Archer v. Gipson, Case No. 1:12–CV–00261–LJO–JLT.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Citation108 F.Supp.3d 895
Decision Date28 May 2015
Docket NumberCase No. 1:12–CV–00261–LJO–JLT.
Parties Darrell ARCHER, and Keitha Darquea, Plaintiffs, v. Jill GIPSON; Joseph Burke; and, J.E. Burke Construction, Inc., Defendants.

108 F.Supp.3d 895

Darrell ARCHER, and Keitha Darquea, Plaintiffs,
Jill GIPSON; Joseph Burke; and, J.E. Burke Construction, Inc., Defendants.

Case No. 1:12–CV–00261–LJO–JLT.

United States District Court, E.D. California.

Signed May 28, 2015.

108 F.Supp.3d 897

Darrell Archer, Vallejo, CA, pro se.

Keitha Darquea, Vallejo, CA, pro se.

Michael Charles Kellar, Robinson & Kellar, Bakersfield, CA, for Defendants.


LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

Before the Court in the above-styled and numbered cause of action is Defendant Jill

108 F.Supp.3d 898

Gipson, Joseph Burke, and J.E. Burke Construction, Inc.'s (collectively, "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment, filed March 3, 2015. (Doc. 72). Plaintiffs Darrell Archer and Keitha Darquea filed their Opposition on March 30, 2015 (Doc. 74), and Defendants filed objections (Docs. 79 & 80) on April 10, 2015. The matters are appropriate for resolution without oral argument. See Local Rule 230(g). Having considered the record in this case, the parties' briefing, and the relevant law, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion.



The following relevant facts come primarily from Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint ("FAC") (Doc. 4); Archer's declaration ("Arch. Decl.") (Doc. 76): Darquea's declaration ("Darq. Decl.") (Doc. 77); Defendants' Separate Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("SSUMF") (Doc. 72–2); Defendant Gipson's deposition ("Gip. Depo.") and declaration ("Gip. Decl.") (Doc. 72–3), as well as the Photographic Evidence ("Photo. Evid.") (Docs. 72–6, 72–7, 72–15, 72–16, 72–24).

A. The Parties

Plaintiffs Keitha Darquea ("Darquea") and Darrell Archer ("Archer") (together, "Plaintiffs") reside at 2408 Bladen Street in Bakersfield, California ("the Bakersfield address"). FAC ¶ 20. Darquea owns real property (APN 031–290–015) in the City of Taft ("the City"), in Kern County ("the County"), California, located at 300 Lucard Street as well as 509 3rd Street (collectively, "the Property"). FAC p. 3:17–18, ¶ 6, 20; SSUMF 66, 92. Darquea and Archer were married on December 18, 2006. SSUMF ¶ 61. Archer claims that he first became an owner of the Property when he and Darquea married. SSUMF ¶ 89. Plaintiffs have, between themselves, signed a document titled "Postnuptial Property Agreement" (Darq. Decl., Doc. 77, Ex. 2), related to community property ownership of the Property, although no papers have been filed with the County to record ownership of the Property in Archer's name. SSUMF ¶ 91.

Plaintiffs bring the instant actions against Defendants Jill Gipson, the Code Enforcement Officer for the City ("Gipson" or "Code Enforcement Officer"), in her official and individual capacity, and Joseph Burke, a principal at J.E. Burke Construction, Inc. ("Burke"), in his individual capacity, as well as J.E. Burke Construction, Inc. (together, "the Burke Defendants") (collectively, "Defendants"). See generally FAC, and ¶¶ 40, 76. Defendant J.E. Burke Construction, Inc. is a California corporation and a local contractor hired by the City. FAC ¶ 75.

Defendant Gipson is and was the sole Code Enforcement Officer for the City. FAC ¶ 8; SSUMF ¶ 1. The Code Enforcement Officer enforces portions of the Taft Municipal Code (herein "TMC"). FAC ¶ 9; SSUMF ¶ 2. The Code Enforcement Officer enforces code sections pertaining to the abatement of public nuisances within the City's limits, which can include searching properties and seizing personal property. FAC ¶ 9; SSUMF ¶ 3. The City defines "nuisance" the same as in California Civil Code. SSUMF ¶ 4. The Burke Defendants, together with Gipson, went to the Property and seized their personal property. FAC ¶¶ 75, 77. Burke proceeded at the direction and guidance of Gipson, and Defendants seized the personal property without a warrant. FAC ¶ 78.

B. Plaintiffs' Real Property

The Property at issue, together 300 Lucard Street and the adjacent 509 3rd Street, is a large corner lot on the corner of Lucard and Third streets, containing

108 F.Supp.3d 899

three buildings: a three-apartment building, a two-story cottage, a two-car garage, as well as land between the structures. FAC ¶ 21; SSUMF ¶ 93. Of these, the cottage and garage are located at 509 3rd Street. SSUMF ¶ 67. The back yard of 300 Lucard Street serves also as the front yard of the 3rd Street cottage. See Photo. Evid. (Docs. 72–6, 72–7, 72–15, 72–16, 72–24). As of the time of the abatement on September 24, 2010, there was no wall or fence separating the yards shared by the Lucard and 3rd Street properties. Id.; SSUMF ¶ 76. A wire fence ran along the sidewalk next to 509 3rd Street. Id.; SSUMF ¶ 75.

Darquea purchased 300 Lucard Street and 509 3rd Street at the same time. SSUMF ¶ 69. Darquea believes that 300 Lucard and 509 3rd Street are on the same lot. SSUMF ¶ 68. The Grant Deed executed on September 6, 1974, pertains to the property at 300 Lucard Street. SSUMF ¶ 101.

Because Plaintiffs reside in Bakersfield and the Property is in Taft, the Plaintiffs use a property manager and sometimes do not go to the Property for a few months at a time. FAC ¶ 22. Construction had been and/or was ongoing at the Property, including for instance, new roofs, fence, and foundation. FAC ¶ 25.

C. Plaintiffs' Personal Property

Plaintiffs were saving construction materials at the Property to use when they would return to continue the construction work. FAC ¶ 23. Plaintiffs kept stored a stack of materials, including mostly old dimension redwood, at the Property, as well as some metal sheeting, some smaller pieces of old dimension lumber, and also a large planter made of decorative lava-type rocks (which had formerly and for many years, since the 1960s, contained a large cactus) (collectively, "the Construction Materials"). FAC ¶ 24.

The Construction Materials were in the yard at 300 Lucard Street, on private property, behind a wire fence. FAC ¶ 25. The pile of construction materials in the yard was not neatly stacked. FAC ¶ 32. Plaintiffs put the value of the construction materials and rocks at approximately $6,000. FAC ¶ 30. The pile of materials existed in the described condition at the Property for about a year before it was removed by the City. SSUMF ¶ 95. The last time that Darquea had visited the Property there was a pile of materials there. SSUMF ¶ 72. A photograph taken by Gipson (Doc. 72–6) accurately depicts what the pile of materials looked like at the Property when Darquea last visited it, before the abatement on September 24, 2010, and the wire fence could have been laying down as shown in the photograph. SSUMF ¶¶ 73, 74.

D. Historical Background

Plaintiff Darquea's mother is Mary Meredith ("Meredith"). SSUMF ¶ 84. Meredith owned 509 3rd Street until she died. SSUMF ¶ 94. Meredith died in 2004. SSUMF ¶ 77. Darquea filed nothing with the County Recorder to put the County on notice that Mary Meredith had passed away. SSUMF ¶ 81. Meredith, Mary Lee Meredith, "Mary Lee Irrev Meredith," and "Mary Lee Meredith Irrev" all refer to the same person. SSUMF ¶ 96. The County Assessor designated Parcel Number 031–290–15–00 with the address 300 Lucard Street and its owner as "Meredith Mary Lee Irrev TR." SSUMF ¶¶ 23, 24.

The County Assessor lists the mailing address for Parcel Number 031–290–15–00 as the Bakersfield address. SSUMF ¶ 25. Darquea has lived at the Bakersfield address for 36 years. SSUMF ¶ 64. During that time, Darquea received mail at the Bakersfield address. SSUMF ¶ 65. After her mother's death, Darquea continued to

108 F.Supp.3d 900

receive mail addressed to her at the Bakersfield address. SSUMF ¶ 78. As of June 15, 2010, the Bakersfield address was also Darquea's mother's mailing address. SSUMF ¶ 85. From the time Darquea first took ownership of 300 Lucard Street in 1974, after Meredith's death up until the present, the tax bills for the Property have always been sent by Kern County in the name of Mary Meredith to the Bakersfield address. SSUMF ¶¶ 79, 80, 82. Mail addressed to "Mary Lee Meredith Irrev" or "Mary Lee Meredith" or "Mary Lee Irrev Meredith" at the Bakersfield address would have been delivered there in 2010 and 2011. SSUMF ¶ 99. In 2010, Darquea received tax bills from the County of Kern addressed to Meredith at the Bakersfield address regarding the property located at 300 Lucard Street. SSUMF ¶ 86.

The envelope from the City with the Notice of Violation was addressed to "Mary Lee Meredith" at the Bakersfield address, the same address where tax bills were sent from the County. SSUMF ¶ 87.

E. Nuisance Abatement: Investigative Actions, Searches, and Seizure

1. The First Search—June 8, 2010

On June 8, 2010, Gipson saw a wire fence that she saw was knocked down in the front yard of a private dwelling at 509 3rd Street. SSUMF ¶ 5. Gipson investigated...

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    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
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    ...In this context, the reasonableness of a search “hinges on . . . an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy.” Archer v. Gipson, 108 F.Supp.3d 895, 909 (E.D. Cal. 2015) (citing United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984) (“A ‘search' occurs when the government intrudes upon an......
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    ...from a public vantage point where he has a right to be and which renders the activities clearly visible").See also Archer v. Gipson, 108 F. Supp. 3d 895, 907-08 (E.D. Cal. 2015) (finding summary judgment in favor of defendants warranted on plaintiffs' Section 1983 claim alleging Fourth Amen......
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    ...("[K]illing of a person's dog by a law enforcement officer constitutes a seizure under the Fourth Amendment."); Archer v. Gipson, 108 F. Supp. 3d 895, 909 (E.D. Cal. 2015) (warrantless seizure of construction materials to abate nuisance was "per se unreasonable" unless exception to the warr......

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