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Anderson v. Houston

United States District Court, D. Utah

February 4, 2019

CAMERON ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC J. HOUSTON, Deputy Sheriff; BARRY L. HUNTINGTON; SEAN D. REYES, Attorney General; MARIAN DECKER, Assistant Attorney General; GARFIELD COUNTY, and STATE OF UTAH Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER ADOPTING, IN PART, REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Clark Waddoups United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Cameron Anderson, (Mr. Anderson) proceeding pro se, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 against (1) Sean D. Reyes, Attorney General of Utah; (2) Marian Decker, Assistant Attorney General of Utah; (3) the State of Utah (the court refers to Defendants 1-3 as the “State Defendants”); (4) Eric J. Houston, Garfield County Deputy Sheriff; (5) Barry L. Huntington, Garfield County Attorney; and (6) Garfield County (the court refers to Defendants 4-6 as the “County Defendants”). As explained below, the court adopts Magistrate Judge Furse's recommendation as to the State Defendants. The court dismisses the action as to the County Defendants for failure of service.

         Background

         On or about December 23, 2011 “on a cold late . . . evening, ” State v. Anderson, 2015 UT 90, ¶ 3, 362 P.3d 1232, 1234, Mr. Anderson “was traveling through Garfield County, State of Utah.” (ECF No. 4-1 at 30.) “Around 10:00 p.m., ” “Mr. Anderson pulled his car over to the side of a rural highway and turned on his hazard lights.” Anderson, 362 P.3d at 1234. Mr. Anderson had a sleeping bag, coat, and other clothing in the car. (See ECF No. 18 at 18.)

         “Two Garfield County sheriff's deputies, ” id. “Deputy Houston and Deputy Pollock, ” (ECF No. 4-1 at 86) “noticed Mr. Anderson's hazard lights while they were driving down the highway.” Anderson, 362 P.3d at 1234. “Because of the hazard lights, the cold weather, and the late hour, the deputies decided to stop and check on the welfare of any occupants of the vehicle.” Anderson, 362 P.3d at 1234. The deputies “pulled over to the side of the road behind Mr. Anderson” and “engaged the red and blue lights of their police vehicle.” Anderson, 362 P.3d at 1234.

         “When the deputies made contact with Mr. Anderson . . . they noticed that his eyes appeared to be bloodshot.” Id. at 1234. “The deputies asked Mr. Anderson to exit his car, and he complied.” Id. “He did not sway or move in a suspicious manner.” Id. “The deputies asked Mr. Anderson to empty his pockets and he produced a pill bottle with a valid prescription.” Id. “Mr. Anderson declined the deputies' request to complete a field sobriety test . . . .” Id. at 1235.

         After Mr. Anderson declined the field sobriety test, Deputy Sheriff Houston arrested Mr. Anderson for suspicion of DUI. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 170 (“Q. So, what are you placing him under arrest for? A. Suspicion of DUI.”).) One of the officers took Mr. Anderson to the jail at that time. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) After the officers arrested Mr. Anderson, they “transported” his “vehicle” “by tow truck to the Sheriff's Office.” (ECF No. 4-1 at 170.)

         After Deputy Sheriff Houston had Mr. Anderson “in [his] custody, ” he sought a warrant. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) Deputy Sheriff Houston “went to the [state] judge's house” to obtain the warrant. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) A state judge issued the warrant. (See ECF No. 18 at 6.) The warrant established the existence of “probable cause for issuance of a search/arrest warrant.” (ECF No. 18 at 5.) The warrant authorized the Deputy Sheriffs to “obtain blood or urine from the body of” Mr. Anderson “to determine the controlled content thereof.” (ECF No. 18 at 5.) The warrant also authorized the Deputy Sheriffs to “arrest” Mr. Anderson and “search his vehicle . . . .” (ECF No. 18 at 5.)

         After “the warrant was issued” Deputy Sheriff Houston “[w]ent back to the jail where [Mr. Anderson] was being detained . . . .” (ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) The officers then got “a bodily fluid sample, ” from Mr. Anderson. (ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) The officers sent this sample to “MedTox Laboratories.” (ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) Based on the record available to the court, MedTox received this sample on January 6, 2012. (See ECF No. 18 at 16.) The laboratory tested the sample and it returned “negative for all drugs including the prescription bottle that he had.” (ECF No. 4-1 at 170; see also ECF No. 18 at 16.)

         After the Deputy Sheriffs obtained “the bodily fluids, ” Deputy Sheriff Houston and two other deputies “went out to [Mr. Anderson's rental] vehicle and searched the vehicle.” (See ECF No. 4-1 at 170.) The search of the vehicle “yielded marijuana and drug paraphernalia.” Anderson, 362 P.3d at 1234.

         At some point after the search, Mr. Anderson's rental car was transported from the Sheriff's Office to Bryce Canyon Towing. (See ECF No. 17 at 10.) The Bryce Canyon Towing lot was located approximately 22-miles from the Sheriff's Office. (ECF No. 4-1 at 19.) Mr. Anderson's sleeping bag, coat, and other clothing remained in the rental car. (See ECF No. 18 at 18.) The Sheriff's Office apparently made no effort to keep these items among Mr. Anderson's personal effects.

         Mr. Anderson was released from the Sheriff's custody on December 24, 2011. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 19; see also ECF No. 17 at 10.) When “he was released from custody” he was “wearing cotton jeans, sandals, and a t-shirt . . . .” (ECF No. 4-1 at 19.) The Garfield County “custodian[]” had “knowledge” that Mr. Anderson's rental car was located at Bryce Canyon Towing-22 miles away, but nevertheless instructed him to make the trip on his bicycle. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 19; see also ECF No. 17 at 10 (“Further upon release from jail on the 24th of December 2011 mid-day, Anderson was given his bicycle and told to ride from the current location, 22 miles up to the Bryce Canyon Towing impound lot where the rental car (current shelter) had been stored . . . .”).) Mr. Anderson “thus rode his bicycle until [he was] offered a ride . . . .” (ECF No. 4-1 at 19.) The temperature that day was “at or below 7 degrees.” (ECF No. 4-1 at 19.) Mr. Anderson made the trip in order to “retrieve his warm clothing, tools, spare tubes, bicycle repair kit, food[, ] and other belongings, ” (ECF No. 17 at 10) including a sleeping bag. (ECF No. 18 at 18.)

         “The State [later] charged Mr. Anderson with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.” State v. Anderson, 2015 UT 90, ¶ 6, 362 P.3d 1232, 1235. Mr. Anderson moved to suppress the evidence obtained in his vehicle, but the district court denied the motion, concluding that the “stop was justified by the community caretaking doctrine.” Id. “A jury subsequently found Mr. Anderson guilty of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.” Id. Mr. Anderson then appealed to the Utah Supreme Court. Id.

         On October 28, 2015, the Utah Supreme Court issued an opinion affirming Mr. Anderson's conviction. See id. at 1240. The Utah Supreme Court “conclude[d] that the community caretaking doctrine justified the stop” and held that “the seizure did not violate the Fourth Amendment.” Id. at 1234. In reaching this conclusion, the Utah Supreme Court “conclude[d] that a reasonable officer would have cause to be concerned about the welfare of a motorist in Mr. Anderson's situation, ” in large part because of the subfreezing temperature. See id. at 1240.

         On January 26, 2016, Mr. Anderson filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 22.) The United States Supreme Court denied Mr. Anderson's petition for writ of certiorari on or around May 16, 2016.

         On September 1, 2016, Mr. Anderson filed, in this court, a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1.) On September 12, 2016, Magistrate Judge Pead entered an Order granting that Motion. (ECF No. 3.) On September 4, 2016, Mr. Anderson filed a Complaint. (ECF No. 4.) The case was assigned to Judge Parrish on that date. (ECF No. 4.)

         In his Complaint, Mr. Anderson alleged that each of the six defendants named above violated his “4th Amendment Right to Privacy.” (See ECF No. 4 at 2-3.) Mr. Anderson's attachment to the Complaint details some of the facts surrounding his December 23, 2011 arrest in Garfield County described above. (See ECF No. 4-1.)

         In describing the nature of the case, Mr. Anderson stated: “Please note the Writ of Certiorari enclosed within the package which explains how the Deputy Sheriff Houston put me in harms way and caused monetary damages in detaining, illegally searching, seizing my property, and then releasing me without my warm weather clothing in the dead of winter.” (ECF No. 4 at 3.) Included as an attachment to the Complaint was, among other things, his Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. (See ECF No. 4-1 at 1-22.) In this Petition, Mr. Anderson described how “he was released from custody wearing cotton jeans, sandals, and a t-shirt with the custodian's knowledge that he had to ride [his] bicycle 22 miles from 6650 feet up to 7500 feet in the dead of Utah's winter to retrieve his belongings out of the seized rental car putting him in harm's way.” (ECF No. 4-1 at 19.)

         Mr. Anderson listed two causes of action in his Complaint. (See ECF No. 4 at 4.) The first was for a “breach of [his] 4th Amendment Right to Privacy.” (ECF No. 4 at 4.) The second was for “breach of [his] ...


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