew that one or both of those exceptions do apply, or that some other exception to the warrant requirement might apply.

Id. at PageID.241 (emphasis added).

         On July 23, 2019, the Court held a status conference with the parties to discuss the forward progression of the case on remand. However, it became readily apparent that there were differences of opinion concerning the interpretation of the Sixth Circuit's decision and therefore, the appropriate proceedings on remand. Accordingly, it was determined that the parties' interpretations of the opinion should be recorded by briefing and ultimately, resolved because reasonable minds could disagree as to the proper interpretation of the opinion and application of the doctrine of law of the case. The parties subsequently filed supplemental briefing on the issues.

         The parties' briefing indicate that questions regarding the Sixth Circuit's opinion remain. Resolution of these different questions are necessary as there are questions of law and fact that remain.

         I.

         Does the common practice of chalking the tires of parked vehicles constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment in the absence of a warrant for the search?

         The Sixth Circuit concluded that “yes, chalking is a search for Fourth Amendment purposes.” ECF No. 20 at 4. It reiterated this in its conclusion when it held that “chalking is a search under the Fourth Amendment, specifically under the Supreme Court's decision in Jones.” Id. at 10. Accordingly, the issue is resolved as a matter of the law and thus, no further factual development or discovery will be authorized to address this question.

         II.

         What legal and factual conclusions remain on remand concerning the ...


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