Judge dismisses lawsuit against sheriff, Isabella County
This is a themorningsun.com article.
An Isabella County judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed against the county, the sheriff and others by a man who says he was illegally evicted from his home.
Chief Judge Paul Chamberlain ruled in an opinion released Tuesday that Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski and his department were not a proper party to Theodore Visner’s lawsuit, which was filed after his landlord took possession of the home he was renting in September 2010.
Visner maintained that Sweet, his landlord, illegally changed the locks at the home on East Walton Road in Lincoln Township while he and his wife, Kathy Smith, were away for a weekend.
Sweet’s attorney, John Lewis, said she had a court order for possession of the home and that she did not get an eviction order because Visner had vacated the property.
Visner, who ran against Mioduszewski on the Democratic ticket for sheriff in the November election, filed suit on 16 civil counts, including breach of contract, breach of duty, conversion, trespassing, negligence and violations of his civil liberties.
He was seeking in excess of $3.9 million in damages.
One of Visner’s contentions was that Deputy C.J. Steinert did not do his duty as a law enforcement officer by not stopping Sweet from locking him out of the home.
He also said that Steinert falsely arrested him.
Chamberlain said in the opinion that Steinert and Undersheriff John Tellis as peace officers have the authority to arrest or detain a person who violates the law.
Steinert made the arrest after warning Visner to stop calling 911 to report a burglary, according to court records.
Steinert took the original call and determined that it was a landlord-tenant dispute, and later arrested Visner for allegedly misusing the 911 system, according to court records.
Chamberlain said the county is not liable for the actions of Steinert or Tellis, and that Visner did not prove his assertion that Tellis failed to protect Visner’s interest in the property.
Chamberlain said “the record is absolutely devoid of any evidence that Tellis appeared on the property or participated in Visner’s arrest.”
“In fact, the record only reveals that Tellis aided Visner when Visner filed a complaint against Steinert with the (sheriff’s department),” Chamberlain said. “Steinert arrived at the property to keep the peace and eventually arrested Visner for misusing the 911 system,” Chamberlain said. “Tellis only dealt with Visner when he accepted Visner’s written complaint of Steinert.”
Chamberlain also ruled that Sweet, who at that time had just been hired at the sheriff’s department, legally took possession of the property because the statute of limitations had expired before Visner filed the suit in September 2011.
In the suit, Visner also alleged that Sweet took his possessions from the home, but Chamberlain said that Visner and Smith had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Aug. 10, 2010 and that their possessions became part of the bankruptcy estate.
Chamberlain said Sweet could not have converted personal property from Visner and Smith “because they had no possessory interest in the property.”
(Susan Field can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Piggybankblog Courtroom Bailiff: “All rise! .The Honorable Judge John Wright has left the Courtroom of Public Opinion!”