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Garnett v. City of Coeur d'Alene

October 12, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge


Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 25). The Court has considered the parties' briefing, and oral argument from hearing on September 9, 2010. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant the motion in part, and deny the motion in part.


On the morning of April 1, 2008, Plaintiff Eric Michael Garnett was arrested from his home in Coeur d'Alene where his parents, Plaintiffs Richard Calvert Garnett and Deborah Jean Garnett, also reside. The basis for Eric Garnett's arrest was a violation of probation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of methamphetamine, stemming from a search of the residence during a probation visit.

The probation visit occurred after Officer Shane Avriett of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department was advised by Officer Tim Hanna that Eric Garnett had not been cooperative during the attempted execution of a search warrant on his aunt's home. See Garnett Dec., Dkt. 30, ¶ 12-14. Based upon that information, Officer Avriett contacted the Kootenai County Misdemeanor Probation Office concerning Garnett. See Avriett Aff., Dkt. 25-4. Garnett's regular probation officer was not available, but another probation officer, Amy Knisely, agreed to go to Garnett's residence to conduct a probation visit. Id. Officer Avriett told Knisley that he would go with her to Garnett's residence. Id. Avriett also requested that Officer Knoll and Detective Paul assist in the search. When Probation Officer Knisely and Police Officers Avriett, Knoll and Paul searched the house, they found drug paraphernalia. They then arrested Eric Garnett and took him to jail where he was questioned about the drug paraphernalia. See Garnett Dep., Dkt. 25-3 at 7-15.

Eric Garnett remained in jail until July 22, 2008, when he posted bond. Garnett Dec.,Dkt. 30, ¶ 14. On December 30, 2008, in an oral ruling, Judge Lansing Haynes of Kootenai County State Court granted Eric Garnett's Motion to Suppress, finding that the April 2008 search of the Garnett home was illegal. See Trans. of Decision, Dkt. 31-3. At the December 30, 2008 hearing, Judge Haynes dismissed the criminal charges against Eric Garnett for probation violation, and possession of controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. Id.

Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit on September 2, 2009, alleging constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, resulting from the April 2008 search, and Eric Garnett's arrest and detention.


One of the principal purposes of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims...." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). It is "not a disfavored procedural shortcut," but is instead the "principal tool[ ] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources." Id. at 327. "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. at 255. Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir. 1999). However, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir. 1988).

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001)(en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir.2000). This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor. Id. at 256-57. The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show "by her affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file" that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

The Court is "not required to comb through the record to find some reason to deny a motion for summary judgment." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir.2001) (quoting Forsberg v. Pac. Northwest Bell Tel. Co., 840 F.2d 1409, 1418 (9th Cir. 1988)). Instead, the "party opposing summary judgment must direct [the Court's] attention to specific triable facts." Southern California Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003). Statements in a brief, unsupported by the record, cannot be used to create an issue of fact. Barnes v. Independent Auto. Dealers, 64 F.3d 1389, 1396 n.3 (9th Cir. 1995). The Circuit "has repeatedly held that documents which have not had a proper foundation laid to authenticate them cannot support a motion for summary judgment." Beyene v. Coleman Sec. Services, Inc., 854 F.2d 1179, 1182 (9th Cir.1988).


Defendants move for summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint in its entirety. In their Complaint, Plaintiffs raise First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment claims against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Defendants contend that dismissal is appropriate because the undisputed facts fail to support ...

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