Baldwin et al v. Colley et al

ORDER by Judge Kandis A. Westmore denying {{47}} Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Defendant Casey Brogdon. (kawlc2, COURT STAFF)

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-02762

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 MALAD BALDWIN, et al., Case No. 15-cv-02762-KAW 8 Plaintiffs, ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR 9 v. PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO DEFENDANT CASEY BROGDON 10 JAMES COLLEY, et al., Re: Dkt. No. 47 11 Defendants. 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Plaintiffs Malad Baldwin and Kathryn Wade brought the instant lawsuit against 14 Defendants James Colley and Casey Brogdon, alleging: (1) a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim based on 15 "violation of constitutional rights under color of state law,"1 (2) assault, (3) battery, and (4) 16 negligent infliction of emotional distress ("NIED") as to Plaintiff Wade. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) 17 Defendants then moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff Wade's NIED claim. (Defs.' Mot., 18 Dkt. No. 47.) In a separate order, the Court denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment as 19 to the NIED claim against Defendant Colley. (Dkt. No. 53.) Upon consideration of the moving 20 papers and supplemental briefs, as well as the arguments presented at the April 6, 2017 motion 21 hearing, and for the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the 22 NIED claim against Defendant Brogdon is DENIED. 23 24 25 1 26 The Complaint fails to specify which constitutional rights of Plaintiffs were violated. The Court assumes that Plaintiff Malad Baldwin asserts Fourth Amendment excessive force claims, and that 27 Plaintiff Kathryn Wade does not. (See Dkt. No. 28 at 4 (joint case management conference statement, indicating that Plaintiffs are alleging "42 U.S.C. § 1983 Fourth Amendment 28 Violation").) 1 I. DISCUSSION2 2 In their moving papers, Defendants argued that summary judgment should be granted in 3 favor of Defendant Brogdon because Plaintiff Wade did not see him use any force against Plaintiff 4 Baldwin, as he was responsible only for holding Plaintiff Baldwin to the ground. (Defs.' Mot. at 5 9.) Plaintiffs opposed, arguing that "[t]he two officers were in a joint venture to effectuate the 6 arrest of [Plaintiff] Baldwin," such that "the fact that [Defendant] Colley was the one delivering 7 the blows and [Defendant] Brogdon was the one immobilizing [Plaintiff] Baldwin to receive those 8 blows provides absolutely no protection for [Defendant] Brogdon against liability" for emotional 9 distress to Plaintiff Wade. (Plfs.' Opp'n at 9.) Neither party provided legal authority in support of 10 their position. (See Defs.' Mot. at 9; Plfs.' Opp'n at 9, Dkt. No. 49; Defs.' Mot. at 8-9.) At the April 6, 2017 hearing, the Court permitted the parties to provide supplemental briefing on the 11 applicability of the "integral participant" theory. (Dkt. No. 51.) On April 10, 2017, Defendants 12 Northern District of California United States District Court filed their supplemental brief. (Defs.' Supp. Brief, Dkt. No. 52.) On April 17, 2017, Plaintiffs 13 filed their responsive supplemental brief. (Plfs.' Suppl. Brief, Dkt. No. 54.) 14 "In the Ninth Circuit, a plaintiff may hold multiple police officers liable when at least one 15 officer violates the plaintiff's constitutional rights based on an 'integral participant' theory of 16 liability." Bresaz v. Cty of. Santa Clara, Case No. 14-cv-3868-LHK, 2015 WL 1230316, at *3 17 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 2015) (citing Chuman v. Wright, 76 F.3d 292, 295 (9th Cir. 1996)). Integral 18 participation "require[s] some fundamental involvement in the conduct that allegedly caused the 19 violation." Blankenhorn v. City of Orange, 485 F.3d 463, 481 n.12 (9th Cir. 2007). For example, 20 an officer who arrives at a scene after an arrest was completed "d[oes] not participate in any 21 integral way in the arrest." Id. By contrast, an officer's assistance in handcuffing a plaintiff which 22 "was instrumental in the officers' gaining control of [the plaintiff,] which culminated in [the] 23 application of hobble restraints," is integral to the application of the hobble restraints. Id. 24 Defendants argue that the "'integral participant' theory does not appear to apply in the 25 context of state tort claims," but are unable to point to any authority. Instead, in support of this 26 27 2 The facts, standard of review, and evidentiary objections were discussed in the Court's order 28 denying Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the NEID claim against Defendant Colley. (Dkt. No. 53 at 2-5.) The Court incorporates that discussion into this order. 2 1 argument Defendants point to the lack "of any authority that states this theory of liability may be 2 applied in state tort claims, and more specifically to hold a defendant liable for NIED as an 3 'integral participant' when their own conduct would not be grounds for specific NIED recovery." 4 (Defs.' Supp. Brief at 2.) Defendants, however, cite to Bresaz, which did apply an integral 5 participant theory to an NIED claim. (Id.) There, the plaintiffs had brought claims, including an 6 NIED claim,3 against two officers who responded to a call about the decedent, who had a history 7 of mental illness. 2015 WL 1230316, at *1. Although the officers allegedly should have known 8 they were responding to a call regarding a person with mental health issues, one of the officers 9 approached the decedent from behind, causing the decedent further distress. Id. at *2. The 10 decedent then moved towards the officer, and the second officer moved quickly towards the 11 decedent, causing the decedent to swing his key chain at the officers. The second officer shot the 12 decedent in the stomach, killing him. Id. The district court denied the motion to dismiss the Northern District of California United States District Court 13 claims against the officer who did not shoot, applying the integral participant theory. Id. at *5. 14 Oddly, Plaintiffs appear to disclaim the use of the integral participant theory, arguing that 15 "[n]either Plaintiffs nor Defendants have ever invoked the 'integral participant' theory in this case," 16 and that "[t]he doctrine has no applicability to the case now at bar." (Plfs.' Supp. Brief at 2.) 17 Plaintiffs repeat arguments about NIED generally, relying on cases that the Court already 18 explained were rejected by the California Supreme Court. (Dkt. No. 53 at 7 (explaining that the 19 California Supreme Court had rejected Archibald v. Braverman, 275 Cal. App. 2d 253 (1969) and 20 Nazaroff v. Superior Court, 80 Cal. App. 3d 553 (1978)); Plfs.' Supp. Brief at 3-4 (citing to 21 Archibald and Nazaroff)). Even if those cases were still good law -- which they are not -- they are 22 not relevant to the instant discussion because those cases concern contemporaneous observation. 23 In contrast, Defendants' motion concerns whether Defendant Brogdon can be held liable for 24 holding Plaintiff Baldwin down when Plaintiff Wade did not actually witness him beat Plaintiff 25 Baldwin. 26 Plaintiffs' disclaimer of the integral participant theory seems to be based on a fundamental 27 3 28 See Bresaz, Case No. 14-cv-3868-LHK, Dkt. No. 1 (the plaintiff's complaint, bringing NIED claim against all of the defendants). 3 1 misunderstanding of the integral participant theory, as Plaintiffs argue that Defendant Brogdon can 2 be held liable for his "indispensable assistance. . . in keeping Plaintiff Baldwin immobilized 3 against the ground" while Defendant Colley beat Plaintiff Baldwin. (Plfs.' Supp. Brief at 4.) This 4 is, in essence, how the integral participant theory applies. Here, Plaintiff Wade witnessed 5 Defendant Brogdon holding Plaintiff Baldwin down while Defendant Colley beat him with a 6 flashlight. (Blechman Decl., Exh. B ("Wade Dep.") at 107:20-21, 108:9-13, Dkt. No. 47-1.) By 7 holding Plaintiff Baldwin down by his neck, Defendant Brogdon was able to control Plaintiff 8 Baldwin, which allowed Defendant Colley to commit the alleged violation. Thus, the Court 9 concludes that Defendant Brogdon was an integral participant to the alleged violation, comparable 10 to the officer who is integral to the application of hobble restraints by assisting in handcuffing a 11 plaintiff which in turn, allows the officers to gain control of the plaintiff in order to apply the 12 hobble restraints. See Blankenhorn, 485 F.3d at 481 n.12; see also Bresaz, 2015 WL 1230316, at Northern District of California United States District Court 13 *3-5 (denying motion to dismiss claims -- including NIED claim -- based on the integral 14 participant theory). He may, therefore, be held liable for Plaintiff Wade's NIED claim; this is a 15 question of fact for the jury to decide. 16 II. CONCLUSION 17 For the reasons stated above, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion for summary 18 judgment as to Defendant Brogdon. 19 This order disposes of Docket No. 47. 20 IT IS SO ORDERED. 21 Dated: April 21, 2017 __________________________________ 22 KANDIS A. WESTMORE 23 United States Magistrate Judge 24 25 26 27 28 4