United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER: GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO AMEND
ANSWER [DOC. NO. 43]GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. NO. 36]
MARILYN L. HUFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
September 25, 2015, Plaintiffs Andrew Harry DeGroot and
Teresa DeGroot (“Plaintiffs”) filed an action in
the Southern District of California against Border Patrol
Agents Dustin Blatchley, Luis Gutierrez, Romel Madlangbayan,
Edwin Mendivil, Enrique Penagos, Alberto Vallina, and the
United States of America. (Doc. No. 1.) On February 16, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”), only asserting claims against Defendants
Enrique Penagos and the United States of America
(“Defendants”), alleging excessive force and
failure to supervise under Bivens, assault and
battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress,
negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress,
violation of the Unruh Act, false arrest and imprisonment,
and civil conspiracy. (Doc. No. 4.) On April 13, 2016,
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' FAC.
(Doc. No. 11.) On June 17, 2016, this Court granted
Defendants' motion in part and dismissed both
Bivens claims as time-barred. (Doc. No. 17.) The
Court also dismissed Plaintiffs' Unruh Act claim and
civil conspiracy claims. (Id.) The Court also
dismissed all claims against Defendant Penagos, substituting
the United States (“Defendant”) in his place.
(Id.) On July 20, 2016, Defendant filed an answer to
Plaintiffs' FAC. (Doc. No. 18.) On July 17, 2017,
Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on
Plaintiffs' claims. (Doc. No. 36.) Defendant argues that
DeGroot's arrest was supported by probable cause, and
consequently, all of Plaintiffs' causes of action should
fail as a matter of law. (Id.) On July 24, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to Defendant's
motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 37.) Along with their
opposition, Plaintiffs filed a motion for default judgment,
arguing that Defendant had failed to answer their claim of
assault and battery. (Doc. No. 38.) On July 31, 2017,
Defendant filed a reply to Plaintiffs' opposition. (Doc.
No. 40.) On August 3, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiffs'
motion for default judgment and allowed Defendant to file a
motion to amend the pleadings. (Doc. No. 42.) On August 10,
2017, Defendant filed a motion to amend their answer. (Doc.
No. 43.) Plaintiff did not oppose the motion to amend.
September 5, 2017, the Court held a hearing to address both
the motion to amend and the motion for summary judgment.
(Doc. No. 44.) At the hearing, Attorney Michael Garabed
appeared for the Defendant and Attorney Victor Torres
appeared for the Plaintiffs. (Doc. No. 44.) At the hearing,
Plaintiffs confirmed that they did not oppose the motion to
amend and Defendant subsequently filed the amended answer.
(Doc. No. 45.)
March 27, 2013, Plaintiff Andrew DeGroot
(“DeGroot”) was stopped at a Border Patrol
checkpoint while driving a tractor-trailer. (Doc. No. 29-3 at
2.) As DeGroot drove through the inspection area, he
displayed his middle finger to the agents on duty and used
his cellular telephone to record a video of them.
(Id. at 1.) Agent Penagos approached the vehicle and
asked DeGroot to stop recording and to put the camera down.
(Id. at 3.) DeGroot refused to comply and, after an
altercation with Agent Penagos, was arrested. (Id.
at 4, 6-8.)
15. 2013, DeGroot was indicted by a grand jury for violating
18 U.S.C. 111(a)(1). (Doc. No. 26-1 at 2; ECF Doc. 1
(Indictment) in Case No. 13-cr-1769.) Four months later,
DeGroot was found not guilty of this charge. (Doc. No. 26-1
at 2); U.S.A. v. DeGroot, No. 13-cr-01769-L-1 (ECF
No. 62, Verdict). Plaintiffs subsequently sued the United
States and various border patrol agents, alleging violations
of Degroot's federal and state rights. (Doc. No. 1; Doc.
remaining claims include state law tort actions for false
arrest and imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, assault and battery, negligence, and negligent
infliction of emotional distress. (See Doc. No. 17.)
Defendant moves for summary judgment on all claims. (Doc. No.
36 at 2.) Plaintiffs oppose, arguing that questions of fact
remain. (Doc. No. 37.)
STANDARD FOR AMENDING THE PLEADINGS
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) generally allows parties
leave to amend their pleadings as a matter of right within 21
days after service. “In all other cases, a party may
amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave. The court should freely
give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). The Ninth Circuit has instructed that this policy
is “to be applied with extreme liberality.”
Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d
708, 712 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Morongo Band of Mission
Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir. 1990)).
In applying Rule 15, courts consider various factors
including “bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the
opposing party, futility of amendment, ” and whether
there were previous amendments. Johnson v. Buckley,
356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is proper if the moving party shows there is no
genuine dispute of material fact and they are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). There is no genuine
dispute if “the record taken as a whole could not lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving
party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
moving party bears the initial burden of producing evidence
showing they are entitled to summary judgment. Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 330. The moving party can satisfy
this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that
negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed
to establish an essential element of the nonmoving
party's case that the nonmoving party bears the burden of
proving at trial. Id. at 323. If the moving party
satisfies their initial burden, then the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to introduce evidence showing there is a
genuine dispute of material fact. Id. at 331. A fact
is material when, under the governing substantive law, it
could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To satisfy its
burden, the non-moving party “may not rest upon mere
allegations or denials of his pleadings.” Id.
Rather, the nonmoving party “must present affirmative
evidence . . . from which a jury might return a verdict in
his favor.” Id. Facts and inferences are to be
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).