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Theodore Furtado Medeiros v. County of Merced

August 1, 2011

THEODORE FURTADO MEDEIROS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF MERCED, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 56)

I. INTRODUCTION.

Theodore Furtado Medeiros ("Plaintiff") proceeds with an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Scott Clark and Eric Macias filed a motion for summary judgment on June 15, 2001. (Doc. 56). Plaintiff filed opposition on July 3, 2011. (Doc. 63).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. on May 19, 2008, Plaintiff drove his Polaris "Cushman" off-road vehicle to a property located on Fleming Road in search of the home of Frank Rose. Plaintiff intended to obtain Frank Rose's phone number for a friend. The property on Fleming Road was the residence of Elizabeth Coane.

Plaintiff drove into the driveway at the Coane residence, which he mistakenly believed was Rose's home. Plaintiff looked around and determined that he was at the wrong residence. The parties dispute whether Plaintiff exited his vehicle at the Coane residence. Plaintiff maintains that he put one foot on the ground in order to investigate a sound he heard on his vehicle, and that he never walked around the Coane property.

Plaintiff left the Coane residence and located Frank Rose's residence a few minutes later. Cheryl Luman was present at Rose's home and provided Plaintiff with Rose's phone number. While Plaintiff was at the Rose property, Defendant Clark drove up, approached Plaintiff, and identified himself as a Merced County Deputy Sheriff. Clark, the son-in-law of Elizabeth Coane, asked Plaintiff what he was doing at the Coane residence.

Plaintiff asked Clark for identification, and Clark declined. Clark was off-duty. Plaintiff told Clark that without identification, Clark was not a sheriff's officer. Clark accused Plaintiff of stealing something from the tack room located on the Coane property. Plaintiff told Clark that if he was accusing him of being a thief, Plaintiff would "knock [Clark] on his ass." Plaintiff got into his Cushman and drove home to call the sheriff's office; Clark followed in his own vehicle.

Plaintiff arrived home and called the sheriff's office. The sheriff's office advised that a patrol car was already en route to Plaintiff's home. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Macias and another sheriff's officer arrived at Plaintiff's residence to investigate. Clark told the officers that Clark's son had seen Plaintiff walk out of the Coane tack room carrying something. Plaintiff called Clark's son a liar. Clark and the other sheriff's officer left Plaintiff's residence, while Macias remained with Plaintiff.

Macias talked to Plaintiff for approximately ten minutes. According to Macias, Plaintiff was upset and gave inconsistent accounts of what he did at the Coane residence. Plaintiff contends that he only made consistent statements to Macias. Ultimately, Macias placed Plaintiff under arrest. Plaintiff contends Macias told him he was being arrested for trespassing. Macias contends he told Plaintiff he was being arrested for burglary.

Macias placed Plaintiff in the back of his patrol car. Macias then drove to the Coane residence to further investigate the situation. Macias then drove Plaintiff to the jail to be booked on a first degree burglary charge. Plaintiff contends Macias took a long route to the jail because he knew Plaintiff was uncomfortable in the back seat of the patrol car.

III. LEGAL STANDARD.

Summary judgment/adjudication is appropriate 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The movant "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, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Where the movant will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, it must "affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party." Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). With respect to an issue as to which the non-moving party will have the burden of proof, the movant "can prevail merely by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984.

When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the non-movant cannot defeat the motion by resting upon the allegations or denials of its own pleading, rather the "non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986)). "A non-movant's bald assertions or a mere scintilla of evidence in his favor are both insufficient to withstand summary judgment." FTC v. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d 924, 929 (9th Cir. 2009). "[A] non-movant must show a genuine issue of material fact by presenting affirmative evidence from which a jury could find in his favor." Id. (emphasis in original). "[S]ummary judgment will not lie if [a] dispute about a material fact is 'genuine,' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, ...


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