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Case Name Detroit Will Breathe v. Detroit PN-MI-0013
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-12363-RHC-APP ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Police Violence Protests (Spring/Summer 2020)
Case Summary
This lawsuit was filed on August 31, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs included Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and fourteen individuals. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, sued the city of Detroit, ... read more >
This lawsuit was filed on August 31, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs included Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and fourteen individuals. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, sued the city of Detroit, Mayor Michael Duggan, Police Chief James Craig, and over one hundred Detroit Police Department (DPD) officers.

Between May 29, 2020 and August 22, 2020, the plaintiffs participated in protests across Detroit calling for the end of police brutality and racial injustice. The plaintiffs stated that the DPD used excessive force on multiple occasions during the approximately 90 protests that the plaintiffs engaged in during this time period. These instances of excessive force included police driving cars into protest leaders on June 28; using dangerous chokeholds and teargas on peaceful protesters on July 10; and using additional pepper spray, teargas, and chokeholds on protestors on August 22. The plaintiffs also alleged alleged that a curfew imposed by the defendants was only enforced against protesters.

The plaintiffs alleged that these actions violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly, and also violated their Fourth Amendment protection against excessive force, arrest without probable cause, and false imprisonment. They also alleged that defendants' actions represented retaliation forbidden under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and contended that the city of Detroit was liable under the Monell theory of liability. The plaintiffs requested injunctive, monetary, and declaratory relief, including punitive damages, and asked for attorneys' fees and costs.

The same day that they filed their complaint, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which would prohibit the DPD from using weapons against peaceful protesters or arresting protesters without probable cause. The plaintiffs also sought basic amenities, such as access to water and the provision of necessary medical attention, be for any protesters that were arrested.

The case was originally assigned to District Judge Robert H. Cleland and Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti, but was then reassigned to District Judge Laurie J. Michelson and Magistrate Judge David R. Grand on September 1, 2020.

On September 4, 2020, the court partially granted the request for a temporary restraining order (TRO). 2020 WL 5269789. Judge Michelson enjoined the defendants from using weapons against peaceful protesters, from placing individuals in choke-holds or hitting them with vehicles, from using zip ties or handcuffs in a way that causes injury, and arresting demonstrators without probable cause. The order was to last 14 days. However, the defendants thought that the order was one-sided. They submitted a motion to modify the TRO on the grounds that it would allow protesters to break the law without repercussions. Judge Michelson disagreed. On September 16, Judge Michelson issued an order denying the defendants' request to modify the TRO, holding that the TRO in no way allowed plaintiffs or other protesters to break the law without legal consequences -- DPD was still allowed to arrest those that sought to break the law. 2020 WL 8575150. The parties jointly agreed that police officers would refrain from using weapons (batons, shield, etc.), chemical agents, or chokeholds against protestors, and also agreed not to arrest demonstrators en masse without probable cause.

The defendants answered the complaint and filed a counterclaim on September 25, alleging that the plaintiffs engaged in a civil conspiracy. The defendants sought compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees. The defendants also sought declaratory judgment stating that the plaintiffs defamed Mayor Michael Duggan and multiple police officers.

After the plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss the defendants' counterclaim, the counterclaim was dismissed on March 10, 2021. Judge Michelson found that the city did not allege that the plaintiffs committed an underlying tort to support the conspiracy allegation, nor did the city allege sufficient factual allegations to sustain a conspiracy charge even if it could proceed without an underlying tort.

The case remains ongoing.

Jack Hibbard - 03/11/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Petitions clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Aggressive behavior
Excessive force
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pepper/OC spray
Restraints : physical
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Detroit
Detroit Chief of Police James Craig
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Plaintiff Description Detroit Will Breathe and several individuals
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 08/31/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Mich.
03/10/2021
2:20-cv-12363
PN-MI-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Mich.
08/31/2020
Verified Complaint for Damages and for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PN-MI-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
08/31/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2]
PN-MI-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
09/04/2020
Opinion and Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 18] (484 F.Supp.3d 511)
PN-MI-0013-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
09/16/2020
Order on Defendants' Motion to Modify Temporary Restraining Order [24] [ECF# 37]
PN-MI-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Mich.
09/18/2020
Joint Order to Preserve the Status Quo [ECF# 42]
PN-MI-0013-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
03/10/2021
Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim [46] [ECF# 61] (2021 WL 915513)
PN-MI-0013-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Grand, David R. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Michelson, Laurie Jill (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0002 | PN-MI-0013-0004 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-0006 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brown, Melissa A (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Ghannam, Amanda M (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0001 | PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Goodman, William Harry (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Hurwitz, Julie H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Riddell, Sean A (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Rivers, Beth M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Schulz, Jack (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0001 | PN-MI-0013-0003 | PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dwyer, Maria (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Garcia, Lawrence T (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Trebilcock, Christopher M (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Turner, Reginald M. Jr. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-0005 | PN-MI-0013-9000
Other Lawyers Dugan, Marianne G (Oregon) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Mayor, Philip Edwin (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000
Milbank, Courtney Turner (Indiana) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0013-9000

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