Townes v. Wayne, County of et al
ORDER granting 47 Motion to Stay. (PARTIES HAVE AGREED TO PARTICIPATE IN SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS DURING THE STAY OF PROCEEDINGS) Signed by District Judge Julian Abele Cook. (KDoa)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 09-10693
Honorable Julian Abele Cook, Jr.
COUNTY OF WAYNE, WARREN C. EVANS,
SHERIFF and CHIEF JERIAL HEARD and DEPUTY
SHERIFF ALI MAZLOUM, Individually, and in their
One of the Defendants in this lawsuit, County of Wayne (Michigan), has filed a motion
which, if granted, would stay the commencement of the trial in this case during the pendency of
an interlocutory appeal by the remaining Defendants to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (“Sixth
Circuit”) relating to the issue of qualified immunity. This request for relief is opposed by the
Plaintiff, Caldon Townes. For the reasons that have been stated below, Wayne County’s motion
for a stay will be granted.
This lawsuit relates to an accusation by Caldon Townes who maintains that he was, inter
alia, falsely imprisoned by the Defendants1 whose allegedly wilful and wanton misconduct,
All of the individual Defendants in this action are, or were, law enforcement officials of
the Wayne County, Michigan government during the pertinent dates within Townes’ complaint;
namely, Sheriff Warren C. Evans, Chief Sheriff Jerial Heard, and Deputy Sheriff Ali Mazloum.
The remaining Defendant, County of Wayne of Michigan - the movant of the currently pending
motion - is an entity within the State of Michigan municipal government.
deliberate indifference and gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress were
committed in violation of his constitutional rights under the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
In an order that was entered on April 5, 2011, the Court denied the Defendants’ motion to
dismiss this lawsuit and/or to enter a summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds as to all of
them except as to the movant, County of Wayne.
In its motion to stay the proceedings, Wayne County correctly notes that the denial of a
qualified immunity defense entitles the affected party to seek an immediate appellate review.2
Berryman v. Rieger, 150 F.3d 561, 562 (6th Cir. 1988) (citing Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530
(1985)). Moreover, since this doctrine is designed to shield public officials from any unwarranted
disruptions that may have been caused by discovery issues and a trial, a party who appeals an
adverse qualified immunity ruling is entitled to have the underlying action stayed pending the
resolution of an appellate review. Kennedy v. City of Cleveland, 797 F.2d 297, 299-300 (6th Cir.
1986) (recognizing that “a claim of immunity raises an interest in an early, and inexpensive,
termination of the litigation,” and noting that if summary judgment predicated on claim of immunity
is denied, the aggrieved party is entitled to resolution of issue on appeal).
Wayne County acknowledges that, inasmuch as it was not subject to the ruling by this Court
on the qualified immunity issue in April 2011, the now-pending trial could proceed without the
Generally speaking, the filing of a notice of appeal divests the district court of
jurisdiction over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal. Inland Bulk Transfer Co. v.
Cummins Engine Co., 332 F.3d 1007, 1013 (6th Cir. 2003). As to that portion of the case,
jurisdiction is transferred to the appellate court (with the exception of those matters that are in
aid of the appeal).
presence of the other Defendants. Nevertheless, it seeks to obtain a stay of the trial because the
question of its liability is “inextricably intertwined” with those issues that have been raised by the
individual officers’ qualified immunity appeal.
Townes challenges this characterization, arguing that his claims against the County are not
dependent on his dispute with the individual officers. In support of his claim, he cites Bates v. Dura
Automotive Systems, Inc., 625 F.3d 283, 286-87 (6th Cir. 2010), for its view that issues are
“inextricably intertwined” for purposes of appeal only “ if the resolution of the properly appealable
issue ‘necessarily and unavoidably’ [will decide] the non-appealable issue.’” Yet, a careful reading
of Bates reveals that it does not support the position which has been advanced by Townes.
In Bates, a group of employees filed a lawsuit, in which they collectively challenged their
employer’s drug testing policy under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“the ADA”). The only
issue certified for appellate review was a determination by the district court that a person need not
be disabled in order to pursue claims under a certain provision of the ADA. The Sixth Circuit
resolved that issue, but declined to address a separate challenge to other aspects of the district
court’s ruling because those issues were not “inextricably intertwined,” i.e. “coterminous with, or
subsumed in,” the main aspects of the appeal. Id. at 287. In the judgment of the court, there was
no basis upon which it could exercise its pendent appellate jurisdiction. This was the primary reason
that the appellate court addressed whether the two issues were “inextricably intertwined.” Thus,
contrary to Townes’ representations, the analysis in Bates has virtually no impact on whether the
trial in this case can proceed during the pendency of the other Defendants’ appeal.
Upon reviewing the record, the Court finds that a stay of the proceedings against the County
is a recognition of the best use of its judicial time and resources. Although the issues in the two
lawsuits are not necessarily identical, the liability of the County, if any, is, in some respects, tied to
the issues on appeal; namely, whether any of the individual officers can be said to have committed
a constitutional violation of a clearly established right. In this regard, the Court perceives a potential
risk of reaching inconsistent results if the case against the County is allowed to proceed without a
decision from the Sixth Circuit. Moreover and in the interest of avoiding piecemeal litigation especially when no prejudice to Townes has been shown, the Court deems it appropriate to stay the
trial in this matter pending a resolution of the qualified immunity issue by the Sixth Circuit.
Therefore, for the reasons that have been set forth above, the request for a stay of the
proceedings by Wayne County must be, and is, granted.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
July 19, 2011
s/Julian Abele Cook, Jr.
JULIAN ABELE COOK, JR.
United States District Judge
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing Order was served upon counsel of record via the Court's ECF System to their
respective email addresses or First Class U.S. mail to the non-ECF participants on July 19, 2011
s/ Kay Doaks
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