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Sell, Trade, Inc. v. Giddings

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 30, 2019

JACKSON'S BUY, SELL, TRADE, INC., an Idaho Corporation, and TERRY JACKSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
DOUG GIDDINGS, individually and in his official capacity as SHERIFF OF IDAHO COUNTY; the IDAHO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; the COUNTY OF IDAHO, STATE OF IDAHO; the IDAHO COUNTY COMMISSIONERS; and JOHN DOES 1- 10, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          DAVID C. NYE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are Defendants Doug Giddings (individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff of Idaho County), Idaho County Sheriff's Department, Idaho County, and the Idaho County Commissioners' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 13), and Plaintiffs Jackson's Buy, Sell, Trade, Inc. and Terry Jackson's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. 16). On September 3, 2019, the Court held oral argument and took the motions under advisement. Upon review, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and DENY Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgement.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In 1990, Plaintiffs Jackson's Buy, Sell, Trade, Inc., and Terry Jackson (collectively “Plaintiffs”) sued Idaho County, the Idaho County Sheriff, and the Deputy Idaho County Sheriff (collectively “1990 Defendants”) when they changed Idaho County's non-preference towing policies from prior policies, customs and/or practices that had been in effect, in some form, since 1975. Plaintiffs in the 1990 case are the same as those in this case. Idaho County and the Idaho County Sheriff are sued again in this case.

         The Sheriff's Department relies on its non-preference towing call list when it calls for vehicle towing assistance, unless the driver requiring help requests a specific towing company. The Sheriff”s Department will uniformly rotate through the list, so that each of towing companies on the non-preference list have an opportunity to respond and get business. In the 1990 case, Plaintiffs alleged that they had acquired a property interest in receiving non-preference towing calls for towing services in Idaho County.

         In 1992, the parties resolved the case via a joint stipulation (“Stipulation”). The parties stipulated that Plaintiffs had acquired a property interest in non-preference calls for towing services in Idaho County. Consequently, the Idaho County Commissioners implemented a new towing policy in 1992 that was in accordance with the various policies, customs and/or practices which had existed in Idaho County prior to 1990. Although this towing policy was amended in 2007 with Plaintiffs' input, the base policy implemented in 1992 remained substantially in effect.

         However, on May 26, 2009, the County Commissioners voted in a public meeting to entirely rescind Idaho County's existing towing policy. A month later, on June 23, 2009, the County Commissioners discussed their decision to terminate the old towing policy in a public meeting. Terry Jackson (“Jackson”) was present and provided oral comments on the issue. On July 7, 2009, the County Commissioners again discussed revocation of the old towing policy, and Jackson again provided oral comments. During the meeting, the County Commissioners voted not to reverse their rescission of the old towing policy. After the July meeting, the Idaho County Sheriff adopted a new towing policy which gave the Sheriff more discretion to decide which tow providers would be on the non-preference tow rotation call list.

         On December 19, 2015, Idaho County Sheriff's deputies arrested Jackson for driving under the influence. During this event, Jackson was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with the deputies. Three days later, the Idaho County Sheriff informed Plaintiffs in writing that based on Jackson's conduct on December 19, 2015, Plaintiffs were removed from the non-preference tow rotation list. The Idaho County Sheriff did not provide Plaintiffs with prior notice or an opportunity to be heard. Since December 21, 2015, Plaintiffs have not received any non-preference tow calls from Idaho County.

         Plaintiffs filed suit on December 20, 2017, in the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for the County of Nez Perce, against Defendants Doug Giddings (individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff of Idaho County), Idaho County Sheriff's Department, Idaho County, and the Idaho County Commissioners (collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiffs alleged (1) a violation of their constitutional due process rights and civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (2) breach of contract, and (3) tortious interference with Plaintiffs' economic advantage. On March 14, 2018, Defendants removed the action to the United States District Court for the District of Idaho pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441, and 1446.

         On April 8, 2019, Defendants filed the pending Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 13. On April 9, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the pending Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the issue of whether Defendants violated the Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Dkt. 16.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that 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 Court's role at summary judgment is not “to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436, 441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must “view[ ] the facts in the non-moving party's favor.” Id. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the respondent need only present evidence upon which “a reasonable juror drawing all inferences in favor of the respondent could return a verdict in [his or her] favor.” Id. (citation omitted).

         Accordingly, the Court must enter summary judgment if a party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The respondent cannot simply rely on an unsworn affidavit or the pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather the respondent must set forth the “specific facts, ” supported by evidence, with “reasonable particularity” that precludes summary judgment. Far Out Productions, Inc. v. Oskar, 247 F.3d 986, 997 (9th Cir. 2001).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         a. Breach of Contract and Tortious Interference ...


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