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Kamate v. Henry

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

October 7, 2019




         Plaintiff Ramona Kamate brings this action against Yarlen Henry and Elaine Williams.[1] Henry is a City of Detroit police officer. As it pertains to defendant Henry, plaintiff's complaint presents claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for wrongful arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution. Plaintiff asserts claims against both defendants Henry and Williams for conspiring to falsely arrest and imprison and maliciously prosecute her in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985. Plaintiff also alleged violations of state law against Henry for assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Finally, plaintiff alleges a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against both Henry and Williams.

         The matter is before the court on separate motions for summary judgment filed by Henry and Williams. The parties appeared for oral argument on August 26, 2019. For the reasons stated below, defendant Williams' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and defendant Henry's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.


         In 2015, plaintiff was working for a bail bond agency in Wayne County. Through her employment, she was routinely assigned to Highland Park courts. According to plaintiff, she told people at the Highland Park courts about winning $40, 000 from the Michigan lottery and her desire to use the money to purchase a larger house so she could foster children. A woman who identified herself as Elaine Cohen told plaintiff she owned a house at 265 Boston in Detroit that she thought she would lose in foreclosure for failure to pay her property taxes. Plaintiff developed sympathy for Cohen when Cohen explained that she had previously lost a house to foreclosure in Florida, that she was pregnant, and that her partner was abusing her. Cohen told plaintiff that she could acquire the Detroit property if she paid the taxes on the house and fixed the place up.

         Plaintiff went to look at the house at 265 Boston. While she was there, a uniformed police officer who was patrolling the area told plaintiff the owner of the house was another police officer. Plaintiff told the officer she was thinking about purchasing the house. Plaintiff could see that the yard was neglected, and the house was full of garbage, but the house was locked so she could not enter.

         A couple days later, Cohen and another woman met plaintiff at the house and let her inside. Plaintiff was not introduced to the other woman, but she later learned the woman was defendant Henry. Once inside the house, plaintiff saw that it was full of trash and that the wiring, plumbing and water heater had been removed. Plaintiff decided she wanted to buy the house.

         Plaintiff spoke to the Wayne County Treasurer, who told her that she needed a deed to the property before she could pay the back taxes. Cohen first got upset when plaintiff told her she needed a deed to the property, but later instructed plaintiff to meet her at a party store where they could have a quit claim deed notarized. When plaintiff met Cohen at the notary she saw the person she later identified as Henry waiting in the car. Cohen and plaintiff went inside and had the deed notarized. They then went to the County Treasurer's office where Cohen gave plaintiff the signed and notarized deed. Plaintiff filed the deed but did not have the money to pay the taxes at that time. Plaintiff returned to the Treasurer and was told she only had to pay 10% of the back taxes, or $1, 860, to qualify for a monthly payment plan for the remainder of the back taxes due.

         Cohen gave plaintiff the keys to the house. From May to early August 2015, plaintiff worked on the house. She payed Lawrence Lyons $6, 000 to re-wire and re-plumb the house and to put in a new circuit breaker. Plaintiff also had a new water heater installed for $400. Plaintiff and her family cut the grass, planted flowers and cleaned the trash from the house. She bought a mattress and refrigerator and started living in the house. In July, plaintiff found a note on the door of the house, written by Henry, telling plaintiff she had to vacate the premises.

         On August 3, 2015, plaintiff was confronted with a locksmith outside the house who said he was there to change the locks for the owner, who he identified as Miss Henry. When plaintiff said she was the new owner of the house, the locksmith called Henry. Henry arrived at the house, identified herself as a police officer, and instructed plaintiff to leave. Henry was on duty and was dressed in her Detroit Police polo shirt.

         Defendant Elaine Williams also arrived at the property. Plaintiff did not recognize this person as the woman she knew as Elaine Cohen. However, when plaintiff listed off the details she knew about Cohen, Williams admitted those things were true about her. Plaintiff recognized Henry as the woman she previously saw with Cohen/Williams in the car when she looked at the house and when she signed and filed the deed to the property.

         Plaintiff called 911 and requested a supervisor because she was having a problem with a police officer. The responding officers came from the same precinct as Henry. The supervisor looked over plaintiff's paperwork and spoke to Henry. The supervisor demanded that plaintiff open the door or face being arrested. Plaintiff opened the door and the officers entered, along with Henry and Cohen/Williams. Plaintiff asked for permission to remove her possessions, but Henry and Cohen/Williams falsely stated that the mattress was theirs. Plaintiff became upset when she realized she had been swindled. She went to the basement and started to pull out the circuit breakers and wires that she had installed. Henry and two other officers followed plaintiff downstairs and told her she was going to jail. Henry allegedly pushed plaintiff to the ground and, along with the other officers, started to beat and kick plaintiff. Cohen/Williams witnessed the beating but did not participate. The supervisor was still upstairs and asked what was going on. Henry and the officers went back upstairs. Plaintiff lost two teeth in the beating. Plaintiff was not arrested.

         Cohen/Williams testified that she previously lived in Florida with Henry, and the two were girlfriends. She lost her Florida home to foreclosure. She purchased the house at 265 Boston in 2007. She and Henry lived in the house until 2013 when they broke up. One of Cohen/Williams' cousins lived in the house for a couple of months in 2013. After the cousin moved out the house was vacant, and vandals stripped it of all copper wiring and plumbing, as well as the water heater.

         Cohen/Williams acknowledges she did not pay any taxes on the house for years. She received several notifications from Wayne County that the house was subject to foreclosure. Henry and Cohen/Williams both testified they checked on the house during the period it was vacant. Henry testified that she left the note on the door in July 2015 instructing the occupant to vacate because a fellow police officer told her that someone else was living in the house. Henry also testified that prior to August 3 only she and her father had a key to the house.

         After plaintiff was evicted from the house on August 3, Cohen/Williams went to the precinct and filed a police report. She claimed to be a victim of a fraudulent transfer of a deed by plaintiff. Cohen/Williams identified Henry as a witness to the crime.

         Plaintiff attempted to make a report of police misconduct, but she contends that the police would not take the report. Plaintiff and her attorney eventually met with a detective, Henry and Cohen/Williams. At the meeting, Henry and Cohen/Williams insisted on pursuing their criminal complaint against plaintiff. Plaintiff offered to deed the property back to Cohen/Williams if she and Henry paid plaintiff back for the taxes and repair expenses she incurred. Cohen/Williams and Henry refused plaintiff's offer.

         Plaintiff contends that Cohen/Williams and Henry made statements to the police against her in their combined attempt to maliciously prosecute her. (Williams Statement, November, 2015; Henry Statement February, 2016). On April 13, 2016, a warrant was issued against plaintiff. On July 5, 2016, both Cohen/Williams and Henry testified against plaintiff at her preliminary examination. Following trial on charges of forging and recording a fraudulent deed to real property, a jury found plaintiff not guilty on all charges.

         Cohen/Williams brought a quiet title action in Wayne County. On May 3, 2018, title to 265 Boston was quieted in favor of Cohen/Williams.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530, 532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of the fair and efficient administration of justice. The procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); see also Cox v. Kentucky Dept. of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).

         The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is "'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.'" Amway Distributors Benefits Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 660 (2014); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Redding, 241 F.3d at 532 (6th Cir. 2001). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); see also National Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).

         If the movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule 56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the opposing party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario, Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. ...

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