United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the joint motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. 28) of City of Vancouver (“City”)
and Officer Sandra Aldridge (“Aldridge”)
(collectively “Defendants”). Also before the
Court is Plaintiff Guido Bini's (“Plaintiff”)
motion to continue. Dkt. 44. The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the
motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the
motion for summary judgment in part, denies it in part, and
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's surviving state law claims.
9, 2016, Plaintiff filed his complaint against Defendants
claiming violations of constitutional rights actionable under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, a violation of the Washington State
Criminal Records Privacy Act (“CRPA”), abuse of
process, false arrest, false imprisonment, and negligence.
September 1, 2016, the City moved to dismiss. Dkt. 9. On
October 28, 2016, the Court granted the motion in part and
denied it in part, dismissing Plaintiff's claims against
the City but granting Plaintiff leave to amend. Dkt. 16. On
December 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Dkt.
March 2, 2017, Defendants jointly moved for summary judgment.
Dkt. 28. On March 20, 2017, Plaintiff responded. Dkt. 41. On
March 24, 2017, Defendants replied. Dkt. 49.
March 23, 2017, Plaintiff moved to continue the Court's
consideration on the motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 44. On
April 3, 2017, Defendants responded. Dkt. 52. On April 7,
2017, Plaintiff replied. Dkt. 56. On April 11, 2017,
Defendants filed a surreply. Dkt. 59.
2014, Aldridge was monitoring jail communications between
Plaintiff and Garrett Smith while Garrett Smith was awaiting
a trial which would ultimately result in his conviction for
second degree assault and the attempted murder of his wife,
Sheryl Smith (“Smith”). Dkt. 22 at 3; Dkt. 29 at
2-4; Dkt. 31-2; Dkt. 9-1.
time, and as a result of Plaintiff's communications with
Garrett Smith, Plaintiff's girlfriend began publishing
and maintaining a webpage called “Garrett's
Voice” (the “blog”). Dkt. 22 at 3; Dkt.
30-1 at 62, 74-78. The website made many disparaging
statements about Sheryl Smith's character, claiming that
she was a “fraud, ” “an excessive drinker,
” and that the horrendous injuries inflicted by Garrett
Smith were actually the result of her “own
alcohol-induced rage.” Dkt. 29-2; Dkt. 30-1 at 58-59;
Dkt. 31 at 3; Dkt. 31-1 at 4-5. See also Dkt. 32 at
9 (documenting Smith's injuries). The website was also
highly critical of Aldridge, the Vancouver Police Department,
the judiciary in Clark County and their work on Garrett
Smith's case. Dkt. 22 at 3; Dkt. 31-2. At the request of
Garrett Smith, Plaintiff also began contacting common
business associates and family members of Sheryl and Garrett
Smith. Dkt. 30-1 at 76-77, 79-82. Plaintiff's contact
with these persons included sending them emails with links to
and copies of the information posted on the blog. Dkt. 25 at
3. See also Dkt. 30-1 at 76-77, 79-82. Based on the
content of the blog, Plaintiff's jail communications with
Garrett Smith, and complaints by Smith, Aldridge started
investigating Plaintiff for cyberstalking in violation of RCW
9.61.260. Dkt. 24 at 3-4; Dkt. 29 at 3.
April 29, 2014, Smith obtained a temporary anti-harassment
order against Plaintiff. Dkt. 30-2 at 2-3. Later that day,
Aldridge went to Plaintiff's home, served Plaintiff with
the protective order, and issued a warning regarding the
blog. Dkt. 24 at 3- 4; Dkt. 29 at 4. The blog was temporarily
removed, but was subsequently republished. Id. On
May 7, 2014, Aldridge arrested Plaintiff, improperly
concluding that he had committed felony cyberstalking in
violation of RCW 9.61.260(3). Dkt. 24 at 4. Felony
cyberstalking under RCW 9.61.260(3) requires a previous
conviction of a crime of harassment as defined under RCW
9A.46.060 as a mandatory element, while cyberstalking as a
gross misdemeanor under RCW 9.61.260(1) does not.
See RCW 9.61.260. Plaintiff has not been convicted
of a crime of harassment as defined under RCW 9A.46.060. Dkt.
22 at 4. Although Aldridge was wrong in her assessment that
Plaintiff had committed felony cyberstalking, this
assessment and her decision to arrest were based on her
belief that Plaintiff had violated a temporary
anti-harassment order. Dkt. 24 at 4. On May 12, 2014, a
county deputy prosecutor declined to file an information
against Plaintiff. Dkt. 34-1.
28, 2014, Smith obtained an anti-harassment order against
Plaintiff. Dkt. 31 at 5; Dkt. 30-4. At the hearing on the
order, Plaintiff appeared and testified. See Dkt.
30-1. In his testimony, Plaintiff made statements indicating
that (1) he had consulted with his girlfriend regarding
information to post on the blog about Smith, (2) he contacted
at least 12 friends and family members of Smith in order to
disseminate the blog at the direction of Garrett Smith, and
(3) he understood how the information he disseminated would
be embarrassing and harassing in nature. Id. at
76-77, 79-82. Notably, on appeal of the anti-harassment
order, the Clark County Superior Court concluded that it was
lawful for the County District Court to enter a protective
order against Plaintiff, stating:
Mr. Bini admitted that he contacted these individuals for the
purpose of “mak[ing] them aware of the blog”;
“mentioning” the underlying criminal proceeding
against Mr. Smith; and informing them that Ms. Smith was a
fraud, a drunk and subject to habitual drinking rages.
Furthermore, Mr. Bini admitted he had no knowledge whether or
not these allegations were true, and admitted that these
statements were embarrassing and harassing in nature.
With respect to the publication of the blog, Mr. Bini further
admitted that he provided the details to his so called
girlfriend to post certain information about Ms. Smith, and
had discussions with her to post said derogatory comments.
The evidence presented at the district court level showed
that Ms. Smith felt intimidated, harassed, and humiliated.
The conduct engaged by Mr. Bini served no lawful purpose.
Dkt. 30-5 at 9.
on the statements made at the May 28, 2014, hearing, combined
with the information she already had, Aldridge continued to
pursue the prosecution of Plaintiff for cyberstalking. On May
30, 2014, after receiving a copy of the hearing transcript,
Aldridge prepared a supplemental probable cause statement and
issued a “Be on the Look Out”
(“BOLO”) advising officers who came into contact
with Plaintiff that there was probable cause for his arrest.
Dkts. 25, 26.
10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the city police
department, complaining that Aldridge had arrested him on May
7, 2014, without probable cause. Dkt. 42-4. On July 1, 2014,
the complaint was forwarded to Aldridge by her supervisor.
Id. at 2. While there is no further admissible
evidence on the matter, Plaintiff's amended complaint
alleges that the reviewing law enforcement authority
ultimately dismissed the complaint on October 22, 2014,
concluding that the complaint was “unfounded” and
that there was “no merit to the complaint by GUY
BINI.” Dkt. 22 at 8.
3, 2014, Aldridge met with the Vancouver City Attorney to
discuss whether the prosecutor would pursue charges against
Plaintiff for misdemeanor cyberstalking. Dkt. 27 at 5; Dkt.
29 at 6; Dkt. 46 at 2-4. The City Attorney declined on the
basis that, although he believed there was probable cause to
arrest Plaintiff, he would require additional witnesses that
were willing to testify before he could prove every element
of cyberstalking beyond a reasonable doubt. Dkt. 33; Dkt. 46
at 3. Accordingly, the City Attorney requested that Aldridge
find additional witnesses who were willing to testify to
receiving multiple emails from Plaintiff before he would file
an information and pursue charges. Dkt. 29 at 6; Dkt. 46 at
the City Attorney declined to prosecute without additional
witnesses, Aldridge was unable to locate any additional
witnesses who were willing to testify that they had received
multiple emails from Plaintiff. Dkt. 29 at 6. Nonetheless,
Aldridge did not remove from the computer system the BOLO
notifying her fellow officers that there was probable cause
to arrest Plaintiff. Id. On October 24, 2014, city
police officers arrested Plaintiff pursuant to the
outstanding BOLO. Id. On the way to the jail, the
arresting officers contacted Aldridge to inform her that they
had arrested Plaintiff under the outstanding BOLO, whereupon
Aldridge informed them that Plaintiff should be released.
Id.; Dkt. 42 at 2. The officers then immediately
released Plaintiff and returned him to his home. Dkt. 22 at
9; Dkt. 29 at 6.
November 10, 2014, the City Attorney reached a final decision
not to file charges against Plaintiff for cyberstalking. Dkt.
42-3. In a letter informing Smith that the City would not
prosecute Plaintiff, a city attorney stated:
Prosecution is declined. There is insufficient evidence to
charge [Guy Bini] with a crime. This does not imply that the
City of Vancouver does not believe that the events occurred
as relayed to the police; we simply cannot pursue criminal
charges based on the evidence given. The decision does not
affect any form of civil litigation you may wish to pursue
for these allegations.
Id. at 2.
March 25, 2015, Aldridge provided Sheryl Smith's attorney
with a declaration and two non-redacted police incident
reports she had authored in relation to her investigation and
arrest of Plaintiff. Dkt. 29-7 at 5. Although the copies of
the incident reports actually attached to that declaration
have not been submitted to the Court, Plaintiff argues that
the reports included non-redacted personal identifiers,
including Plaintiff's date of birth, physical
description, driver's license number, address, and phone
number. Dkt. 22 at 9-11. See also Dkts. 24,
Aldridge provided the incident reports to Smith for the
purpose of helping Smith obtain a protective court order in
the divorce proceedings between her and her husband. Dkt. 31
at 5. Smith sought the protective order to prevent her
husband and Plaintiff from using discovery requests to obtain
documents they might post on the blog and further disseminate
to her associates and family. Dkt. 31-5. In her motion for
the protective order, Smith stated:
On or about June 3, 2013, I was brutally beaten and left for
dead by [my husband, Mr. Smith]. Around March, 2014 during
Mr. Smith's incarceration and awaiting trial, he
contacted a gentlemen by the name Guido A. Bini. Mr. Bini
began acting as Mr. Smith's proxy from that point on.
Mr. Bini began by contacting my past employer, Keller
Williams and the Department of Licensing, alleging that I was
a criminal and should not be allowed a real estate license.
He went as far as filing an actual complaint with the
Department of Licensing. In Mr. Bini's complaint he
claimed I was selling homes without a license, falsely
representing myself, and not using my real name or going by
many different aliases . . . .
Mr. Bini continued his harassment by contacting my real
estate partners, associates and a client by telephone and
then mailing them material he created, stating that I have
lied about my injuries I sustained from the Petitioner, my
criminal history, I am a dangerous and deceitful person, and
that I should not be trusted or believed. He also created a
blog putting all his lies on it about me.
I was granted an Anti-Harassment Order; however, Mr. Bini has
appealed the decision, which that matter is still pending.
Since the time the Order was entered, Mr. Bini has had his
girlfriend by the name of Traci D. Eccles maintaining a blog.
The blog is called “Garrett's Voice… The
Sequel”. This blog shows clips from the
Petitioner's criminal trial, passages from my deposition,
numerous attacks on my character as well as attacks on the
prosecutor and judge.
I am terrified to reveal anything that has to do with me, my
life, my career or any connections to anyone for fear of
retribution to these business friends, associates, and
business firms. It has already been shown that any
information I provide will be placed on the blog,
misconstrued, or used in furtherance for the attack on my
character and my life. I truly feel unsafe! Garrett and his
‘team' I feel are out to get me and destroy my
credibility in the community.
Dkt. 31-5 at 3-4. The Clark County Superior Court granted her
request and issued the protective order. Dkt. 30-6 at 6; Dkt.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the
case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
There is no genuine dispute of material fact for trial where
the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier
of fact to find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986) (nonmoving party must present specific, significant
probative evidence, not simply “some metaphysical
doubt”). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).
Conversely, a genuine dispute over a material fact exists if
there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual
dispute, requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing
versions of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv.,
Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626,
630 (9th Cir. 1987).
determination of the existence of a material factual dispute
is often a close question. The Court must consider the
substantive evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must
meet at trial-e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most
civil cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254; T.W.
Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The Court must
resolve any factual issues of controversy in favor of the
nonmoving party only when the facts specifically attested by
that party contradict facts specifically attested by the
moving party. The nonmoving party may not merely state that
it will discredit the moving party's evidence at trial,
in the hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to
support the claim. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d
at 630 (relying on Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
Conclusory, nonspecific statements in affidavits are not
sufficient, and missing facts will not be presumed. Lujan
v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89
42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claims Against Officer
U.S.C. § 1983 is a procedural device for enforcing
constitutional provisions; the section does not create or
afford substantive rights. Crumpton v. Gates, 947
F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). In order to state a claim
under § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) the
conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under
color of state law, and (2) the conduct deprived a person of
a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution
or by the laws of the United States. Parratt v.
Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled on other
grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986).
“[a] police officer is entitled to qualified immunity
in a § 1983 action unless (1) the facts, when taken in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, show that the
officer's conduct violated a constitutional right; and
(2) the right was clearly established at the time of the
alleged misconduct.” Sinclair v. City of
Grandview, 973 F.Supp.2d 1234, 1246 (E.D. Wash. 2013)
(citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001),
overruled on other grounds by Pearson v. Callahan,
555 U.S. 223 (2009)). “Courts are ‘permitted to
exercise their sound discretion in deciding which of the two
prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed
first in light of the circumstances in the particular case at
hand.'” Lal v. California, 746 F.3d 1112,
1116 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Pearson, 555 U.S. at
inquiry of whether an officer is entitled to qualified
immunity “turns on the ‘objective legal
reasonableness of the action, assessed in light of the legal
rules that were clearly established at the time it was
taken.'” Pearson, 555 U.S. at 244 (quoting
Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 614 (1999)). This
“qualified immunity standard gives ample room for
mistaken judgments by protecting all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
Liberal v. Estrada, 632 F.3d 1064, 1077 (9th Cir.
2011) (quoting Rodis v. City of San Francisco, 558
F.3d 964, 970-71 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 558
U.S. 1110 (2010)).
Fourth Amendment Claims
prevail on [a] § 1983 claim for false arrest . . . [a
plaintiff must] demonstrate that there was no probable cause
to arrest him.” Cabrera v. City of Huntington
Park, 159 F.3d 374, 380 (9th Cir. 1998). Also, “an
official with no official authority over another actor can
also be liable for that actor's conduct if he induces
that actor to violate a third party's constitutional
rights, provided that the official possesses the requisite
intent, such as retaliatory animus.” Lacey v.
Maricopa Cty., 693 F.3d 896, 916 (9th Cir. 2012)
“[A] warrantless arrest by a law officer is reasonable
under the Fourth Amendment where there is probable cause to
believe that a criminal offense has been or is being
committed.” Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146,
152 (2004). “[A]n arresting officer's state of mind
(except for the facts that he knows) is irrelevant to the
existence of probable cause.” Id. at 153. The
officer's “subjective reason for making the arrest
need not be the criminal offense as to which the known facts
provide probable cause.” Id.
legal argument, Plaintiff has failed to define the parameters
of his claimed Fourth Amendment deprivations, instead stating
only generally that Aldridge lacked probable cause to arrest
him. See Dkt. 41 at 16. However, Plaintiff's
statement of facts indicate that he is bringing Fourth