United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Brown, Esq. and Capitol City Law Group, LLC, counsel for
M. Hiveley, Esq. and Iverson Reuvers Condon, counsel for
S. DOTY, JUDGE
matter is before the court upon the motion for summary
judgment by defendants City of Bloomington; Matthew George
and Carolyn Kne, acting in their individual capacities as
officers of the Bloomington police department; and John and
Jane Does 1-10. Based on a review of the file, record, and
proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court
grants the motion in part.
civil rights dispute arises out of defendants' response
to a November 4, 2014, report that plaintiffs Melonie Scott
and Ashley Scott were committing fraud at Bloomington Lincoln
Mercury car dealership in Bloomington, Minnesota.
September 20, 2014, Melonie went to the dealership to
purchase a new car and trade in her then-current vehicle, a
2008 Dodge Caliber. Melonie Dep. at 7:1-18. At the
dealership, Melonie worked with Rocky Foster - the finance
manager - and Renaldo Dennis. Id. at 36:1-4. Melonie
decided to purchase a 2012 Chevrolet Captiva and entered into
a "Retail Installment Contract and Security
Agreement" with the dealership. Id. at 7:1-7;
see Hiveley Aff. Ex. D. Under the terms of the
agreement, Melonie agreed that the remainder of the loan
outstanding on the Caliber would be added to the loan for the
Captiva. Hiveley Aff. Ex. D at 56-57. Melonie and
the dealership also entered into a "Conditional Delivery
Agreement, Addendum to Installment Sales Contract."
Id. at 53. The addendum provides that the dealership
would deliver the Caliber to Melonie conditioned on its
ability to obtain financing from a lending institution.
Id. In the event the dealership was unable to obtain
financing, Melonie was obligated either to pay the full
purchase price of the vehicle or immediately return it to the
signing the above paperwork, Melonie left the dealership with
the Captiva. See Melonie Dep. at 47:3-23. Although
she had not read all of the paperwork, Melonie believed that
she had completed the requisite forms and was to begin making
monthly payments of $403.67 to First Investors beginning
November 4, 2014.Id. at 25:1-26:5, 43:1-12. Within
a week of leaving the dealership, Melonie received a welcome
call from First Investors regarding the financing of her
vehicle, but received no other information. Id. at
later, Melonie returned to the dealership to pickup license
plates for the Captiva. Id. at 35:6-14. Rocky Foster
informed her that the plates had not yet arrived, but would
be in soon. Id. Foster also requested paycheck stubs
for income verification purposes, which she provided.
Id. at 35:6-14. Melonie left the dealership under
the impression that the deal was complete. Id. at
dealership, however, later informed Melonie that it was
unable to obtain financing, accused her of lying on the
credit application in order to steal the vehicle, and asked
her to return the Captiva. Id. at 28:8-29:15. After
consulting with various attorneys, she decided not to return
the vehicle. Id. at 29:15-21.
November 4, 2014, Melonie, accompanied by her sister
plaintiff Ashley Scott, returned to the dealership in a
rental carto make her first loan payment and to
pickup license plates for the Captiva. Id. at
46:9-13; Compl. ¶ 43. At the dealership, Melonie
complained to the finance director, Matthew Zarras, about not
receiving her license plates sooner. Melonie Dep. at
54:13-19. Zarras informed her that they were working on the
problem, asked her to wait, and left. Id. Zarras
subsequently called the Bloomington police to report a fraud
in progress. Id.; Incident Report, Hiveley Aff. Ex.
E at 5.
Robert George and other unidentified officers responded to
the call. Melonie Dep. at 55:12-22; Incident Report
at 05. Once the officers arrived, an officer informed Melonie
and Ashley that they were responding to a report of a stolen
vehicle. Melonie Dep. at 55:12-22. Melonie protested that she
did not steal a vehicle, and, in response, George told her
and Ashley to "be quiet, have a seat ..., and don't
move." Id. Ashley testified that George
told them that they were detained. Ashley Dep. at 24:13-17.
George then went to speak with Zarras while an officer in
plain clothes stood by the exit. Melonie Dep. at 55:12-22;
Ashley Dep. at 23:23-24:3. Zarras informed George that
Melonie had previously been at the dealership to buy a
Captiva, but that the dealership was unable to secure
financing through First Investors. Incident Report at 5.
Zarras explained that First Investors had advised the
dealership that they were unable to verify Melonie's
employment because of inaccurate and false information
provided on the application. Id. Zarras also told
George that he had attempted to resolve the problem with
Melonie and that she had provided additional contact
information for an employer, but First Investors could not
verify that information either. Id. at 6. Finally,
Zarras stated that he told Melonie that the loan was not
approved and that she needed to return the car per the terms
of the agreement, but she refused. Id. Zarras
informed George that he did not want to press any charges if
Melonie agreed to return the Captiva in exchange for her
Caliber. Id. at 7.
speaking with Zarras, George told Melonie that the dealership
did not want to press charges. Brown Aff. Ex. 1 at 5:08-5:38.
Melonie asked George what charges could be filed, and he
responded that she lied on the credit application, which was
a crime. Id.; Melonie Dep. at 58:4-17. She disputed
that she provided false information on her application and
told George that the dealership employees had filled out the
incorrect credit application. Incident Report at 8. She also
informed him that she had consulted with several attorneys
about the car and that one attorney advised her to keep the
car. Id.; Brown Aff. Ex. 1 at 4:30-50. Melonie and
Ashley testified that George was not interested in hearing
their side of the story and refused to look at paperwork that
Melonie claimed supported her position. Melonie Dep. at
60:15-61:13; Ashley Dep. at 37:4-9. George then gave Melonie
a choice between exchanging vehicles or being arrested for
theft by swindle. Brown Aff. Ex. 1 at 5:50-6:10; Melonie Dep.
at 58:10-17; Ashley Dep. at 25:8-10.
proceeded to ask Melonie where the Captiva was located, and
Melonie informed him that it was at her mother's
home.Melonie Dep. at 70:8-20. Although Melonie
did not remember her mother's address, she knew how to
get there. Id. Melonie called her mother on her cell
phone so that George could speak with her, but Brown was
uncooperative and did not provide her address. Id.
at 71:14-17; Incident Report at 8.
she did not want to be arrested, Melonie agreed to lead the
police to her mother's house in Richfield, Minnesota.
Melonie Dep. at 79:8-15; Incident Report at 8. Before leaving
the dealership, George seized Melonie's identification
and cell phone. Melonie Dep. at 81:10-13; Brown Aff. Ex. 1 at
11:00-15. Ashley asked George whether she could get a copy of
the report that was going to be filed. Brown Aff. Ex. 1 at
11:30-35. George responded that there was not going to be any
report because this was a "civil matter."
Id. at 11:35-50. Melonie and Ashley got into the
rental car driven by Sayeed Omar, Melonie's friend,
and proceeded to drive to Brown's house, followed by
three or four squad cars.Melonie Dep. at 17:6-24,
route to Brown's home, Melonie called her mother on
Ashley's cell phone and told her that she was leading the
police to her home. Id. at 82:4-10; Ashley Dep. at
40:4-14. Brown told Melonie that she did not want the police
at her home. Melonie Dep. at 81:22-25; Ashley Dep. at
40:4-22. Omar then stopped the rental car, and Melonie told
the police that her mother did not want them at her house.
Melonie Dep. at 82:22-83:3; Incident Report at 8. According
to Melonie, the police told her that she would be arrested if
she did not continue to her mother's house. Melonie Dep.
at 82:22-83:3. Brown heard this over the phone and decided to
allow Melonie to lead the police to her home. Id.
arriving at Brown's home, the police pulled up to the
side of the rental car and told Melonie and Ashley to stay in
the vehicle while they waited for the Richfield police to
arrive. Ashley Dep. at 43:21-44:9. Soon thereafter, three
Richfield officers arrived, and Ashley and Melonie exited the
rental car and walked towards Brown's home. Ashley Dep.
at 45:1-10; Incident Report at 8. Brown then exited her home
and, while in the middle of the street, yelled at the police
to leave her property. Melonie Dep. at 83:25-84:14; Incident
Report at 8.
Melonie, and Ashley went into the house, and several police
officers approached the front and back door and were also on
other areas of the property. Melonie Dep. at 84:5-14; Ashley
Dep. at 47:11-15; Brown Dep. at 31:23-32:3. Brown again told
the officers to leave her property. Brown Dep. at 33:12-14.
Melonie told the officers that she was not going to give up
the vehicle and, approximately twenty minutes after arriving
at Brown's home, the officers departed. Melonie Dep. at
87:6-20; Incident Report at 0008.
returned to the dealership to inform Zarras that Melonie was
not going to return the vehicle, and the dealership decided
to press criminal charges. Incident Report at 9. On November
6, 2014, defendant Officer Kne executed a search warrant and,
pursuant to the warrant, seized the Captiva located in
Brown's garage. Brown Dep. at 41:2-43:5; Incident Report
at 16. Kne arrested Brown for aiding and abetting a theft by
swindle, and the Captiva was returned to the dealership.
Incident Report at 13, 16.
same day, Melonie learned about her mother's arrest and
turned herself into police. Melonie Dep. at 89:11-91:17.
Brown and Melonie were released the same day, and both were
acquitted after separate trials. Melonie Dep. at 92:14-15,
101:22-102:5; Brown Dep. at 59:10-60:2.
January 5, 2015, plaintiffs filed suit alleging that George
and John and Jane Does unreasonably seized Melonie and Ashley
at the dealership (Count I), unreasonably seized Melonie and
Ashley in the escort to Brown's home (Count II), and
unreasonably searched and seized Brown's home (Count IV)
all in violation of the Fourth Amendment; that George
unreasonably seized Melonie's cell phone in violation of
the Fourth Amendment (Count III); and that Kne and John and
Jane Does violated the Fourteenth Amendment (Count VI) and
committed conversion (Count VII) by transferring the Captiva
to the dealership without due process. Defendants
now move for summary judgment.
Standard of Review
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material only when its
resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) . A
dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could
cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party.
See id. at 252 ("The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's
position will be insufficient ....").
motion for summary judgment, the court views all evidence and
inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Id. at 255. The nonmoving party, however, may not
rest upon mere denials or allegations in the pleadings but
must set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine
issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A party
asserting that a genuine dispute exists - or cannot exist -
about a material fact must cite "particular parts of
materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) (1) (A) .
If a plaintiff cannot support each essential element of a
claim, the court must grant summary judgment because a
complete failure of proof regarding an essential element
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.
John and Jane Doe Defendants
preliminary matter, defendants argue that the unidentified
defendants must be dismissed from the action as a matter of
law. It is improper for a court to dismiss unnamed defendants
early in litigation where it is likely that discovery may
lead to the defendant's identification. Munz v.
Parr, 758 F.2d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 1985) . But a court
may dismiss unnamed defendants "when it appears that the
true identity of the defendant[s] cannot be learned through
discovery or the court's intervention." Id.
discovery has been completed, the deadline for amendments has
passed, and plaintiffs do not seek additional discovery or
ask for the court's intervention in identifying the
unnamed defendants. Indeed, plaintiffs do not state any
opposition to the defendant's argument that these
defendants should be dismissed. Accordingly, the court
dismisses the John and Jane Doe defendants from this action