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Case Name Weber v. City of Grand Rapids PN-MI-0008
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-0469-PLM ( W.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
On May 1, 2013, two men who were arrested for trespassing on property open to the public filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the City of Grand Rapids, its chief of police, and two individual officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The ... read more >
On May 1, 2013, two men who were arrested for trespassing on property open to the public filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the City of Grand Rapids, its chief of police, and two individual officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the National ACLU and ACLU of Michigan, asked the court for a declaratory judgment, damages, and injunctive relief concerning the use of "No Trespass Letters." The plaintiffs claimed that the City of Grand Rapids, its chief of police, and police officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights.

According to the amended complaint, the Grand Rapids Police Department ("GRPD") had arrested individuals for trespassing based on a City trespass ordinance, under which the City solicits No Trespass Letters from area businesses indicating their intent to prosecute trespassers. The plaintiffs alleged they were arrested for trespassing while sitting in their vehicles in a business's parking lot, without any warning or complaint from the business itself. The plaintiffs claimed their arrests were without probable cause and therefore in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the plaintiffs claimed that the ordinance violated the void-for-vagueness doctrine of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment.

On December 3, 2013, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. They argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek declaratory or injunctive relief because they were not suffering an imminent threat of repeated future misconduct. Additionally, defendants argued that the plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were not ripe because the City had changed the No Trespass Letters following the plaintiffs' filling of the Complaint. Defendants did not challenge the Court's jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs' claim for damages.

On August 4, 2014, the Judge Paul L. Maloney dismissed the claims of one of the plaintiffs against the defendants according to the parties' stipulation. However, the other plaintiffs' claims remained.

While the motion to dismiss was still pending, the defendants and the plaintiffs both filed motions for summary judgment. In April 2015, the court postponed the trial date pending the resolution of multiple motions made by both the defendants and the plaintiffs.

Following a hearing on the defendants' motion to dismiss, as well as both parties' motions for summary judgment, Judge Maloney granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief on June 21, 2017. 256 F.Supp.3d 742. The Court held that, because the plaintiffs had not alleged sufficient facts to present a threat of an imminent, as opposed to a speculative, injury, they lacked standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief. The Court also noted that the City's changes to the No Trespass Letters following the filing of this case rendered the requests for prospective relief unripe. The Court did not, however, grant the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claim for damages.

Notably, the Michigan Court of Appeals addressed the same issue of whether the Grand Rapids ordinance is constitutional and held that it is unconstitutional. People v. Maggitt, 903 N.W.2d 868 (Mich. Ct. App. 2017). Following the Michigan Court of Appeals' ruling, the City effectively ended its practice of arresting individuals pursuant to the No Trespass Letters.

On October 17, 2018, Judge Maloney held that both sides were entitled to partial summary judgment. 407 F.Supp.3d 707.

The Court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs on their municipal liability claim against the City of Grand Rapids. The Court found that the City had an unconstitutional policy or custom whereby police officers arrested individuals for trespassing on property covered by a no-trespass letter without first informing the suspect that he or she must leave the property. However, the Court found that the plaintiffs had failed to show that the City's trespass ordinance was unconstitutionally vague.

Additionally, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against the individual defendants because it found that the police officers were entitled to qualified immunity. At the time of the arrests, it was not clearly established law what knowledge the officers must have before concluding that they had probable cause to arrest a suspect for violating the City's ordinance.

After a February 4, 2019 conference with Judge Maloney, the parties appeared to move into settlement negotiations. Judge Maloney filed an order on April 12 stating that he had received word from the parties that they had settled the issue on the matter of damages. A damages amount was not publicly disclosed; the ACLU described it as a "favorable settlement agreement resulting in significant compensation for each of our four plaintiffs." The parties continued litigating over attorney fees, but came to a private agreement on the matter on December 23, 2019. Judge Maloney dismissed the case on January 24, 2020.

David Postel - 10/20/2013
Jessica Kincaid - 02/27/2016
Eva Richardson - 12/01/2018
Ellen Aldin - 06/12/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pattern or Practice
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Grand Rapids
Plaintiff Description Two individuals who were arrested for criminal trespass at business open to the public without having committed a crime or been asked to leave.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 05/01/2013
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Hightower v. City of Grand Rapids
American Civil Liberties Union
Date: Feb. 27, 2020
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  ACLU Commends Grand Rapids Police Decision to End Trespass Policy That Led to Disproportionate Arrest of African-Americans
American Civil Liberties Union
Date: Jun. 29, 2017
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:13-cv-00469 (W.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-MI-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 5]
PN-MI-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 200] (256 F.Supp.3d 742) (W.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0008-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/21/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 203] (407 F.Supp.3d 707) (W.D. Mich.)
PN-MI-0008-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Maloney, Paul Lewis (W.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-0003 | PN-MI-0008-0004 | PN-MI-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allen, Marc S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Aukerman, Miriam (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-0001 | PN-MI-0008-0002 | PN-MI-0008-9000
Kelly, Julia Anne (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-0001 | PN-MI-0008-0002 | PN-MI-0008-9000
Waldman, Bryan J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-0001 | PN-MI-0008-0002 | PN-MI-0008-9000
Williamson, Jason D. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-0001 | PN-MI-0008-0002 | PN-MI-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bloemers, Margaret P (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Fossel, Elizabeth J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Gruszka, Elliot J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Hitchcock, Anita L. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Lannen, Patrick J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Poplar, Andre Lamar (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000
Rewa, Kristen L. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PN-MI-0008-9000

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