Marcus v. McCollum

394 F.3d 813 (2004)

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Marcus v. McCollum

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
394 F.3d 813 (2004)


Carl McCollum (defendant) loaned money to Diana Marcus (plaintiff). As security for the loan, Marcus pledged the title to an automobile. Thereafter, McCollum sought to repossess the automobile. McCollum drove to Marcus’s residence accompanied by a driver from a wrecker service (defendant) to tow the automobile. As McCollum approached the residence, he observed an on-duty Shawnee police officer nearby named Mason Wilson (defendant). McCollum informed Wilson that he planned to repossess the automobile. Although McCollum did not have the title on hand, McCollum brought a piece of paper with a vehicle identification number (VIN), which matched the VIN for a Pontiac in Marcus’s driveway. Marcus and her minor son (plaintiff) noticed McCollum at their residence, ran outside, and began arguing loudly with McCollum. Marcus contended that she had pledged the title to a different car located elsewhere, not the Pontiac owned by her husband (plaintiff). Although the parties disagreed as to whether Wilson became involved on his own or at McCollum’s direction, Wilson called for backup, and three more officers arrived (defendants). The officers allowed McCollum to repossess the automobile and told the Marcuses to take it up in small-claims court. The Marcuses then brought a federal civil-rights claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against McCollum, the wrecker service, the officers, and the City of Shawnee. The Marcuses alleged that the officers had violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and freedom from unreasonable search by not asking for additional documentation from McCollum, forcibly poking Marcus’s son in the chest, threatening to throw them in jail, and staying until the repossession had been completed. The City of Shawnee moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted on the ground that the officers’ conduct did not amount to the state action required to maintain the civil-rights claim. Specifically, the City of Shawnee’s argument relied on Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit Corp., which factually resembled the Marcuses’ situation but involved a public street and no dispute regarding the collateral. The Marcuses appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Seymour, J.)

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