Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rudolph v. Babinec

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

September 20, 2019

Leticia Rudolph, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Daniel T. Babinec and Robert A. Atkinson, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued: July 31, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:17-cv-00125-Janet T. Neff, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          G. Gus Morris, MCGRAW MORRIS P.C., Southfield, Michigan, for Appellants.

          Shawn C. Cabot, CHRISTOPHER TRAINOR & ASSOCIATES, White Lake, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          G. Gus Morris, MCGRAW MORRIS P.C., Southfield, Michigan, for Appellants.

          Amy J. DeRouin, CHRISTOPHER TRAINOR & ASSOCIATES, White Lake, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: MOORE, COOK, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         There are two sides to every story. Here, the two sides read like they come from different books. What really happened on the night Officers Daniel Babinec and Robert Atkinson seized Leticia Rudolph in her home for a psychiatric evaluation depends on whom you ask. As Rudolph tells it, the officers violated her rights by seizing and injuring her. As the officers tell it, they did what any reasonable officer would have done. Because this is a limited appeal from summary judgment, we must accept Rudolph's version and thus affirm the district court's denial of summary judgment on three of Rudolph's four claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Late one night, Leticia Rudolph's ex-husband, Kyle Rudolph, decided to pay her a visit. Kyle[1] went to check on her after their son had texted him: "[S]he has the .22 out[, ] will you go over there[?]" R. 53-3 (Incident Rep.) (Pg. ID 182). Rudolph, a single mother, slept with her .22 gun out every night to feel safe. When Kyle arrived at Rudolph's home, the two spoke for close to an hour about their daughters and their relationship. Kyle decided to take Rudolph's gun with him as he left, which Rudolph let him do. After Kyle left, Rudolph went to sleep. But the night did not end there.

         Later, around 3:00 A.M., Officer James Hodges stopped Kyle for speeding. Kyle admitted he was carrying a gun. He explained that he took it from his ex-wife earlier that night because he was worried about her. And Kyle showed Officer Hodges the text message from his son saying Rudolph had her gun out, as well as a text message from Rudolph saying "good bye." R. 53-3 (Incident Rep.) (Pg. ID 182). Meanwhile, Officer Daniel Babinec arrived at the traffic stop to assist and secure the gun. Ultimately, the officers let Kyle go with a warning, but they felt obligated to do a wellness check on Rudolph.

         Officer Babinec, accompanied by Officer Robert Atkinson, went to Rudolph's home and banged on her doors and windows. She was asleep, so she did not answer. After Officers Babinec and Atkinson informed Officer Hodges that they could not get a response, Officer Hodges followed Kyle into his driveway and told him to call Rudolph. Rudolph answered and stated on speakerphone that she was sleeping, and Officer Hodges told her that his officers were at the door. Rudolph then got up and opened the door. The officers entered without her permission and asked her whether she felt suicidal. Rudolph replied that she was not and felt fine. Rudolph generally cooperated with the officers, but the officers, without much further inquiry, gave her the option of going voluntarily to the hospital or being taken into custody involuntary for a mental-health check.

         Then, according to Rudolph, things took a turn. Rudolph says that Officer Babinec grabbed her by the arm without warning, slammed her body and face into the wall, and handcuffed her. She told the officers that the handcuffs were "really tight, " and that the officers were hurting her. R. 54-2 (Leticia Rudolph Dep.) (Pg. ID 570). They responded that she was suicidal. The officers then "manhandled" her out of the house, without giving her a chance to put shoes on, and dragged her across her forty-foot driveway. Id. (Pg. ID 570–72). Rudolph could not keep up with the officers and asked them to slow down. They did not. Rudolph stumbled and hurt her right ankle-so badly that she would later need two surgeries to treat that injury. She complained repeatedly to Officers Babinec and Atkinson that the handcuffs were too tight, but they did not respond.

         Once in the car, Officers Babinec and Atkinson drove Rudolph to the hospital about ten minutes away. The hospital measured her blood alcohol level at .153. The doctor had to wait a few hours for Rudolph's blood alcohol level to go down so he could perform a psychiatric evaluation. When it did go down, the doctor performed the psychiatric evaluation and determined that "[Rudolph] is at extremely low risk of self harm as she does not appear to want to harm herself, has not tried to here and is sober and denies any sort of homicidal or suicidal thought or desire." R. 54-7 (ER Record) (Pg. ID 718); see also id. (noting that Rudolph "appears completely sober frankly."). Rudolph was released. She then sued Officers Babinec and Atkinson and Fruitport Township, alleging various constitutional violations.

         II. QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

         This case comes to us after the district court denied Officers Babinec and Atkinson's motion for summary judgment. In this limited appeal, we consider only whether the officers are entitled to qualified immunity. Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985). Qualified immunity shields government officials from individual liability if they did not violate a clearly established right "of which a reasonable person" in the same situation would have known. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). At this stage, we decide questions of law, not questions of fact. The parties continue to disagree over what really happened. But "we must ignore the defendant[s'] attempts to dispute the facts and nonetheless resolve the legal issue[s] . . . ." Bunkley v. City of Detroit, 902 F.3d 552, 560 (6th Cir. 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted). In doing so, we accept Rudolph's "version of the facts" and draw all inferences in her favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).

         A. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.