Walker v. City of Sacramento et al

Filing 22

MEMORANDUM and ORDER signed by District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. on 10/5/2017 ORDERING that defendant City of Sacramento's 15 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED. (Zignago, K.)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 KUWESE COREYELLE WALKER, 11 12 13 14 15 No. 2:15-cv-00656-MCE-EFB Plaintiff, v. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER CITY OF SACRAMENTO, CA; THE SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT; and DOES 1-5 IN THEIR OFFICIAL AND PERSONAL CAPACITY, 16 Defendants. 17 18 This lawsuit arises from the detention, search and arrest of Plaintiff Kuwese 19 Coreyelle Walker (‘Plaintiff”) for domestic violence by the Sacramento Police 20 Department, and a subsequent motor vehicle accident that occurred when the patrol car 21 transporting Plaintiff to the Sacramento County Jail hit a concrete pillar in the jail’s 22 underground parking lot as the patrol car was parking. Plaintiff’s complaint, initially filed 23 in state court, was removed here on federal question grounds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 24 § 1331. Defendant City of Sacramento (“City”) now moves for partial summary judgment 25 as to six of the seven causes of action pled against it. As set forth below, that Motion is 26 GRANTED.1 27 1 28 Having determined that oral argument would not be of material assistance, the Court ordered this matter submitted on the briefs in accordance with E.D. Local Rule 230(g). 1 1 BACKGROUND 2 3 Factually, this case stems from Plaintiff’s arrest by Sacramento Police Officers 4 after they responded to a domestic violence in progress call at the Motel 6 located at 5 227 Jibboom Street in Sacramento, California. Defendant City’s Statement of 6 Undisputed Facts, No. 1. Plaintiff had fled the Motel 6 where the violence allegedly 7 occurred and was located sitting on the nearby Jibboom Street bridge. Id. at 2 ,6. 8 Officers arrested him and drove him back to the Motel 6, where a woman claimed that 9 Plaintiff had choked her and punched her in the face with a closed fist. Id. at 9, 11. After 10 investigating the matter, Plaintiff was searched and placed under arrest for violations of 11 California Penal Code § 273.5 (domestic violence) and § 1203.2 (violation of probation). 12 Id. at 16. 13 A Sacramento Police Officer then proceeded to transport Plaintiff to the 14 Sacramento County Jail in his patrol vehicle. Id. at 17. During transport, Plaintiff was in 15 handcuffs and was seated without a seatbelt in the back seat of the patrol vehicle. Id. at 16 18. As the Officer was parking in the jail’s underground parking lot, he hit a concrete 17 pillar at an estimated speed of less than two miles an hour. Id. at 19. In the present 18 complaint, Plaintiff alleges he sustained injuries as a result of that collision. Id. at 20. 19 Through the present motion, the City argues it is entitled to partial summary 20 judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s claims for: 1) police misconduct in violation of 21 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as alleged in Plaintiff’s Seventh Cause of Action; 2) negligent training 22 supervision and retention, also under § 1983 as alleged in Plaintiff’s Second Cause of 23 Action; 3) state constitutional violations as alleged in the Sixth Cause of Action; 4) gross 24 negligence under the Third Cause of Action; 5) intentional infliction of emotional distress 25 as set forth in the Fourth Cause of Action; and 6) battery as alleged in the Fifth Cause of 26 Action. The only cause of action not challenged by the City’s Motion is the First Cause 27 of Action, for negligence in allegedly hitting the pillar in the parking lot and in failing to 28 secure Plaintiff properly beforehand. 2 1 STANDARD 2 The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when “the 3 4 movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is 5 entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. 6 Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to 7 dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. Rule 56 also allows a court to grant summary judgment on part of a claim or 8 9 defense, known as partial summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (“A party may 10 move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense—or the part of each 11 claim or defense—on which summary judgment is sought.”); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v. 12 Madan, 889 F. Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995). The standard that applies to a 13 motion for partial summary judgment is the same as that which applies to a motion for 14 summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); State of Cal. ex rel. Cal. Dep’t of Toxic 15 Substances Control v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 1998) (applying summary 16 judgment standard to motion for summary adjudication). In a summary judgment motion, the moving party always bears the initial 17 18 responsibility of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying the 19 portions in the record “which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of 20 material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets its initial 21 responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine 22 issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith 23 Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); First Nat’l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 24 253, 288-89 (1968). 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 3 1 ANALYSIS 2 3 The City’s moving papers meet its initial burden of showing its entitlement to 4 partial summary judgment as to the six causes of action delineated above. That shifts 5 the burden, under the Matsushita analysis cited above, to Plaintiff to show that genuine 6 material issues of fact indeed exist. Plaintiff has failed to meet that burden, and in the 7 absence of any showing whatsoever, the City is entitled to partial summary judgment in 8 its favor as requested. 9 Although Plaintiff is represented by counsel, that counsel, Kenneth W. Burt II, 10 responded to the City’s Motion not by making any real substantive opposition, or citing 11 any evidence, but instead by simply claiming that Plaintiff was without funds to oppose 12 the motion. Plaintiff’s counsel goes on to ask the Court to order that the City file a copy 13 of Plaintiff’s deposition, and for the Court to then review that transcript prior to any ruling 14 on the City’s Motion, since “Plaintiff sets forth material facts in [his] deposition which give 15 support to the pleading, and entitle the matter to be decided by a jury.” Pl.’s Response, 16 ECF No. 18, 2:4-5. Based on counsel’s bare allegation alone, Plaintiff requests that the 17 City’s Motion be denied.2 18 Plaintiff’s apparent effort to shift the burden of identifying triable issues of fact to 19 the Court, upon its own examination of Plaintiff’s deposition transcript, cannot be 20 countenanced. As the Seventh Circuit has observed, “[j]udges are not like pigs, hunting 21 for truffles buried in briefs,” or indeed in any other document. U.S. v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 22 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991). 23 Upon receiving Plaintiff’s response, then, the Court notified Plaintiff that his filing 24 failed to comply with the requirements for a valid opposition to a motion for summary 25 judgment under Local Rule 260(b). January 9, 2017 Minute Order, ECF No. 19. The 26 Court further rejected Plaintiff’s request both for a fee waiver and for an order that 27 28 2 Although Plaintiff also refers to a “digital record” of the collision itself as establishing the City’s negligence, the City does not move for summary adjudication as to Plaintiff’s First Cause of Action, for negligence. 4 1 Defendant provide a copy of Plaintiff’s deposition transcript. Id. Finally, and most 2 significantly, the January 9, 2017 Minute Order both ordered Plaintiff’s counsel to file 3 opposition papers in compliance with the Court’s Local Rules not later than February 9, 4 2017, and notified counsel that “failure to do so will result in Defendant’s Motion being 5 granted without further notice.” Id. In order to accommodate the extension being 6 afforded for opposition, the hearing on Defendant City’s Motion was continued to 7 February 16, 2017. Id. 8 9 In contravention of the Court’s direct order, Plaintiff filed nothing whatsoever in advance of the February 16, 2016 hearing and a review of the docket indicates that 10 Plaintiff has submitted no filings since that time, either. Consequently, the Court finds 11 that having failed to raise a triable issue of fact to counter the City’s prima facie showing 12 that they are entitled to partial summary judgment, the City’s Motion will be granted.3 13 14 CONCLUSION 15 16 17 18 19 For the reasons set forth above, Defendant City of Sacramento’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 5, 2017 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 Additionally, given Plaintiff’s failure to file any opposition in the face of the Court’s express order to that effect, dismissal under 41(b) for failure to comply with both Rule 56 and the Court’s Local Rules in this regard, let alone the Court’s own express order, constitutes yet another ground for dismissal. 5

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?