United States District Court, D. Idaho
CARLA DANIELLE GROSSKLAUS KUCIREK, Personal Representative for the Estate and Heirs of Theresa Ann Grossklaus deceased, Plaintiff,
MITCHELL B. JARED and JULIE A. JARED, husband and wife; CLEARWATER COUNTY, IDAHO; CLEARWATER COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, and CLEARWATER COUNTY SHERIFF, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER (DKT 24)
W. Dale, U.S. Magistrate Judge
before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial
summary judgment. (Dkt. 24.) The parties have fully briefed
the motion and the Court considered oral arguments on the
motion on August 23, 2018. For the reasons that follow, the
Court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part.
18, 2014, Theresa Grossklaus was riding her bicycle east on
U.S. Highway 12 near Orofino, Idaho. (Dkt. 1 ¶ 10; Dkt.
25 at 1.) At the same time, Clearwater County Deputy Sheriff
Mitchell B. Jared was driving east on the highway in an
unmarked patrol vehicle. (Dkt. 10 ¶ 11.) Deputy
Jared's vehicle hit the bicycle from behind, and
Grossklaus's body was propelled from the bike and struck
by the still-moving patrol vehicle. Id. at ¶
20. Grossklaus was pronounced dead at the scene due to
injuries sustained from blunt force trauma to her head,
torso, and extremities. Id.; Dkt. 32-3 at 2.
incident occurred at approximately 10:13 a.m. on a day with
clear visibility and dry road conditions. (Dkt. 26 at 2.)
Plaintiff's expert witness concluded Deputy Jared's
patrol vehicle was traveling at a speed of at least 52 miles
per hour, plus or minus 5.4 miles per hour at impact. (Dkt.
29 at 2-3.) The posted speed limit for this section of
Highway 12 is 50 miles per hour. Id. Plaintiff's
expert witness determined also Grossklaus was riding the
bicycle within 1.1 feet from the roadway's fog line at
the time of impact. Id. She was wearing a bicycle
helmet. (Dkt. 32-5 at 2.)
officers from the Idaho State Police were dispatched to the
reported collision. (Dkt. 32-3 at 2.) The Clearwater County
chief deputy and Orofino police sergeant also arrived on
scene. Id. Ms. Grossklaus's body was taken into
custody by the county coroner.
coroner's report concluded Ms. Grossklaus purposefully
rode into the path of the patrol vehicle-and the manner of
her death was suicide. (Dkt. 32-5 at 5.) The coroner's
conclusion was based in part on information that, just days
prior to the incident, Ms. Grossklaus was discharged from
State Hospital North in Orofino, Idaho. Id. She was
involuntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit after driving
her vehicle into a tree in an attempt to injure herself.
Id. The involuntary admission was the second within
a week's time based on attempts to crash a vehicle with
the goal of self-harm. Id. In addition to this
evidence, other drivers who passed Ms. Grossklaus on Highway
12 just before the incident stated she had been weaving out
into traffic. Id.; 32-6 at 1. One driver stated he
had to swerve around Ms. Grossklaus to avoid her.
expert witness, however, determined the manner of death was
“most appropriately classified as an accident.”
(Dkt. 32-7 at 4.) The expert's conclusion was based in
part on the fact that a full autopsy was not performed on Ms.
Grossklaus's body. Plaintiff's expert witness opined,
without full autopsy information, it is impossible to
determine whether Ms. Grossklaus had potentially suffered an
intracranial event, such as a stroke or tumor-resulting in
her sporadic moment into traffic. Id. at 5.
Plaintiff's expert witness stated also that, although Ms.
Grossklaus recently had suicidal ideation, there was no
evidence to suggest she was suicidal at the time of the
of the manner of death, Plaintiff's expert witness opined
the cause of death was clear: the impact from Deputy
Jared's vehicle. The expert witness concluded that had
Deputy Jared “properly monitored the roadway and
observed the bicycle that was present, ” he would have
had “ample time and distance to safely move around the
bicycle and avoid impact whether the bicycle was weaving or
not.” (Dkt. 32-10 at 1.)
15, 2016, Carla Danielle Grossklaus Kucirek, the personal
representative for the estate and heirs of Theresa Ann
Grossklaus (“Plaintiff”), filed a complaint in
the District Court of the Second Judicial District of Idaho.
Amended on December 23, 2016, Plaintiff's complaint
asserts three claims: first, Ms. Grossklaus's death was
the result of Deputy Jared's negligence, carelessness,
reckless, and grossly negligent conduct; second, as employers
of Deputy Jared, Defendants Clearwater County, Clearwater
County Sheriff's Department, and the Clearwater County
Sheriff, failed and neglected to ensure Deputy Jared was
properly trained; and third, Defendants' careless and
negligent actions and omissions violated Ms. Grossklaus's
constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
addition to naming Deputy Jared, Clearwater County,
Clearwater County Sheriff's Department, and the
Clearwater County Sheriff as Defendants, Plaintiff named
Deputy Jared's wife, Julie A. Jared. Notably, Mrs. Jared
is not specifically mentioned in any of the claims, nor is
she mentioned in facts beyond being identified as Deputy
Jared's spouse. During the oral argument, Plaintiff's
attorney stated Mrs. Jared was included as a party to address
potential issues related to community property laws and
removed this case to the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441. (Dkt. 1.) Defendants filed the present motion for
partial summary judgment, (Dkt. 24.) Plaintiff filed a
response, (Dkt. 26) and Defendants filed a reply. (Dkt. 33.)
The Court permitted Plaintiff to file a sur-reply and
supplemental briefing to address new issues raised in
Defendants reply, to which Defendants responded in turn.
(Dkts. 39 and 40.)
pending motion, Defendants seek summary judgment on all
claims except state law-based negligence claims asserted
against Clearwater County. Specifically, Defendants argue
they are entitled to summary judgment on the following
(1) The 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Deputy Jared
because his negligence in operating the patrol vehicle was
not the type that rises to the level of a constitutional
violation under the Due Process Clause;
(2) The 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Clearwater
County, Clearwater County Sherriff's Department, and the
Clearwater County Sheriff, because Plaintiff has not alleged
a custom, policy, or practice was the moving force behind
Grossklaus's death and Plaintiff's injury;
(3) The state law negligence claims against Deputy Jared and
the Sheriff in their capacities as law enforcement officers,
because Plaintiff failed to post a bond as required by Idaho
Code § 6-610 before filing an action against these two
law enforcement officers;
(4) The state law claims against Clearwater County,
Clearwater County Sheriff's Department, and the
Clearwater County Sheriff for negligent employment and
training, because employers cannot be held liable for
negligent employment and training when vicariously liable for
the employee's torts; and
(5) The claims against Julie A. Jared, because Plaintiff
failed to allege Mrs. Jared engaged in conduct related to the
incident and thus there is no basis in law or fact to
establish vicarious liability.
Court will address Defendants' arguments regarding these
Motions for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate where a party can show, 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 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 a tool to prevent factually
insufficient claims or defenses “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).
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). To carry
this burden, the moving party need not introduce any
affirmative evidence -such as affidavits or deposition
excerpts- and 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 its
favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. The non-moving
party must go beyond the pleadings and show “by [its]
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, or admissions on file” a genuine issue
of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.
party bearing the burden of proof at trial “must
establish beyond controversy every essential element of its
... claim.” S. Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa
Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003). A party who does
not have the burden “may rely on a showing that a party
who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible
evidence to carry its burden as to the fact.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B) (advisory committee's note.) And
the “party opposing summary judgment must direct [the
Court's] attention to specific triable facts.”
S. Cal. Gas Co., 336 F.3d at 889.
raises both state and federal claims in this action. The
Court will address the merits of the motion as it applies to