Shaw v. City of Ferndale, Case Number 18-12973

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
Writing for the CourtHonorable David M. Lawson
PartiesDAVID EDWARD SHAW, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF FERNDALE, OFFICER JAMES FARRIS, OFFICER JASON WHITE, OFFICER CHRISTOPHER WIACEK, LINDSAY MARIE MARACLE, and ALLISON E. MARACLE, Defendants.
Decision Date20 March 2020
Docket NumberCase Number 18-12973

DAVID EDWARD SHAW, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FERNDALE, OFFICER JAMES FARRIS, OFFICER JASON WHITE,
OFFICER CHRISTOPHER WIACEK, LINDSAY MARIE MARACLE,
and ALLISON E. MARACLE, Defendants.

Case Number 18-12973

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION

March 20, 2020


Honorable David M. Lawson

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT BY FERNDALE DEFENDANTS, DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT BY MARACLE DEFENDANTS, AND DENYING JOINT MOTION TO ADJOURN SCHEDULING ORDER DATES

After being arrested and acquitted for assaulting and battering intoxicated, disrespectful, and unruly passengers that yelled racial slurs at him, Uber driver David Edward Shaw sued the City of Ferndale and three of its officers alleging constitutional violations, and his two passengers for state law torts. Both groups of defendants moved for summary judgment. The plaintiff insists that genuine issues of material fact exist. But the factual record shows that the police officers responded appropriately, and the City did not commit any constitutional violations. The Ferndale defendants' motion will be granted. The case against the two passengers is not so clear; the record contains conflicting facts that must be resolved at trial. That summary judgment motion will be denied.

I.

On January 24, 2016, Shaw began taking Uber fares around 1:15 a.m. and accepted a request in Ferndale, Michigan. Shaw pulled up to Rosie O'Grady's, a local bar, between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m., but he accidentally stopped at a "no standing zone." A police cruiser shined a spotlight

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on Shaw's car, so he drove away from the zone to avoid tickets. As Shaw drove off, intending to turn around to pick the passengers up, he received a call from Lindsey Johnston, who was intoxicated and yelled at Shaw to "get your ass back here."

Shaw eventually returned to the same spot in front of Rosie O'Grady's, picked up "two or three people," and began to drive off. At that point, "somebody" — either Allison or Lindsay Maracle — started screaming, "hey, wait, don't pull off. Some more people are coming." Shaw tried to explain that he nearly received a ticket for stopping at that spot, and "whoever was sitting behind" Shaw started to get "disrespectful." The rest of the group then entered the car, and Shaw drove off with Lindsay Maracle, Allison Maracle, Lindsey Johnston, Jennifer Trainor, Emily Szewc, and Shawn MacQuillan.

As the ride progressed, Shaw and at least one of the group members began exchanging words. One of the passengers complained that the car smelled like "weed." Shaw remained silent to avoid discussing the fact that he forgot his medical marijuana in his car. But defendants Lindsay and Allison Maracle allegedly began yelling remarks at Shaw, like "[y]ou're nothing but an Uber driver. Take us home" and "I don't expect to hear any backtalk from you . . ." Shaw allegedly tried to calm the passengers down, but they continued to yell at him, calling him "boy" and a "nothing Uber driver."

Shaw then decided to end the ride because he thought the passengers disrespected him and pulled over in front of the Magic Bag in Ferndale, Michigan. When Shaw asked the passengers to leave his car, they became irate and began screaming that he was not going to have a job after the night.

Johnston then recorded the altercation on her cellphone, which depicts the following:

0:00-0:20: Shaw sat in the driver's seat using his phone, while passengers can be heard yelling "get a picture of his face," "bye mother f*cker," "I paid you, I f*cking

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paid you," and "I bet you won't have a job after this." Shaw responded by calling someone a "b*tch."

0:20-0:23: Johnston and others exit the car. Two doors can be heard closing. Johnston moved to the back of Shaw's car.

0:24-00:45: Shaw confronted the passengers, admonishing them for slamming his doors and calling them "drunk and obnoxious." The passengers denied slamming his door. Shaw then returned to the driver's seat.

00:46-00:53: The passengers yelled at Shaw, "why you gettin' upset, boy?" and "get in your f*cking car and go, b*tch. Bye."

00:54-1:11: A single thump can be heard (unsure if this was beating on the car or if it was the sound of Shaw closing his door). Shaw then darted toward Ms. Johnston and the camera was swiped away. The screen goes dark. Audible female screaming: "Are you f*cking kidding me?" "N*gger." Then high-pitched shrieking and crying.

1:12-:130: Video restored. Shaw picked his hat up and yelled, "f*ck all y'all. Yeah!" Allison Maracle then tried to push Shaw, but he shoved her back (much harder), causing her to fall in the street. The parties then yelled profanities at each other.

1:30-4:31: The parties continued to yell back and forth, calling each other intoxicated and threatening to call the police. Shaw continued to yell at the passengers to stay away from his car and appeared to be trying to call someone on his phone. A man can be seen restraining a woman (both unidentifiable).

4:32-5:08: Police arrive. Shaw explained to Officer Wiacek that people kicked the back of his car and attacked him. Passengers denied kicking the car. Someone told police they were recording. The Officer responded "okay, let me take a look at it." Video cut off.

Passenger Szewc had called 911 and reported that the group's Uber driver assaulted her female friends, pushed three of them in the street, and punched another in the face. The Ferndale Police Department dispatched its officers, advising that an Uber driver assaulted his fares. Officer Christopher Wiacek (the officer depicted in the video) arrived on the scene and approached Shaw. Officer James Farris arrived at the same time as two other officers and found Allison Maracle crouched over Lindsay, who was crying loudly and holding her head. Shaw spoke to officers

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Wiacek and Farris, telling them that the patrons attacked his car, then attacked him and that he was acting in self-defense.

After reviewing the video, the officers huddled, exchanged information provided by the witnesses, and decided to arrest the plaintiff for assault and battery. Officer Farris handcuffed the plaintiff and put him in a police car. Officer Jason White searched the plaintiff's car and found several baggies of marijuana in the plaintiff's locked glove box. Although the plaintiff had a valid medical marijuana card, Officer Farris believed that the plaintiff had illegally transported the marijuana.

Officer Farris drove Shaw to the Ferndale Police Department, where he was booked, processed, and placed in a holding cell. At that point, Shaw says that he "almost had a panic attack" — he was breathing heavily, felt nauseous, and his head was spinning. Officer Farris walked by Shaw while he was crying in the holding cell. Shaw was released on bond that night "within an hour or so."

Meanwhile, other officers drove the passengers to the Ferndale police department, where they were taken to a room. Each of them wrote a statement.

Officer Farris's police report, drafted from memory, noted that Shaw exited his car to "defend himself" and that a "scuffle occurred" when he was trying to protect his car. He also wrote that officers found marijuana in a locked glove box and that Shaw had a medical marijuana card.

After the incident, Lindsay Maracle's attorney reached out to Channel 4 News to publicize the incident. Channel 4 then broadcasted a one-sided story about the scuffle on February 5, 2016, which included Shaw's name and photograph, as well as a short clip of the cellphone footage. The story framed Shaw as the aggressor and kept the passengers' identities confidential.

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Lindsay Maracle also sued Uber after the incident. Less than two months after the incident, Uber paid her $15,000 and Maracle signed a non-mutual release agreement. Shaw did not know about the release, nor did he sign it.

On January 26, 2016, Ferndale's City Attorney charged Shaw with assault and battery, and possession of marijuana. The marijuana charge was voluntarily dismissed at the arraignment, and a jury found him not guilty of assault and battery at trial on September 21, 2016, where all the passengers testified.

Shaw alleges that he sustained emotional injuries from the incident, the news media coverage, and the trial that persist to this date. He says that he suffers from constant nightmares, paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, the fear of leaving his home, loss of reputation, and the inability to find suitable employment. Shaw sought medical treatment for the emotional and psychological trauma suffered from the ordeal, although he had pre-existing treatment for anxiety.

Shaw originally brought suit against all the officers at the scene and at the jail, and all the passengers in his car that night. He agreed to dismiss some of the defendants. Those that remain are City of Ferndale and Officers Farris, White, and Wiacek (the Ferndale defendants), and Lindsay and Allison Maracle. He accuses the Ferndale defendants of false arrest and imprisonment (Count I), wrongful detention, and unconstitutional conditions (Count II), civil conspiracy (Count III), malicious prosecution (Count IV), all under federal law; and false arrest and imprisonment (Count VI) and gross negligence (Count VIII) under state law. He says the City of Ferndale failed to train and supervise its police officers (Count V). And he brings a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VII) against all defendants, including the Maracle sisters.

All defendants have moved for summary judgment.

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II.

Summary judgment 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). When reviewing the motion record, "[t]he court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, and determine 'whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to...

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