CA6: It is settled that tenants have a REP in an interior hallway open only to them

The district court erred in granting qualified immunity to the officers who entered a hallway that was associated with only one apartment that decedent clearly had a reasonable expectation of privacy in. The law is settled in this circuit. Decedent was shot and killed there. Hicks v. Scott, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 14054 (6th Cir. May 1, 2020):

Moreover, even if we were to accept the defendants’ contested characterization of the area as an extended corridor leading to a self-contained apartment on the third floor, Quandavier had a reasonable expectation of privacy in that space. We have long held that tenants of multi-occupancy structures have a reasonable expectation of privacy in “common areas … not open to the general public.” Carriger, 541 F.2d at 549; see also United States v. Dillard, 438 F.3d 675, 683 (6th Cir. 2006) (recognizing that Carriger remains “controlling in this circuit”). A tenant in a twelve-unit apartment building, for instance, has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a locked common area leading to multiple units. 541 F.3d at 549-52. The same is true of an unlocked basement shared by the seven tenants of a duplex: it is expected that only the “tenants and landlord” will frequent such an area. King, 227 F.3d at 749-50. It is only when a tenant should expect that members of the general public will pass through a common space—i.e., persons other than the landlord, co-tenants, and their invited guests—that she loses her reasonable expectation of privacy in that space. Dillard, 438 F.3d at 684. Thus, as we explained in Dillard, if a tenant leaves the door to a common hallway unlocked and “ajar,” and that hallway leads to the entrance of multiple units, it is not reasonable for the tenant to expect that the area will remain private. Id. at 682-84.

Here, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to Hicks, the interior corridor is one in which Quandavier had a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is uncontroverted that the corridor led to only one apartment: Quandavier’s. And there is no evidence that anyone other than Quandavier and his guests had a right or reason to access that area; indeed, the exterior door—hardly visible from the street—was at the end of a narrow alley running parallel to the duplex. Still, despite the exterior door’s withdrawn location, Quandavier took affirmative steps to exclude the public and maintain his privacy. There is evidence that he normally locked the door with multiple deadbolts, rebuffed prying eyes with a privacy curtain, and fortified the glass with security bars. The lack of a doorbell and knocker could also support the inference that he had no interest in admitting strangers. Although the defendants contend that the unlocked door divested Quandavier of any reasonable expectation of privacy, intervening acts unknown to the sole user of an area cannot independently nullify an otherwise justified expectation of privacy. See, e.g., United States v. Kimber, 395 F. App’x 237, 247-48 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that lock on common hallway door broken by other tenants did not undermine plaintiff’s reasonable expectation of privacy).

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