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Irwin Douglas v. Sacramento County

February 9, 2011

IRWIN DOUGLAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This case is before the undersigned pursuant to Eastern District of California Local Rule 302(c)(21). See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Presently pending for decision is defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dckt. Nos. 40, 42. For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned will recommend that the motion be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on April 17, 2009 against Sacramento County, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Falk, and Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Williams. Compl., Dckt. No. 1. His complaint states that on April 28, 2008, the defendants violated his civil rights because "[he] was arrested (kidnapped) by Deputies Falk and Williams [w]ithout a warrant, and no evidence of any crime." Id. at 1. Plaintiff contends that "[t]here was no warrant ever issued for [his] arrest." Id. The complaint further alleges: "What was the point of my arrest? Malice, amusement, to embarrass me, discrimination, (national origin, race), defame my character (an arrest record makes it very hard to survive and take care of my family). Those actions violated my civil rights, and the Defend[a]nts should be held responsible." Id. at 2.

Defendants filed an answer on July 10, 2009, Dckt. No. 10, and now seek summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims. Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' MSJ"), Dckt. No. 42, at 2. Plaintiff opposes the motion, Dckt. Nos. 43-46, and moves the court to disregard certain documents and evidence submitted by defendants in support of their summary judgment motion, Dckt. Nos. 44 and 47. Defendants also object and move to strike certain evidence submitted by plaintiff in opposition to their summary judgment motion. Dckt. No. 50-1.

II. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Defendants assert that the gravamen of plaintiff's complaint "is that he was arrested without a warrant, ostensibly asserting a claim for relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. [§] 1983 for violation of the Fourth Amendment." Defs.' MSJ at 2. However, defendants contend that the undisputed evidence shows that plaintiff was taken into custody pursuant to a valid arrest warrant and that defendants were entitled to rely on the warrant in effecting the arrest. Id. Thus, defendants contend that plaintiff cannot establish any claims for relief as a matter of law.*fn1 Id.

Plaintiff opposes the motion for summary judgment, arguing that "[t]here was no warrant, outstanding or other, for [his] arrest on the day [he] was kidnapped by Deputies Falk and Williams." Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Resp."), Dckt. No. 43, at 2.*fn2 Plaintiff contends that the "warrant" defendants submitted as evidence in support of their summary judgment motion is a "fabricated copy" and that defendants "cannot produce an/the original." Id. at 7.*fn3 Plaintiff argues that "a copy of any 'warrant' is not a valid/legal document" because "[c]opies can be produced at any time" and a copy is "not valid without the carbon-date tested original." Id.

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists "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). Under summary judgment practice, the moving party 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. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)).

Summary judgment avoids unnecessary trials in cases with no genuinely disputed material facts. See N.W. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). At issue is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Thus, Rule 56 serves to screen the latter cases from those which actually require resolution of genuine disputes over material facts; e.g., issues that can only be determined through presentation of testimony at trial such as the credibility of conflicting testimony over facts that make a difference in the outcome. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the opposing party must establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To overcome summary judgment, the opposing party must demonstrate a factual dispute that is both material, i.e. it affects the outcome of the claim under the governing law, see Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir. 1987). In attempting to establish the existence of a factual dispute that is genuine, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11.

In resolving a summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F. Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to ...


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