Rivera v. Town of Patagonia

Decision Date05 July 2018
Docket NumberNo. CIV 16-164-TUC-CKJ,CIV 16-164-TUC-CKJ
PartiesApril Henrietta Rivera, Plaintiff, v. The Town of Patagonia, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Arizona

Pending before the Court are the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 56) filed by Plaintiff April Henrietta Rivera ("Rivera") and the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 53) filed by Defendants Town of Patagonia, Marshal Joseph A. Patterson ("Patterson"), and Deputy Marshal Ronald Davis ("Davis") (collectively, "Defendants"). Also pending before the Court are Rivera's Motion in Limine (Doc. 56) and Motion to Strike (Doc. 59).

The parties have requested this matter be set for oral argument. However, the issues are fully presented in the briefs and the Court finds it would not be assisted by oral argument. The Court declines to schedule this matter for oral argument. LRCiv 7.2(f).

Summary judgment will be granted in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff for the reasons stated herein.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On March 15, 2014, Plaintiff April Henrietta Rivera ("Rivera") lived in a mobile home with her ex-then husband Ricky Rivera ("R. Rivera") at 289 Duquesne Space #4 ("Duquesne residence") in Patagonia, Arizona. The mobile home was owned by Tony Valenzuela. Rivera may have also owned another mobile home at 289 Duquesne Space #2, but she continued to reside at Space #4 when she separated from her husband. The parties dispute whether Rivera was a tenant at that location as recognized under the Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

At approximately 9:45 p.m., Davis responded to the Duquesne residence for a reported domestic disturbance.1 Rivera was seated on the ground and was crying. R. Rivera, who had blood on his face from a wound above his right eyebrow, was seated on the porch. Davis approached R. Rivera, had him stand up, and placed him in handcuffs for the protection of both Davis and R. Rivera.

Davis went to speak to Rivera, but she was crying uncontrollably, being consoled by two other females. These other females did not witness the incident.

Davis returned to R. Rivera, who stated that he had been hit in the head with a bottle. Davis took photographs of the injury. R. Rivera was then attended to by EMTs. R. Rivera stated that he had thrown Rivera's clothes out of the trailer. R. Rivera invoked his rights and Davis did not ask him anything else, other than to get his consent to take pictures inside the residence. R. Rivera remained handcuffed throughout this process, and the handcuffs were only removed once Davis finished photographing the scene.

Davis made the determination to arrest Rivera for disorderly conduct - fighting.

Davis returned to Rivera and asked the EMTs if they would be transporting Rivera; the EMTs advised Davis that Rivera had refused medical transport. Davis advised Rivera of her Miranda rights, but did not get a verbal acknowledgment of those rights. Davis advised Rivera that she was being arrested for fighting and would be transported to the Marshal's Office. Rivera waived her Miranda rights. R. Rivera retrieved a pair of jeans and some shoes, which Rivera put on.

One of the EMTs told Davis that Rivera had a history of being violent when transported, and had tried to kick out the window of a police vehicle.2

At the Marshal's Office, Rivera stated that a disagreement had ensued when R. Rivera asked to speak to her. She stated that she had consumed two beers that afternoon/evening. Rivera did not want to talk to R. Rivera, so she turned up the volume on the TV. R. Rivera tried to grab the remote from her, and she resisted. Rivera stated that R. Rivera then put her in a choke hold, and she bit him to get him to let her go. He sat down, and she hit him in the head with a beer bottle. R. Rivera then started throwing Rivera's things out of the residence. Rivera stated she attempted to go to bed, but R. Rivera attacked her again (throwing her around), so she grabbed his hair, and he threw her out of the Duquesne residence.

Davis did not observe any redness around Rivera's neck, but Rivera did have scrapes on her elbow, blood on her shirt and her shirt was ripped in the back. When Davis asked Rivera what injuries she had, Rivera stated she had a broken rib, a scratched eye, contusions and abrasions all over her body and her legs. Border Patrol Agent Chamberlain took photographs of Rivera's injuries.

Rivera refused to provide information during the booking process. Rivera denies that she was uncooperative and states that her traumatic experience as a domestic violence victim may have contributed to what was perceived by Defendants as a refusal to cooperate. Because a medical clearance could not be accomplished due to Rivera's refusal to answer questions, Davis asked for guidance from the Santa Cruz County Detention Facility ("SCCDF"); Davis was advised by the nurse at the SCCDF to take Rivera to the jail, which he did. Rivera continued to refuse to answer questions at the SCCDF. Rivera also refused to comply with requests and engaged in other non-compliant conduct (e.g., going limp,spitting or slobbering).3

Rivera asserts the charges Rivera received from the events of March 15, 2014 were later dismissed, but does not provide a supporting citation to the record.

On April 1, 2014 Rivera obtained an order of protection against R. Rivera because of the events of March 15, 2014. The order of protection prohibited R. Rivera from having contact with Rivera and from going to her residence or place of employment. The order of protection was served on R. Rivera on April 2, 2014 by Davis.

Later on April 2, 2014, Rivera asserts she went to the apartment building to show an apartment and discovered R. Rivera.4 Defendants assert R. Rivera was there working on a vacant apartment that would not be ready to rent for several weeks. Rivera asserts R. Rivera's presence was in violation of the protective order. Rivera asserts she was at her place of work and had a valid order of protection that prevented R. Rivera from being at her place of work.

R. Rivera went to the Marshal's Office to report Rivera's attempt to contact him. R. Rivera also requested that he be accompanied to the trailers listed on the restraining order (the one where he and Rivera lived and the one they were fixing up) for a one-time opportunity to retrieve his personal items and tools he needed for work, as permitted in the restraining order. Defendants assert Davis confirmed the terms of release and the order of protection from the court and prosecutor. Rivera asserts Davis reported this information to Defendant Marshal Joe Patterson ("Patterson"), who decided that Rivera's contact with R. Rivera violated the conditions of release from the previous domestic violence charges.

Rivera went to the Marshal's Office about 30 minutes after R. Rivera and demanded that R. Rivera be arrested for violating the conditions of the order of protection. Defendantsassert Rivera argued with Davis and then left in an irate and belligerent manner.5 Rivera denies that she was irate or belligerent.

Patterson and Deputy Marshal John York "(York") met R. Rivera at the trailers. R. Rivera told Patterson that Rivera was using the court process to intentionally harass or intimidate. Davis then arrived at the trailers and informed Patterson that R. Rivera could have a one time access to the location to retrieve items that belonged to him.

Patterson learned that Rivera was not leasing the Duquesne residence. Valenzuela told Patterson (over the phone) that the space was rented to Thomas Rivera ("T. Rivera"), R. Rivera's father. Valenzuela advised Patterson that he would like Rivera removed from the residence and that the rental contract or verbal agreement was voluntarily terminated as R. Rivera had been served an order of protection after a fight.

R. Rivera began gathering his items. Rivera approached but was asked to step away; she refused. Defendants asserts Rivera continued to walk around and speak to R. Rivera, refusing directives by Patterson.6 Rivera was then detained in the back of York's vehicle while R. Rivera retrieved his belongings. Rivera was cited with interfering with judicial proceedings due to her failure to abide by the conditions of release. Rivera admitted at her deposition that she knew that, as a condition of her release, she was not to have contact with R. Rivera. Rivera asserts, however, that her actions were not a violation of her conditions of release. Rivera asserts that, prior to her being charged, the only investigation conducted by Defendant Patterson was to speak with R. Rivera. Defendants assert additional investigation was conducted, including talking to Rivera, witnessing Rivera attempt toinitiate contact with R. Rivera after being ordered multiple time to cease doing so and other observations, and contacting the court. Rivera asserts this charge was later dismissed, but does not cite to the record in support of this assertion.

Patterson was provided with a hand-written paper from T. Rivera asking that Rivera be removed from the residence. Patterson provided the document to Rivera and advised her she was being asked to leave the residence. Rivera refused to answer and became upset she was being asked to leave.

Sometime prior to April 19, 2014, Patterson composed a letter on behalf of Valenzuela requesting that Rivera vacate the Duquesne residence. Patterson delivered that letter to Rivera on April 19, 2014. The parties dispute whether Patterson threatened Rivera with arrest if she failed to leave immediately. Patterson was not in possession of a court order or valid eviction notice when he told Rivera that she was committing a criminal trespass. Defendants assert that, because the space was owned by Valenzuela, rented by T. Rivera, and Rivera was told by T. Rivera she was no longer welcome on the premises, and Rivera had no rental agreement and did not pay rent to live at the space, Rivera was not a tenant with legal rights at the...

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