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Rosen v. Wentworth

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 9, 2014

Ronald R. Rosen and June I. Trnka, Plaintiffs,
v.
Detective Brian Wentworth, Sergeant Bill Schmidt, and Officer Roxanne Affeldt, in their individual and official capacities as police officers for the City of Champlin, and Officer Robert Topp, in his individual and official capacity as a police officer for the City of Plymouth, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Paul Applebaum, Esq., and Andrew M. Irlbeck, Esq., St. Paul, MN, Applebaum Law Firm, St. Paul, MN, on behalf of Plaintiffs.

Jason M. Hiveley, Esq., Iverson Reuvers Condon, Bloomington, MN, on behalf of Defendants.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge on Defendants Sergeant Bill Schmidt and Officer Roxanne Affeldt's (" Defendants" ) Renewed Motion for a Directed Verdict or, in the Alternative, a New Trial [Docket No. 55]. Also before the Court is Plaintiffs' Ronald R. Rosen and June I. Trnka's (" Plaintiffs" ) Motion for Award of Attorney's Costs and Fees [Docket No. 77]. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion is denied, and Plaintiffs' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND[1]

This case stems from a search conducted bye Defendants Schmidt and Affeldt of the rear enclosed porch of Plaintiffs' home. On January 8, 2010, at approximately 12:55 a.m., Defendants responded to a burglary at a veterinary hospital in Champlin, Minnesota. The responding officers employed a police canine unit in an attempt to track and apprehend the burglar, who had fled the crime scene. The canine unit, operated by Officer Robert Topp,[2] initially found a scent at the veterinary hospital, but lost the scent nearby. Defendants continued to sweep the area using the canine unit, moving further along Downs Road and away from the hospital. After failing to find a scent as they proceeded along Downs Road, the canine eventually led Sergeant Schmidt and Officers Affeldt and Topp to Plaintiffs' home. Affeldt testified that she knocked on Plaintiffs' front door and received no response. Schmidt and Affeldt went to the rear of the home, entered the enclosed porch without knocking, and proceeded to knock on the interior house door. Receiving no response, Defendants inspected the belongings in the porch, took Rosen's shoes, and departed to return to the hospital area.

Defendants used their investigation, and Rosen's shoes, to obtain a search warrant for Plaintiffs' home. Weeks later, on January 22, 2010, Champlin police officers detained Rosen and executed the search warrant. For over an hour while the search proceeded, Detective Brian Wentworth questioned Rosen, including repeated threats to arrest him or a member of his family. The search ultimately did not yield any evidence connected to the burglary.

About two weeks later, after reviewing the reports and evidence, Wentworth concluded that it was " obvious" Rosen's shoes

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did not match the footprints at the scene of the burglary, and concluded Plaintiffs played no role in the crime. Wentworth, who had completed the search warrant application based on information from Schmidt and Affeldt, then returned Rosen's shoes and apologized.

On or about April 30, 2012, Plaintiffs initiated this action in state court, shortly after which Defendants removed the action to federal court. See Not. of Removal [Docket No. 1]. Plaintiffs alleged four counts: the first alleged a violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, and the remaining three alleged related state law violations. Defendants moved for summary judgment and Detective ...


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