Joseph Nyilas, et al v. James Steinaway, et al
OPINION filed : Issuance of a full written opinion by this court would serve no useful purpose. Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the district court s opinion, we AFFIRM, decision not for publication. Alice M. Batchelder (AUTHORING), John M. Rogers and Helene N. White, Circuit Judges.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION
File Name: 17a0224n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
JOSEPH NYILAS; IRENE NYILAS; ROBERT )
SCHMIDT; ANTHONY CLAYTON; SCOTT )
Apr 18, 2017
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE EASTERN
DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
BATCHELDER, ROGERS, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.
ALICE M. BATCHELDER, Circuit Judge. Robert Nyilas threatened his girlfriend
with a baseball bat, took her phone so that she could not call the police, and then fled to the home
of his parents, Joseph and Irene Nyilas, some thirty minutes away. Deputy James Steinaway,
Sergeant Christopher Schmidt, and Deputy Anthony Clayton traveled to the Nyilases’ home to
contact Robert. The officers spent over ninety minutes knocking on the front door, ringing the
doorbell, and walking around the house attempting to make contact with the Nyilases inside the
home, but no one answered.
Law enforcement obtained search and arrest warrants for Robert after receiving no
response at the Nyilases’ home. Lieutenant Scott Domine authorized use of a SWAT team to
execute the warrants after learning of Robert’s violent actions, the Nyilases’ refusal to respond to
law enforcement contact, and the suspected presence of weapons in the Nyilases’ home. Domine
No. 16-1829, Nyilas v. Steinaway
also authorized deployment of a flash-bang grenade as a distraction technique during execution
of the warrants. Throughout the SWAT team’s deployment, Domine remained approximately
400 to 500 feet away from the Nyilases’ home, and he did not approach until the warrant
execution was complete.
The Nyilases filed a § 1983 suit against Steinaway, Clayton, Schmidt, and Domine,
alleging that Steinaway, Clayton, and Schmidt engaged in an unconstitutional search of the
Nyilases’ home and its curtilage and that Domine used excessive force during execution of the
search and arrest warrants.1 The district court granted summary judgment on all claims in favor
of the officers, finding that each officer was entitled to qualified immunity. Nyilas v. Steinaway,
No. 14-cv-13122 (E.D. Mich. May 29, 2016) (order granting summary judgment).
The district court determined that, while Steinaway, Schmidt, and Clayton’s extended
stay on the Nyilases’ property exceeded the bounds of the knock-and-talk exception to the
warrant requirement and the implicit license to be on the property, there was no controlling case
law at the time of the events to inform the officers that they had violated a constitutional right.
Id., slip op. at 13–14. The district court further found that Domine’s decision to use a flash-bang
grenade and SWAT team did not rise to the level of excessive force. The district court explained
that, absent law enforcement’s prolonged attempts to contact the Nyilases before entering the
home, it would likely have found that the use of force was unreasonable. Id., slip op. at 17–18.
Nonetheless, given the unique situation presented to the officers, there was no clearly established
law delineating the proper use of force. Therefore, the district court held, neither the extended
knock and talk, nor use of a flash-bang grenade and SWAT team in these circumstances, was a
The Nyilases also asserted a state-law claim for assault and battery. The district court, however, dismissed the
state-law claim without prejudice early in the proceedings, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. This
dismissal is not before the court.
No. 16-1829, Nyilas v. Steinaway
clearly established constitutional violation at the time of the officers’ actions. Id., slip op. at 14,
After carefully reviewing the record, the applicable law, and the parties’ briefs, we are
convinced that the district court did not err in its conclusion that, although the officers engaged
in heavy-handed and intrusive conduct, they did not violate clearly established rules of
constitutional law in these circumstances.2 The district court’s opinion carefully and correctly
sets out the law governing the issues raised and clearly articulates the reasons underlying its
decision. Thus, issuance of a full written opinion by this court would serve no useful purpose.
Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the district court’s opinion, we AFFIRM.
We note that this case, although less egregious than the recent case of Moore v. City of Memphis, ___ F.3d ___,
2017 WL 1314932 (6th Cir. Apr. 10, 2017), presents another example of the all-too-ready use of SWAT tactics in
circumstances in which the need to forcibly enter the home was less than clear. While the officers in this case did
not violate clearly established rules of constitutional law, it is entirely likely that they could have achieved their
goals using much less intrusive and dangerous means.
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