Case: Weber v. City of Grand Rapids

1:13-cv-00469 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

Filed Date: May 1, 2013

Closed Date: Jan. 24, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 1, 2013, two men who were arrested for trespassing on property open to the public filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the City of Grand Rapids, its chief of police, and two individual officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the National ACLU and ACLU of Michigan, asked the court for a declaratory judgment, damages, and injunctive relief concerning the use of "No Trespass Letters." The plaintiffs c…

On May 1, 2013, two men who were arrested for trespassing on property open to the public filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the City of Grand Rapids, its chief of police, and two individual officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the National ACLU and ACLU of Michigan, asked the court for a declaratory judgment, damages, and injunctive relief concerning the use of "No Trespass Letters." The plaintiffs claimed that the City of Grand Rapids, its chief of police, and police officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights.

According to the amended complaint, the Grand Rapids Police Department ("GRPD") had arrested individuals for trespassing based on a City trespass ordinance, under which the City solicits No Trespass Letters from area businesses indicating their intent to prosecute trespassers. The plaintiffs alleged they were arrested for trespassing while sitting in their vehicles in a business's parking lot, without any warning or complaint from the business itself. The plaintiffs claimed their arrests were without probable cause and therefore in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the plaintiffs claimed that the ordinance violated the void-for-vagueness doctrine of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth

Amendment.

On December 3, 2013, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. They argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek declaratory or injunctive relief because they were not suffering an imminent threat of repeated future misconduct. Additionally, defendants argued that the plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were not ripe because the City had changed the No Trespass Letters following the plaintiffs' filling of the Complaint. Defendants did not challenge the Court's jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs' claim for damages.

On August 4, 2014, the Judge Paul L. Maloney dismissed the claims of one of the plaintiffs against the defendants according to the parties' stipulation. However, the other plaintiffs' claims remained.

While the motion to dismiss was still pending, the defendants and the plaintiffs both filed motions for summary judgment. In April 2015, the court postponed the trial date pending the resolution of multiple motions made by both the defendants and the plaintiffs.

Following a hearing on the defendants' motion to dismiss, as well as both parties' motions for summary judgment, Judge Maloney granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief on June 21, 2017. 256 F.Supp.3d 742. The Court held that, because the plaintiffs had not alleged sufficient facts to present a threat of an imminent, as opposed to a speculative, injury, they lacked standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief. The Court also noted that the City's changes to the No Trespass Letters following the filing of this case rendered the requests for prospective relief unripe. The Court did not, however, grant the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claim for damages.

Notably, the Michigan Court of Appeals addressed the same issue of whether the Grand Rapids ordinance is constitutional and held that it is unconstitutional. People v. Maggitt, 903 N.W.2d 868 (Mich. Ct. App. 2017). Following the Michigan Court of Appeals' ruling, the City effectively ended its practice of arresting individuals pursuant to the No Trespass Letters.

On October 17, 2018, Judge Maloney held that both sides were entitled to partial summary judgment. 407 F.Supp.3d 707.

The Court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs on their municipal liability claim against the City of Grand Rapids. The Court found that the City had an unconstitutional policy or custom whereby police officers arrested individuals for trespassing on property covered by a no-trespass letter without first informing the suspect that he or she must leave the property. However, the Court found that the plaintiffs had failed to show that the City's trespass ordinance was unconstitutionally vague.

Additionally, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against the individual defendants because it found that the police officers were entitled to qualified immunity. At the time of the arrests, it was not clearly established law what knowledge the officers must have before concluding that they had probable cause to arrest a suspect for violating the City's ordinance.

After a February 4, 2019 conference with Judge Maloney, the parties appeared to move into settlement negotiations. Judge Maloney filed an order on April 12 stating that he had received word from the parties that they had settled the issue on the matter of damages. A damages amount was not publicly disclosed; the ACLU described it as a "favorable settlement agreement resulting in significant compensation for each of our four plaintiffs." The parties continued litigating over attorney fees, but came to a private agreement on the matter on December 23, 2019. Judge Maloney dismissed the case on January 24, 2020.

Summary Authors

David Postel (10/20/2013)

Jessica Kincaid (2/27/2016)

Eva Richardson (12/1/2018)

Ellen Aldin (6/12/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6806721/parties/hightower-v-grand-rapids-city-of/


Judge(s)

Maloney, Paul Lewis (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Allen, Marc S. (Michigan)

Aukerman, Miriam (Michigan)

Kelly, Julia Anne (Michigan)

Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)

Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)

Waldman, Bryan J. (Michigan)

Williamson, Jason D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bloemers, Margaret P (Michigan)

Fossel, Elizabeth J. (Michigan)

Judge(s)

Maloney, Paul Lewis (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Allen, Marc S. (Michigan)

Aukerman, Miriam (Michigan)

Kelly, Julia Anne (Michigan)

Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)

Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)

Waldman, Bryan J. (Michigan)

Williamson, Jason D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bloemers, Margaret P (Michigan)

Fossel, Elizabeth J. (Michigan)

Gruszka, Elliot J. (Michigan)

Hitchcock, Anita L. (Michigan)

Lannen, Patrick J. (Michigan)

Poplar, Andre Lamar (Michigan)

Rewa, Kristen L. (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Hightower v. City of Grand Rapids

Jan. 24, 2020 Docket
1

Complaint

May 1, 2013 Complaint
5

First Amended Complaint

May 14, 2013 Complaint
200

Opinion and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Hightower v. City of Grand Rapids

256 F.Supp.3d 742

June 21, 2017 Order/Opinion
203

Opinion

Hightower v. City of Grand Rapids

407 F.Supp.3d 707

Oct. 17, 2018 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

ACLU Commends Grand Rapids Police Decision to End Trespass Policy That Led to Disproportionate Arrest of African-Americans

American Civil Liberties Union

Information about how the Grand Rapids Police Department terminated its trespass policy after the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the practice was unconstitutional in <i> People v. Maggitt </i>, … June 29, 2017 https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-commends-grand-rapids-police-decision-end-trespass-policy-led-disproportionate-arrest

Hightower v. City of Grand Rapids

American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project filed a federal lawsuit in May of 2013, on behalf of Plaintiffs Gilbert Weber and Tyrone Hightower, challengi… Feb. 27, 2020 https://www.aclu.org/cases/hightower-v-city-grand-rapids

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6806721/hightower-v-grand-rapids-city-of/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
201

Order Rejecting Pleading

1 Attachment

View on RECAP

May 21, 2018 RECAP
202

Order on Motion to Cite New Authority

July 2, 2018 RECAP
203

Order on Motion for Summary Judgment

Oct. 17, 2018 PACER
205

Order on Motion to Strike

Nov. 26, 2018 PACER
211

Notice Rescheduling Hearing

March 27, 2019 PACER
213

Order

April 12, 2019 PACER
214

Order Scheduling Settlement Conference

April 16, 2019 PACER
219

Stipulation and Order (Proposed-one document)

Aug. 28, 2019 PACER
220

Order on Stipulation and Proposed Order

Aug. 29, 2019 PACER
222

Attorney Fees

Sept. 24, 2019 PACER
229

Proposed Order

Nov. 15, 2019 PACER
230

Order on Proposed Order

Nov. 18, 2019 PACER
231

Proposed Order

Dec. 2, 2019 PACER
232

Stipulation and Order

Dec. 3, 2019 PACER
233

Proposed Order

Dec. 16, 2019 PACER
234

Stipulation and Order

Dec. 17, 2019 PACER
236

Order Regarding Dismissal Papers

Dec. 30, 2019 PACER
237

Stipulation of Dismissal

Jan. 24, 2020 PACER
238

Stipulation and Order

Jan. 24, 2020 PACER

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 1, 2013

Closing Date: Jan. 24, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Two individuals who were arrested for criminal trespass at business open to the public without having committed a crime or been asked to leave.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

ACLU of Michigan

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

City of Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids, Kent), City

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: Unknown

Issues

General:

Failure to discipline

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

False arrest

Over/Unlawful Detention

Pattern or Practice

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