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Hammer v. City of Sun Valley

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 23, 2018

SHARON R. HAMMER and JAMES R. DONOVAL, husband and wife, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF SUN VALLEY; NILS RIBI, in his individual and official capacity; and DEWAYNE BRISCOE, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Edward J. Lodge U.S. District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court in the above-entitled matter is Plaintiff Sharon R. Hammer's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 115.) The responsive briefing has been filed and the Motion is ripe for the Court's consideration. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. 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, the Motion is decided on the record without a hearing.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Sharon R. Hammer and James R. Donoval, husband and wife, filed a Complaint against Defendant City of Sun Valley (“Sun Valley” or “the City”) as well as Defendants Nils Ribi and DeWayne Briscoe in both their individual and official capacity. (Dkt. 1.) The Complaint raised fourteen claims relating to allegations concerning events occurring during and after Ms. Hammer's employment as the City Administrator of Sun Valley from June 1, 2008 until January 19, 2012. (Dkt. 1.)

         On June 17, 2014, the Court granted Defendants' Motion for a Judgment on the Pleadings dismissing Counts 1-8, 10, and 12-14. (Dkt. 41, 70.)[1] The Court later granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the remaining counts and Judgment was entered in favor of Defendants. (Dkt. 71, 72.) On appeal, as relevant to this Motion, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Court's dismissal of Hammer's “unconstitutional bias claim, the dismissal of the claims against Nils Ribi and DeWayne Briscoe in their individual capacity….to clarify the grounds for the district court's dismissal because we are unable to determine the reasoning as to why these claims were dismissed.” (Dkt. 104.)

         The case was re-opened and Hammer filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count 8 of the Complaint - the unconstitutional bias claim. (Dkt. 115.) The Court finds as follows.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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). An issue is “material” if it affects the outcome of the litigation and may be considered “genuine” if it is 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)); see also British Motor Car Distrib. v. San Francisco Auto. Indus. Welfare Fund, 883 F.2d 371 (9th Cir. 1989).

         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 complete[] failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id. at 323.

         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.

British Motor Car, 882 F.2d at 374 (citation omitted). When applying this standard, the court views 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 v. United States, 953 F.2d 531, 541 (9th Cir. 1992).

         ANALYSIS

         Hammer seeks summary judgment against all of the Defendants on Count 8 of the Complaint which raises a § 1983 claim alleging unconstitutional bias deprivation of property in violation of her due process rights under the Fifth ...


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