Case Studies for Holly S. Battersby

2018 WL 1637946. RSJA successfully defended the township against allegations of illegal seizure after a police pursuit. Over time, the plaintiff and her relations have been the subject of multiple criminal prosecutions in the township and neighboring communities. RSJA has successfully defended several mandamus actions against judges and township officials and criminal appeals brought by these individuals, as well as defending a township ordinance officer in getting wrongful prosecution claims against him dismissed.
2016 WL 795901 (ED Mich 2016). The case alleged excessive force by township officers and sheriff’s department deputies. RSJA obtained a dismissal on the merits for the township, saving fees, costs and a potential judgment, while the plaintiff was able to proceed against the county defendants.
2012 WL 3289922 (6th Cir 2012 unpublished). RSJA’s experience in civil rights cases and in the federal courts protected Gladwin County in a complex case involving a man with dual American and Jordanian citizenship. Sheriff’s deputies arrested the plaintiff after he threatened his daughter in a long-simmering family dispute. With multiple sources reporting the plaintiff’s anger and threats, detectives arrested him. After a mistrial, the prosecutors dropped the charges and the plaintiff filed a section 1983 civil rights lawsuit against the officers and county prosecutors. The federal trial court summarily dismissed plaintiff’s federal civil rights claims, finding that the police officer and prosecutor defendants were entitled to immunity because plaintiff’s constitutional rights were not violated. The Sixth Circuit Court affirmed the trial court’s decision, holding that ample probable cause existed to investigate and prosecute Plaintiff for the crime of extortion, despite the mistrial in the state criminal case.
2017 WL 5615821 (Mich Ct App, Nov. 21, 2107) (Wayne County Circuit Court Case No. 15-008243-NO). Governmental immunity protects communities from being sued for their day-to-day work. But what if they receive money for a function that looks like a business? In this case a woman broke her leg while riding a water slide at a park operated by the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA). Plaintiff claimed that HCMA was negligent in constructing and maintaining the waterslide which led to her injury. While this type of claim would normally be barred by governmental immunity, she said that the proprietary function exception to immunity applied to allow her lawsuit. The trial court denied RSJA’s motion for summary disposition, finding there were material issues of fact regarding whether the operation of the water park was conducted primarily for the purpose of producing a profit for the HCMA. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s finding, holding that, despite the fact that the HCMA generated income from admissions, parking and food sales, plaintiff could not demonstrate that the park was operated for the primary purpose of producing a profit.
2013 WL 2319323 (ED Mich, 2013). RSJA successfully defended claims brought by the Estate of a mentally-ill individual who, while suffering from excited delirium, led township police officers on a multi-city pursuit and was subject to 30+ police Taser deployments. Securing summary judgment on behalf of the township and its officers, RSJA attorneys relied (among other cases) on Caie v West Bloomfield, 485 Fed Appx 92 (6th Cir, 2012), a case successfully litigated by RSJA’s Margaret Debler and frequently cited by the Sixth Circuit when affirming summary judgment. (Caie involved police and fire response to a mental health seizure, where a Taser was used to apprehend the at-risk teen. RSJA successfully obtained summary judgment as to fire fighters in this significant mental health seizure case where force was necessary.)
2016 WL 1533562 (Mich App 2016 unpublished). Plaintiff operated a bar, restaurant, banquet center, and nightclub out of a structure that it had illegally expanded over a period of 20 years. Fire and construction code inspections led to an occupancy reduction from 2000 to 175 and multiple violation notices by the township and a lawsuit by the owner. The township won in circuit court, but the court denied the township’s request for sanctions based on a frivolous filing. Both sides appealed and the court confirmed the finding of a dangerous building. RSJA also appealed the denial of its request for sanctions and was eventually awarded $103,000 for the township in sanctions in addition to almost $30,000 in costs.
717 Fed. Appx. 555 (6th Cir 2017): Sheriff’s deputies used a confidential informant to conduct drug buys and identify the participants, one of whom was bound over for trial at a preliminary exam. The charges were subsequently dismissed based on contradictory testimony from another participant and the fact that the plaintiff passed a polygraph test. He then sued Huron County and several deputies, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated in the drug buys. The trial court granted summary judgement to dismiss the case against the county and deputies, because the bind-over conclusively established that there was probable cause to arrest plaintiff on the charges. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s dismissal of all claims against Defendants.