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Zimmerman v. Bellows

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 4, 2013

Julius Chad Zimmerman, Plaintiff,
v.
Dave Bellows, in his individual and official capacities, et al., Defendants

Page 1027

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1028

Nathan M. Hansen, North St. Paul, Minnesota, for Plaintiff.

Andrea G. White, Dakota County Attorney's Office, Hastings, Minnesota, for Defendants.

OPINION

Page 1029

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

When Plaintiff Julius Chad Zimmerman failed to appear in Minnesota state court on October 19, 2011, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Three weeks later, he was arrested and transported to the Dakota County Jail. In the interim, however, he had filed for protection under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (the " Code" ), 11 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. Alleging (among other things) that his incarceration violated the Code's automatic stay, 11 U.S.C. § 362(a), Zimmerman commenced this action against the Dakota County Sheriff, Dave Bellows, and 10 unnamed jail deputies. Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, their Motion will be granted in part, Zimmerman's federal claims will be dismissed, and the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his remaining claims.

BACKGROUND

Although the record contains some evidentiary gaps, the pertinent facts are undisputed. At some unspecified time, Zimmerman was involved in a car accident, and American Family Insurance Group (" American" ) obtained a Judgment against him. It then attempted to collect the Judgment, suing Zimmerman in May 2011 in the Dakota County, Minnesota District Court. The parties have not submitted a copy of the state-court docket, but it appears [1] that American obtained an Order to Show Cause requiring Zimmerman's attendance at a hearing on October 19, 2011. When he failed to appear, the state court issued a bench warrant commanding the Dakota County Sheriff or any other law-enforcement officer to arrest Zimmerman and bring him before the court to answer for his failure.

Page 1030

On October 27, 2011, Zimmerman filed a bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota.[2] There is no indication that he or his attorney informed the state court or American about that filing, and hence the warrant remained outstanding. On November 10, 2011, police officers arrested Zimmerman at his home. He claims he repeatedly told the officers he " had filed for Bankruptcy and no action could be taken against [him] to collect the underlying debt that had resulted in the warrant," but his pleas were disregarded. The officers transported him to the Dakota County Jail, where booking was completed at 1:11 a.m. on Friday, November 11, 2011 - Veteran's Day. Because of the holiday, and because November 12 and 13 were weekend days, the earliest Zimmerman could be brought before the state court was November 14.

Zimmerman claims that during his incarceration, he repeatedly told jail " staff" - " everyone working at the jail [that he] could" - about the bankruptcy filing, but he was " ignored." Eventually, though, he was able to contact his attorney, who contacted American and it, in turn, asked the state court to quash the warrant. It did so, and Zimmerman was released from custody at 9:44 a.m. on November 15.

On November 2, 2012, Zimmerman commenced this action against Sheriff Bellows, five " John Doe" jail deputies, and five " Jane Roe" jail deputies, in their individual and official capacities, alleging that his incarceration violated the Code's automatic stay [3] and the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He also alleged that Defendants' conduct violated the Minnesota Constitution and constituted negligence and false imprisonment. He seeks damages, attorneys' fees, and injunctive relief requiring Defendants, inter alia, to develop policies about holding debtors on civil warrants when they have filed for bankruptcy. With ...


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