United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT DANIELLE
GALBENSKI'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING
DEFENDANT TUSCOLA COUNTY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT,
AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
HONORABLE THOMAS L. LUDINGTON JUDGE
October 2017, Plaintiffs, Christopher and Amanda Gusek, were
charged with violating MCL § 750.50(4)(d) and bound over
to Circuit Court. Circuit Judge Gierhat dismissed the charges
based on insufficient probable cause. Def's Mot. Summ.
J., ECF No. 16 at PageID.166-172. After the criminal case
concluded, on October 9, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a complaint
against Tuscola County and Danielle Galbenski in her personal
and official capacity. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs are suing the
county and Ms. Galbenski under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
false arrest and malicious prosecution. Id.
22, 2019, Defendant Danielle Galbenski filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 16), Defendant Tuscola County filed
a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17), and Plaintiffs
filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 18). On
July 24, 2019, Defendant Tuscola County filed a Notice of
Joinder/Concurrence in Defendant Galbenski's Motion for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 19. All parties filed responses to
the Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment on August 12, 2019
(ECF Nos. 22-25). On August 15 and August 23, 2019,
Plaintiffs filed reply briefs to their Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF Nos. 26, 28. On August 23, 2019, Defendant
Galbenski filed her reply brief. ECF No. 27. On August 26,
2019, Defendant Tuscola County filed its reply brief. ECF No.
29. For the following reasons, Defendant Galbenski's
Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted, Defendant
Tuscola County's Motion for Summary Judgment will be
granted, and Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment will
Christopher and Amanda Gusek, are married and live in Tuscola
County. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 16 at PageID.158.
Defendant Danielle Galbenski works for Sanilac County as an
animal control officer. Id. at PageID.159. Sanilac
County has an intergovernmental agreement with Tuscola County
to provide animal control services to Tuscola County.
Id. Plaintiffs rent property from Amanda Gusek's
parents to use as a cattle farm for over 100 cattle.
Id. at PageID.158-159; Compl., ECF No. 1 at
PageID.2-3. Plaintiffs kept a group of cattle separate from
the herd to be “feeder cattle.” Def.'s Mot.
Summ. J., ECF No. 16 at PageID.159-160.
2017, Tuscola County Animal Control received an anonymous tip
about cattle “without shelter.” Id. at
PageID.161. On May 15, 2017, Defendant Galbenski drove to the
farm and observed 12 cattle in a small penned in area without
shelter. Id.; Id. at PageID.251, Exhibit 3.
Despite the lack of shelter, Galbenski wrote in her report
that “cattle were of good weight and appeared to be in
good health” and noted that “[w]ater was
available to the animals.” Id.; Compl. at
PageID.3. Galbenski left a warning note on the home adjacent
to the farm, requesting the owners telephone her. Def.'s
Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 16 at PageID.161. Ms. Galbenski had a
phone conversation with each Plaintiff separately where she
explained that there was no shelter for the cattle in
violation of Michigan law and requested that Plaintiffs
construct a temporary shelter within 72 hours. Id.
at PageID.162-63; Compl. at PageID.3-4.
Galbenski and Donna Lautner, another animal control officer,
conducted follow-up visits to the property over a two week
period, left a second warning notice, and had a phone call
with property owner Ms. Franckowiak. Def.'s Mot. Summ.
J., ECF No. 16 at PageID.163. At Defendant Galbenski's
request, on June 23, 2017, Deputy Spencer Coleman from
Tuscola County Sheriff's Office visited the farm to take
pictures and interview the property owners, Paul and Lucille
Franckowiak. Id. at PageID.164-165; Compl. at
September 28, 2017, Defendant Galbenski submitted a report to
the Tuscola County Prosecuting Attorney and requested
Plaintiffs be charged with “failure to provide adequate
care” to the cattle due to insufficient shelter.
Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 16 at PageID.165; Compl. at
PageID.5. On October 19, 2019, the Tuscola County Prosecuting
Attorney filed a felony complaint and on October 31, 2019,
Magistrate Joseph Van Auken authorized the felony complaint
that charged Plaintiffs with violating MCL §
750.50(4)(d). Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 16 at
PageID.166-167; Id. at PageID.336, Exhibit 14;
Compl. at PageID.5.
animal cruelty statute is MCL § 750.50. Subsection (1)
provides the relevant definitions, Subsection (2) includes
the elements of the crime, Subsection (4) includes the
requirements for a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
§ 750.50(2) states:
(2) An owner, possessor, breeder, operator of a pet shop, or
person having the charge or custody of an animal shall not do
any of the following:
(a) Fail to provide an animal with adequate care. . . .
§ 750.50(4)(d) states:
(4) A person who violates subsection (2) is guilty of a crime
(d) If the violation involved 10 or more animals but fewer
than 25 animals or the person had 2 prior convictions for
violating subsection (2), the person is guilty of a felony
punishable by 1 or more of the following and may be ordered
to pay the costs of prosecution:
(i) Imprisonment for not more than 4 ...