United States District Court, D. Oregon
Crockett Pro Se Plaintiff
C. Lewis Richard P. Freud KRAEMER & LEWIS Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff Chuck Crockett brings this civil rights action
alleging violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendment rights against Defendants City of Gresham and
Officer H. Carranza ID#53795. Defendants move for summary
judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. Def. Mot. Summ. J.
(“Def. Mot.”), ECF 18. For the reasons that
follow, the Court grants in part and denies in part
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
the evening on January 4, 2018, Plaintiff was stopped by
Defendant Carranza, a Gresham Police Officer, while driving a
Cadillac DeVille in southeast Portland. First Lewis Decl. Ex.
1 (Crockett Dep.) 15:12-15, ECF 19; Second Lewis Decl. Ex. 3
(Crockett Dep.) 13:9- 12, ECF 24; First Crockett Decl. Ex. 8
(“Police Rept.”) at 1, ECF 21. Defendant Carranza
stopped Plaintiff because he believed Plaintiff was driving
at night with non-functioning taillights. Police Rept. 1. In
his report, Defendant Carranza also noted that the vehicle
did not have license plates. Id. Photos of the
vehicle taken by Defendant Carranza that evening show that
the car had a trip permit in its rear window. First Lewis
Decl. Ex. 8.
approaching the car to talk to Plaintiff, the parties began
to dispute the reason for the stop. Police Rept. 1.
Plaintiff asked Defendant Carranza why he was stopping
Plaintiff. Id. Defendant Carranza informed Plaintiff
that he was driving without taillights, to which Plaintiff
responded that the Officer was lying. Id. Plaintiff
insisted that it was “impossible” because the
lights and taillights are “automatically on at
night.” First Lewis Decl. Ex. 1 (Crockett Dep.)
30:10-16. According to Defendant Carranza, Plaintiff
subsequently “reached toward his dashboard and
manipulated a knob” causing “the head lights of
the vehicle [to turn] on and off.” Police Rept.
1. Plaintiff asserts that he “flicked the
lights to show him that . . . the lights worked” and
Defendant Carranza “got upset[, ] . . . put his hand in
the car[, ] and almost hit [him] in the eye[.]” First
Lewis Decl. Ex.1 (Crockett Dep.) 37:3-14.
Carranza asked Plaintiff for his driver license,
registration, and proof of insurance. Police Rept. 1; First
Lewis Decl. Ex. 1 (Crockett Dep.) 30:17-20. Plaintiff
continued to insist Defendant Carranza had no basis to stop
him and refused to provide the documents. Police Rept. 1;
First Lewis Decl. Ex. 1 (Crockett Dep.) 30:21-31:13.
Defendant Carranza responded that he had lawfully stopped him
as his taillights were not turned on or non-functioning and
that Plaintiff was required by law to provide his license.
Police Rept. 1. Again, Plaintiff claimed that his
lights were on and that he did not have to comply with
Defendant Carranza's request. Id.
Carranza requested Plaintiff's license a second time, and
Plaintiff responded that he did not have one and quickly
recited his license number. Id. Plaintiff testified
that he accidentally left his license at home. First Lewis
Decl. Ex. 1 (Crockett Dep.) 32:22-25. Defendant Carranza
asked Plaintiff to repeat it so he could write it down, and
Plaintiff said that he had already provided it to the officer
and “was no longer required to repeat it.” Police
Carranza informed Plaintiff that it was a crime to fail to
carry or present his license. Id. Plaintiff insisted
that Defendant Carranza had no reason to stop him and,
therefore, that he was not required to identify himself.
Id. Defendant Carranza responded that he had
lawfully stopped him, and Plaintiff once again quickly
recited his license number. Id. Defendant Carranza
repeated the number back to Plaintiff to confirm that it was
correct. Id. Plaintiff laughed and claimed he did
not have to provide his driver license number anymore.
Carranza then arrested Plaintiff for failing to carry or
present his driver license. Id. In his deposition,
Plaintiff testified that he was “pulled and yanked out
of the car, ” put in handcuffs, and placed in the back
of the patrol car. First Lewis Decl. Ex. 1 (Crockett Dep.)
92:6-16; id. at 20-24 (Dep. Ex. 8). Plaintiff was
not read his Miranda rights. Id. at 95:16-17,
100:7-11. At some point after that, Plaintiff identified
himself as Chuck Crockett. Police Rept. 1. After
viewing a DMV photo of Plaintiff and confirming his identity,
Defendant Carranza discovered that Plaintiff's license
was suspended and issued Plaintiff a citation for driving
while suspended. Id.; First Lewis Decl. Ex. 3.
Carranza indicated that Plaintiff's vehicle was
“parked at an angle about 24 inches from the sidewalk
curb on the north side of the street . . . . partially
blocking the unmarked westbound lane on SE Alder St.”
Police Rept. 1. Accordingly, Defendant Carranza deemed the
vehicle a hazard. Id.; First Crockett Decl. Ex. 11
(Tow Receipt) (indicating that the vehicle was
“abandoned, parked illegally or hazardously”).
Defendant Carranza inventoried and photographed the vehicle
where it was parked. Police Rept. 2; First Lewis Decl. Ex. 8
(photograph of vehicle). The vehicle was subsequently towed.
Police Rept. 2. One of the owners of the vehicle,
Elyse Spencer, was on the Oregon coast at the time of the
incident and unable to get back to Portland before Officer
Carranza called for a tow truck. Second Lewis Decl. Ex. 6
(Spencer Dep.) 12:3-13:1; Second Crockett Decl. Ex. 5
(“Spencer Decl.”) ¶ 1, ECF 28. Dorothy
Wickersham, the other owner of the vehicle, and Phillip
Sanders both arrived at the scene, but neither had a valid
driver license. Second Lewis Decl. Ex. 4 (Wickersham Dep.)
20:15-18; Spencer Decl. ¶ 4; Second Lewis Decl. Ex. 5
(Sanders Dep.) 8:1-8.
Carranza then released Plaintiff. First Lewis Decl. Ex. 1
(Crockett Dep.) 78:13-80:4. He allegedly pressed Plaintiff
against the patrol car and told him to spread his legs
further and further. Id. at 78:13-25. Plaintiff
objected to spreading his legs, and Defendant Carranza
allegedly told him repeatedly to “stop
resisting.” Id. at 78:25-80:4. Finally,
Plaintiff “screamed out for help, ” and Defendant
Carranza laughed and told him “nobody is going to
fucking help you.” Id. at 79:8-15. Defendant
Carranza then let Plaintiff out of his handcuffs.
Id. at 79:17-24. Plaintiff thanked him for letting
him out of the cuffs and walked away “cussing him
out.” Id. at 80:1-4. As a result of the
officer's use of handcuffs, Plaintiff was left with red
marks on his wrists. Id. at 87:1-90:15.
citation issued to Plaintiff instructed Plaintiff to appear
at the Multnomah County Circuit Court in East County at 5:00
PM on January 30, 2018. First Lewis Decl. Ex. 3 at 1.
However, the courthouse was not open at that time. First
Lewis Decl. Ex. (Crockett Dep.) 95:10- 23. Because the court
was closed when Plaintiff was supposed to appear, the ticket
“went against” him. Id. at 96:1-5.
Plaintiff's court date was reset. Id. at 96:6-9;
Second Crockett Decl. Ex. 4.
subsequently filed this lawsuit in state court, alleging
violations of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments. Notice of Removal Ex. 1 (Compl.), ECF
1; First Am. Compl. (“FAC”), ECF 5. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Carranza violated his Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they pulled him over
without probable cause, removed him from his vehicle,
detained him, used “unnecessary force” while
detaining him, and searched his person and vehicle. Compl. 1.
He alleges his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when he
was detained and Defendant Carranza failed to read him his
Miranda rights. Id. He contends that his
due process rights were violated when “Officer Carranza
. . . purposely falsified documents” and
“intentionally put the wrong time to appear at court on
the ticket.” Id.; FAC 2. Plaintiff also
alleges that Defendant City of Gresham is liable because it
“supports the officers' actions and denies any
wrong doing” and its “invalidated support of
officer practices creates a policy of violating people's
rights.” FAC 3. He also asserts that Defendant City of
Gresham “is known to defend officer practices knowing
the officer is guilty of violating a citizens rights.”
Id. Plaintiff seeks $105, 000 in damages. FAC 4.
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court
of the basis of its motion and identifying those portions of
“‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
the moving party meets its initial burden of demonstrating
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden
then shifts to the nonmoving party to present “specific
facts” showing a “genuine issue for trial.”
Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d 924,
927-28 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and
designate facts showing an issue for trial. Bias v.
Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1218 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).
substantive law governing a claim determines whether a fact
is material. Suever v. Connell, 579 F.3d 1047, 1056
(9th Cir. 2009). The court draws inferences from the facts in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Earl v.
Nielsen Media Research, Inc., 658 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th
Cir. 2011). If the factual context makes the nonmoving
party's claim as to the existence of a material issue of
fact implausible, that party must come forward with more
persuasive evidence to support his claim than would otherwise
be necessary. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Summary judgment
is improper where divergent ultimate inferences may
reasonably be drawn from the undisputed facts.”
Fresno Motors, LLC v. Mercedes Benz USA, LLC, 771
F.3d 1119, 1125 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks
omitted); see also Int'l Union of Bricklayers &
Allied Craftsman Local Union No. 20, AFL-CIO v. Martin Jaska,
Inc., 752 F.2d 1401, 1405 (9th Cir. 1985) (“Even
where the basic facts are stipulated, if the parties dispute
what inferences should be drawn from them, summary judgment
42 U.S.C. § 1983:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or
other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law[.]
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must both (1)
allege the deprivation of a right secured by the federal
Constitution or statutory law, and (2) allege that the
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063,
1067 (9th Cir. 2006). Government officials may be entitled to
qualified immunity for claims brought under § 1983. To
determine whether a government official is entitled to
qualified immunity, “[t]he court must first determine
whether, examining the facts in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff, the official violated the plaintiff's
constitutional rights.” Barnes v. Gower, No.
2:12-CV-01880-HZ, 2015 WL 736348, at *8 (D. Or. Feb. 17,
2015) (citing Clement v. Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 903
(9th Cir. 2002)). Then, if the court concludes the official
violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights, it must
determine “whether the right was clearly
established.” Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 294,
appears to bring seven claims for relief under §
1983: (1) a Fourth Amendment claim for lack of
probable cause during the traffic stop; (2) a Fourth
Amendment claim for wrongful arrest and for the unlawful
search of Plaintiff's person and vehicle; (3) a Fifth
Amendment claim for failure to read Plaintiff his
Miranda rights; (4) a Fourteenth Amendment due
process claim for providing a wrong appearance time on the
citation; (5) a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim for
the tow of the vehicle; (6) a Fourth Amendment excessive
force claim; and (7) a Monell liability claim
against Defendant City of Gresham. Defendants move for
summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's claims.
Defendants argue: (1) Defendant Carranza is entitled to
qualified immunity, primarily because Plaintiff cannot
establish a violation of any constitutional right; and (2)
Plaintiff has failed to establish a claim for Monell
liability against Defendant City of Gresham.
a reasonable jury could find that Defendant Carranza violated
Plaintiff's rights in making the initial traffic stop and
in the amount of force Defendant Carranza used against
Plaintiff, the Court denies Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment on these Fourth Amendment claims. As to the
rest of Plaintiff's claims, however, the Court grants
Defendants motion. As a matter of law, Plaintiff cannot
demonstrate that Defendant violated Plaintiff's rights in
searching his person and vehicle, arresting him, towing his
vehicle, or failing to inform him of his Miranda