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Greiner v. Wall

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

November 7, 2019

JUNE B. GREINER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMERON WALL, et al., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO APPLY LAW OF THE CASE DOCTRINE AND MANDATE RULE

          Ronald B. Leighton, United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Apply Law of the Case Doctrine and Mandate Rule. Dkt # 146. This case involves the execution of a search warrant by special agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service.

         The DHS and IRS believed Plaintiff June Greiner unknowingly bought her home on behalf of a suspected money launderer, Jason Hagen. The agents obtained and executed a search warrant at Greiner's home to search for evidence of Hagen's money laundering. The agents claim they knocked on Greiner's door and announced their presence and that Greiner refused to let them in. They used a “ram” to open the door and execute the warrant.

         Greiner sued, claiming the agents did not “knock and announce” before forcing their way into her home, in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights (and in violation of the federal “knock and announce” statute).

         The individual Defendants moved for summary judgment. They argued that Greiner's claim that she did not hear the knock and announce is not enough to survive summary judgment in the face of “overwhelming” evidence that they did knock and announce-including her admission that she heard “something, ” including “voices” and a “loud bang.” Greiner claimed that she did not hear anything resembling a knock and announce; instead, she heard one loud crash followed by the sound of men murmuring at her door. She checked her entryway, saw a group of men huddled around her door, turned, and retreated to call 9-1-1.

         The Court granted the individual Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Greiner's Fourth Amendment claim. Dkt # 119. The Court held that Greiner's evidence did not establish a factual issue as to whether the agents knocked and announced.

         Greiner appealed. During oral arguments, Greiner's counsel arguably conceded to the Ninth Circuit that “the knock was there” prior to the Defendants entering Greiner's home:

Mr. Anderson: [T]he issue is was there a sufficient knock and announce. Bam. Bam. Bam. Police. Warrant. Open the door. You have to have both . . . . And if I don't convince you, I, the knock was there. She somehow got to the door . . . .
Question: But you just said they met the knock and I'm trying to see if you agree that what occurred here was the knock.
Mr. Anderson: I don't think they properly knocked, but that's an inference. I think that they did something to cause her to go to the front door that satisfies it . . . . What they did though, is they never clearly announced . . . .

Dkt # 149 at 4-5 (emphasis added). The Ninth Circuit briefly addressed the knock in a footnote when they stated that the Plaintiff's counsel “conceded” that the knock did occur, and the court would focus instead on the Defendants' announcement:

[A]t oral argument, Greiner's counsel conceded that “the knock was there, ” and agreed that the Agents “did something that caused [Greiner] to go to the front door.” Based on that concession we are satisfied that a “knock” occurred, and focus our attention instead to the related question of whether the officers announced their purpose and authority before forcibly entering the house.

Dkt # 139 at 3 n. 1 (emphasis added). The Ninth Circuit held that Greiner had “demonstrated a triable issue of material fact concerning whether the Agents complied with the knock and announce statute.” It vacated this Court's Order ...


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