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Bauldry v. County of Contra Costa

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 30, 2015

LANE BAULDRY, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF CONTRA COSTA, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND GRANTING PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

CHARLES R. BREYER, District Judge.

Following a limited remand of their consolidated appeals, Defendants Stephen Tanabe and Tom Henderson move the Court to reconsider its denial of summary judgment as to Plaintiff Lane Bauldry's Fourth Amendment claim, the related conspiracy claim, and the state wrongful arrest claim against Henderson. See Mot. (dkt. 198). The Court has carefully considered the parties' papers, finds this matter suitable for resolution without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), VACATES the hearing currently set for Friday, July 31, 2015, and GRANTS the motion. This course of action should come as no surprise to the parties, as the Court previously reconsidered its summary judgment ruling on the Fourth Amendment and related conspiracy claims in the Katz (Case No. 11-5771 CRB) and Aksu (Case No. 12-4268 CRB) cases, which presented strikingly similar facts. See generally Order Granting in Part Motions for Summary Judgment (dkt. 97 in Case No. 12-4268).[1]

I. BACKGROUND

Tanabe and Henderson were, at all relevant times, deputy sheriffs employed with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office and assigned to the Danville Police Department. Tanabe Decl. (dkt. 150-4) ¶ 6; Henderson Decl. (dkt. 150-2) ¶ 2.

On November 2, 2010, Bauldry consumed four or five alcoholic beverages with two women at a bar in Danville. Bauldry Testimony (Levitskaia Decl. dkt. 150-3) at 736-37 ("So I had a beer, vodka, Red Bull, lemon drop...."; "four or five" in total).[2] Tanabe observed Bauldry's alcohol consumption and verbally informed Henderson about it, about Bauldry's vehicle, and about Tanabe's belief that Bauldry would be driving while intoxicated. Tanabe Decl. ¶ 12 ("I personally witnessed plaintiff consume at least four or five alcoholic beverages"); ¶ 14 ("Based on my observations, I believed that if plaintiff was to drive his vehicle, he would be driving under the influence of alcohol"); ¶ 15 ("Christopher Butler and I located plaintiff's vehicle based on Christopher Butler's description of the vehicle"); ¶ 16-17 ("I called... Henderson... and told him... that plaintiff consumed alcohol to excess and I believed he would be driving intoxicated"; "I provided... Henderson... with the description and location of plaintiff's vehicle."). Tanabe and Henderson had previously worked together and Henderson believed that Tanabe was reliable and credible. Henderson Decl. ¶ 4. Tanabe next informed Henderson that Bauldry was leaving the bar. Tanabe Decl. ¶ 20; Henderson Decl. ¶ 4.

Henderson contacted Deputy Sheriff Robert Durrer about a possible DUI. Henderson Decl. ¶ 4. Henderson stopped Bauldry's car as it proceeded in his direction, id. ¶ 5, knowing that "there might be a drunk driver on the road, " Henderson Depo. (dkt. 146-1) at 48. Henderson believed that the car, which looked like the one Tanabe had described, was traveling at approximately 35 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. zone; he activated his radar cone, which confirmed that the car was traveling at 35 m.p.h. Id. at 51. Bauldry denies that he was speeding. Bauldry Decl. at 4 ("I did not exceed the speed limit."). For the purposes of summary judgment, the Court accepts Bauldry's assertion that he was not speeding.

As Henderson stopped Bauldry's car, Durrer arrived at the scene. Henderson Depo. at 62; Durrer Decl. ¶ 4. Henderson informed Durrer that he stopped the car for violation of California Vehicle Code section 22350, the basic speed law. Durrer Decl. ¶ 5. Durrer approached the vehicle and made contact with Bauldry. Id. ¶ 6. Durrer observed several signs of intoxication, including "bloodshot/watery eyes, odor of an alcoholic beverage, and slurred speech." Id. Bauldry stated that he had two beers with dinner. Id. Durrer asked Bauldry to exit his vehicle, and noticed that Bauldry swayed and staggered as he walked. Id. ¶ 7. Durrer conducted a series of Field Sobriety tests on Bauldry, and Bauldry performed poorly. Id. ¶ 8. Durrer arrested Bauldry for driving under the influence of alcohol. Id. ¶ 8. Durrer took Bauldry back to the Danville Police Department and administered two breath tests; Bauldry scored a.13% BAC on both. Id. ¶ 9.

There is no dispute that Henderson was tipped off by Tanabe that Bauldry was intoxicated, or that, when stopped, Bauldry was indeed intoxicated.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Court can grant a motion for summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). A dispute is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict" for either party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. at 248-49 (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288 (1968)). To determine whether a genuine dispute as to any material fact exists, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. at 255.

In determining whether to grant or deny summary judgment, it is not a court's task "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact." Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal citation omitted). Rather, a court is entitled to rely on the nonmoving party to "identify with reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

Tanabe moved for summary judgment in this case, arguing that first, he did not violate Bauldry's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and second, if he did, he is entitled to qualified immunity. See generally Tanabe MSJ (dkt. 150). Henderson and the County also moved for summary judgment as to the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims, the conspiracy claims, and the various state law claims. See generally Henderson MSJ (dkt. 142). The Court's ruling denying summary judgment as to the Fourteenth Amendment claim and its related conspiracy claim, see Minutes (dkt. 167), remains unchanged. The Court's ruling denying summary judgment as to the Fourth Amendment and its related conspiracy claim, as well as the state wrongful arrest claim as to Henderson, id., was, upon further consideration, incorrect.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809 (1996). An automobile stop qualifies as a seizure for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment and must be reasonable under the circumstances. Id. at 810. An arrest is also a seizure ...


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