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Greenman v. Jessen

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 25, 2014

Mark Alan Greenman, Plaintiff,
v.
Officer Jeremiah Jessen, Sgt. Jason Nelson, Chief Ed Belland, City of Medina and Steven M. Tallen, Defendants.

Jordan S. Kushner, Esq., Law Office of Jordan S. Kushner, 431 South Seventh Street, Suite 2446, Minneapolis, MN 55415, counsel for plaintiff.

Daniel P. Kurtz, Esq. and Everett and VanderWiel, PLLP, 100 Center Drive, Buffalo, MN 55313 and George C. Hoff, Esq. and Haff, Barry & Kozar, P.A., 775 Prairie Center Drive, Suite 160, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, counsel for defendants.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendant Steven M. Tallen and the motion for judgment on the pleadings by defendants Officer Jeremiah Jessen, Sgt. Jason Nelson, Chief Ed Belland and City of Medina (collectively, defendants). Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motions in part.

BACKGROUND

This civil-rights dispute arises out of the arrests of plaintiff Mark Alan Greenman by Medina, Minnesota police officers. On three occasions, Greenman was arrested by Medina police officers while operating his Segway personal transporter device under the influence of alcohol.

On the evening of August 17, 2010, Greenman was riding his Segway on a road near his home in Medina. Id . ¶ 11. Greenman was pulled over by Jessen, an officer with the Medina Police Department. Id . Jessen stated in his police report that he stopped Greenman because the "Segway... did not have a headlight or other lights for safety purposes for traveling on a roadway." Id . ¶ 12. Upon stopping Greenman, Jessen asked Greenman to perform field sobriety tests and take a preliminary breath alcohol test. Id . ¶ 13. Greenman refused the tests. Id . Jessen arrested Greenman, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of the squad car. Id . ¶¶ 13-14. Jessen transported Greenman to the Medina police station and then to Maple Grove Hospital for a blood alcohol test. Id . ¶ 14.

On October 15, 2010, Nelson, a sergeant with the Medina Police Department, filed a formal criminal complaint against Greenman in Hennepin County District Court, charging him with (1) gross misdemeanor DWI, (2) misdemeanor DWI, (3) misdemeanor careless driving and (4) possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle.[1] Id . ¶ 15. Tallen represented the City of Medina during the subsequent proceedings. Id . ¶ 16. Greenman filed a motion to dismiss the charges for lack of probable cause. Id . On June 17, 2011, Hennepin County District Court Judge Ronald L. Abrams dismissed the two DWI charges and the possession of marijuana charge.[2] Id . Following a bench trial, Greenman was acquitted of failing to operate an electric personal assistive device with due care. Id . ¶ 17. The City of Medina did not appeal the dismissal or the acquittal. Id . ¶ 18.

On February 4, 2012, Jessen again stopped Greenman while Greenman was riding his Segway on Elm Creek Drive in Medina. Id . ¶ 21. Greenman again refused to perform field sobriety and breath tests, and Jessen arrested Greenman. Id . Jessen charged Greenman with driving while impaired, issued a notice of revocation of Greenman's driver's license and impounded the Segway. Id.

On March 16, 2012, Nelson observed Greenman lying down next to his Segway on the sidewalk of Hunter Drive in Medina. Id . ¶ 25. Nelson administered field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test, which Greenman failed. Id . Thereafter, Nelson arrested Greenman, transported him to the Medina police station and administered a breath alcohol test. Id . ¶ 26. Nelson impounded the Segway and issued a notice of forfeiture for the Segway. Id . Nelson also issued a notice of revocation of Greenman's driver's license. Id . Greenman was then transported to Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis, where he was booked for probable cause felony DWI and held for three days. Id . ¶ 27.

On March 22, 2012, Belland, the Medina Police Chief, filed a formal criminal complaint against Greenman relating to the February 4, 2012, arrest. The complaint alleged two counts of gross misdemeanor DWI. Id . ¶ 22. On July 13, 2012, Nelson filed a formal criminal complaint relating to the March 16, 2012, arrest, charging Greenman with felony DWI. Id . ¶ 28. On August 29, 2012, Hennepin County District Court Judge Denise Reilly dismissed the charges relating to the February 4, 2012, arrest.[3] Id . ¶ 23. The City of Medina appealed, and on January 22, 2013, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal, holding that "a Segway is not a motor vehicle within the meaning of the impaired-driving code." Id . ¶ 24; see State v. Greenman , 825 N.W.2d 387, 393 (Minn.Ct.App. 2013). On March 1, 2013, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office voluntarily dismissed the charges relating to the March 16, 2012, arrest. Compl. ¶ 29.

On July 8, 2013, Greenman filed this action in Minnesota court, alleging (1) claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (2) false imprisonment, (3) trespass to chattel, (4) malicious prosecution and (5) negligence. Defendants timely removed. Tallen moves to dismiss and the remaining defendants move for judgment on the pleadings.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

The same standard governs a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) and a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). See Clemons v. Crawford , 585 F.3d 1119, 1124 (8th Cir. 2009). To survive either motion, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff [has pleaded] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. ...


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