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Osborne v. City of Upland

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 8, 2015

Osborne et al.
City of Upland et al.


STEPHEN V. WILSON, District Judge.

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS ORDER RE Defendants Motions for Summary Judgment and Judgment Thereon [33, 38]

I. Introduction

This civil rights action arose when defendants Upland Police Officers Michael Boyle ("Boyle") and Luis Munive ("Munive") were dispatched to Plaintiffs' residence to perform a welfare check. They were dispatched to Plaintiffs' home because an FBI agent informed the Upland Police that Adrian Osborne ("Adrian") and/or plaintiff Pamela Osborne ("Pamela") ordered a "suicide kit." While the facts of this case are heavily disputed, it is undisputed that Upland Police officers entered the Osborne residence without a warrant, used some amount of physical force on Adrian and his son-plaintiff Jonathan Osborne ("Jonathan"), and arrested both Jonathan and Adrian for resisting or obstructing an officer in violation of California Penal Code § 148(a)(1).

On November 21, 2013, plaintiffs Jonathan, Pamela, Robert Osborne ("Robert"), and Derek Osborne ("Osborne") filed suit in this Court. (Dkt. 1.) On May 30, 2014, this Court granted in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 25.) In relevant part, the Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment unreasonable search, unreasonable seizure, and excessive force claims on qualified immunity grounds. (Dkt. 25: Order 5-11.) The Court also denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claim and their familial/spousal relationship claims. (Dkt. 25: Order 12-16.) Additionally, the Court bifurcated Plaintiffs' Monell claim.

On July 1, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint ("FAC") against defendants City of Upland, Boyle, Munive, Sergeant Barry Belt ("Belt"), and Upland Chief of Police Jeff Mendenhall ("Mendenhall"). (Dkt. 32.) In their FAC, Plaintiffs assert claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for: (1) unreasonable seizure of person in violation of the Fourth Amendment (the "unconstitutional arrest claim"); (2) excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (3) unreasonable entry into, search, and seizure of private residence (the "unreasonable search and seizure claim"); (4) violation of the First Amendment right to petition the government; (5) violation of the First Amendment Right to freedom of speech (the "First Amendment retaliation claim"); (6) malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (7) interference with parent-child relationship in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (the "familial relationship claim"); and (8) loss of spousal relationship in violation of the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Dkt. 32.)[1]

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 44.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Court also BIFURCATES AND STAYS Plaintiffs' First Amendment right to petition, First Amendment retaliation, familial relationship, and spousal relationship claims.

II. Statement of Facts[2]

On June 13, 2011, FBI Agent Edgar Fritz ("Fritz") contacted Upland Police and requested that the police perform a welfare check on Adrian and Pamela because an FBI investigation of a woman selling suicide kits had uncovered a purchase order submitted by Adrian and/or Pamela. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 1; Pl.'s Ex. P1.)

Boyle asserts that on June 13, 2011, at 4:34 PM, he was working uniform patrol in a marked police car when he was dispatched to the Osborne residence. (Boyle. Decl., Ex. A, at 4.) Boyle and Munive both claim that when they initially went to the Osborne home they knew that the FBI had told the police that Pamela and/or Adrian had ordered suicide kits and that the FBI was concerned for their safety. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 4; Munive Decl. ¶ 4.) Boyle asserts that he saw a vehicle in the front of the residence, which he learned was registered to one of the Osbornes. (Boyle Decl., Ex. A, at 4.) Boyle and Munive knocked on the front door several times and rang the doorbell. (Id. ) They claim that they also announced that they were the police. (Boyle Decl. ¶ __; Munive Decl. ¶ 10.) According to Munive, he heard noises and movement from within the residence. (Munive Decl. ¶ 10.) The officers also heard a phone ringing inside the house. (Boyle Decl., Ex. H.) Nevertheless, nobody answered the door in response to their knocks and announcements. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 11; Munive Decl. ¶ 10.) Jonathan asserts that he was home alone and heard knocking, but that he was then using the restroom and therefore didn't answer the door. (Jonathan Decl. ¶¶ 3-6.) He further asserts that he didn't hear the officers announce that they were police. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 9.) Thus, when he noticed what he thought was someone trying to pry open the window to his mother's room, he thought the house was being burglarized. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 10.) He claims that he therefore called Adrian's cell phone and told him that someone was trying to break into their house. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 11.) Adrian and Robert (Jonathan's brother) were on their way home from the drug store when Jonathan called. (Id. )

Plaintiffs assert that Boyle and Munive climbed over a "locked"[3] gate into their backyard. (Jonathan Decl. ¶¶ 14-19.) While in the backyard, Boyle first saw Jonathan through a sliding glass door. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 20; Boyle Decl. ¶ 11.) The Osborne's house has a rear sunroom with one sliding glass door leading to the backyard and another, inner sliding glass door leading to the kitchen. (Jonathan Decl. ¶¶ 17-18.) Boyle announced himself as the police and asked Jonathan to come to the back door. (Boyle Decl., Ex. H; Osborne Decl ¶ 23.) Jonathan allegedly complied with this request. (Boyle Decl., Ex. A, at 4.) Boyle asked Jonathan if anyone else was there. (Boyle Decl., Ex. H.) Jonathan informed Boyle that he had called his father and told his father someone was about to break in. (Id. ) Jonathan also told Boyle that his father would be home in two minutes. (Id. ) Jonathan told the officers that no one else was home. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 3.)

The facts surrounding the ensuing events are heavily disputed. Plaintiffs assert that Boyle entered the sunroom through the rear sliding glass door and then asked if he could come in and talk to Jonathan. (Jonathan Decl. ¶¶ 27-28.). But see (Boyle Decl. ¶ 13) (stating that he and Munive were standing outside the house speaking with Jonathan when Adrian and Osborne emerged). Boyle asked Jonathan if he could come inside and talk to him. (Boyle Decl., Ex. H; Jonathan Decl. ¶ 28.) Jonathan refused consent but told Boyle that he could come around front and that they could talk outside. (Boyle Decl., Ex. H; Jonathan Decl. ¶ 29.) Boyle told Jonathan the police were there for a safety check. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 35.) As Jonathan spoke to the police, Adrian emerged from within the house, followed shortly by Robert. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 13.) Jonathan claims that the officers were forcibly taking him outside of the rear of his house when his father arrived in the back yard. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 40.) The officers claim that they were merely speaking with Jonathan outside of the house when Adrian emerged. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 13; Munive Decl. ¶ 12.)

Once Adrian arrived, an increasingly heated conversation ensued between Adrian, Jonathan, and the officers. (Boyle Decl., Ex. H.) At some point before or during this conversation, Belt arrived at the Osborne residence to provide backup support. (Belt Decl. ¶¶ 2, 8.) According to Boyle, when he and Belt moved toward the rear sliding glass door, Jonathan frantically moved from the rear wall (where Boyle claims he was standing) to block Boyle's path toward the open door. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 23.) Boyle claims that he reacted by using his hands and "simply plac[ing]" Jonathan on the ground and handcuffing him. (Boyle Decl. ¶¶ 23, 25, 35-36.) Munive claims that Boyle and Belt then entered the Osborne house. (Munive. Decl. ¶¶ 23-24.) Munive asserts that shortly thereafter Adrian stood up and tried to approach the rear sliding glass door, and that Jonathan also tried to stand up. (Munive Decl. ¶ 24.) While Munive struggled with Jonathan, Belt and Boyle exited the house and attempted to regain control of Adrian. (Munive Decl. ¶ 26-27.) Defendants claim that Adrian physically resisted being handcuffed, struggled with officers, and that they therefore pressed Adrian against a wall in order to gain control over him. (Boyle Decl. ¶¶ 38-40.) Boyle claims that he applied pressure only on Adrian's arm and shoulder, and that he did not press Adrian's head into the window. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 40.)

Plaintiffs claim that neither Adrian, Robert, nor Jonathan ever tried to physically block the officers from entering their home. (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 54.) Jonathan claims that when he verbally protested the officers' actions, he was "brutally slammed down onto the ground, handcuffed, [and] was injured[.]" (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 45.) Jonathan further claims that when Adrian verbally protested the way the officers treated Jonathan, Adrian's arms were "brutally yanked behind him[.]" (Jonathan Decl. ¶ 61.) He further alleges that the officers ran Adrian ten feet across the backyard and slammed Adrian's head into a window, causing the window to break. (Id.; Steering Decl. Ex. I.) At some point in the scuffle Boyle warned Adrian that if he continued his actions he would be tased. (Boyle Dec. ¶ 43.) However, Boyle never used his taser on Adrian or on the other Osbornes present at the time. (Boyle Decl. ¶ 43.) Robert was also handcuffed. (Boyle Decl, Ex. A, at 5.)

It is undisputed that police officers then entered the house without a warrant. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 6.) Jonathan claims that he, Adrian, and Robert were seated against the wall for part of the search, that he and Adrian were thereafter placed in the back seat of police cars, and that officers then searched the house for over an hour. (Jonathan Decl. ¶¶ 67-68.) Jonathan and Adrian were arrested for "obstructing, delaying, and or resisting arrest[.] (Boyle Decl, Ex. A, at 4.) According to Plaintiffs, while Robert was not arrested, the officers seized his cell phone because Robert told them that he was recording them. (Jonathan Decl. ¶¶ 77-79.)

III. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires summary judgment for the moving party when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows 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.P. 56(a); Tarin v. County of Los Angeles, 123 F.3d 1259, 1263 (9th Cir. 1997).

The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). On an issue for which the moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy this burden by "showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. Once the moving party has met its initial burden, the nonmoving party must affirmatively present admissible evidence and identify specific facts sufficient to show a genuine issue for trial. See id. at 323-24; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). ...

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