Bikle v. Davies, III
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT 1 ; ORDER DENYING AS MOOT APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS 3 . Signed by JUDGE SUSAN OKI MOLLWAY on 6/9/2017. (afc) Excerpt of conclusion: "The court grants Bikle leav e to file an Amended Complaint that states a viable claim no later than June 29, 2017. Bikle may submit another IFP Application at that time. Failure to file an Amended Complaint by June 29, 2017, as well as to pay the applicable filing fee or su bmit a new IFP Application, will result in the automatic dismissal of this action." CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). A copy of the instant Order and the "Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs" form (Form AO 240) will be served on June 13, 2017 by first class mail addressed to Philip Bikle at his address of record.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
OFFICER CLARENCE W. DAVIES
III, in his individual
CIVIL NO. 15-00293 SOM/BMK
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT;
ORDER DENYING AS MOOT
APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT; ORDER DENYING
AS MOOT APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
On August 3, 2015, Plaintiff Philip Bikle filed the
Complaint in this matter as well as an Application to Proceed in
District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (“IFP
See ECF Nos. 1 and 3.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2), this court has screened the Complaint and
determined that it fails to state a claim on which relief may be
Accordingly, the court dismisses the Complaint and
denies the IFP Application as moot.
On or about November 11, 2016, Bikle was stopped by
Officer Clarence W. Davies III while driving on Route 11 on the
Big Island of Hawaii.
Bikle says he was stopped because he had
no official Hawaii license plate on the back of his car.
No. 1 ¶ 6, PageID # 2.
Bikle admits that, instead of having a
Hawaii license plate, “There were plates on the front and back .
. . with the name, ‘WITTMEIER’ on it.”
like a car dealership placard.”
The “plate” “looked
Id. ¶ 16, PageID # 4.
not free to go on his way after he was stopped by Davies.
¶ 21, PageID # 5.
Bikle explained to Davies that he had brought his
vehicle to Hawaii from California, where Bikle claimed the
vehicle was exempt from registration requirements.
Id. ¶¶ 6-7,
PageID # 2-3.
Bikle says that Davies went to his police vehicle for
about 7 minutes.
When Davies returned, Davies allegedly asked
Bikle whether Bikle was willing to give Davies some
Bikle turned over his passport, but no driver’s
Davies wrote down Bikle’s vehicle’s VIN number and
returned to the police vehicle.
Id. ¶¶ 8-9, PageID # 3.
Davies eventually returned to Bikle and gave him
citations for the following traffic violations: no license plate;
deliquent vehicle tax; no certificate of inspection; and
registration not in vehicle.
Id. ¶ 10, PageID # 3.
Bikle, the entire traffic stop lasted approximately 30 minutes.
Id. ¶ 36, PageID # 8.
Bikle’s Complaint asserts unreasonable seizure claims
arising under the United States and Hawaii constitutions.
See ECF No. 1.
To proceed in forma pauperis, Bikle must demonstrate
that he is unable to prepay the court fees, and that he
sufficiently pleads claims.
1129 (9th Cir. 2000).
See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
The court therefore screens his Complaint
to see whether it is (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Bikle claims that Officer Davies’s traffic stop
amounted to an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth
Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I,
Section 7 of the Hawaii Constitution.
Bikle argues that the
unreasonable seizure prohibition was violated because “[t]here
was no probable cause, or articulable suspicion, at the time
Davies made a show of authority to stop Plaintiff,” saying that
because “the alleged traffic violation [was] non-criminal, the
possibility for any probable cause or reasonable suspicion [was]
ECF No. 1 ¶ 29, PageID # 6.
Bikle then contends that
Officer Davies lacked probable cause to arrest him, which he
equates to a seizure to issue the traffic tickets.
PageID # 7-8.
Id. ¶¶ 34-39,
Bikle does not allege that Davies arrested him but
says that he was temporarily seized during the traffic stop.
Bikle’s allegations fail to allege any viable claim
based on an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth
Amendment of the United State Constitution or Article I, Section
7 of the Hawaii constitution.
Accordingly, the court dismisses
The Fourth Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but
upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or
things to be seized.
Article I, section 7, of the Hawaii constitution similarly
The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers and effects against
unreasonable searches, seizures and invasions
of privacy shall not be violated; and no
warrants shall issue but upon probable cause,
supported by oath or affirmation, and
particularly describing the place to be
searched and the persons or things to be
seized or the communications sought to be
There can be no dispute that temporary detention of
individuals during the stop of an automobile by the police, even
for a brief period, constitutes a “seizure” within the meaning of
the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 7.
See Whren v.
United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809–10 (1996) (traffic stop is
seizure subject to the Fourth Amendment); State v. Spillner, 116
Haw. 351, 357, 173 P.3d 498, 504 (2007) (“There is no dispute
that a traffic stop is a form of seizure for constitutional
purposes.”); State v. Kim, 68 Haw. 286, 290, 711 P.2d 1291, 1294
(1985) (“The stopping of an automobile and the detaining of its
occupants for a brief period during a traffic stop constitute a
seizure within the meaning of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution.”).
therefore, is whether the particular traffic stop is a reasonable
or unreasonable seizure for purposes of either the Fourth
Amendment or Article I, section 7 of the Hawaii constitution.
“As a general matter, the decision to stop an
automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to
believe that a traffic violation has occurred.”
Whren, 517 U.S.
Accordingly, when an officer has probable cause to
believe that a person driving a vehicle has violated a traffic
code and the officer pulls the vehicle over to give the driver a
civil ticket, the stop is generally reasonable and there is no
federal or state constitutional violation.
See Whren, 517 U.S.
Accord State v. Scalera, 139 Haw. 453, 393 P.3d 1005,
1012 (2017) (no violation of Hawaii constitution when officer
made traffic stop because driver crossed over solid traffic line
twice and over broken traffic line once); State v. Estabillio,
121 Haw. 261, 270, 218 P.3d 749, 758 (2009) (traffic stop for
speeding and vehicle registration infractions constitutional).
However, “a police stop exceeding the time needed to
handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the
Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.”
v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609, 1612 (2015).
duration of police inquiries in the traffic-stop context is
determined by the seizure’s ‘mission’—to address the traffic
violation that warranted the stop.”
Id. at 1614.
determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, an officer’s
mission includes ordinary inquiries incident to the traffic stop.
Typically such inquiries involve checking the driver’s license,
determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the
driver, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of
Id. at 1615 (quotation marks and citation omitted).
The factual allegations in the Complaint do not allege
a viable claim.
As noted in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007), the factual allegations in a complaint,
when assumed to be true, must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.
See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“the pleading standard Rule 8 announces
does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,’ but it demands
more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
A “plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’
of his ‘entitlement to relief’ requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
complaint is required to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570.
“A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S.
When Officer Davies witnessed the vehicle being driven
by Bikle without a proper license plate affixed to the vehicle,
he had probable cause based on articulable facts to believe a
violation of section 249-7(b) of Hawaii Revised Statutes
In relevant part, that section states:
The owner shall securely fasten the number
plates on the vehicle, one on the front and
the other on the rear, at a location provided
by the manufacturer or in the absence of such
a location upon the bumpers of the vehicle
and in conformance with section 291-31, in
such a manner as to prevent the plates from
swinging. Number plates shall at all times
be displayed entirely unobscured and be kept
It was reasonable for Officer Davies to stop Bikle, and no viable
federal or state constitutional violation is stated to the extent
the Complaint is premised on the stop, given the absence of a
Hawaii license plate from Bikle’s vehicle.
The court turns next to whether the length of the
traffic stop was reasonable.
took about 30 minutes.
Bikle says the entire traffic stop
Under the facts alleged in the Complaint,
no reasonable jury could determine that the length of the traffic
stop was unreasonable.
Bikle admits that he lacked a license
He told Officer Davies that his car came from California,
where it was not registered because it was allegedly exempt from
Bikle did not present a valid driver’s license and
had not paid the applicable vehicle tax.
Nor did he present a
certificate of inspection or vehicle registration.
totality of these facts, the alleged 30-minute detention to
conduct the typical inquiries incident to the traffic stop, which
could have included an attempt to determine whether Bikle was
truly the owner of the vehicle, was not unreasonable.
possessed the proper paperwork, the traffic stop might have taken
But his failure to possess that paperwork justified
the additional time.
No facts are alleged in the Complaint
indicating that Davies did anything unrelated to the tickets he
issued that prolonged the traffic stop for even a moment.
Accordingly, the factual allegations of the Complaint do not
demonstrate any viable claim of an unreasonable seizure based on
the length of the traffic stop.
Because Bikle’s unlawful arrest claim is premised on
the traffic stop (rather than an actual arrest), the unlawful
arrest claim fails as well, as it is simply another way of
arguing that Bikle was unreasonably seized.
Bikle’s Complaint is dismissed, and the IFP Application
is denied as moot.
The court grants Bikle leave to file an
Amended Complaint that states a viable claim no later than June
Bikle may submit another IFP Application at that time.
Failure to file an Amended Complaint by June 29, 2017,
as well as to pay the applicable filing fee or submit a new IFP
Application, will result in the automatic dismissal of this
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: Honolulu, Hawaii, June 9, 2017.
/s/ Susan Oki Mollway
Susan Oki Mollway
United States District Judge
Bikle v Davies, Civ. No. 17-00261 SOM/KJM; ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT; ORDER
DENYING AS MOOT APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
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