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Pirritano v. City of Redding

February 26, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


This action arises out of the arrest and overnight detainment of Plaintiff Denise Pirritano ("Plaintiff") on charges of public intoxication. Presently before the Court is a Motion by all named Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 for Summary Adjudication of Plaintiff's claims of violation of the Elder and Dependant Adult Civil Protection Act, Negligent Hiring and Training, and violations of Section 1983.

Defendant Officer Eric Wallace moves for Summary Judgment as to all claims alleged against him. For the reasons set forth below Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.*fn1


Plaintiff is a disabled adult who suffers from physical and/or mental disabilities resulting from a five-story fall several years ago. As a consequence of this fall, Plaintiff states that she suffers from uncoordinated gait and motor control and dysarthric speech caused by permanent injury to facial and throat nerves and vocal cords.

On March 26, 2007, Plaintiff was at the Cascade Theater when theater employees, believing she was intoxicated, required her to leave the theater and then called the police. Officers Wallace, Gilmette and Smyrnos arrived, responding to a call that an intoxicated woman had left the Cascade Theater, was wandering through traffic, and had urinated in public. Officers state that upon contact with Plaintiff she appeared to be staggering, had a strong odor of alcohol on her breath, her eyes were bloodshot, and she was unable to stand without assistance. Based upon these observations, Officer Gilmette arrested Plaintiff for public intoxication.

Plaintiff alleges that the officers chased and violently seized her in effecting arrest. She further alleges that she was slammed against the ground and hit with batons resulting in injuries to her prosthetic knee, her already disabled neck and back, and other damage aggravating her disability. Plaintiff alleges that one or more of the Defendants were aware of her disability but acted in conscious disregard of it.

The officers contend that Plaintiff was never struck or injured. They allege that Plaintiff was handcuffed without difficulty and assisted into the police vehicle. When Plaintiff began to spit, officers placed a spithood on her to prevent Plaintiff from spitting on the vehicle or its occupants.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to or negligently conducted an investigation into her true situation and, as a result, wrongfully arrested and imprisoned her. This allegedly resulted in Plaintiff being held in Shasta County Jail for approximately eight hours, during which time Plaintiff alleges she was not given proper medical treatment and was denied her essential prescription medications. Plaintiff also alleges she was subjected to verbal and physical abuse, insults and derisive language, mocking demonstrations of her disabilities, and unnecessary restraints.

Officers, however, contend that Plaintiff was asked whether she required medical attention but Plaintiff refused to answer any medical questions. They allege that she did not appear to have any injuries at the time nor did she claim to have any. Officers state that following intake they put Plaintiff in a "sobering cell" where she was observed every 15 minutes.

Nothing unusual was observed while she was there, and Plaintiff was thereafter released at 6:00 a.m. the next morning.


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-324 (1986).

Rule 56 also allows a court to grant summary adjudication on part of a claim or defense. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) ("A party claiming relief may move...for summary judgment on all or part of the claim."); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v. Madan, 889 F. Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995); France Stone Co., Inc. v. Charter Township of Monroe, 790 F. Supp. 707, 710 (E.D. Mich. 1992).

The standard that applies to a motion for summary adjudication is the same as that which applies to a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), 56(c); Mora v. ChemTronics, 16 F. Supp. 2d. 1192, 1200 (S.D. Cal. 1998).

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any," which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323 (quoting Rule 56(c)). If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, ...

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