United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NOS. 33, 35)
CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brian Rissman and Jeffrey Graves seek summary judgment on the
merits of Plaintiff's claims and as a discovery sanction.
Defendants filed motions seeking this relief on September 18
and 20, 2019. Plaintiff has not filed timely responses.
Pursuant to LR 7.1, the court will rule on the briefs and
without oral argument.
Michael Anthony Bryant alleges that Taylor police officers Brian
Rissman and Jeffrey Graves illegally searched and seized his
vehicle after a traffic stop. The officers initiated a
traffic stop after Bryant failed to come to a complete stop
or use his turn signal when leaving an alley. Bryant
acknowledged that he did not use his turn signal. ECF No. 36,
Ex. B at 71. During the traffic stop, a police dog alerted to
the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. Officers searched
Bryant and found a baggie containing crack cocaine. Bryant
was arrested and his car was towed and impounded.
was subsequently charged with and pleaded guilty to
possession of a controlled substance. As a result of the
guilty plea, his traffic citations were dismissed.
Bryant's property ($694 in cash, $200 in bond money, and
his 2017 Kia) was initially seized pursuant to drug
forfeiture laws. Bryant admits that the $694 in cash and $200
in bond money were returned to him. Id. at 106-109,
122-23. Bryant did not file a claim for the return of his
vehicle; it was returned to the lien holder.
judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In reviewing a motion for summary
judgment, the court must determine “‘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
Dist. 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)).
complaint alleges that he was “kidnap[ped] and held for
ransom” and his “vehicle/vessel was stolen”
as a result of the traffic stop. Plaintiff appears to
challenge the search and seizure of his vehicle, and his
arrest. Under the facts presented, which have not been
disputed, Plaintiff has failed to establish a constitutional
traffic stop is a “seizure” and must be conducted
in compliance with the Fourth Amendment. See Heien v.
North Carolina, 574 U.S. 54, 60 (2014). To justify a
traffic stop, “officers need only reasonable suspicion
- that is, a particularized and objective basis for
suspecting the particular person stopped of breaking the
law.” Id. (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). Here, officers had a sufficient basis for
initiating a traffic stop: Plaintiff failed to come to a
complete stop and admitted that he did not use his turn
signal, which are traffic violations. See United States
v. Lyons, 687 F.3d 754, 762-63 (6th Cir. 2012) (civil
infraction sufficient basis for traffic stop).
suspicion to perform a traffic stop may ripen into probable
cause to search a vehicle based upon the officer's
interactions with the vehicle's occupants.”
Id. at 769-70. An officer “may perform a
warrantless search of a detained vehicle should the officer
have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains
contraband or evidence of criminal activity.”
Id. at 770. An alert from a police dog to the
presence of narcotics is sufficient to establish probable
cause to conduct a search. See Illinois v. Caballes,
543 U.S. 405, 409 (2005) (use of drug-sniffing dog outside
vehicle during lawful traffic stop does not violate Fourth
police dog alerted to the presence of narcotics in
Plaintiff's car; as a result, officers had probable cause
to search Plaintiff and the vehicle. The officers found crack
cocaine on Plaintiff's person, thus warranting his arrest
and the seizure of his vehicle. Subsequently, Plaintiff
pleaded guilty to drug possession. Plaintiff has not disputed
these facts or established any constitutional violations as a
result of the seizure of his person or his property.
summary judgment on the merits of Plaintiff's complaint
is proper. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. An additional
basis for the dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint is his
failure to comply with Magistrate Judge Patti's discovery
order. After Plaintiff did not respond to Defendants'
discovery requests, Magistrate Judge Patti ordered Plaintiff
to provide answers to interrogatories by June 11, 2019.
Plaintiff was warned that a failure to comply with the terms
of Magistrate Judge Patti's order “may result in
sanctions permitted by Rule 37, including but not limited to
dismissal of his lawsuit with prejudice.” ECF No. 32 at
5. Plaintiff has failed to provide answers to interrogatories
as ordered by Magistrate Judge Patti and has not provided any
justification for this failure. Accordingly, dismissal of
Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate.
HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' motions for summary