United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND
Morris United States District Court Judge
The City of Dillon, Ceth Haggard, and Jeremy Alvarez move the
Court for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56. United States Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch
issued Findings and Recommendations in this matter. (Doc.
130.) Judge Lynch recommended that the Court grant the
motions and dismiss the action. No party has filed
objections. The Court has reviewed Judge Lynch's Findings
and Recommendations for clear error. McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313
(9th Cir. 1981). The Court finds no error.
case arises from an incident that occurred in the early
morning hours on January 30, 2014, in Dillon, Montana. Pro se
Plaintiff, Gary Oram, Jr., was intoxicated and was attempting
to open a door on a parked police car. A bystander, Jacob
Johnson, approached Oram to deter him from accessing the car,
and the two got into a physical altercation. Defendants
Jeremy Alvarez and Ceth Haggard, Dillon Police Officers,
arrived at the scene later and arrested Oram for assaulting
asserts that he sustained injuries during his arrest.
Although Oram indicates he was not personally aware of
exactly what happened, he believes that at some point the
officers physically beat him by either hitting or kicking
him. He later underwent several surgeries to address a
hematoma affecting his right ear.
advances four legal claims for relief. First, he alleges that
Defendants are liable for “conspiracy.”
Specifically, he contends law enforcement officers were
obligated to arrest Johnson for his assault on Oram. (Doc. 35
at 24.) The officers instead exercised the “power of
conspiratorial coercion” and wrongfully arrested Oram.
Oram alleges that Haggard and Alvarez employed excessive
force to arrest him in violation of his rights protected
under the Fourth Amendment. Third, Oram alleges that Haggard
and Alvarez unlawfully arrested him without probable cause in
violation of both the Fourth Amendment and his due process
rights protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Oram alleges that Defendants violated his equal protection
rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. He asserts
that Haggard and Alvarez discriminated against him and
treated him differently than Johnson because they arrested
Oram, and not Johnson.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) entitles a party to summary
judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” A movant may satisfy this
burden where the documentary evidence produced by the parties
permits only one conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986). Once the moving party
has satisfied his burden, he is entitled to summary judgment
if the non-moving party fails to designate by affidavits,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on
file, “specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett,
477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party in deciding a motion for summary judgment,
and draws all justifiable inferences in the non-moving
party's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255;
Betz v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 504 F.3d
1017, 1021 (9th Cir. 2007). Additionally, because Oram is
proceeding pro se, the Court must construe his documents
liberally and give them “the benefit of any
doubt” with respect to Defendant's summary judgment
motion. Frost v. Symington, 197 F.3d 348, 352 (9th
Cir. 1999). See also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007).
advances his claims alleging that Defendants violated his
federal constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Section 1983 permits claims under federal law against a local
governmental entity, or a local official or employee.
“To make out a cause of action under section 1983,
plaintiffs must plead that (1) the defendants acting under
color of state law (2) deprived plaintiffs of rights secured
by the Constitution or federal statutes.” Williams
v. California, 764 F.3d 1002, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014)
(quotation and citation omitted).
Lynch determined that Haggard and Alvarez had probable cause
to arrest Oram for assault. (Doc. 130 at 6-12.) Judge Lynch
noted that the information that Haggard and Alvarez possessed
at the time of Oram's arrest, as set forth in their
investigative reports, remains largely undisputed. No
reasonable jury could conclude that no probable cause existed
to arrest Oram for assault. See Yousefian v. City of
Glendale, 779 F.3d 1010, 1014-15 (9th Cir. 2015)
(concluding summary judgment based on finding of probable
cause is properly granted where the evidence demonstrates no
reasonable jury would conclude probable cause was lacking).
Lynch further determined that Oram has failed to present any
evidentiary material that raises a genuine issue for trial as
to whether Haggard and Alvarez used excessive force against
him by hitting or kicking him. (Doc. 130 at 12-15.) Haggard
and Alvarez each affirmatively state, through their sworn
testimony in an affidavit, that neither one of them
“punched, kicked, ...