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May v. Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 31, 2014



RONALD E. BUSH, Magistrate Judge.

Currently pending before the Court in this civil rights case is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Carter, Benson, Alvey, and Probasco. (Dkt. 13.) All parties who have appeared in this action to date have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to enter final orders in this case. (Dkt. 12.) See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Having reviewed the briefing in this case, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order.


In his response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff concedes the following: (1) that all claims against Defendants Probasco and Slickers should be dismissed because the evidence does not support a claim against them; (2) that Defendant Hartgrave should be dismissed for lack of service; and (2) that Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies as to a separate claim of verbal abuse. (Response, Dkt. 22, pp. 2-4.) Accordingly, the claims against Defendants Probasco and Slickers will be dismissed with prejudice, and the claims against Defendant Hartgrave[2] and the claims for verbal abuse will be dismissed without prejudice.

In addition, to the extent that Plaintiff has alleged that Twin Falls County is liable for constitutionally deficient medical care provided to Plaintiff (Complaint, Dkt. 1, ¶ 37), those claims will be dismissed with prejudice, as they are derivative of the claims against Defendant Probasco and Dr. Slickers. Further, "Nurse Jane Doe" and Defendant Does I-X have never been identified or served; therefore, all claims against them will be dismissed without prejudice.


1. Standard of Law

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to any claim or defense, "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). One of the principal purposes of the 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." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The requirement is that there be no genuine dispute as to any material fact. "Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case." See id. at 248. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if that party shows that each material issue of fact cannot be disputed. To show that the material facts are not in dispute, a party may cite to particular parts of materials in the record, or show that the materials cited do not establish the presence of a genuine dispute, or that the adverse party is unable to produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed. R. Civ. P.56 (c) (1) (A) & (B); see T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). The Court must consider "the cited materials, " but it may also consider "other materials in the record." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c)(3).

Material used to support or dispute a fact must be "presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c)(2). Affidavits or declarations submitted in support of or in opposition to a motion "must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c)(4).

The Court does not determine the credibility of affiants or weigh the evidence set forth by the non-moving party. The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, and all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from the evidence must be drawn in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 630-31 (internal citation omitted). If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue (dispute) as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

The existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Rather, "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Rule 56(e)(3) authorizes the Court to grant summary judgment for the moving party "if the motion and supporting materials-including the facts considered undisputed-show that the movant is entitled to it." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(e)(3).

Plaintiff brings his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute. To state a claim under § 1983, Plaintiff must show the existence of four elements: "(1) a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute (2) proximately caused (3) by conduct of a person' (4) acting under color of state law." Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). Section 1983 is "not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'" Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)).

2. Excessive Force Claims against Individual Defendants

A. Standard of Law

Plaintiff has brought his excessive force claims under the Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendments, but it appears that he actually was a pretrial detainee on January 15, 2011, when the incident that is the subject of the Complaint occurred. He entered the Twin Falls County Jail in May 2010 (Complaint, Dkt. 1, ¶ 15), and he was not sentenced and convicted in his state criminal action until May 20, 2011.[3]

While the substantive due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is implicated in excessive force cases for pretrial detainees, the Supreme Court has held that such claims should be analyzed under a more specific constitutional provision, rather than generalized notions of due process, if one is applicable. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989). A citizen being arrested or investigated is protected from excessive force by the Fourth ...

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