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Wilson v. City of Coeur d'Alene

November 19, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Edward J. Lodge U. S. District Judge



Pending before the Court in the above-entitled matter is Defendants City of Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo, City of Coeur d'Alene, Officer Wendy Carpenter, and Officer Alan Winstead's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Collectively referred to as "Defendants") (Mot. for Summ. J., Dkt. 18.) The motion is made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The matter is ripe for the Court's consideration. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately represented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, and in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument.


The complaint in this action alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in connection with the arrest, incarceration, and prosecution of Larry John Wilson by the Defendants. The facts revolve around the events occurring on the evening of July 4, 2007 in the City of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. At approximately 10:30 p.m., Mr. Wilson, then 66 years old, was driving his vehicle from The Corner Bar when he was pulled over by Coeur d'Alene Police Officer Alan Winstead for making an illegal turn and failing to use a turn signal. (Dkt. No. 25, p. 2, Dkt. No. 26, Ex. A.) During the traffic stop, Officer Winstead noticed Mr. Wilson's face was "very flushed and his eyes were red and glassy." The Officer inquired of Mr. Wilson if he had consumed any alcohol or taken any medications to which Mr. Wilson stated he had just come from a bar and had drank some beer.*fn1 (Dkt. Nos. 25, 26, Ex. A.) Officer Winstead asked Mr. Wilson to exit the vehicle and had him perform three standardized Field Sobriety Tests ("FST"); the walk-and-turn, one-leg-stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Officer Winstead determined Mr. Wilson had performed the FST "unsatisfactorily" and placed him under arrest for DUI. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. A and Ex. C.) Mr. Wilson was transported to the Kootenai County Public Safety Building where a breath test was administered. Mr. Wilson blew a.000/.000. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. E.)

Post Falls Police Department's Drug Recognition Expert, Brenda Smith, then performed a Drug Recognition Evaluation ("DRE") of Mr. Wilson and concluded he was under the influence of narcotic analgesic/depressants. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. D.) Mr. Wilson then requested independent testing. He was transported to Kootenai County Medical Center where a urine tox-screen was conducted. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. F.) Immediately after the test was completed, but before the results were obtained, Officer Winstead returned Mr. Wilson to the jail and booked him for DUI-Drugs. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. A.) The independent test results later came back negative for drugs and alcohol. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. E.)The charge of driving under the influence pursuant to Idaho Code § 18-8004 was dismissed on July 18, 2007. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. G.) The Idaho Transportation Department rescinded the administrative license suspension of Mr. Wilson's driver's license on August 13, 2007. (Dkt. No. 26, Ex. H.)

On August 7, 2009, Mr. Wilson filed his Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial in this case raising a single count for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Action for Deprivation of Civil Rights. (Dkt. No. 1.) Mr. Wilson alleges he was unlawfully arrested, maliciously prosecuted and unlawfully incarcerated. (Dkt. No. 1.) Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment that the Court now takes up.


Motions for summary judgment are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 56 provides, in pertinent part, that judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

The Supreme Court has made it clear that under Rule 56 summary judgment is mandated if the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element which is essential to the non-moving party's case and upon which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the non-moving party fails to make such a showing on any essential element, "there can be no 'genuine issue of material fact,' since a completely failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323.*fn2

Moreover, under Rule 56, it is clear that an issue, in order to preclude entry of summary judgment, must be both "material" and "genuine." An issue is "material" if it affects the outcome of the litigation. An issue, before it may be considered "genuine," must be established by "sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute... to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.3d 461, 464 (1st Cir. 1975) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co. Inc., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). The Ninth Circuit cases are in accord. See, e.g., British Motor Car Distrib. V. San Francisco Automotive Indus. Welfare Fund, 883 F.2d 371 (9th Cir. 1989).

According to the Ninth Circuit, in order to withstand a motion for summary judgment, a party (1) must make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine issue of fact with respect to any element for which it bears the burden of proof; (2) must show that there is an issue that may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party; and (3) must come forward with more persuasive evidence than would otherwise be necessary when the factual context makes the non-moving party's claim implausible.

Id. at 374 (citation omitted).

Of course, when applying the above standard, the court must view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Hughes ...

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