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Abdulkhalik v. City of San Diego

November 25, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


On August 18, 2008, Plaintiff Kassim Abdulkhalik filed the instant action alleging violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as various state law causes of action. Plaintiff's claims arise out of an incident between Plaintiff and Sergeant Joel McMurrin of the San Diego Police Department in the early morning hours of August 22, 2007. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 44.) For the reasons set forth herein, the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.


The following facts are not in dispute. At the time of the events in question, Plaintiff was a 20- year-old college student attending San Diego State University ("SDSU"). On August 21, 2007, Plaintiff and four friends, Courtney Weisheit Braverman, Zach McBeth, Andrew Envent, and Jennifer Rogers, attended a house party across the street from McBeth and Envent's house. Plaintiff admitted that he drank one beer prior to arriving at the party and drank two beers while at the party. At approximately 1 a.m. on August 22, 2007, Police officers, including Defendant McMurrin, responded to a radio call concerning the party and subsequently disbanded the party for noise violations. Plaintiff and his four friends left the house and began walking back to Envent and McBeth's house. McMurrin was the last officer to leave the scene of the party. As McMurrin was driving away, Envent shouted something at him. McMurrin stopped his car, got out, and began walking toward the group. At some point, McMurrin asked the three men to step toward his squad car. Envent and McBeth complied with the request, but Plaintiff did not. Instead Plaintiff began walking to Envent and McBeth's house. At some point thereafter, McMurrin took Plaintiff down to the ground using a headlock. Once Plaintiff was on the ground, McMurrin called for backup. Officers Brett Davis and David Rozsa arrived on the scene. McMurrin informed the officers that Plaintiff was in violation of California Penal Code § 647(f) for being drunk in public. Officers Davis and Rozsa took Plaintiff to the City's Inebriate Reception Center ("Detox") located in Downtown San Diego, and he was later released around 6 a.m. After his release, Plaintiff sought medical treatment for injuries to his face and head. No charges were ever filed.

On August 18, 2008, Plaintiff filed the instant action against Defendant City of San Diego. (Doc. No. 1.) On December 29, 2008, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint ("FAC"), adding McMurrin as a named Defendant. (Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff alleges that McMurrin violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by violating Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment Rights to be free from unlawful detention and excessive force. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that McMullen violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to not be deprived of medical care. Plaintiff also alleges that the City of San Diego violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by "ratifying and condoning the violation if its citizens' constitutional rights" (the "Monell claim"). Finally, Plaintiff alleges various state law causes of action.

On July 18, 2009, Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Dismiss*fn1 . (Doc. No. 44.) On August 10, 2009, Plaintiff filed his Opposition to the motions. (Doc. No. 51.) On August 17, 2009, Defendants timely replied. (Doc. No. 53.)


1. Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Legal Standard

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment only if the moving party can demonstrate that (1) "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact," and (2) he is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A material issue of fact is one that raises a question that a trier of fact must answer to determine the rights of the parties under the substantive law that applies. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. The initial burden is on the moving party to show that both prongs are satisfied. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322--23. If the moving party fails to discharge this initial burden, summary judgment must be denied, and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159--60 (1970).

If the moving party meets this initial burden, the nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment merely by demonstrating "that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252 ("The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position is not sufficient."). Rather, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by 'the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). The inferences to be drawn from the facts must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1180 (9th Cir. 2002). "Credibility determinations, the weighing of evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge, [when] he is ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

B. Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Defendant McMurrin

Plaintiff alleges that McMurrin deprived him of his constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that McMurrin violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when he (1) violated his Fourth Amendment right to not be detained without probable cause; (2) violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force; and (3) violated his Fourteenth Amendment right not be deprived of medical care. Defendant McMurrin contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity on the first two claims, and that Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to the third claim.

1. Qualified Immunity

"The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Pearson v. Callahan, 129 S.Ct. 808, 815 (2009). The doctrine grows out of the policy concern that few individuals would enter public service if they risked personal liability for their official decisions. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). "Qualified immunity shields an officer from suit when []he makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient, reasonably misapprehends the law governing the circumstances []he confronted." Brosseau v. Haugen, 543 U.S. 194, 198 (2004). Recently in Pearson v. Callahan, the Supreme Court modified the two-step sequence for resolving government officials' qualified immunity claims first set forth in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 198 (2001). Under Saucier, courts were required to undertake a two-part inquiry in determining whether a government official was entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at 201. First, the court examines whether the facts a plaintiff alleges shows the officer's conduct violated a constitutional right. Id. Second, "the court must decide whether the right at issue was 'clearly established' at the time of defendant's alleged misconduct." Pearson, supra, 192 S.Ct. at 816 (quoting Saucier, supra, 533 U.S. at 201). The first inquiry is a question of fact and the second is a question of law. Tortu v. Las Vegas Police Dep't, 556 F.2d 1075, 1085 (9th Cir. 2009). In Pearson, the Supreme Court held that the two-step inquiry was no longer a mandatory "inflexible requirement" in which step one must be considered before step two. Id. at 813. Rather, district courts have discretion to determine the order in which these inquiries take place. Id. at 818.

Defendant McMurrin asserts that he is entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff has not established any violation of a constitutional right. In addition, McMurrin contends that even if Plaintiff has adequately established violation of a ...

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