Mglej v. Gardner, 090920 FED10, 19-4015

Docket Nº:19-4015
Opinion Judge:EBEL, Circuit Judge
Party Name:MATTHEW T. MGLEJ, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. RAYMOND GARDNER, a/k/a Officer Raymond, an officer of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, in both his individual and official capacities, Defendant-Appellant, and GARFIELD COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, a subdivision of the State of Utah, GARFIELD COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Utah; GARFI...
Attorney:Frank D. Mylar (Andrew R. Hopkins, with him on the briefs) Mylar Law, P.C., Cottonwood Heights, Utah, for Defendant-Appellant Raymond Gardner. Benjamin T. Welch (Stewart O. Peay, Snell & Wilmer, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Amanda Z. Weaver, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Arizona, with him on the brief) S...
Judge Panel:Before BRISCOE, EBEL, and HARTZ, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 09, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

MATTHEW T. MGLEJ, Plaintiff - Appellee,

v.

RAYMOND GARDNER, a/k/a Officer Raymond, an officer of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, in both his individual and official capacities, Defendant-Appellant,

and

GARFIELD COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, a subdivision of the State of Utah, GARFIELD COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Utah; GARFIELD COUNTY JAIL, a subdivision of the State of Utah, Defendants.

No. 19-4015

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

September 9, 2020

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Utah (D.C. No. 2:13-CV-00713-CW-DBP)

Frank D. Mylar (Andrew R. Hopkins, with him on the briefs) Mylar Law, P.C., Cottonwood Heights, Utah, for Defendant-Appellant Raymond Gardner.

Benjamin T. Welch (Stewart O. Peay, Snell & Wilmer, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Amanda Z. Weaver, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Arizona, with him on the brief) Snell & Wilmer, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Plaintiff-Appellee Matthew T. Mglej.

Before BRISCOE, EBEL, and HARTZ, Circuit Judges.

EBEL, Circuit Judge

In this interlocutory appeal, Defendant Raymond Gardner, a Garfield County, Utah, sheriff's deputy, challenges the district court's decision to deny him qualified immunity from Plaintiff Matthew Mglej's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims stemming from Gardner's arresting Mglej in August 2011. Mglej alleged that Gardner violated the Fourth Amendment when he arrested Mglej without probable cause, used excessive force in doing so, and then initiated a malicious prosecution against Mglej. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, see Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985), we AFFIRM the district court's decision to deny Gardner qualified immunity on all three claims.

I. BACKGROUND

Because Deputy Gardner asserted qualified immunity in a summary judgment motion, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to Mglej. See Plumhoff v. Rickard, 572 U.S. 765, 768 (2014). The facts, then, for purposes of this appeal are as follows: In summer 2011, Mglej was on a cross-country trip when his motorcycle broke down in Boulder, an isolated town of approximately two hundred people located in Garfield County, Utah. Chuck Gurle, a mechanic in Boulder, let Mglej stay with him for a few days while Gurle waited for parts needed to repair the motorcycle.

Raymond Gardner was a Garfield County sheriff's deputy who lived in Boulder and patrolled there. The deputy first met Mglej on or about August 6 when he stopped Mglej for speeding on his motorcycle.1

A few days later, on August 8, 2011, while Mglej was still in Boulder awaiting the repair of his motorcycle, Deputy Gardner received a report from a local convenience store/gas station that $20 was missing from the store's register and they suspected someone matching Mglej's description took the money. Deputy Gardner, who was off duty that day, went to Gurle's home, knocked on the door, and asked to speak with Mglej outside, calling him by his first name, "Matthew or Matt." (Aplt. App. 538.) Mglej went outside and spoke with the deputy. When the deputy asked about the missing money, Mglej denied taking it. Gardner then asked Mglej for his "ID"-apparently a document that could serve as a form of identification. (Id. 540 ("Q. Did you ask him for his driver's license? A. I believe I asked him for an ID." (Gardner's deposition); see also id. 592 (Mglej's deposition).) Deputy Gardner explained to Mglej that, although Mglej denied taking the money, "I had still received a complaint of a criminal act and that as such I needed to do a report, which would require some information from him, to include some basic information usually contained on an ID, a driver's license, for example." (Id. 540.) Deputy Gardner told Mglej that he needed Mglej's full name, date of birth, driver's license information and address for his report (id. 540, 592), and that "it would be easier on all of us if he would just produce that information in the form of an ID or a driver's license" (id. 571 (Gardner's deposition); see also id. 592-93 ("Deputy Gardner told me I had to give him my ID." (Mglej's deposition).) When Mglej declined to give the deputy his ID before consulting with an attorney, Gardner arrested him.

Deputy Gardner then handcuffed Mglej behind his back and placed him in the front seat of the deputy's patrol car. Mglej complained that the handcuffs were too tight, but Gardner told him to stop saying that, because it did not matter.2

Before driving Mglej ninety-five miles to the Garfield County jail, Gardner stopped by his home to change into his uniform, leaving the handcuffed Mglej in the unlocked patrol car. When the deputy returned to the car, Mglej again complained that the handcuffs were too tight. Seeing that Mglej's hands were red, the deputy tried to loosen the handcuffs using the key but the handcuffs malfunctioned and the deputy could not loosen or remove them. Using tools from his garage, Deputy Gardner was eventually able to pry the handcuffs off Mglej's wrists after twenty minutes of work, causing Mglej significant pain and injury in the process.

Using a different set of handcuffs, the deputy again handcuffed Mglej and drove him to the Garfield County jail. On their way, Deputy Gardner received a call from an employee at the convenience store who reported that a more thorough examination of the store's register indicated that there was no money missing. The deputy, nevertheless, continued to the county jail, where he booked Mglej on two charges, "Obstructing Justice" and "Failure to disclose identity." (Id. 416.) The deputy also completed a written "Statement of Probable Cause for a Warrantless Arrest." (Id. 415.) Based on the facts set forth in that statement, a judge approved Mglej's continued detention and set bail. Mglej was released on bail three days after he was arrested. He then had to hitchhike the ninety-five miles back to Boulder, where he found that his motorcycle had been vandalized and his possessions stolen. The charges against Mglej were later dropped.

Mglej then sued Deputy Gardner, among others. Relevant to this appeal, Mglej asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the deputy violated Mglej's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable seizures by 1) arresting him without probable cause, 2) using excessive force in doing so, and 3) initiating a malicious prosecution of Mglej.3 Gardner moved for summary judgment on these claims, asserting qualified immunity. The district court denied that motion. It is that decision that the deputy challenges in this interlocutory appeal.

We have jurisdiction to consider Gardner's interlocutory appeal only to the extent it raises legal questions. See Plumhoff, 572 U.S. at 771-73; Mitchell, 472 U.S. at 530. We have no jurisdiction at this stage of the litigation to consider the district court's determination that Mglej presented sufficient evidence in support of his claims to survive summary judgment. See Plumhoff, 572 U.S. at 772-73 (applying Johnson v. Jones 515 U.S. 304 (1995)).

II. DISCUSSION

With these jurisdictional limits in mind, we review de novo the district court's decision to deny Deputy Gardner summary judgment, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Mglej. See Estate of Smart ex rel. Smart v. City of Wichita, 951 F.3d 1161, 1169 (10th Cir. 2020); see also Plumhoff, 572 U.S. at 768. Once Gardner asserted qualified immunity, it was Mglej's burden to show "that (1) the officers' alleged conduct violated a constitutional right, and (2) that right was clearly established at the time of the violation, such that every reasonable officer would have understood that such conduct constituted a violation of that right." Estate of Smart, 951 F.3d at 1168 (internal quotation marks, alteration omitted); see also Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015). To be clearly established, ordinarily "a preexisting Supreme Court or Tenth Circuit decision, or the weight of authority from other circuits, must make it apparent to a reasonable officer that the nature of his conduct is unlawful." Carabajal v. City of Cheyenne, 847 F.3d 1203, 1210 (10th Cir. 2017). In deciding whether a precedent provides fair notice, the Supreme Court has repeatedly admonished courts "not to define clearly established law at a high level of generality." Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S.Ct. 1148, 1152 (2018). Instead, "the clearly established law must be 'particularized' to the facts of the case." White v. Pauly, 137 S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017) (per curiam) (quoting Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 742 (2011)). Although there need not be "a case directly on point for a right to be clearly established, existing precedent must have placed the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate." Kisela, 138 S.Ct. at 1152 (quoting White, 137 S.Ct. at 551).

Corona v. Aguilar, 959 F.3d 1278, 1285-86 (10th Cir. 2020).

Mglej has met his two-part burden as to each of the three § 1983 claims at issue here to defeat qualified immunity.

A. Claim 1: Arrest without probable cause

In his first claim, Mglej alleged that Deputy Gardner violated the Fourth Amendment because he arrested Mglej without probable cause.

1. Mglej has established a Fourth Amendment violation

This Court has recognized three types of police-citizen encounters:

(1)consensual encounters which do not implicate the Fourth Amendment;

(2)investigative detentions which are Fourth Amendment seizures of limited scope and duration and must be supported by a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity; and (3) arrests, the most intrusive of Fourth Amendment seizures and reasonable only if supported by probable cause.

United States v. Hammond, 890 F.3d 901, 904 (10th Cir. 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also I.N.S. v. Delgado, ...

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