906 F.2d 220 (6th Cir. 1990), 89-1537, Braley v. City of Pontiac

Docket Nº:89-1537.
Citation:906 F.2d 220
Party Name:Norman BRALEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF PONTIAC, Defendant, Stanley Helgemo, Sergeant; Arthur Rouse and Roland Garcia, Officers, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:June 19, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 220

906 F.2d 220 (6th Cir. 1990)

Norman BRALEY, Plaintiff-Appellant,



Stanley Helgemo, Sergeant; Arthur Rouse and Roland Garcia,

Officers, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 89-1537.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 19, 1990

Argued Jan. 19, 1990.

Page 221

Robert C. Vandenbroucke (argued), Berkley, Mich., for plaintiff-appellant.

S. David McNeill, Richard G. Lewandowski (argued), Troy, Mich., defendants-appellees.

Before: NELSON and BOGGS, Circuit Judges; and BATTISTI, District Judge. [*]

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BOGGS, Circuit Judge.

Norman Braley appeals the dismissal of his federal claims against Pontiac Police Sergeant Stanley Helgemo on motions for summary judgment. Because Braley has received substantial satisfaction of his claims in state court, we affirm the summary judgment for Sergeant Helgemo in the federal action.


On May 4, 1983, Normal Braley was driving his car in the city of Pontiac when he was cut off by a police car changing lanes. The police car was being driven by Sergeant Stanley Helgemo. Braley pursued Sergeant Helgemo in his car and signalled for Helgemo to pull over by flashing his lights and sounding his horn. Helgemo pulled over to allow Braley to pass so that he could stop Braley for driving with his high beam lights on. Instead, Braley stopped his car, approached Sergeant Helgemo, and engaged him in a heated verbal exchange. Braley informed Helgemo that he intended to file a citizen's complaint and asked for Helgemo's badge number. Helgemo refused and asked to see Braley's driver's license. Braley refused to produce his license. 1 Helgemo then arrested Braley and called for a backup unit to transport Braley to police headquarters. Officers Arthur Rouse and Roland Garcia arrived, handcuffed Braley and took him to the Pontiac Police Station, where he was fingerprinted and photographed. At the station, Braley continued to refuse to identify himself. Braley was then transported to Oakland County Jail where he was held overnight. The next day he was arraigned on charges of (1) operating a motor vehicle without an operator's license and (2) obstructing and hindering a police officer in the performance of his duties. He was ordered to post a cash bond of $2,000. On September 14, 1983, Braley was tried on the two charges and found not guilty by a jury.

On November 13, 1984, Braley filed suit in federal district court against Officers Helgemo, Rouse, and Garcia and the City of Pontiac alleging violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 as well as three pendent state claims alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest and imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional injury. He also sought attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. 2

The district court dismissed the three pendent state claims without prejudice on January 23, 1985. In April 1985, while the federal claims were still pending, Braley filed a complaint in state court based on the three state claims. The City of Pontiac was dismissed as a defendant from the state action on the ground of governmental immunity. At trial on the state claims in August 1988, the judge dismissed the claim of intentional infliction of emotional injury on a motion for directed verdict. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Braley against Sergeant Helgemo on the claims of false arrest and imprisonment and malicious prosecution for the bringing of the charge of obstructing an officer in the performance of his duty. 3 The jury awarded Braley $5,000 for the arrest, $5,000 for the false imprisonment and $10,000 for the malicious prosecution, for a total of $20,000.

After the jury verdict for Braley in the state case, all defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in the still-pending federal case, on the ground that Braley had found an adequate remedy in state court. On the recommendation of a magistrate's report, the district court granted the motion on March 31, 1989. Braley appealed that decision to this court.

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Norman Braley seeks in federal court to vindicate constitutional rights that have already been vindicated in state court. Although an action under Sec. 1983 is generally supplemental to a common law action arising out of the same set of facts, once appellant obtained substantial satisfaction of his underlying claim in state court, the federal issue of the constitutionality of the police action became moot. Campbell v. City of Allen Park, 829 F.2d 576, 578-80 (6th Cir.1987). Appellant's Sec. 1983 action remains alive after he has obtained relief on the underlying substantive claims in state court only if he now seeks to vindicate a constitutional right in federal court that was not adequately vindicated in the state action. In order to determine that, it is necessary to identify the specific constitutional basis of the Sec. 1983 action.

Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere. Appellant's complaint is sparse on the matter of precisely which constitutional guarantees he is seeking to vindicate. The Sec. 1983 claim is contained in Count VI of the complaint, which states simply that appellant was "deprived of the rights, privileges and immunities guaranteed him under the Constitution and laws of the United States of America and of the State of Michigan, as set forth above, in violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983." Because appellant does not state the specific constitutional guarantees allegedly violated, the court must reconstruct them. Based on the remainder of the complaint, the briefs, and the arguments before this court, it appears that appellant alleges he was unconstitutionally deprived of his liberty without due process of law, in violation of the fourteenth amendment. It appears further that this constitutional claim is based solely on the underlying allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. 4

Braley does not allege that the Pontiac police officers used excessive force in arresting him. Although angry words were exchanged between Braley and Sergeant Helgemo, none of the police officers physically assaulted him. There is no allegation that the arrest took place in violation of the fourth amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures. By failing to produce his license on demand, appellant gave Sergeant Helgemo a sufficient ground reasonably to conclude that he was driving without a license. Braley does not allege that he was mistreated while in detention. Officers Garcia and Rouse drove appellant to the police station where he was booked and held overnight, apparently without incident. Thus, there is no basis for a claim that appellant's eighth amendment rights were violated. The only allegations upon which appellant's Sec. 1983 claim can be based are the false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. All three allegations were adequately addressed and substantially...

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