Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Estate of Romain v. City of Grosse Pointe Farms

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 14, 2019

The Estate of Joann Matouk Romain, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellant,
City of Grosse Pointe Farms; Daniel Jensen; Jack Patterson; Andrew Rogers; Antonio Trupiano; Keith Colombo; Michael McCarthy; Richard A. Rosati; John Walko; Frank Zielinski; Ricky Good; City of Grosse Pointe Woods; Andrew Pazuchowski; Keith Waszak; Officer John Doe; Suspect One; John Doe; Chalut Anthony; Timothy J. Matouk; Killer John Doe; Anthony Chalut, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Flint. No. 4:14-cv-12289-Linda V. Parker, District Judge.

         ON BRIEF:

          Mark R. Bendure, BENDURE & THOMAS, PLC, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Michelle A. Thomas, THOMAS, DEGROOD & WITENOFF, P.C., Southfield, Michigan, for Appellee Grosse Pointe Farms.

          G. Gus Morris, CITY OF GROSSE POINTE WOODS, Troy, Michigan, for Appellees Grosse Pointe Woods, Andrew Pazuchowski, Keith Waszak, and Anthony Chalut.

          Before: McKEAGUE, KETHLEDGE, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.



         According to Joann Matouk Romain's estate, two local police departments and many officers covered up Joann's murder. The alleged plot required duping other officers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Canadian authorities. The motive? To help a friend who sold the officers alcohol at prices cheaper than Costco. What at first sounds fanciful is moored by some odd facts. For example, Joann's daughter swears that an unidentified officer questioned her about Joann before the police suspected Joann was missing. Another officer had Joann's spare key that allegedly went missing a month before her disappearance. That said, a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the estate. As a result, we affirm the district court's decision to grant summary judgment to the defendants.


         In January 2010, police found Joann Matouk Romain's car alone in a church driveway. Two months later, a fisherman found her body in the Detroit River. This case is about the investigation of Joann's disappearance.

         According to the police, the investigation started when an officer spotted Joann's car around 9 p.m. After running her license plate, the officer took no further action because the car was on private property. About an hour later, a different officer noticed the car. That officer was more concerned because the car was alone in the driveway, nobody was around, and it was a cold night. The officer approached the car and looked inside. Nobody was there.

         People often park at the church, cross the street, and go down to Lake St. Clair. Suspecting that the car's driver may have done the same, the officer looked around. Nearby, he saw footprints in the snow heading towards an embankment. The officer followed the footprints. He then saw imprints suggesting that someone sat on a breakwall near the lake, pushed off to a second breakwall, and then sat on that second breakwall above the water. No footprints led back from the lake.

         Based on those observations, the officer thought the person from the car might be in the water. He notified his supervisor, who then came to the scene. The supervisor agreed, so he activated the police department's dive team and contacted the U.S. Coast Guard. The search continued until the next afternoon. They did not find a body.

         While some officers searched the water, others investigated the car. That investigation included sending an officer to Joann's house. There, the officer spoke with Joann's daughter. The daughter reported that Joann had attended an evening Mass. and that she was not answering her phone. In the weeks that followed, police questioned people who knew Joann, who saw her at Mass, and who were near the lake the night she disappeared. Nothing concrete materialized.

         Two months after the disappearance, a fisherman found a body on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. Canadian authorities responded and ultimately identified Joann with help from their American counterparts. Before the Canadians released the body, a Canadian coroner performed an autopsy. He concluded that Joann drowned, but he could not determine the manner of death.

         The body then went to a county medical examiner's office in Michigan. The county coroner performed another autopsy and drew the same conclusions. The coroner noted, however, that homicide was "less likely" than suicide because Joann had no significant injuries. He also opined that an accident seemed "quite unlikely" because Joann had no reason to be near the water.

         Joann's daughter requested a third autopsy. Like the coroners, a doctor at the University of Michigan reported drowning as the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.