Steven T. Budaj, P.C.

Cadillac Tower

 Law Offices of Steven T. Budaj, P.C.


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City of Detroit Settles False Arrest Cases

    On November 6, 2000, Bruce Abby, was at home with his wife and two young children when the Detroit Police appeared at their door and demanded that he come downtown for questioning in the death of a friend and business associate. Mr. Abby, a mortician, was a long time business associate of the deceased who owned a funeral parlor. When she was murdered in Detroit, the police had few clues. That is when the homicide department threw out their dragnet and brought in the deceased's family, friends and business associates.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Abby was among those brought in for investigation. He was questioned, refused the use of the phone, told he should confess, denied basic toiletries, and kept for more than 44 hours in a filthy Detroit Police jail cell (which has since been shut down by the U.S. Justice Department) until he was finally released by order of a local judge. He was never charged with any crime.

    "It was the worst experience of my life." said Abby. "I wasn’t allowed to use the phone and kept in a little cell for almost 3 days." His wife was asked to come in for questioning as well. "I was told that my children would be taken away, placed in foster care and I would never see them again unless I spoke to them." said Mrs. Abby. "I can’t tell you how scared I was."

    Bruce Abby is among the thousands of persons arrested by the Detroit Police in many years during homicide investigations who had nothing to do with any crime.

    On March 23, 2001, Abby filed a civil rights class action lawsuit alleging his constitutional rights were violated by the Detroit police in their mis-handling of the investigation of his friend's death. "The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mr. Abby as well as all other persons who were arrested by the Detroit police department in their dragnet approach to investigations." Although initially filed as a class action the Judge felt that the individual injuries of each potential Plaintiff was too great to handle as a class action. As a result, the case continued on behalf of the 13 individuals who were falsely arrested in the same manner.

    After several years of investigation and on the eve of trial, the case was recently settled for $1,625,000.00. Finally, the Plaintiffs have some feeling that their rights have been vindicated.

    During the investigation of this case, the U.S. Justice Department began its own investigation of the Detroit Police Department. The Plaintiffs cooperated with the Justice Department. The Detroit jail was eventually shut down due to inhumane conditions and a consent judgment was entered that required the Police Department to revise its arrest policies.

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