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Gonzales v. LE VOS

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 13, 2017

LE VOS, et al., Defendants.


          PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights case brought pro se by a detainee under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arise from an arrest in Santa Clara County where the charges were eventually dismissed.[1] Plaintiff alleges that the defendant police officers unlawfully arrested and detained him. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment stating that they did not violate plaintiff's constitutional rights and that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff has filed an opposition and defendants have filed a reply. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.


         Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits show 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). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         The moving party for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). When the moving party has met this burden of production, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by its own affidavits or discovery, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. If the nonmoving party fails to produce enough evidence to show a genuine issue of material fact, the moving party wins. Id.

         The court must regard as true the opposing party's evidence, if supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1289 (9th Cir. 1987). The court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1559 (9th Cir. 1991).

         B. Fourth Amendment

         The Fourth Amendment requires that an arrest be supported by probable cause. Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 354 (2001); Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 700 (1981) (an arrest is unlawful unless there is probable cause to support it). A claim of unlawful arrest is cognizable under § 1983 for violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure if the allegation is that the arrest was without probable cause or other justification. See Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 555-58 (1967); Yousefian v. City of Glendale, 779 F.3d 1010, 1014, n.1. (9th Cir. 2015) (absence of probable cause is essential element of § 1983 false arrest claim). Officers may rely on unlawfully obtained evidence to defend themselves against a constitutional tort action for false arrest. Lingo v. City of Salem, 832 F.3d 953, 957 (9th Cir. 2016) (finding officers had probable cause to arrest plaintiff when they smelled marijuana coming from her home even where the original search was unlawful).

         C. Facts

         The following facts are undisputed except where indicated otherwise:

In May and June 2014, a confidential informant (“CI”) provided defendant police officer Asuelo with information that plaintiff was transporting and selling methamphetamine. Motion for Summary Judgment (“MSJ”) (Docket No. 19), Ex. A, Asuelo Decl. at 2. The CI stated that plaintiff was living in a halfway house or sober living facility and was selling methamphetamine from there and in downtown San Jose. Id. The CI had seen plaintiff sell methamphetamine first hand and had seen plaintiff with a scale. Id. Asuelo had worked with the CI in the past, and the CI's information had led to previous investigations, arrests and successful prosecutions. Id. Asuelo considered the CI a trustworthy source. Id.

         Defendant Asuelo observed the facility and confirmed that plaintiff lived there. Id. Asuelo showed a picture of plaintiff to the CI, who confirmed that plaintiff was the person he ...

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