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Godoy v. Brock

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 18, 2014

ENRIQUE NICHOLAS GODOY, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL OFFICER J. BROCK, individually and in his official capacity; CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL OFFICER STEADMON, individually and in his official capacity; THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA; and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT OFFICER STEADMON'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF No. 30]

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant California Highway Patrol Officer Steadmon's ("Officer Steadmon") Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 30.) Plaintiff Enrique Nicholas Godoy ("Plaintiff") filed an opposition. (ECF No. 33.) Officer Steadmon replied, including a request for judicial notice. (ECF Nos. 36, 36-1.)

Upon review of the moving papers, admissible evidence, oral argument, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Officer Steadmon's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint against California Highway Patrol Officer J. Brock ("Officer Brock"), Officer Steadmon, the State of California, and Does 1 through 20 alleging causes of action for civil rights violations, failure to supervise, negligence, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. (ECF No. 1.) On May 1, 2013, the Court granted Officer Brock, Officer Steadmon, and the State of California's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff was given leave to amend five of his claims against Officers Brock and Steadmon. (Id.) On May 10, 2013, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint ("FAC"). (ECF No. 12.)

On May 23, 2014, Officer Steadmon filed this motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 30.) On July 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Officer Steadmon's motion. (ECF No. 33.) On July 21, 2014, Officer Steadmon replied to Plaintiff's opposition, (ECF No. 36), and included a request for judicial notice, (ECF No. 36-1). On September 5, 2014, oral argument was heard on this motion. (ECF No. 37.)

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On January 26-27, 2012, Plaintiff was living in an apartment in Escondido, California with his wife, his son, and Mario Lozano ("Lozano"). (Godoy Dep. 8:3-9:4.) On the evening of January 26, 2012, Plaintiff was drinking at his apartment and by 7:00 p.m. had consumed six 12-ounce bottles of beer. (Id. 12:5-6, 13:24-14:3.) At approximately 1:00 a.m. on January 27, 2012, Plaintiff drove from his Escondido apartment to the Stagecoach Bar in Vista, California in his and his wife's "glacier blue" Honda CR-V. (Id. 7:10-19, 8:8-9:4, 14:21-15:8, 39:13-14.) He arrived at the Stagecoach Bar at approximately 1:20 a.m. (Id. 16:2-3.) While at the Stagecoach Bar, Plaintiff drank one pint of Stone beer. (Id. 15:23-25.) At approximately 2:05 a.m. on January 27, 2012, Plaintiff left the Stagecoach Bar and drove to his Escondido apartment. (Id. 16:4-8.) At approximately 2:20 a.m. or 2:25 a.m. on January 27, 2012, Plaintiff arrived at his apartment. (Id. 16:7-8.) Over the next hour, Plaintiff drank four 12-ounce Pacifico beers. (Id. 16:19-20.)

At around 2:30 a.m. on January 27, 2012, Officer Brock and Officer Steadmon, California Highway Patrol Officers, responded to a call reporting a hit-and-run collision on eastbound State Route 78 at the Interstate 15 interchange. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 1-2.) At the collision scene, the officers were informed of two separate 911 calls about a suspected drunk driver: one placed a few minutes prior to the hit-and-run collision and another placed a few minutes after the hit-and-run collision. (Id. ¶ 2-3; Brock Dep. 24:16-25, 31:5-21.) Both calls described the "same lighter-colored or silver vehicle" with the same license plate number. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 2-3.)

Based on the times and locations reported in the two 911 calls, Officers Brock and Steadmon believed that the license plate referenced in the two 911 calls was the best potential suspect vehicle for the hit-and-run collision. (Id. ¶ 4-5.) The officers ran the license plate number and discovered that the plate was registered to Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff's wife. (Id. ¶ 5.) The officers then drove to Plaintiff's apartment. (Id.) The officers arrived at Plaintiff's apartment complex at approximately 3:30 a.m., but did not see a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle's description in the complex's parking lot. (Id.; Godoy Dep. 18:3-6.) The officers proceeded to knock on Plaintiff's apartment door. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 6.) After receiving no initial response, the officers walked away from Plaintiff's apartment at which point Plaintiff and Lozano opened the door. (Id.) Plaintiff was only wearing boxer shorts and appeared to Officer Steadmon to weigh at least 225 pounds. (Id. ¶ 7.)

Officers Brock and Steadmon returned to the doorway, after which Officer Brock introduced himself and asked Plaintiff and Lozano to step outside to answer questions. (Godoy Dep. 32:10-13.) Lozano stepped outside but Plaintiff did not. (Id. 30:17-24, 32:14.) Officer Brock stated that he and Officer Steadmon were investigating a felony hit-and-run collision. (Id. 32:14-16.) Officer Brock asked Plaintiff where Plaintiff's car was. (Id. 33:3-8.) Plaintiff pointed to the officers' patrol car and "sarcastic[ly]" said that the patrol car was Plaintiff's "Rolls-Royce." (Id. 33:8-12.) Officer Brock again asked Plaintiff to step outside and Plaintiff refused, stating that Officer Brock could ask Plaintiff questions without Plaintiff stepping outside. (Id. 34:12-16.) Officer Brock asked Plaintiff whether Plaintiff owned a silver Honda CR-V; Plaintiff stated that he owned a Honda CR-V but that it was not silver. (Id. 35:7-9.) Plaintiff's breath smelled strongly of alcohol and his eyes were red and watery. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 11.)

Officer Brock told Plaintiff that if Plaintiff did not comply, Officer Brock could enter Plaintiff's apartment and take Plaintiff outside. (Id. ¶ 12.) Officer Brock then took hold of Plaintiff's wrist and tried to pull Plaintiff outside. (Godoy Dep. 35:15-17.) Plaintiff pulled away and told Officer Brock that he could not pull Plaintiff outside. (Id. 36:1-7.) Plaintiff eventually broke loose from Officer Brock and again told Officer Brock that he could not pull Plaintiff outside. (Id. 36:8-1, 42:18-43:4.) Plaintiff then went into his bedroom, turned on the light, put on his pants, and returned to the front door. (Id. 44:4-12.) After returning to the front door, Plaintiff attempted to go back to his bedroom. (Id. 43:23-25.) As Plaintiff walked away from the front door, Officer Steadmon attempted unsuccessfully to gain a control hold on Plaintiff. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff does not recall feeling Officer Steadmon's attempted control hold. (Godoy Dep. 46:14-47:3.)

Officer Brock then asked Officer Steadmon for Officer Steadmon's electroshock weapon and Officer Steadmon gave it to Officer Brock. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 19.) After receiving the electroshock weapon, Officer Brock fired it at Plaintiff. (Godoy Dep. 65:24-66:1.) Officer Brock proceeded to administer several more shock cycles to Plaintiff after which Officer Steadmon handcuffed Plaintiff. (Id. 49:24-50:3; Steadmon Decl. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff was taken to the Palomar Medical Center where he did not tell the staff about any bruising and did not seek medical treatment. (Godoy Dep. 54:6-24.) Plaintiff was then taken to Vista Detention Facility and charged with resisting arrest. (Steadmon Decl. ¶ 27.)

Plaintiff alleges three causes of action against Officer Steadmon: (1) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on (a) unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment, (b) excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and (c) deprivation of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) negligent use of force based on both Officer Steadmon's use of force and Officer Brock's use of force; and (3) civil battery based on the use of an electroshock weapon. (FAC.)

IV. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Summary ...


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