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Terry B. Copeman v. John Weaver; and

September 23, 2011

TERRY B. COPEMAN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN WEAVER; AND
DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' COUNTY OF PLACER; PLACER COUNTY MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

Defendants County of Placer, Placer County Sheriff's Department, and John Weaver seek summary judgment on all claims in Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff's Complaint is comprised of claims alleged under the First and Fourth Amendments, each of which contain retaliation and conspiracy claims against Weaver and a Monell claim against Placer County and the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

Plaintiff's claims are premised on his allegations that Weaver, a Lieutenant in the Placer County Sheriff's Department, retaliated against Plaintiff in response to Plaintiff's citizen complaint against one of Weaver's subordinates. Plaintiff's allegations stem from a telephone call he made to the Placer County Sheriff's Department for the purpose of making a citizen complaint against his neighbor, Placer County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Herrick. Weaver fielded Plaintiff's telephone call since he was Herrick's supervisor. Plaintiff argues, in his opposition brief and at the hearing on the motion, that during his telephone conversation with Weaver, Weaver retaliated against him because he disliked the citizen complaint Plaintiff was making against Herrick; and therefore, Weaver engaged in the retaliatory action of shifting the focus of the communication from Herrick's actions to whether Plaintiff posed a risk of harm to Herrick.

Plaintiff also argues Weaver further retaliated against him following the telephone conversation by falsely telling Herrick that Plaintiff threatened Herrick's life. Plaintiff also argues that when Weaver and Herrick spoke about Plaintiff's citizen complaint, they conspired to have Plaintiff investigated by another law enforcement agency based on the falsehood that Plaintiff had threatened Herrick's life, and that this investigation resulted in Plaintiff being subjected to an unconstitutional search and seizure.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "A fact is 'material' when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case." Thrifty Oil Co. v. Bank of Am. Nat. Trust and Sav. Ass'n, 322 F.3d 1039, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). An issue of material fact is "genuine" when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

When a defendant is the movant for summary judgment on one or more of a plaintiff's claims, [the defendant] has both the initial burden of production and the ultimate burden of persuasion on [the motion]. In order to carry its burden of production, the [defendant] must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the [plaintiff's claim] or show that the [plaintiff] does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial. In order to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion on the motion, the [defendant] must persuade the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact.

Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). If the movant satisfies its initial burden, "the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 56, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The "non-moving plaintiff cannot rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading but must instead produce evidence that sets forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Estate of Tucker ex rel. Tucker v. Interscope Records, Inc., 515 F.3d 1019, 1030 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Further, Local Rule 260(b) requires: Any party opposing a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication [must] reproduce the itemized facts in the [moving party's] Statement of Undisputed Facts and admit those facts that are undisputed and deny those that are disputed, including with each denial a citation to the particular portions of any pleading, affidavit, deposition, interrogatory answer, admission, or other document relied upon in support of that denial.

If the non-movant does not "specifically . . . [controvert duly supported] facts identified in the [movant's] statement of undisputed facts," the non-movant "is deemed to have admitted the validity of the facts contained in the [movant's] statement." Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 527 (2006).

Because a district court has no independent duty to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact, and may rely on the nonmoving party to identify with reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment, . . . the district court . . . [is] under no obligation to undertake a cumbersome review of the record on the [nonmoving party's] behalf.

Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Arizona, 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Evidence must be "view[ed] . . . in the light most favorable to the non-moving party[,]" and "all reasonable inferences" that can be drawn from the evidence must be drawn "in favor of [the non-moving] party." Nunez v. Duncan, 591 F.3d 1217, 1222-23 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting ...


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