United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment (“Motion”). Dkt. # 26. For the
reasons below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.
Thurston Myers is a Lynnwood, Washington resident who brings
claims against the City of Lynnwood and two members of the
Lynnwood Police Department, Sergeant Thomas J. Brooks and
Detective Jeffrey Mason. Dkt. # 32-1 at 4. At the time of the
events underlying the Complaint, Plaintiff claims to have had
medical authorization to grow and possess marijuana at his
property under former Washington statute RCW 69.51A.085(d).
Subject to certain conditions, qualifying patients under the
statute could create and participate in “collective
gardens” to produce, process, transport, and deliver
marijuana for medical use. A collective garden could contain
no more than ten patients at any time; could contain not more
than fifteen plants per patient up to a total of forty-five
plants; and could not contain more than twenty-four ounces of
useable marijuana per patient up to a total of seventy-two
ounces of useable marijuana. RCW 69.51A.085(d) (eff. through
July 1, 2016).
29, 2014, a Snohomish County judge found probable cause that
the crime of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance
was occurring at Plaintiff's residence and issued a
warrant. Dkt. # 29-1. The next day, detectives with the South
Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force (the “Task
Force”) served the warrant on Plaintiff and confiscated
marijuana and other property in accordance with the warrant.
Dkt. # 29-2. The Task Force located a growing operation in
what appeared to be shipping containers, although Plaintiff
refers to them as “container buildings.”
See Dkt. # 33. Plaintiff told the Task Force that he
was authorized to grow and keep a “collective
garden” on his property. Dkt. # 29-2 at 3. Defendant
Mason informed Plaintiff that there were only three people
with valid medical authorization at the residence, that each
card hold could possess fifteen marijuana plants, and that
the remainder would be seized. Id. The Task Force
seized approximately 395 marijuana plants from the shipping
containers. Id. The Snohomish County Prosecuting
Attorney's Office subsequently charged Plaintiff with the
crime of manufacturing a controlled substance. Dkt. # 31-1.
one year later, Lynnwood Detective Paul Bryan applied for a
search warrant for Plaintiff's residence. The affidavit
that he filed in support detailed facts of an on-going
investigation into the marijuana grow on Plaintiff's
property. Of note, Bryan detailed Plaintiff's past
history of unlawful marijuana growing, electrical records for
Plaintiff's property showing excessive power consumption
consistent with an unlawful marijuana growing operation,
knowledge of fans and humming noises coming from
Plaintiff's shipping containers, and complaints from
neighbors about the smell of marijuana coming from
Plaintiff's property. Dkt. # 28-1 at 6-8. On July 21,
2015, a Snohomish County judge found probable cause that the
crime of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance was
occurring at Plaintiff's residence and authorized a
search of Plaintiff's “two-story split entry wood
sided residence” and “shipping containers”
located on the east side of the residence. Dkt. # 29-1. The
warrant authorized the seizure of “[a]ll growing
marijuana plants or those in excess of the medical cannabis
provisions if a valid medical authorization exists”; it
also authorized the seizure of “marijuana growing
equipment, ” “drug paraphernalia” and
“any other items used to grow marijuana, ” unless
valid medical authorization existed. Dkt. # 29-1.
22, 2015, Defendants executed the warrant and provided a copy
to Plaintiff. Dkt. # 28-2. As before, Plaintiff stated that
he was entitled to grow a “collective garden” on
his property, but this time claimed to have a provider
license which permitted him to grow for multiple people at a
time. Id. at 5. Defendants seized over 200 marijuana
plants, shake marijuana totaling 275.2 pounds, growing
equipment, lights, marijuana license documentation, and the
two shipping containers. Id. Defendants left 45
marijuana plants which they believed Plaintiff was authorized
to keep per state law. Id. Defendant Brooks took
custody of Plaintiff and transported him to jail. Once at the
jail, Plaintiff received a Notice of Seizure and Intended
Forfeiture, which advised him of his right to a hearing
regarding the seized property. Dkt. # 28-2; Dkt. # 31-2 at
claims that the seizure of the containers, or his
“container buildings, ” as well as his arrest
violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Dkt. # 1.
Plaintiff also brings a claim against the City of Lynnwood
(the “City”), alleging that municipal policy
makers exhibited deliberate indifference to his
constitutional rights and failed to provide adequate training
on “collective garden” marijuana laws.
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving
party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v.
Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir.
2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely
by pointing out to the district court that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving
party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of
fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).
the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in
search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan
v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see
also, White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458
(8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which
portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it
obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some
specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's
claim”). The opposing party must present significant
and probative evidence to support its claim or defense.
Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co.,
952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated
allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not
create a genuine issue of material fact. Villiarimo v.
Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir.
2002); T.W. Elec. Serv. v. Pac Elec. Contractors
Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).
claims that Defendants breached the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments by unlawfully seizing the containers, or
“container buildings” in his backyard as well as
all the contents connected to and contained within them. Dkt.
# 1 at 9. In support of his claim, Plaintiff argues that the
“container buildings” are real property under
Washington law and ...