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Crawford v. City of Mesa

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 30, 2014

Brian Crawford, a married man; Rosemary Crawford, a married woman; and Cleo J. Friederich, a single man, Plaintiffs,
City of Mesa; Mesa Police Department; Domenick Kaufman; Donald Williams; Jason Nielson; and Sandra Garcia; Defendants.


G. MURRAY SNOW, District Judge.

Pending before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 29) and Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 32). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part and Plaintiffs' Motion is denied.


This case arises from an encounter at Plaintiffs' Brian and Rosemary Crawford's home in Mesa, Arizona. Around midnight on January 8, 2011, one of the Crawfords' neighbors called Defendant Mesa Police Department to report what the neighbor viewed as suspicious activity at the Crawfords' home. (Doc. 30 ("DSOF"), ¶ 1.) The neighbor described that he was friends with the Crawfords, that he could see that both of their cars were at their house, and that "it is just a little weird seeing their garage door open this late" because "[i]n all the years I've known them since they moved into this neighborhood they've never left that open." ( Id. ) The neighbor claims that he called the police because he was worried about the Crawfords. ( Id. )

In response to the call, Mesa police offers were dispatched to the Crawfords' home to do a welfare check. (DSOF ¶ 2.) The police arrived at the residence and tried to make contact with the Crawfords by ringing their doorbell, knocking on their door, and calling the phone number listed for Brian Crawford. (DSOF ¶ 3.) They received no response. ( Id. ) Officer Broadhurst, one of the officers who arrived at the scene, spoke to the neighbor who had made the phone call and the neighbor confirmed that he was concerned about the Crawfords. (DSOF ¶ 5.) The police checked the registration of two cars located at the Crawfords' house and determined that both vehicles were registered to the Crawfords. (DSOF ¶ 6.) The officers were concerned about the Crawfords because of the open garage door and the lack of response despite the appearance that the Crawfords were home. (DSOF ¶ 7.) The police then went around to the side of the Crawfords' house to look for signs of forced entry. (DSOF ¶ 8.) The police noticed a white van parked on a driveway on the side of the Crawfords' property. (Doc. 33 ("PSOF") ¶ 7; DSOF ¶ 9.) The van differed from the two cars parked at the house because it was not clean and well-kept like the other vehicles and it was not registered to the Crawfords. ( Id. ) The police looked into the van's windows and saw tools including hammers and drills. (DSOF ¶ 13.) The officers also saw a man, later identified as Plaintiff Cleo Friederich, sleeping in the back of the van. (DSOF ¶ 14.)

Based on the contents of the van, the officers worried that Friederich might be armed. (DSOF ¶ 15.) The officers woke up Friederich to ask him his name, why he was at the Crawfords' house, and whether he knew the Crawfords. (DSOF ¶ 18.) Friederich became angry at the officers and swore at them, refusing to answer their questions. (DSOF ¶¶ 19, 20.) He did not inform the officers that he is Brian Crawford's cousin. (DSOF ¶¶ 21, 22.) He would not tell the police why he was on the Crawfords' property and, while still in the van, reached for items that the officers could not see or identify. (DSOF ¶ 24.) The officers asked Friederich to exit the van and he eventually complied. (DSOF ¶¶ 26-27.) As he exited the van, Friederich waved his hands in what the police found to be a menacing manner. (DSOF ¶ 28.) While exiting or shortly after exiting the van, it is disputed whether Friederich hit Detective Williams in the face and chest. (PSOF ¶ 1; DSOF ¶ 31.) Friederich disputes that he made any physical contact with Williams. (PSOF ¶¶ 1, 3, 10-12; DSOF ¶¶ 28-31.) The police handcuffed and arrested Friederich. (DSOF ¶ 34.)

Given Friederich's continued refusal to explain his presence on the property, the neighbor's report, and the failed attempts to contact the Crawfords, Detective Williams returned to the front of the Crawfords' home and tried pounding on their door and knocking on their front windows. (DSOF ¶¶ 37-38.) The Crawfords did not respond. (DSOF ¶ 39.) The officers then entered the house through the open garage door and the unlocked door from the garage into the house. (DSOF ¶ 40.) The officers announced themselves as Mesa police officers before entering the residence and continued to make announcements as they looked for the Crawfords. (DSOF ¶¶ 41-42.) The officers heard no response until they reached the back of the house. (DSOF ¶ 43.) The Crawfords did not hear the police because they were asleep in their bedroom located "quite a distance" from the garage door. (DSOF ¶ 44.) Rosemary Crawford eventually heard the police and tried unsuccessfully to wake up her husband. (DSOF ¶ 48.) When she could not do so, she hid underneath the bed. (DSOF ¶ 49.) The police found Brian Crawford in the back bedroom, told him they were there to do a welfare check, and asked if anyone in the house needed assistance. (DSOF ¶ 51.) The police determined that Brian Crawford did not need assistance and they exited the house within three minutes of making contact with him. (DSOF ¶¶ 51-52.)

The Crawfords and Friederich (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed the instant suit against the City of Mesa, Mesa Police Department, and Mesa Police Department Officers Kaufman, Williams, Nielson, and Garcia (collectively "Officers") in Maricopa County Superior Court. (Doc. 1-2.) On February 11, 2013, Defendants removed the suit to this Court. (Doc. 1.) In their complaint, all of the Plaintiffs allege violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the individual Officers and the City of Mesa, Friederich alleges claims of battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the Officers, and the Crawfords allege claims of trespass and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the Officers. (Doc. 1-2). The Plaintiffs seek damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1-2 at 8.) Defendants now move for summary judgment (Doc. 29) and, in their Response to Defendants' Motion, Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment (Doc. 32).


I. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates "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). "[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

Substantive law determines which facts are material and "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "A fact issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Thus, the nonmoving party must show that the genuine factual issues "can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.'" Cal. Architectural Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250). Because "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge, ... [t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor" at the summary judgment stage. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Furthermore, the party opposing summary judgment "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [the party's] pleadings, but... must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Brinson v. Linda Rose Joint Venture, 53 F.3d 1044, 1049 (9th Cir. 1995).

II. § 1983 Claims and Related Tort Claims

Plaintiffs first bring claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against both Defendant Officers (Doc. 1-2 ¶¶ 16-17) and the City of Mesa ( Id. ¶¶ 33-38). The Crawfords also allege a trespass claim and a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress related to their § 1983 claim against the Officers. ( Id. ¶¶ 27-32.) Friederich alleges battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against the Officers related to his § 1983 claim. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-25.) "To sustain an action under § 1983, a plaintiff must show (1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a federal ...

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