United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge United States District Judge
Court has before it Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. 30). The motion is fully briefed and the Court
had heard oral argument on June 14, 2017. For the reasons
explained below, the Court will grant the motion.
November, 2011, to May 3, 2013, Jennifer Putnam was involved
in a series of contacts with Jennifer Hope and her family.
These contacts included sending letters, showing up at
events, and requesting that messages be relayed to certain
members of the Hope family. Putnam Dep. 110:16-25,
Dkt. 30-7; 136:15-137:9, Dkt. 30-8; 180:2-16, Dkt. 30-8.
Officer Pete Boll was responsible for investigating these
allegations. Boll compiled a report and spoke with the city
prosecutors about whether the evidence constituted probable
cause for a stalking charge under I.C. 18-7906. Johnson
Dep. 68:3- 11, Dkt. 30-10; Ferris Dep.
16:24-17:15, Dkt. 30-11. The prosecutors advised Boll that
there seemed to be sufficient evidence to warrant issuing a
citation for stalking. Id. Boll then went to
Putnam's home to question her. Boll Dep.
38:3-39:3, Dkt. 30-9. At Putnam's residence, Boll and the
Putnam engaged in a conversation. Putnam Aff., Dkt.
34-2. At the end of the conversation, Boll charged Putnam
with stalking and placed her under arrest. Def. Stat. of
Fact, at 3, Dkt. 30-20. Putnam asserts that, during
their conversation, Boll talked about a HIPAA complaint that
she had filed, and that he threatened to arrest her if she
contacted her attorney. Putnam Aff., Dkt 34-2;
Recording of Arrest, Dkt. 34-13.
city charged Putnam with stalking under I.C. 18-7906. Judge
Carnaroli dismissed the charge, stating, “This is not
even a weak stalking case. It is simply not a stalking
case.” Mem. in Sup. of Mot. to Exclude Expert,
at 48, Dkt. 22-1.
filed this lawsuit against Boll and the City of Pocatello.
Compl., Dkt. 3. Defendants successfully moved to
dismiss some of the claims, but the state and federal
malicious prosecution claims survived the motion to dismiss.
Mem. Dec. & Order, Dkt. 27. Defendants have now
moved for summary judgment on the remaining claims. Def.
Mot., Dkt. 30.
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). The evidence
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party, and the Court must not make credibility findings.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255.
Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however
implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152,
1159 (9th Cir. 1999). On the other hand, the Court is not
required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial
evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208
(9th Cir. 1988).
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine dispute as to 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. Deveraux, 263 F.3d at 1076.
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 dispute of material fact exists. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324.
§ 1983 Claim Against Pete Boll
has brought a § 1983 action for malicious prosecution
against Officer Boll. The Court finds it unnecessary to
address Boll's §1983 liability or her claim of
qualified immunity, because the causal chain between the
arrest and any claimed harm was broken by an independent
prosecutor's charging decision.
prosecutor applies his independent judgment and makes the
decision to charge an individual with a crime, that decision
is an intervening cause which shields the arresting officer
from liability. Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250,
262-63 (2006). Currently, there is some uncertainty as to how
the role of a prosecutor's charging decision is to be
analyzed in a § 1983 case. Beck v. City of
Upland, 527 F.3d 853 (9th Cir. 2008). The Ninth Circuit
originally articulated a framework in Smiddy v.
Varney, 665 U.S. 261 (9th Cir. 1981), which began with a
rebuttable presumption that prosecuting decisions are acts of
independent judgment. That presumption was rebuttable if the
arresting officer “improperly exerted pressure on the
prosecutor, knowingly provided misinformation to him,
concealed exculpatory evidence, or otherwise engaged in
wrongful or bad faith conduct that was actively instrumental
in causing the initiation of legal proceedings.”
Awadby v. City of Adelanto, 368 F.3d ...