Grand Rapids Open Carry Lawsuit – In Case Evaluation

 A Grand Rapids lawsuit brought by Johann Deffert made national headlines and brings into question Michigan’s open carry laws and law enforcement’s conduct in handling situations where individuals are open carrying.

Johann Deffert v. Officer William Moe, et al. 

On December 20, 2013 Deffert brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan against: three officer’s involved in his detainment; Kevin Belk, the Chief of Police for the Grand Rapids Police Department; and the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Deffert’s Amended Complaint filed on February 24, 2014 includes the following six counts:

Count I – Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment Violations; 

Count II – Second and Fourteenth Amendment Violations; 

Count III – First and Fourteenth Amendment Violations; 

Count IV – Michigan Constitution Article 1 Section 6 Claim; 

Count V – State Law Assault and Battery; and, 

Count VI – State Law False Imprisonment. 

Also included in the complaint is the plaintiff’s Request for Relief which asks for $100,000, and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages.

The lawsuit is current scheduled for Case Evaluation to be held on July 9, 2014.

What is Case Evaluation? 

Case evaluation in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan provides litigants an alternative dispute resolution process similar to the case evaluation method that is used in the state courts of Michigan. (Mich Comp. Laws §§ 600.4951-.4969; Mich. Ct. R. 2.403.)

Case Evaluation principally involves the establishment of the settlement value of a case by a panel of three attorneys. All civil cases in which damages are sought, except social security cases, are eligible for case evaluation (MCR 2.403). Certain tort cases in which the rule of decision is supplied by Michigan law must be submitted to case evaluation, unless the parties have agreed to use a voluntary mediation method.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel will make a written evaluation and serve a copy upon each party. After the written evaluation is served each party must accept or reject the written evaluation within 28 days.

In most cases if all of the parties accept the panel’s evaluation, judgment will be entered in the amount of the evaluation. If all or part of the written evaluation is rejected by the parties the action will proceed to trial.

If a party does not accept an evaluation and the action proceeds to verdict, that party must pay the opposing party’s actual cost unless the verdict is more favorable to the rejecting party than the case evaluation. However, if the opposing party has also not accepted the evaluation, that party is entitled to costs only if the verdict is more favorable to that party than the case evaluation.