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Eunice v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. California

October 1, 2014

MAURICE PETER EUNICE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA'S SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [FILED UNDER SEAL] [Dkt. Nos. 119.]

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant United States of America's supplemental motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 119.) An opposition was filed as well as a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 121, 123.) After a review of the briefs, supporting documentation and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS Defendant United States of America's supplemental motion for summary judgment.

Procedural Background

On June 29, 2012, Plaintiff Maurice Peter Eunice ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against numerous Defendants alleging causes of action arising from the Defendants use of explosives to enter his property causing unnecessary and extensive damage. (Dkt. No. 1.) On January 2, 2013, Plaintiff filed another action against the United States of America in case no. 13cv0009 alleging causes of action under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). (Case No. 13cv0009, Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) On September 10, 2013, the Court granted the parties' joint motion to consolidate the cases. (Dkt. No. 71.)

The remaining two causes of action are trespass to land and private nuisance as to Defendant United States of America. These causes of action were not properly briefed in Defendant's prior motion for summary judgment. Pursuant to a joint motion, the parties agreed to file supplemental briefs on the two remaining claims. (Dkt. No. 115, 116.) On August 11, 2014, the United States of America filed a supplemental brief. (Dkt. No. 119.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on September 12, 2014. (Dkt. No. 121.) On September 24, 2014, the United States of America filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 123.)

Factual Background[1]

In 1995, Plaintiff purchased the property located at 419/421/423 El Cajon Boulevard in El Cajon, California. He has been a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club ("Hells Angels") since 1994. In 1996, Plaintiff began leasing the properties to Tim Timms, a member of the Hells Angels for use by the Hell Angels as their Clubhouse. All three buildings on the property are used solely for the Hells Angels Clubhouse.

On August 2, 2011, Special Agent ("SA") Patrick Ryan of the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") obtained a night search warrant for the properties pursuant to a DEA investigation into Plaintiff's tenants. Plaintiff does not challenge the validity of the search warrant. Agent Ryan contacted the El Cajon Police Department regarding the service of the high-risk search warrant at the properties. There were eleven arrest warrants and eight search warrants related to the case. The role of the El Cajon SWAT team was to assist the DEA with entry and to secure the location and all the occupants on the premises and to clear the compound for the DEA investigators to perform the search.

According to the El Cajon Police Department SWAT After Action Report of the incident on August 3, 2011, [REDACTED/] (Dkt. No. 110-1, Jun Decl., Ex, 1 at 2 (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/] (Id. (under SEAL).). [REDACTED/]. (Id. at 3 (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/] (Id. (under SEAL).)

[REDACTED/]. (Id. at 3 (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. at 4 (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL). [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id.) [REDACTED/]. (Id.) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).) [REDACTED/]. (Id. (under SEAL).)

Breaching charges are detonating explosives used by SWAT to remove doors and hinges and create a loud boom and a flash. (Dkt. No. 100-5, Davis Depo. at 15:24-16:24.) Flash bangs are diversionary devices used to startle occupants of a home by making a loud noise and creating a bright flash. (Id. at 14:17-15:23.) The purpose is to stun people who may be inside a house. (Id. at 15:9-10.)

Discussion

A. Legal Standard for Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 empowers the Court to enter summary judgment on factually unsupported claims or defenses, and thereby "secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 325, 327 (1986). 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 ...


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