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Thompson v. United States

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 5, 2013

JERRY THOMPSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT Re: ECF No. 37

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Defendant the United States of America ("Defendant") has moved for summary judgment in this action in which Plaintiffs Jerry Thompson and Aileen Krewson ("Plaintiffs") bring a single cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") stemming from a search of Plaintiffs' home by United States Postal Service agents. ECF No. 37. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds the matter suitable for disposition without oral argument, and hereby VACATES the hearing currently scheduled for September 5, 2013.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

On June 5, 2009, agents of the U.S. Postal Service searched the home shared by both Plaintiffs as part of an investigation into Plaintiff Krewson allegedly having committed workers' compensation fraud. Krewson Deposition ("Krewson Depo."), Exh. A to Declaration of Gregory S. Walston, ECF No. 47-1, at 50:16-24; Declaration of Sara Harlan, ECF No. 42, at ¶¶ 63-64. Most of the remaining material facts are in dispute and are discussed infra at Part II.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs brought this action in January 19, 2012. She makes a claim under 42 U.S.C. section 1982 for unlawful search and seizure; a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress; and a claim for injunctive relief against Defendants the United States of America, Special Agent Patricia Ford-Smith, and Special Agent Sara Harlan. The Court dismissed all claims against all defendants, with the exception of the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim brought against Defendant the United States of America, which the Court construed to arise under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. ECF No. 20. Plaintiffs then filed an amended complaint bringing only that claim. ECF No. 25.

C. Jurisdiction

Since Plaintiffs' claim arises under the FTCA, this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331.

D. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c). Summary judgment must be supported by "facts as would be admissible in evidence." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e). In order to prevail, a party moving for summary judgment must show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to an essential element of the non-moving party's claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has made this showing, the burden then shifts to the party opposing summary judgment to designate "specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Id., 477 U.S. at 323. The court draws all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). "[A]t the summary judgment stage, " courts are "not permitted to weigh evidence." Zobmondo Entm't, LLC v. Falls Media, LLC , 602 F.3d 1108, 1121 (9th Cir. 2010)

Where the moving party would not bear the burden of proof at trial, that party bears the initial burden of either producing evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's claims, or showing that the non-moving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial. See Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos. , 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party satisfies its initial burden of production, then the non-moving party must produce admissible evidence to show there exists a genuine issue of material fact. Id., at 1102-03.

II. ANALYSIS

Under the FTCA, liability is assessed "in accordance with the law of the place where the act... occurred." 28 U.S.C. § ...


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