United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.
This matter comes before the court on Defendant City of Lake Stevens' ("Lake Stevens") motion for summary judgment. ( See Mot. (Dkt. # 30).) Plaintiff Janet Moreno-Toro alleges that Lake Stevens police officers executed an unreasonable search and seizure of her residence while they were investigating a tip regarding a stolen generator. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and the relevant law, and no party having requested oral argument, the court GRANTS Lake Stevens' motion for summary judgment.
The undisputed facts regarding the Lake Stevens police officers' interaction with Ms. Moreno-Toro are set forth in the court's October 14, 2014 order granting in part Defendants' first motion for summary judgment. ( See 10/14/14 Order (Dkt. # 29) at 2-10.) The court incorporates those facts herein. In its October 14, 2014 order, the court found that the individual police officer defendants were entitled to qualified immunity for the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims asserted against them. ( See id. ) As to the state law claims, the court granted summary judgment in favor of both the individual police officer defendants and Lake Stevens. ( See id. ) Accordingly, at this time, the only claim remaining in the case is a Section 1983 claim against Lake Stevens under Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Lake Stevens now moves for summary judgment on the Monell claim. ( See Mot.) Ms. Moreno-Toro did not file an opposition to Lake Stevens' motion. ( See generally Dkt.)
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 permits a court to grant summary judgment where the moving party demonstrates (1) the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and (2) entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Galen v. Cnty. of L.A., 477 F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
If the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial, it can show the absence of an issue of material fact in two ways: (1) by producing evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's case, or (2) by showing that the nonmoving party lacks evidence of an essential element of its claim or defense. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1106 (9th Cir. 2000). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to identify specific facts from which a factfinder could reasonably find in the nonmoving party's favor. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). In determining whether the factfinder could reasonably find in the nonmoving party's favor, "the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). If the nonmoving party fails to produce enough evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact, summary judgment for the moving party is proper. Nissan Fire, 210 F.3d at 1106.
Ordinarily, under this district's local rules "[i]f a party fails to file papers in opposition to a motion, such failure may be considered by the court as an admission that the motion has merit." Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(b)(2). In the summary judgment context, however, "a nonmoving party's failure to comply with local rules does not excuse the moving party's affirmative duty under Rule 56 to demonstrate its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law." Martinez v. Stanford, 323 F.3d 1178, 1182-83 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56).
B. Monell Claims
It is well-established that "a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory." Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Instead, Lake Stevens may be held liable for its police officers' allegedly unconstitutional conduct only if Ms. Moreno-Toro demonstrates an injury resulting from the "execution of a government's policy or custom." Dietrich v. John Ascuaga's Nugget, 548 F.3d 892, 900 (9th Cir. 2008). Specifically, to establish a Section 1983 claim against Lake Stevens, Ms. Moreno-Toro must prove: (1) that she possessed a constitutional right of which she was deprived; (2) that Lake Stevens had a custom or policy; (3) that Lake Stevens' custom or policy amounts to deliberate indifference to her constitutional rights; and (4) that the custom or policy was the moving force behind the violation of her constitutional rights. See id. (internal citations omitted); accord Gibson v. Cnty. of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1185-86, 1193-94 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 694). Ms. Moreno-Toro alleges two theories of Monell liability, neither of which can survive summary judgment.
1. Affirmative Custom or Policy
First, Ms. Moreno-Toro alleges that Lake Stevens maintains an affirmative policy to "search now, obtain warrant later." (Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 16) ¶ 9.7.) Ms. Moreno-Toro, however, has provided no evidence showing that any such policy actually exists. The only incident Ms. Moreno-Toro has discussed is her own, and this incident alone does not constitute a Lake Stevens policy. See City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 823-24 (1985). "[P]roof of random acts or isolated events" does not rise to the level of a custom or policy; rather, only a "permanent and well-settled" practice leads to municipal liability. Thomson v. City of L.A., 885 F.2d 1439, 1443-44 (9th Cir. 1989). Because Ms. Moreno-Toro is unable to identify a relevant custom or policy, it goes without saying that she is also unable to show that any such policy was a moving force behind the alleged violation of her constitutional rights. As ...