United States District Court, E.D. Washington
JESSICA SHELL and PHILIP SHELL, and the marital community comprised thereof, Plaintiffs,
FERRY COUNTY; FERRY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, SHERIFF PETE WARNER, DEPUTY TALON VENTURO, DEPUTY PATRICK RAINIER, DEPUTY ODEGARD, DEPUTY WINTERS, PAMELA STODDARD, BRAD MILLER, and VALERIE MACINTYRE, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING FERRY COUNTY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, IN PART; GRANTING IN PART
Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge.
the Court is the Ferry County Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment, ECF No. 24. The motion was heard without
oral argument. Plaintiffs are represented by Douglas Phelps.
Defendants are represented by Brian Christensen.
judgment is appropriate if the “pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c). There is no genuine issue for trial unless there is
sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury
to return a verdict in that party's favor. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The
moving party has the initial burden of showing the absence of
a genuine issue of fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the moving party
meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must go beyond
the pleadings and “set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.
at 325; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
addition to showing there are no questions of material fact,
the moving party must also show it is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Smith v. University of Washington Law
School, 233 F.3d 1188, 1193 (9th Cir. 2000). The moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the
non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of a claim on which the non-moving party
has the burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
The non-moving party cannot rely on conclusory allegations
alone to create an issue of material fact. Hansen v.
United States, 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th Cir. 1993).
considering a motion for summary judgment, a court may
neither weigh the evidence nor assess credibility; instead,
“the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and
all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
County Sheriff Dispatch received a letter, dated January 19,
2013, from Forget Me Not Animal Shelter regarding an
emaciated and wounded dog. The letter, written by Kim Gillen,
the Executive Director of the Shelter, details the receipt of
a Pitbull on January 17, 2013 that was extremely thin and
with possible frostbite and includes the conclusion by two
vets that the dog had not been lost for a long time, but was
instead receiving inadequate food and medical care at his
home. The letter goes on to explain that on January 18, 2013,
the Shelter received an anonymous message that said the
dog's name was Brewster, that he was owned by Phil
“Steel” and Jessica “Shaw, ” who have
been breeding and attempting to sell Pitbulls, and there may
be 14 or more dogs and puppies in similar condition. The
person also expressed concern about some small children that
are living at the residence in possibly unfit conditions.
Gillen provided an address that she thought was the
Shell's based on a previous Shelter interaction with Ms.
Shell, as well as Ms. Shell's phone number. The Shelter
requested the Sheriff's Department conduct a welfare
check on the pets at the residence and also indicated that
based on the condition of the Pitbull currently at the
Shelter, Ms. Gillen was in favor of cruelty charges being
brought against the owners.
days later, on January 24, 2013 around 8:30 a.m., Deputy
Talon Venturo and another agent conducted the requested welfare
check. Plaintiffs' residence is located at 95 Goodrich
Road, or Forest Service Road 2149. While attempting to drive
to the residence they were unable to drive any further than
the intersection of the North Fork Trout Cr and Forest
Service Road 2149. North Fork Trout Cr was plowed to the
Empire Snow Park, so the officers parked the patrol vehicle
at the Snow Park and rode the Sheriff's Office
snowmobiles to the residence. Specifically, they rode the
snowmobiles about a mile up to the driveway, which was gated.
They then walked down the driveway, which was approximately
250 yards to the two-story house.
to Ms. Shell, there are double gates at the driveway's
intersection with Forest Service Road 2149, which were closed
with a chain the day in question. In addition to the closed
gate, there were numerous signs at the gate and in the
surrounding area indicating no trespassing, no hunting, and
no entry onto the property. The house is located in a very
rural, thickly forested area and the house is not visible
from Forest Service Road 2149.
walking down the driveway, Deputy Venturo saw four puppies
running loose and an adult female dog on a run line. He
observed rib lines on two of the puppies. He then walked to
the residence and knocked on the door. An 8-year old boy
answered the door followed by a 5-year old boy. The 5-year
old boy yelled at them to leave. Deputy Venturo asked if
their parents were home. The 5-year old said his parents went
to Colville. The boys had shoulder-length hair that was
matted. Both children were dirty and it appeared they had not
been bathed in a while. Deputy Venturo saw dog feces on the
concrete floor. When Deputy Venturo asked the children if
they were going to school, the younger one told him he needed
Venturo and the other agent then decided to leave the
residence. While walking back, Deputy Venturo heard a puppy
in the woodshed. He walked over to the woodshed and observed
a small brown puppy on a chain with no food and water. They
walked back to the snowmobiles and retuned back to the Snow
Venturo then contacted dispatch to contact Child Protective
Service. He also contacted the county road department to get
a grader to plow the road and requested that a representative
from Forget Me Not Shelter come to the residence. The grader
took about 1.5 hours to plow the Goodrich Road/Forest Service
Second Visit to the Shell Residence
Venturo and the others present then drove up Forest Service
Road 2149 and parked at the gate in front of Plaintiffs'
residence. Deputy Venturo and the CPS workers walked down to
the residence while Border Patrol agents assisted the animal
shelter volunteers who were checking the dogs. Deputy Venturo
and the CPS workers contacted the children at the house and
asked them if they wanted to go into town and get some food.
The children came outside. They were walked up the driveway
and placed in the CPS vehicle. At some point, the Shells
returned from their trip and were notified by CPS that CPS
had a pick-up order for their youngest child. The youngest
child was also taken into protective custody by CPS.
proceedings were initiated by CPS. Defendant Valerie
MacIntyre was appointed guardian ad liem for Plaintiffs'
three minor children. Plaintiffs felt pressured with no way
out and subsequently signed relinquishment papers. Throughout
the dependency proceedings, Defendant MacIntyre made comments
to Plaintiff Jessica Shell regarding her husband, including
that she would never regain custody of her children if she
stayed with her husband, that she should come live with Ms.
MacIntyre in an apartment in Colville, and that she would
never leave Ms. Shell alone.
with Brad Miller
Brad Miller is a Ferry County Commissioner. Early in January,
2013, Ms. Shell contacted him regarding the snow berms that
the county groomer had been leaving both at the intersection
of her driveway with Forest Service Road 2149 and at the
intersection of Forest Service Road 2149 and North Fork Trout
Creek Road. The berms were making the road nearly impassable.
According to Plaintiffs, they had lived in the house for six
years and they never had a problem until 2013 when the
groomer started creating snow berms. In his declaration, Mr.
Miller states that Ms. Shell asked him to have her road
plowed. He says he explained to her that she lived on a
federal forest service road that was not maintained in the
winter and the county would not plow her road.
28, 2014 Visit to the Shell Residence
later, Jessica and Phillip Shell were charged with attempted
murder that was downgraded to felony
Shell was arrested and detained on these charges, but an
Order for Pretrial Release was entered on October 27, 2014 in
Ferry County Superior Court. Ms. Shell executed a $30, 000
property bond and she agreed to the following conditions:
Defendant will surrender all her firearms to law enforcement
- a deputy will escort her to her residence and take
possession of the guns and shall be authorized to search for
firearms to ensure total retrieval.
next day, Deputy D. Odegaard, Deputy Gordon Winters, and
Corrections Officer Reese transported Ms. Shell to her
residence. Her attorney, M. Von Sauer, also drove to the
residence. While in route, Deputy Odegaard asked Ms. Shell
how many guns were at her house. She stated 4 or 5 guns-a .22
caliber rifle, shot gun, handgun and one or two rifles in the
house, the deputies told her attorney that he was to stay
inside the vehicle for his and the officer's safety. Mr.
Von Sauer said he understood. Deputy Odegaard told Mr. Von
Saur that if he needed the officers for something, he should
honk his horn and Deputy Odegaard would come outside and meet
Winters began taking photographs of the area. Ms. Shell was
brought inside the house and placed on the couch. She was
still in handcuffs. Deputies found a handgun in a coat that
was by the front door. It ...