Taras v. Hamtramck et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting 40 and 41 Motions for summary judgment and remanding state law claims to Wayne County Circuit Court. Signed by District Judge Linda V. Parker. (DPer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
TARAS P NYKORIAK,
Civil Case No. 14-11954
Honorable Linda V. Parker
CITY OF HAMTRAMCK et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NOS. 40 & 41]
This action arises from the September 8, 2013 arrest of Plaintiff Taras P.
Nykoriak (“Plaintiff”) by Hamtramck police officers. Plaintiff, who is pro se,
alleges false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, as well as various state law claims. Presently before the Court is the
motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Neil Egan, Hamtramck Police
Department, and City of Hamtramck (ECF No. 40), as well as Defendant Steve
Shaya’s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 41). Both motions are brought
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, and Defendants raise similar legal
arguments for dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint. Accordingly, the Court will
address the motions contemporaneously. Having reviewed the record, the Court
concludes that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on September 8, 2013, Plaintiff placed contacted
the Hamtramck Police Department to complain about loud music emitting from a
white Toyota outside of his residence – his father’s home – which is located at
12147 McDougall Street, Hamtramck, MI. (Compl., ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 51; Egan
Dep., ECF No. 40-2 at Pg. ID 314.) His call was received by Officer Egan.
(Compl., ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 51.) Defendants assert – and Plaintiff does not
contest – that thereafter, Officer Egan and his partner responded to the scene to
investigate the vehicle and determined that the claim was unfounded. (Defs.’ Mot.,
ECF No. 40 at Pg. ID 286; Egan Dep., ECF No. 40-2 at Pg. ID 314.) Subsequently,
the officers returned to the station and closed the incident at approximately 9:56
p.m. (Id.; Police Report, ECF No. 40-4 at Pg. ID 326.)
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff contacted the Hamtramck Police Department a
second time to follow up on his initial complaint. (Egan Dep., ECF No. 40-2 at Pg.
ID 314.) Officer Egan answered the call and allegedly, per Plaintiff’s request,
agreed to return to the residence to discuss the investigation of the Toyota that had
occurred earlier in the evening. (Id.)
Before leaving the station, Officer Egan ran Plaintiff’s name through the
Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). (Id.) His search revealed that
there was an outstanding bench warrant issued for Plaintiff. (Id.) Apparently,
Plaintiff had received a citation from the City of Hamtramck for using automobile
seats as front porch furniture at his residence. (Citation, ECF No. 41-2 at Pg. ID
407.) Plaintiff was required to appear at the 31st District Court in Hamtramck,
Michigan to address the ticket. (Id.) Plaintiff failed to appear and a bench warrant
and $575 bond were issued consequently. (Id.)
Following the LEIN search, Officer Eagan and his partner again visited
Plaintiff’s residence. (Defs.’ Mot., ECF No. 40 at Pg. ID 287.) The officers
informed Plaintiff that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest and took him
into custody. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that while he was being placed under arrest,
Officer Egan threw him against the porch railing and began kneeing him. (Compl.,
ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 51.) Plaintiff also contends that while he was incarcerated, the
Hamtramck Police Department denied his request for medical treatment and his
request to see the bench warrant at issue. (Id. at Pg. ID 50.) Additionally, Plaintiff
asserts that his detention was unlawfully prolonged after a sufficient basis for
detention no longer existed, and because “the defendant[s] knew or should have
known that Plaintiff acquired a right to be released.” (Id.)
At Plaintiff’s deposition, Plaintiff disclosed that once placed in a holding
cell, he was able to contact his attorney, post bond and was released from jail.
(Nykoriak Dep., ECF No. 40-6 at Pg. ID 337.) At the deposition, Plaintiff stated
that the entirety of his incarceration lasted approximately an hour. (Id.) After
Plaintiff was released from jail, he filed this instant action. (ECF No. 6.)
Concerning Defendants Neil Egan, Hamtramck Police Department, and City
of Hamtramck, Plaintiff asserts federal claims of false arrest, false imprisonment,
and malicious prosecution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as state law
claims of invasion of privacy, assault and battery, defamation, negligence and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Compl., ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 50–52.)
Regarding Defendant Steven Shaya, Plaintiff asserts a federal claim of malicious
prosecution, as well as state law claims of invasion of privacy, defamation,
negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Id. at Pg. ID 53.)
Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is
appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). The central inquiry 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.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 251-52 (1986). After adequate time for discovery and upon motion, Rule 56
mandates summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of
an element essential to that party’s case and on which that party bears the burden
of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The movant has the initial burden of showing “the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. Once the movant meets this burden, the
“nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To
demonstrate a genuine issue, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence
upon which a jury could reasonably find for that party; a “scintilla of evidence” is
insufficient. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252.
“A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed” must
designate specifically the materials in the record supporting the assertion,
“including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations, admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). The court must accept as true the non-movant’s evidence
and draw “all justifiable inferences” in the non-movant’s favor. See Liberty Lobby,
477 U.S. at 255.
Applicable Law and Analysis
A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983
To state a viable 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim, Plaintiff must show that a person
acting under color of state law deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution
or laws of the United States. See Miller v. Calhoun Cnty., 408 F.3d 803, 812 (6th
Cir. 2005). Pursuant to § 1983, Plaintiff alleges causes of action for false arrest and
false imprisonment against Defendants Neil Egan, Hamtramck Police Department,
and the City of Hamtramck. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts a claim of malicious
prosecution pursuant to § 1983 against all Defendants.
As an initial matter, Plaintiff fails to address any of the legal arguments
Defendants raise in support of their motions for summary judgment. For this
reason, alone, the Court would grant Defendants’ motions as they have presented
evidence in support of their motions demonstrating their entitlement to summary
judgment as to Plaintiff’s federal claims. See Brown v. VHS of MI, Inc., 545 F.
App’x 368, 372 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing cases) (“This Court’s jurisprudence on
abandonment of claims is clear: a plaintiff is deemed to have abandoned a claim
when a plaintiff fails to address it in response to a motion for summary
judgment.”); see also Stough v. Mayville Cmty. Sch., 138 F.3d 612, 614 (6th Cir.
1989) (explaining that before granting summary judgment as a result of the adverse
party’s failure to respond to the motion for summary judgment, the court must
examine the movant’s motion to ensure that he has discharged his burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue as to a material fact). The Sixth
Circuit has applied this well-established rule even to pro se plaintiffs. See, e.g.,
Campbell v. Hines, No. 12-4329, 2013 WL 7899224, at *4 (6th Cir. Aug. 8, 2013)
(affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants on the
pro se plaintiff’s hostile work environment and retaliation claims, where the
plaintiff failed to specifically address the defendants’ arguments in response to
their summary judgment motion). Nevertheless, even if the Court did not deem
Plaintiff to have abandoned his federal claims, as demonstrated below, the Court is
still able to conclude that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment.
1. False Arrest
Plaintiff brings a false arrest claim in Count 1 of the complaint. To the extent
the Court is able to understand Plaintiff’s allegations, he claims that he was falsely
arrested because he was taken into custody following a call that he placed with the
police department. (Compl., ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 50.) “A false arrest claim under
federal law requires a plaintiff to prove that the arresting officer lacked probable
cause to arrest the plaintiff.” Voyticky v. Vill. of Timberlake, Ohio, 412 F.3d 669,
677 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Fridley v. Horrighs, 291 F.3d 867, 872 (6th Cir.2002)
(further citations omitted). Further, “[a]n arrest pursuant to a facially valid warrant
is normally a complete defense to a federal constitutional claim for false arrest or
false imprisonment made pursuant to § 1983.” Id. (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443
U.S. 137, 143–44 (1979) (emphasis added). Plaintiff asserts in his responsive brief
that the bond amount that he posted was five dollars less than the bond amount
mentioned in the warrant, and that consequently, “it is difficult to speculate who
and where this document was created or made up.” (Pl.’s Resp. Br., ECF No. 42 at
Pg. ID 436.) This argument fails, since “a LEIN check is an authoritative source
upon which law enforcement officers may justifiably rely in making an arrest.”
Taggart v. Macomb Cty., 587 F. Supp. 1080, 1081 (E.D. Mich. 1982); see also
Clark v. Oakland Cty., No. 08-14824, 2009 WL 5217682, at *4 (E.D. Mich. Dec.
Further, Plaintiff does not provide support for the assertion that the different
bond amounts demonstrate that the warrant was not facially invalid. “Issues
adverted to in a perfunctory manner, unaccompanied by some effort at developed
argumentation, are [ ] deemed waived. It is not sufficient for a party to mention a
possible argument in the most skeletal way, leaving the court to ... put flesh on its
bones.” McPherson v. Kelsey, 125 F.3d 989, 995–96 (6th Cir. 1997) (quoting
Citizens Awareness Network, Inc. v. United States Nuclear Regulatory Comm'n, 59
F.3d 284, 293–94 (1st Cir. 1995)) (further citations omitted).
Given that officers can justifiably rely on a LEIN search when making an
arrest, and Plaintiff has failed to adequately demonstrate the invalidity of the
warrant, summary judgment is GRANTED as to Count 1 of the complaint.
2. False Imprisonment
In Count 2 of the complaint, Plaintiff appears to assert that despite being
detained for no longer than one hour, his detention was unlawfully prolonged
because there was no sufficient basis for detention, and that accordingly, he was
falsely imprisoned. (Compl., ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 50.) Plaintiff fails to articulate
why there was no sufficient basis for his detention. Nevertheless, since a valid
warrant is a complete defense to a federal constitutional claim for false
imprisonment made pursuant to § 1983, and Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate the
invalidity of the bench warrant, summary judgment is also GRANTED as to Count
2 of the complaint.
3. Malicious Prosecution
In Counts 4 and 9 of the complaint, Plaintiff asserts malicious prosecution
claims against Defendants. (Compl., ECF No. 6 at Pg. ID 50–52.) Plaintiff asserts
that he was maliciously prosecuted against since “Officer Egan did not have an
objective good-faith belief that Plaintiff was guilty of or would be found guilty of
the offense as initially charged and Defendant[s] acted negligently, intentionally,
and/or recklessly in making such arrest and undertaking said detention.” (Id. at Pg.
ID 50.) With respect to Defendant Steven Shaya, former head of the Hamtramck
Department of Public Services, Plaintiff specifically asserts that Shaya “falsely
prosecuted and arrested, and caused others to lie, swear or affirm certain acts or
things were done or seen, which indeed were false, and in same had the intention to
injure Plaintiff.” (Id. at Pg. ID 53.)
A malicious prosecution claim fails when there was probable cause to
prosecute, or when the defendant did not make, influence, or participate in the
decision to prosecute. Fox v. DeSoto, 489 F.3d 227, 237 (6th Cir. 2007); see also
Sykes v. Anderson, 625 F.3d 294, 311 (6th Cir. 2010). Plaintiff was cited for
placing vehicle seats on his porch for use as outdoor furniture and was required by
court order to appear in court, yet failed to do so, thereby making blatantly clear to
the Court that there was probable cause for the criminal proceedings initiated
Further, when Plaintiff appeared for the rescheduled hearing for the original
property citation, he voluntarily entered into a plea agreement with the prosecutor
and pled guilty to an amended charge of impeding traffic. (Register of Actions,
ECF No. 41-4 at Pg. ID 412.) To succeed on a malicious prosecution claim under §
1983 when the claim is premised on a violation of the Fourth Amendment – here,
an unlawful arrest – the criminal proceeding must have been resolved in the
plaintiff's favor. Sykes v. Anderson, 625 F.3d 294, 309 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 484 (1994)). Given that Plaintiff pled guilty to
impeding traffic, it is readily apparent that the proceeding did not resolve in his
favor. Additionally, under Michigan Law, a plaintiff's acceptance of a plea bargain
does not resolve the criminal proceeding in the plaintiff's favor. Kostrzewa v. City
of Troy, 247 F.3d 633, 643 (6th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, because Plaintiff has
failed to show that Defendants lacked probable cause to prosecute, and because he
also pled guilty in the proceeding at issue, the Court GRANTS summary judgment
as to the malicious prosecution claims in Counts 4 and 9 of the complaint.
B. State Law Claims
“A district court has broad discretion in deciding whether to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims.” Musson Theatrical. Inc. v.
Federal Express Corp., 89 F.3d 1244, 1254 (6th Cir.1996) (citation omitted).
“When all federal claims are dismissed before trial, the balance of considerations
usually will point to dismissing the state law claims, or remanding them to state
court if the action was removed.” Gamel v. City of Cincinnati, 625 F.3d 949, 952
(6th Cir.2010) (quoting Musson Theatrical, Inc., 89 F.3d at 1254–1255 (6th
Cir.1996)) (quotation marks omitted).
Given that a district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
if it has “dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction,” 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3), and that this lawsuit was removed to this Court based on federal
question jurisdiction, having eliminated the federal claims, this Court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s remaining state law claims, and
makes no determination as to the continuing viability of the state law claims.
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motions for summary
judgment are GRANTED as to Plaintiff’s federal claims – Counts 1, 2, 4 and the
malicious prosecution claim in Count 9 of the complaint. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3), the Court declines supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims
remaining in counts 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the complaint, and REMANDS these
state law claims to the Wayne County Circuit Court.
s/ Linda V. Parker
LINDA V. PARKER
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: February 12, 2016
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of
record and/or pro se parties on this date, February 12, 2016, by electronic and/or
U.S. First Class mail.
s/ Richard Loury
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?