United States District Court, E.D. Washington
MARCUS “MIKE” HARRIS, and BETTY J. “BETS” HARRIS, husband and wife, Plaintiffs,
CHELAN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, A DIVISION OF CHELAN COUNTY, A MUNICIPAL ENTITY EXISTING UNDER THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
T. RODGERS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT are the parties' cross motions for
summary judgment. ECF Nos. 52 & 60. Scott M. Kane
represents Plaintiffs Marcus “Mike” Harris
(“Harris”) and Betty J. “Bets”
Harris; the Chelan County Sheriff's Department
(“Defendant”) is represented by Heather C.
Yakely. The parties have consented to proceed before a
magistrate judge. ECF No. 9. The Court has reviewed the
motions, responses and reply briefs and is fully informed.
filed a complaint on April 11, 2017, asserting federal
question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and
supplemental jurisdiction over pendent state law claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Plaintiffs raise causes of
action for (1) wrongful termination in violation of
substantive and procedural due process rights; (2) wrongful
termination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983; (3) violation of public policy; (4) wrongful
termination without cause; (5) wrongful termination in
violation of Washington State public policy; (6) intentional
infliction of emotional distress; (7) negligent infliction of
emotional distress; (8) retaliation against a whistle blower
in violation of Wash. Rev. Code 42.40.050; (9) defamation and
libel; and (10) loss of consortium. ECF No. 1 at 30-34.
parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment
addressing all causes of action in this case, ECF Nos. 52
& 60; however, the Court herein focuses on
Plaintiffs' federal claims as they provide the basis for
the Court's jurisdiction.
was hired by the Chelan County Sheriff's Department on
March 15, 1995. In July 2012, Harris advanced to the Chief of
Patrol. Corparal John Wisemore (“Wisemore”) was
the Undersheriff at the time Harris was appointed by Sheriff
Brian Burnett as Chief of Patrol. Harris' duties as Chief
of Patrol included overseeing the Armory of the Sheriff's
about August 2013, Harris investigated a missing Colt M16
rifle the County had purchased from the Army. In 2011,
Wisemore had signed documents indicating the rifle was in the
Armory, but Range Masters were not able to locate the rifle.
It was thought the rifle had been destroyed; however, Harris
informed Army representatives there was no supporting
documentation to affirm the rifle had been destroyed. On or
about January of 2014, Harris completed a report regarding
the rifle and designated the rifle as missing/stolen.
has been a drug recognition expert and instructor since
approximately 1998 or 1999. Harris also has a personal
business (Bosco Training) in which he used his drug
recognition expertise to teach classes outside of the
Sheriff's Office. On or about February 5, 2014, Harris
requested new drugs be supplied by the Sheriff's Office
for his use in teaching a drug class. No. drugs could be
checked out from the evidence room for private business
purposes; only for official Sheriff's Office business.
Wisemore began an investigation regarding Harris'
intended use of the drugs.
February 18, 2014, Harris met with Sheriff Burnett and
Wisemore at which time Harris was informed it was believed
Harris had lied in his emails about utilization of
Sheriff's Office drugs for his private business. Harris
was notified that “over the next week we are going to
explore options for your current situation, which are . . .
demotion by the Sheriff from Chief of Patrol to the position
of Sergeant, or accept a voluntary request by yourself to be
reassigned to the position of Sergeant.” On February
26, 2014, Harris formally resigned as Chief of Patrol,
effective March 1, 2014. Because Harris resigned, no Internal
Affairs (IA) investigation was performed. Nevertheless,
Harris was placed on the “Brady”
listby Chelan County prosecuting attorney Doug
Shae as a result of the February 2014 allegations. The
Brady designation of Harris was later exposed in the
November 2014, new accusations pertaining to Harris'
truthfulness were introduced. It was alleged Harris violated
overtime rules; specifically, a Chelan County Sherriff's
Office Policy requiring eight hours of rest between shifts.
Chief Dave Helvey commenced a formal IA investigation. On or
about January 2015, Harris was placed on administrative
leave. A Loudermill Hearing was conducted in February
2015. On or about March 20, 2015, a second hearing was held.
It was determined Harris violated policies of the Chelan
County Sherriff's Office, and, on March 31, 2015, Harris
February 2016, an arbitration hearing was held to determine
whether just cause existed for Harris' termination from
employment with the Chelan County Sherriff's Department.
An arbitrator determined there was no cause for Harris'
termination and ordered Harris be reinstated to work. Harris
returned to work on June 1, 2016, approximately 14 months
following his termination.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) states a party is entitled to
summary judgment in its favor if “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). A
fact is “material” if it might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-249 (1986). A
dispute is “genuine” as to a material fact if
there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return
a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248.
the moving party has carried the burden under Rule 56, the
party opposing the motion must do more than simply show there
is “some metaphysical doubt” as to the material
facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The party opposing the
motion must present facts in evidentiary form and cannot rest
merely on the pleadings. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Genuine issues are not
raised by mere conclusory or speculative allegations.
Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871,
888 (1990). The Court will examine the direct and
circumstantial proof offered by the non-moving party and the
permissible inferences which may be drawn from such evidence.
A party cannot defeat a summary judgment motion by drawing
strength from the weakness of the other party's argument
or by showing “that it will discredit the moving
party's evidence at trial and proceed in the hope that
something can be developed at trial in the way of evidence to
support its claim.” T.W. Elec. Service, Inc. v.
Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n., 809 F.2d 626, 630
(9th Cir. 1987); see also Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D
Co., 68 F.3d 1216 (9th Cir. 1995).
Supreme Court has ruled that Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) requires
entry of summary judgment “against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. “A complete failure
of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial.” Id. at 323. Therefore, the
question on summary judgment is “whether the evidence
is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-252. Where
there is no evidence on which a jury could reasonably find
for the non-moving party, summary judgment is appropriate.
Id. at 252.