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Murillo v. City of Glendale

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 11, 2018

James Murillo, et al., Plaintiffs,
City of Glendale, et al., Defendants.


          G. Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant City of Glendale's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 163). For the following reasons, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         I. The Incident

         At the summary judgment stage, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor, ” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Disputed facts are “viewed in the light most favorable to” Plaintiffs Margarita Rodriguez and Raul Murillo, the non-moving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         James Murillo, an incapacitated adult, lives with his parents, Plaintiffs Margarita Rodriguez and Raul Murillo. On October 24, 2014, Margarita called 911 because James was having a seizure. Glendale City emergency responders, including Defendants Sean Alford and Daniel Padilla, responded to the call. When the emergency personnel arrived at the residence, Margarita explained to them that James suffers from multiple mental and emotional disorders. On the recommendation of the emergency responders, Margarita and Raul agreed that James should be taken to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. James was placed on a gurney and the emergency responders began to wheel the gurney to the ambulance. As James was being wheeled from the house, he suddenly began flailing his arms and struck his father Raul in the face. Alford warned James to not hit anyone and asked him to be cooperative, explaining that they were taking him to the hospital.

         As the gurney was being wheeled down the driveway by Padilla, Alford, and others, James again began flailing his arms, this time striking Alford in the face. Alford and Padilla both responded by striking James as he lay on the gurney while two other firefighters held down James's arms. During the struggle, Padilla was also struck. At some point during this altercation Raul confronted the firefighters, attempting to have them attack him rather than his son. Alford pushed Raul away multiple times. Eventually, Raul went inside the house after being told to back away from the situation.

         As a result of the struggle between James and the emergency responders, the gurney tipped over. Two firefighters attempted to subdue the still-combative James, which they were eventually able to do by administering a chemical restraining drug. A shouting match then ensued between the responders and the family, during which Alford yelled at James, “You're (expletive) dead meat, (expletive). I'm going to have you for everything you have.” (Doc. 176-10 at 45). One firefighter (Plaintiffs do not identify who) also told Margarita and Raul that he was “going to come back and kill you and all your family.” (Doc. 176-9 at 78). Police eventually arrived, handcuffed James, and he was taken to the hospital.

         The City Attorney's Office for the City of Glendale investigated the incident. It issued a report finding that Padilla and Alford had violated Human Resources Department and Fire Department policies and procedures that prohibit the use of profane language toward the public. The Report also concluded that there was no video or eyewitness evidence that Padilla, specifically, had intended to intimidate or threaten anyone. Following the issuance of the Report, Alford was given a sixteen hour suspension without pay, and Padilla was given an eight hour suspension without pay.

         II. Procedural History

         James, Margarita, and Raul filed this action against the City of Glendale, Alford, and Padilla in the Superior Court for Maricopa County. (Doc. 1-1). Defendants then removed the action to this Court. (Doc. 1). In this Court, James Murillo completely refused to participate in the action in any way, and as a result, this Court granted Defendant's Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 102), and dismissed all of James's claims. (Doc. 153). Margarita and Raul's claims remain, and Defendants now move for summary judgment on all of them. (Doc. 163).


         I. Legal Standard

         A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows “that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit . . . will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment, ” and the disputed evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of ...

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