United States District Court, E.D. California
ISABEL BEL MONTEZ, individually and as guardian ad litem for I.G. and J.G., minors, individually and as successors in interest to Decedent JOSEPH GARCIA, JR.; and JOSEPH GARCIA, SR., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF STOCKTON; BLAIR ULRING in his official capacity as CHIEF OF POLICE FOR THE CITY OF STOCKTON; MARK MARQUEZ, individually and in his official capacity as a police officer for the CITY OF STOCKTON; TIMOTHY MCDERMOTT, individually and in his official capacity as a police officer for the CITY OF STOCKTON, DOES 3-100, inclusive, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MORRISON C. ENGLAND, Jr UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case, Plaintiffs allege that Stockton police officers used
excessive force when detaining Joseph Garcia, Jr., in an
encounter that ultimately led to Garcia's death.
Defendants now move for summary judgment, contending that the
undisputed evidence shows that the force the officers used
was reasonable. ECF No. 67. Because Plaintiffs fail to show a
genuine issue of material fact that would challenge
Defendants' version of events, that motion is
evening of October 3, 2009, Garcia was high on PCP and
arrested for public intoxication in front of the homeless
shelter where he resided. Stmt. of Undisputed Facts
(“SUF”), ECF No. 67-2, ¶ 9. Defendant police
officers Mark Marquez and Timothy McDermott arrested Garcia
in response to a call from the shelter. Id. ¶
3. They placed Garcia in a police car and drove him to the
San Joaquin County Jail. Id. ¶ 10. While in the
car, Garcia became agitated, kicking the front seat, yelling
and screaming. Id. ¶¶ 10-13, 16. At one
point, he lunged at the side of the car and struck his head
on the metal bars installed to prevent the side windows from
being broken. Id. ¶ 17. This caused a contusion
on his forehead. Id. ¶ 18. At the jail booking
lobby, the jail nurse directed the officers to take Garcia to
the hospital for a pre-booking medical clearance.
Id. ¶ 23.
officers, however, struggled to get Garcia back into the
police car because Garcia actively resisted and tried to
escape the officers' grasp. Id. ¶¶ 24,
26, 31. The officers attempted to place Garcia against the
car, but Garcia tensed his body so that he would not bend at
the waist. Id. ¶ 29. McDermott radioed for
someone to bring a “Safe WRAP” device to subdue
Garcia. Id. ¶ 33. While waiting for the
restraint device, Garcia pushed against the officers, edging
them away from the car. Id. ¶ 34. The officers
determined that it was necessary to bring Garcia down to the
ground to prevent his escape attempts, which they did
“in a slow and controlled manner.” Id.
¶¶ 37, 39. They rolled Garcia onto his stomach, but
he continued to struggle. Id. ¶¶ 41, 46.
/// McDermott placed his right knee on Garcia's right
shoulder blade and put Garcia in a rear wrist lock control
hold. Id. ¶¶ 44-45. Garcia was kicking his
legs, hitting both the concrete and the undercarriage of the
police car. Id. ¶¶ 46-47. Marquez pulled
Garcia's legs out from under the car, bending
Garcia's feet toward his buttocks, but Garcia knocked
Marquez to the ground. Id. ¶¶ 47-48.
Marquez then kneeled next to Garcia and obtained control of
his legs by holding them to his chest. Id. ¶
than two minutes after the struggle began, Garcia suddenly
stopped screaming and struggling, and his body went limp.
Id. ¶ 51, 54. In response, the officers rolled
Garcia onto his back. Id. ¶¶ 55-56. Garcia
was not breathing so the officers performed CPR until they
were relieved by emergency medical personnel. Id.
¶¶ 57, 61. Garcia was then taken to the hospital
where he was pronounced dead. Id. ¶¶
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment
when “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.P. 56(a);
see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to
dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.
also allows a court to grant summary judgment on part of a
claim or defense, known as partial summary judgment.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (“A party may move for
summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the
part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is
sought.”); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v.
Madan, 889 F.Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995). The
standard that applies to a motion for partial summary
judgment is the same as that which applies to a motion for
summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); State
of Cal. ex rel. Cal. Dep't of Toxic Substances Control v.
Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 1998) (applying
the summary judgment standard to motion for summary
summary judgment motion, the moving party always bears the
initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis
for the motion and identifying the portions in the record
“which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. “However, if the nonmoving party bears the burden
of proof on an issue at trial, the moving party need not
produce affirmative evidence of an absence of fact to satisfy
its burden.” In re Brazier Forest Prods. Inc.,
921 F.2d 221, 223 (9th Cir. 1990). 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, 586-87
(1986); First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co.,
391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968).
attempting to establish the existence or non-existence of a
genuine factual dispute, the party must support its assertion
by “citing to particular parts of materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits[, ] or declarations . . . or
other materials; or showing that the materials cited do not
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or
that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to
support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). 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, 251-52 (1986); Owens v.
Local No. 169, Ass'n of W. Pulp & Paper Workers,
971 F.2d 347, 355 (9th Cir. 1987). The opposing party must
also demonstrate that the dispute about a material fact
“is ‘genuine, ' that is, if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
In other words, the judge needs to answer the preliminary
question before the evidence is left to the jury of
“not whether there is literally no evidence, but
whether there is any upon which a jury could properly proceed
to find a verdict for the party producing it, upon whom the
onus of proof is imposed.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 251 (quoting Improvement Co. v. Munson,
81 U.S. 442, 448 (1871)). As the Supreme Court explained,
“[w]hen the moving party has carried its burden under
Rule [56(a)], its opponent must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586.
Therefore, “[w]here 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.
resolving a summary judgment motion, 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).