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Bright v. Monroe County Sheriff's Dep't

June 11, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas A. Varlan United States District Judge



This civil action is before the Court on defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 26]. Plaintiff has not responded and time for doing so has now passed. Thus, this matter is ripe for determination. The Court has carefully considered the pending motion, along with the relevant affidavits and other filings. For the reasons set forth herein, defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 26] will be GRANTED and all claims against defendants will be dismissed.

I. Relevant Facts

As the Court is required to do in reviewing a motion for summary judgment, all facts will be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

On May 25, 2004, Judge Carroll R. Ross found probable cause that Clifton G. Bright, plaintiff's father, was committing theft of a motor vehicle on the property identified in the proof submitted by Detective Michael Morgan, one of the defendants in this case. [Doc. 28-3.] Accordingly, Judge Ross issued a search warrant. [Id.] The search warrant states: You are hereby commanded in the name of the State to make immediate search by day or night of the person of [Clifton G. Bright] and of the property located in Monroe County, Tennessee and described as follows: 645 White Plains Road Madisonville, Tennessee. From the intersection of 411 North and Hwy. 360 turn Right onto Hwy. 360. Travel approximately 7 miles on Hwy. 360 to Citico Road. County Road #(455). Travel straight on Citico Road for approximately 2.2 miles to White Plains Road, County Road # (493). Turn right onto White Plains Road. Travel approximately .6 miles to the mailbox marked 645. The residence is identified as a single wide trailer, white in color with brown trim as described in paragraph three (3). Three (3) photographs of the residence accompanies this affidavit as exhibit one. And if you find the same, take charge of the same and bring it forthwith before me, then deliver such vehicles or other items contained in paragraph two (2) of affidavit, to the Sheriff of this County, and make due return of your actions in the premises. [Id.] The affidavit attached to the search warrant lists the address of the premises to be searched as 645 White Plains Road, Vonore, Tennessee rather than 645 White Plains Road, Madisonville, Tennessee as stated in the warrant. [Doc. 28-2.] Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that the search warrant was executed at 755 White Plains Road rather than 645 White Plains Road. [Doc. 1.] Defendants concede that the searched property is located in Vonore and not Madisonville. [See Doc. 29.]

On or about May 25, 2004, Plaintiff's property on White Plains Road in Vonore, Tennessee was searched pursuant to the search warrant issued by Judge Ross. [Doc. 28.] Detective Morgan was physically present during the execution of the search warrant and observed vehicles that were cut up, vehicle identification number plates that were missing from vehicles, tools commonly used to cut up vehicles, and methamphetamine-producing equipment. [Doc. 32.] Plaintiff, Carl Lee Bright, was on the premises at the time of the search. [Id.] It appeared to Detective Morgan that plaintiff had been living on the property for some period of time and had slept there for at least the previous night. [Id.] As a direct result of this search, plaintiff was arrested. [Doc. 29.] The charges filed against plaintiff as a result of this arrest were ultimately dismissed. [Id.]

II. Standard of Review

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is proper if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The burden of establishing there is no genuine issue of material fact lies upon the moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 n.2 (1986). The court must view the facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587; Burchett v. Kiefer, 310 F.3d 937, 942 (6th Cir. 2002). To establish a genuine issue as to the existence of a particular element, the non-moving party must point to evidence in the record upon which a reasonable jury could find in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The genuine issue must also be material; that is, it must involve facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the opposing party "may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must--by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule--set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against that party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

The judge's function at the point of summary judgment is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question, and not to weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Id. at 249. Thus, "[t]he inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id. at 250.

III. Analysis

As an initial matter, the Court notes that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam). After liberal review of all of plaintiff's filings, the Court finds that plaintiff states claims for unlawful search, false arrest, false imprisonment, and defamation.

A. Unlawful Search

Plaintiff states that the search warrant officers executed in connection with his arrest permitted the search of 645 White Plains Road but was executed at 755 White Plains Road. [Doc. 1.] Defendants also note that the search warrant listed the city as Madisonville, Tennessee but that the correct city is Vonore, Tennessee. [Doc. 29.] Construing this allegation liberally, the Court ...

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