The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rudi M. Brewster, United States Senior District Judge
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT Docket No. 9-11, GRANTING
MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION [Docket No. 9-2], DENYING DEFENDANTS'
OBJECTIONS [Docket No. 21-1], DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
CONTINUE HEARING [Docket Nos. 24-1 and 24-2]
AND DISMISSING STATE LAW CLAIMS
Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the
Alternative, Summary Adjudication of Issues, Defendants' Objections to
Plaintiff's Opposition, and Plaintiff's Motion to Continue Hearing. The
Court determined it appropriate to decide these matters without oral
argument as permitted by Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons
below, the Court denies Defendants' Objections to this Court's
consideration of plaintiffs late-filed opposition brief; denies
Plaintiffs motion to continue hearing, grants Defendants' Motion for
Summary Adjudication of Issues as to the federal claims, and dismisses
without prejudice the remaining pendent state law claims.
Mark Martin is suing the City of Oceanside and police officers Shawn
Kelly and entered Martin's house without a warrant and pointed loaded
guns at him. Martin's complaint asserts two federal claims and four state
common law claims: (1)a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against the police
officers for alleged violation of Martin's Fourth Amendment rights; (2)a
42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against the City for unlawful policies,
customs, or habits; negligence.
At about 4:30 p.m. on December 28, 1999, Officer Shawn Kelly was
dispatched to Martin's residence to "check the welfare" of Martin's
roommate, Traci Trotman. Ms. Trotman's father, Dr. Ronald Trotman had
called the Oceanside Police Department from Portland, Oregon urging that
the police check on Ms. Trotman because he had been unable to reach her
by phone for several days and was "extremely concerned and felt she could
be in trouble." Defs.' Mem. P. &. A. Supp. Summ. J. at 1; Dec. Dr. Ronald
Trotman ¶ 2.
Officer Kelly went to Martin's home at 4904 Amador in Oceanside. He
noticed Ms. Trotman's car parked outside (Trotman's father had given the
police a description of her car). Officer Kelly knocked on the door and
rang the doorbell at 4904 Amador, but no one answered.
When no one answered the door, Officer Kelly had dispatch call
Trotman's phone number; dispatch did so and the line was answered by
Trotman's answering machine. Defs.' Mem. P. & A. Supp. Summ. J. at 1.
Officer Kelly then walked around the house to a side door (according to
plaintiff; he got there by opening a latched gate and walking through the
side yard). Defs.' Mem. P. & A. Supp. Summ. J. at 1.; Pl.'s Mem. P. & A.
Opp. at 2. The side door was unlocked (defendants' word is "unsecured")
but closed. Pl.'s Mem. P. & A. Opp. at 2. Officer Kelly opened it and
entered plaintiffs garage. Kelly asserts that he entered after
"identifying himself with the Oceanside Police;" plaintiff disputes that
Kelly announced his entry. Kelly Dec. ¶ 5. Pl.'s Mem. P. & A. Opp. at
Inside the garage, Officer Kelly found and tried an unlocked door that
led into the main house. "Fearing that a crime could be in progress,"
Officer Kelly exited the garage and requested an additional police unit.
Kelly Dec. ¶ 5.
Officer Kelly then talked to the next door neighbor, who told Kelly
that she had seen a female at the residence on Christmas day and a male
at the residence the day before, that the occupants' cars were in the
driveway, and that they should be home. Kelly Dec. ¶ 6. Officer Kelly
"went back to the front door and started banging loudly on the door and
pushing the door bell repeatedly. This went on for several minutes. There
was no answer." Id., ¶ 7.
Officer Benjamin Ekeland arrived as the backup unit Officer Kelly had
requested. Officer Kelly "explained the situation to him." Kelly Dec.
¶ 8. Both officers went back to the unlocked side door. The officers
claim they "loudly identified [them]selves as Oceanside Police." Martin
claims they did not identify themselves at all. However, Martin by then
was watching from Ms. Trotman's upstairs bedroom window "and could see
. . . that defendant Kelly was wearing a police uniform." Pl.'s Mem. P. &
A. Opp. at 3.
The officers entered the main house through the unlocked door in the
garage. They entered "with their guns drawn for their own safety and that
of the occupants." Defs.' Mem. P. & A. Supp. Summ. J. at 2. Using
flashlights so they could see (it was dark outside by this time), the
officers checked the downstairs area for people but found no one. They
then started up the staircase to the second floor.
Meanwhile, Martin and Trotman were still in Trotman's bedroom. Martin
had started his camcorder to videotape the officers. At the direction of
Martin, Trotman came out of the bedroom to see what the officers wanted.
The officers told her not to move and to identify herself. Martin then
came out of the bedroom and stood next to Trotman. The officers, who were
standing about 15 to 20 feet away, pointed their guns at Martin and
Trotman. Martin Dec. ¶ 17. Trotman identified herself; and the
officers holstered their guns. Defs.' Mem. P. & A. Supp. Summ. J. at 3.
About four minutes elapsed from the time the officers entered the house
and the time they notified dispatch that they were okay. Id.
A. Motion for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment must be granted if the party responding to the motion
fails "to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case
with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The evidence offered need not be in a
form admissible at trial to avoid summary judgment. Id., at 324. When the
moving party does not bear the burden of proof; summary judgment is
warranted by demonstration of an absence of facts to support the
non-moving party's case. Id. at 325. The Court must determine whether
evidence has been presented that would enable a reasonable jury to find
for the non-moving party. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 249-252. If
the Court finds that no reasonable fact-finder could, considering the
evidence presented by the non-moving party and the inferences therefrom,
find in favor of that party, summary judgment is warranted.
If the Court is — unable to render summary judgment upon an
entire case and finds that a trial is necessary, it shall, if
practicable, grant summary adjudication for any issues as to which,
standing alone, summary judgment would be appropriate. See Fed.R. Civ.
P. 56(d); See also California v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir.
1998), cert. denied (Oct. 5, 1998).
B. § 1983 Claim Asserting Fourth Amendment Violations Due to Unlawful
Search, Unlawful Seizure, or Excessive Force-Qualified Immunity
A private right of action exists against persons who, acting under
color of state law, violate a citizen's federal constitutional or
statutory rights. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defense of qualified
immunity, however, protects certain § 1983 defendants from the burden
of litigation. A court presented with the issue must determine whether
police officers sued under § 1983 have a valid qualified immunity
defense before proceeding to the merits of the § 1983 claim because
"[q]ualified immunity is an entitlement not to stand trial ...