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Young v. Young

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

September 27, 2018

ELIZABETH YOUNG and NICHOLAS KETRON, Plaintiffs,
v.
JESSE COLE YOUNG, a Monticello City Police Officer, in his individual and official capacities; KENT ADAIR, Former Monticello City Chief of Police, in his individual and official capacities; CLAYTON BLACK, Monticello City Chief of Police, in his individual and official capacities; TY BAILEY, Monticello City Manager, in his individual and official capacities; RICK M. BAILEY, San Juan Administrator, in his individual and official capacities; SUE REDD, San Juan County Dispatcher, in her individual and official capacities; JOSEPH HARRIS, a San Juan County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacities; MONTICELLO CITY; SAN JUAN COUNTY and JOHN DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING [70] MONTICELLO DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          DAVID NUFFER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants Monticello City, City Manager Ty Bailey, and Chief of Police Clayton Black (collectively “Monticello Defendants”) moved for summary judgment (the “Motion”)[1] on the causes of action that Plaintiffs Elizabeth Young and Nicholas Ketron (collectively “Plaintiffs”) brought against the Monticello Defendants: the first, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth causes of action of the Complaint.[2] Plaintiffs responded to the motion.[3] The Monticello Defendants replied in support.[4]

         As the following Memorandum Decision explains, the Motion is GRANTED as to the first and eighth causes of action, the only causes of action involving federal questions against the Monticello Defendants. Those causes of action are dismissed with prejudice. The Motion is also GRANTED as to the fourth, fifth, and seventh causes of action. Dismissal of these causes of action is without prejudice because pendent jurisdiction will not be exercised over these Utah state law causes of action.

         Contents

         BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................................ 3

         STANDARD OF REVIEW ............................................................................................................ 5

         UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS ............................................................................................ 5

         DISCUSSION ................................................................................................................................. 7

         Plaintiffs' First Cause of Action Does Not Allege a Constitutional Violation by a Municipal Officer for Which the Monticello Defendants Could Be Held Liable in Their Individual or Official Capacities ................................................................... 7

         1. Defendant Young's Actions Are Not Actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Because He Was Not Acting Under the Color of State Law ...................... 8

         2. The First Cause of Action Does Not Specify a Constitutional Violation by Any Other Municipal Officer .................................................................... 10

         3. In the Absence of a Constitutional Violation by an Employee, Defendant Bailey Cannot Be Held Liable in his Individual Capacity as a Supervisor. ................................................................................................................... 11

         Plaintiffs' Eighth Cause of Action Does Not Allege a Specific Constitutional Violation by a Municipal Officer for Which the Monticello Defendants Could Be Held Liable .................................................................................................................... 11

         The District Court Will Not Exercise Pendent Jurisdiction over the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Causes of Action Against the Monticello Defendants ............. 12

         ORDER ......................................................................................................................................... 13

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs allege that on the night of December 2, 2015, Defendant Jesse Cole Young, then an officer with the Monticello Police Department, attempted to enter the home of Plaintiff Young without notice or invitation.[5] Although the home was the marital home of Plaintiff Elizabeth Young and Defendant Jesse Cole Young, they were separated at the time and were abiding by a tacit agreement that they maintain separate residences.[6] Upon entering the home, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Young assaulted Plaintiff Ketron by throwing Plaintiff Ketron into a sectional sofa, causing Plaintiff Ketron to hit his head on the nearby wall.[7] Defendant Young is also alleged to have shoved Plaintiff Ketron.[8]

         Plaintiff Young then called 911 and informed the dispatcher, Defendant Redd, of the incident.[9] Plaintiffs then left the home and retreated to an outdoor pavilion on the grounds of a nearby church building.[10] Plaintiffs allege that no emergency responders arrived in the 30 minutes following the call to 911.[11] Plaintiffs allege that Plaintiff Young called 911 a second time and spoke with Defendant Redd once more.[12] Defendant Redd's alleged response to this second call was that emergency services would be dispatched the following morning since it was after midnight.[13] Plaintiffs then got into a vehicle and drove into the nearby mountains to hide for the night.[14] Plaintiffs allege that they did not receive emergency assistance until 10:00 a.m. the following morning.[15]

         Plaintiff Young also alleges that on July 22-23, 2016, Defendant Young held a yard sale and sold items from the marital residence.[16] Plaintiff Young called the Monticello Police and spoke with Defendant Black to report a theft. Defendant Black informed Ms. Young that the property was communal and took no action.[17] Plaintiff's Complaint names the Monticello Defendants in five causes of action: the first cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failure to supervise and/or train Defendant Young and Defendant Redd;[18] the fourth cause of action for due process violations under the Utah Constitution as to Plaintiff Young;[19] the fifth cause of action for due process violations under the Utah Constitution as to Plaintiff Ketron;[20] the seventh cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress;[21] and the eighth cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for trespass to chattels as to Plaintiff Young.[22] The Monticello Defendants seek the dismissal with prejudice of each of these causes of action against them.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”[23] A factual dispute is genuine when “there is sufficient evidence on each side so that a rational trier of fact could resolve the issue either way.”[24] In determining whether there is a genuine dispute as to material fact, the court should “view the factual record and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom most favorably to the nonmovant.”[25] The moving party “bears the initial burden of making a prima facie demonstration of the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.”[26]

         UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS[27]

         1. At the time Defendant Young entered Plaintiff's Young's home on December 2, 2015, he was not on duty.[28]

         2. Defendant Young had driven his personal truck and not his patrol car to the home.[29]

         3. Defendant Young was not wearing his uniform or any other police attire.[30]

         4. Defendant Young did not threaten Plaintiff Ketron or Plaintiff Young with a weapon.[31]

         5. He did not purport to cite or arrest Plaintiff Ketron or Plaintiff Young.[32]

         6. Defendant Young did not say anything about being a police officer.[33]

         7. Defendant Young did he show his badge or reference any police business.[34]

         8. Plaintiff Ketron or Plaintiff Young were not placed under arrest.[35]

         9. At the time that Defendant Redd received Plaintiff Young's 911 call, Defendant Redd was employed by San Juan County.[36]

         10. Monticello City did not control or supervise Defendant Redd's conduct.[37]

         11. Defendant Bailey was not personally involved in the December 2, 2015 incident nor failed to take any action that led to the incident on that night.[38]

         12. There is no evidence that Police Chief Defendant Black took any property that Plaintiff Young complains was wrongfully taken by way of Defendant Young's yard sale.[39]

         DISCUSSION

         For the purposes of the following discussion section, the first and eighth causes of action will be analyzed before the other claims since they are the only causes of action which invoke federal question jurisdiction. Following the analysis of those two causes of action, the Utah state law based causes of action, the fourth, fifth, and seventh, will be discussed.

         Plaintiffs' First Cause of Action Does Not Allege a Constitutional Violation by a Municipal Officer for Which the Monticello Defendants Could Be Held Liable in Their Individual or Official Capacities

         Plaintiffs' first cause of action alleges that Monticello City, through City Manager Defendant Bailey (and Defendant former Police Chief Kent Adair[40]), is liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because Monticello City failed to “institute[] a training program for its officers and instructed them about the impropriety and illegality of unlawful detention or other misconduct against citizens during citizen encounters.”[41]

         The United States Supreme Court has determined that “when a § 1983 claim is asserted against a municipality” two separate issues must be analyzed: “(1) whether plaintiff's harm was caused by a constitutional violation, and (2) if so, whether the city is responsible for that violation.”[42] For the underlying constitutional violation issue under § 1983, the Tenth Circuit has articulated that a plaintiff must prove two elements: “(1) deprivation of a federally protected right by (2) an actor acting under color of state law.”[43]

         If the predicate constitutional violation is shown, the issue of municipal liability can be considered.[44] The Tenth Circuit has recognized that “[a] municipality may be liable under § 1983 where the plaintiff identifies an unconstitutional policy that caused the claimed injury.”[45] The United States Supreme Court has specified that this liability extends, in a limited fashion, to the failure to adequately train or supervise municipal officers because “a local government's decision not to train certain employees about their legal duty to avoid violating citizens' rights may rise to the level of an official government policy for purposes of § 1983.”[46]

         In applying these standards to Plaintiffs' first cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Monticello Defendants, it is clear that the cause of action must be dismissed because it does not allege a constitutional violation by a municipal employee. The facts are undisputed that Defendant Young was not acting under the color of state law on the night of December 2, 2015. Additionally, the cause of action fails to articulate any other actionable constitutional violation by Defendant Redd. Each of these determinations is discussed below.

         1. Defendant Young's Actions Are Not Actionable under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 Because He Was Not ...


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