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HOENER v. COUNTY OF SONOMA

August 4, 2004.

IRENE HOENER, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SONOMA, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES BREYER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

This is a civil rights case arising out of plaintiff Irene Hoener's arrest on March 1, 2002. Plaintiff filed this complaint in proper. The Court has given plaintiff several opportunities to amend her complaint in response to motions to dismiss filed by defendants. Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint alleges causes of action against the County of Sonoma, Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Iverson, and Sonoma County District Attorney's Office Chief Investigator Michael Griffith (collectively "the Sonoma defendants"), and the City of Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa Detective Karen Westling, and Santa Rosa Detective John Snetsinger (collectively "the Santa Rosa defendants"). Now before the Court are two motions for summary judgment, one from each set of defendants.

BACKGROUND

  I. Facts

  On March 1, 2002, plaintiff went to pick up her children from their school. When she arrived at the school, she was informed that her ex-husband, Sonoma County Sergeant Edward Hoener, had already picked up their children. Plaintiff and Mr. Hoener shared visitation rights to their children, and pursuant to a court visitation order, plaintiff had custody of the children on March 1, 2002. Mr. Hoener, however, asserts that because he feared for the well-being of his children, he withheld the children from their scheduled visit with plaintiff. Plaintiff was unaware that Mr. Hoener had taken this action, and when plaintiff discovered that her husband had taken the children, she called the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department informed her that they would send an officer to the school. Rather than wait for the officer, plaintiff went to the home of Mr. Hoener and his new wife, Evane Hoener.

  When plaintiff arrived at her ex-husband's home, a dispute over the children and the visitation rights ensued. The dispute led to a physical altercation between plaintiff and her ex-husband Plaintiff called the Sheriff's Department to report the incident. Mr. Hoener also called the Sheriff's Department and requested that officers be sent to his home "Code 3." Evane Hoener videotaped portions of the incident.

  Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Iverson was the first to arrive on the scene. Immediately upon arriving at the scene, Iverson handcuffed plaintiff and placed her in the back of his patrol car. Plaintiff was later arrested for spousal abuse and brought to the Sheriff's Department by Deputy Brad O'Bryan.

  Because this incident involved Mr. Hoener, a member of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, pursuant to a County protocol,*fn1 the Santa Rosa Police Department was brought in to investigate the incident. Santa Rosa Police Department detectives Karen Westling and John Snetsinger came to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department where plaintiff was being detained. Westling and Snetsinger photographed plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff asserts that her requests from medical attention were ignored. She claims that she was confined to an interrogation room, one arm handcuffed to a chair, for seven hours. Plaintiff was tried by a jury and convicted of misdemeanor spousal abuse on November 1, 2002 based on this incident. Her conviction was later affirmed on appeal.

  II. Procedural History

  Plaintiff originally brought this lawsuit on February 7, 2003. In response to defendants' first motion to dismiss, this Court dismissed some of plaintiff's claims and provided plaintiff leave to amend other claims in accordance with express instructions. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on July 23, 2003. Defendants again moved to dismiss, and the Court dismissed some of plaintiff's claims and provided plaintiff another opportunity to amend her complaint. Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint on October 29, 2003.

  On January 20, 2004, the Sonoma defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On January 22, 2004, the Santa Rosa defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. A hearing for both summary judgment motions was scheduled for April 2, 2004. On March 10, 2004, plaintiff moved for a continuance of the summary judgment motions. The Court granted plaintiff's motion, and scheduled the hearing on the summary judgment motions for July 2, 2004. On May 26, 2004, plaintiff moved for another continuance in order to complete certain discovery. The Court held a telephone conference on May 28, 2004 with all parties to discuss plaintiff's motion. The Court granted plaintiff's motion to take depositions and continued the hearing until July 30, 2004 in order to provide plaintiff with ample time to complete discovery. The Court discussed the dates and location for plaintiff to take these depositions. On June 8, 2004, plaintiff informed the Court that she no longer intended to take the scheduled depositions.

  On June 16, 2004, plaintiff timely filed a memorandum in opposition to defendants' motions for summary judgment. Defendants timely filed reply memoranda on July 23, 2004.

  DISCUSSION

  I. Legal Standard

  Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact finder could find for the nonmoving party, and a dispute is "material" only if it could affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). A principal purpose of the summary judgment procedure "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). "Where the ...


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