Schwarz v. Lassen Cnty. ex rel. Lassen Cnty. Jail, 2:10-CV-03048-MCE-CMK

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Decision Date23 September 2013
Docket NumberNo. 2:10-CV-03048-MCE-CMK,2:10-CV-03048-MCE-CMK
PartiesNANCY SCHWARZ, on behalf of herself individually, as the mother of MICHAEL PARKER, deceased; and NANCY SCHWARZ, as the representative and administrator of MICHAEL PARKER'S ESTATE, Plaintiffs, v. LASSEN COUNTY ex rel. the LASSEN COUNTY JAIL (DETENTION FACILITY), et al., Defendants.

NANCY SCHWARZ, on behalf of herself individually, as the mother
of MICHAEL PARKER, deceased; and NANCY SCHWARZ, as the
representative and administrator of MICHAEL PARKER'S ESTATE, Plaintiffs,
(DETENTION FACILITY), et al., Defendants.

No. 2:10-CV-03048-MCE-CMK


Dated: September 23, 2013


Plaintiff Nancy Schwarz ("Plaintiff"), the mother of decedent Michael Parker ("Parker"), on behalf of herself and as successor-in-interest to Parker, seeks redress against Defendants Lassen County and the City of Susanville ("Susanville" or "the City"), among others, for injuries allegedly suffered by Plaintiff and Parker related to Parker's detainment at the Lassen County Adult Detention Facility and Parker's death at Renown Hospital in Reno, Nevada.

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Plaintiff's sole claim for relief against Susanville, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges the City deprived Plaintiff of her right to "familial association, society, and companionship" in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. (Pls.' 4th Am. Compl. 21, Jan 27, 2012, ECF No. 57.)

Presently before the Court is Susanville's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.1 (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Mar. 19, 2013, ECF No. 97.) Plaintiff filed a timely Opposition on May 1, 2013. (Pl.'s Opp'n, May 1, 2013, ECF No. 121.) Susanville filed a timely Reply. (Def.'s Reply, May 10, 2013, ECF No. 125.) On June 19, 2013, the Court set the hearing for oral argument, to be held on June 27, 2013. (ECF No. 130.) Because the parties requested a new hearing date, the Court rescheduled oral argument for August 22, 2013. (ECF No. 135.) Then, on July 25, 2013, the Court ordered Susanville and Plaintiff to submit supplemental briefing addressing certain discrete issues.2 (ECF No. 137.) The City submitted its Supplemental Brief on August 8, 2013 (ECF No. 138), and Plaintiff submitted her Supplemental Brief on August 14, 2013 (ECF No. 139). On August 20, 2013, the Court ordered another short supplemental response (ECF No. 140), to which each party responded that same day (ECF Nos. 141, 142, 143.) The Court then ordered the matter submitted without oral argument and vacated the August 22, 2013, hearing.3 (ECF No. 144.)

For the reasons set forth below, Susanville's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

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Around 11:00 a.m. on September 22, 2009, Officer Ed Vega of the Susanville Police Department received a complaint from Meredith Sides, alleging Parker had violated a Domestic Violence Restraining Order ("Restraining Order") issued in her favor by Lassen County Superior Court on July 8, 2009. Sides informed Officer Vega she and Parker had previously dated. Sides also informed Officer Vega that the Restraining Order had recently been extended.5 The terms of the Restraining Order required Parker neither contact Sides, nor come within 100 yards of Sides, her vehicle, or her residence.

More specifically, Sides and Albert Vegas reported to Officer Vega that several minutes earlier, they were standing in front of Sides' residence on Harris Drive when they observed Parker drive by at a slow pace.6 Sides identified Parker, describing him as a bald man with sun glasses, and identified the vehicle Parker was driving as a white Explorer. Officer Vega determined Parker's drive by Sides' house violated the Retraining Order's condition that Parker stay at least 100 yards away from Sides.

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Approximately fifteen minutes after Officer Vega received the complaint from Sides, he received a radio transmission from Susanville Police Detective Richard Warner, stating Detective Warner had observed Parker driving on Grove Street in the same vehicle which Sides described in her report to Officer Vega. Detective Warner informed Officer Vega that Parker's mother, Plaintiff Nancy Schwarz, was now driving the vehicle, and the vehicle was parked at the Lassen Federal Credit Union.

Officer Vega then drove to the Lassen Federal Credit Union and spoke with Parker, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle which Sides, Vegas, and Detective Warner had described. Parker's mother, Plaintiff Nancy Schwarz, was also present in the parking lot, along with Detective Warner and Susanville Police Officer Tobedi. Upon making contact with Parker, Officer Vega determined Parker matched Sides' physical description of the man who had driven past her home.

At this point, Officer Vega advised Parker he was conducting an investigation regarding the violation of a restraining order, and Parker was mentioned as a possible suspect. Parker acknowledged the existence of a restraining order against him, and stated he was going to court that afternoon for a hearing on the order. However, Parker denied knowing where Sides lived, denied knowing the location of Harris Drive, and claimed he only drove the vehicle to the Post Office and USA gas station. Parker insisted he did not drive the vehicle in the vicinity of Harris Drive.7

Officer Vega then arrested Parker, based on probable cause,8 for knowing violation of a court order to prevent harassment pursuant to California Penal Code section 273.6(a), and stalking in violation of a restraining order pursuant to California Penal Code section 646.9(b).

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Officer Vega made the arrest under the authority of California Penal Code section 836(c)(1), which provides that a peace officer shall arrest the restrained person when the officer has probable cause to believe the person has notice of the restraining order and has disobeyed the order. According to Plaintiff, when Officer Vega arrested Parker, Nancy Schwarz informed Officer Vega that Parker had a serious medical condition, and informed the officers that placing Parker in custody would kill him.9

After arresting Parker, Officer Vega transported him to the Lassen County Adult Detention Facility, and the staff there assumed custody of Parker. Officer Vega had no involvement in setting or increasing Parker's bail.10 Parker remained incarcerated in the Lassen County Adult Detention Facility until October 9, 2009.11 On October 9, 2009, Parker was transferred to Renown Hospital in Reno, Nevada. Parker remained in Renown Hospital until his death on November 5, 2009.


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325.

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Rule 56 also allows a court to grant summary judgment on part of a claim or defense, known as partial summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) ("A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense—or the part of each claim or defense—on which summary judgment is sought."); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v. Madan, 889 F. Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995). The standard that applies to a motion for partial summary judgment is the same as that which applies to a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); State of Cal. ex rel. Cal. Dep't of Toxic Substances Control v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 1998) (applying summary judgment standard to motion for summary adjudication).

In a summary judgment motion, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying the portions in the record "which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968).

In attempting to establish the existence or non-existence of a genuine factual dispute, the party must support its assertion by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations . . . or other materials; or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 251-52 (1986); Owens v. Local No. 169, Assoc. of W. Pulp and Paper Workers, 971 F.2d 347, 355 (9th Cir. 1987).

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The opposing party must also demonstrate that the dispute about a material fact "is 'genuine,' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Stated another way:

before the evidence is left to the jury, there is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could properly

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