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Denman v. City of Tracy

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 13, 2014

BRYAN DENMAN, Plaintiff,
CITY OF TRACY, ET AL., Defendants.


TROY L. NUNLEY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendants City of Tracy, Alex Neicu, Jared Trine, Alex Kalinin and Anthony Matuska's (collectively hereinafter referred to as "Defendants") motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 73.) Plaintiff Bryan Denman ("Plaintiff") has filed an opposition (ECF No. 74), and Defendants have replied to Plaintiff's opposition (ECF No. 79). The Court has carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 73) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

I. Factual Background

In Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint, he alleges that on or about August 31, 2010, a City of Tracy police officer pulled him over because of a headlight infraction. (Pl.'s Fourth Am. Compl., ECF No. 68 at ¶ 10.) Plaintiff consented to a search of his vehicle, during which the officer found a lug nut wrench underneath the driver's seat. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 11.) When asked about the wrench, Plaintiff stated that he did not know that it was under the seat because the vehicle belonged to his parents. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 11.) The officer admonished Plaintiff that he was in possession of a deadly weapon and subsequently arrested him on felony possession of a deadly weapon. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 11.)

Upon arriving at the police station, Plaintiff was kept handcuffed and placed in a chair with his hands behind his back. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that one of the officers, who was introduced as a sergeant, became enraged by Plaintiff's comments and rushed over to Plaintiff, grabbed him by the neck, and violently threw him to the floor. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 14.) During the altercation, Plaintiff struck his head. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 14.) Plaintiff further alleges that several police officers proceeded to hold him down while one officer punched him. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 15.) The officers then wrapped Plaintiff in a restraint device, similar to a strait-jacket, and placed a hood or blindfold device over his head, making it difficult for Plaintiff to breathe or see. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 16.) Plaintiff states that the officers tightened his handcuffs to the point that they caused him extreme pain. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff asserts that after his release, he suffered post-concussive symptoms and was vomiting for two to three days after the beating. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 19.) Plaintiff was treated for a concussion, received two CT scans, and is currently seeking treatment from a chiropractor for ongoing back pain. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 19.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that his wrists, back and legs suffered from bruising and red marks, and that he had a lump on his head and a black eye following the officers' use of force. (ECF No. 33 at ¶ 19.)[1]

On June 14, 2013, Plaintiff filed his Fourth Amended Complaint, which includes the following claims for relief: (1) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Alex Neicu, Jared Trine, Alex Kalinin, and Anthony Matuska; (2) negligence against all named Defendants; and (3) battery against all named Defendants.[2]

II. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party demonstrates no genuine issue as to any material fact exists, and therefore, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis of 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). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal quotations omitted). Indeed, summary judgment should be entered against a party who does not make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322.

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, 585-87 (1986); First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-289 (1968). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 251-52.

In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." First Nat'l Bank, 391 U.S. at 288-89. Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Rule 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).

In resolving the summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with any applicable affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); SEC v. Seaboard Corp., 677 F.2d 1301, 1305-06 (9th Cir. 1982). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. 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. Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F.Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue that necessitates a jury trial, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Id. at 587 (internal quotations omitted).

III. Analysis

As previously mentioned, Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint alleges: (1) § 1983 claims against Defendants Alex Neicu ("Neicu"), Jared Trine ("Trine"), Alex Kalinin ("Kalinin"), and Anthony Matuska ("Matuska");[3] negligence against all Defendants; and battery against all Defendants. ( See ECF No. 68 at ¶¶ 22-39.) The ...

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