United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Morris United States District Court Judge.
Chadwick Cochran filed a Complaint alleging that he was
unlawfully stopped on April, 13, 2017, that he did not
receive adequate medical care while incarcerated at Gallatin
County Jail, and that Defendant Sheriff Brian Gootkin and the
Gallatin County Sheriff's Office mislead him regarding
his bond, release and a pending Georgia warrant. (Doc. 6 at
States Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch entered Findings
and Recommendations in this matter on November 5, 2017.
Id. Neither party filed objections. When a party
makes no objections, the Court need not review de
novo the proposed Findings and Recommendations.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-52 (1986). This
Court will review Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendations, however, for clear error. McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d
1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
April 13, 2017 Traffic Stop
Lynch determined that Cochran's allegations regarding the
traffic stop and the subsequent arrest fail to state claims
upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. 6 at 7.) The Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that a
law enforcement officer lawfully may execute a traffic stop
based upon probable cause to believe that an individual
committed a traffic offense. Whren v. United States,
517 U.S. 806, 810 (1996).
Lynch determined probable cause existed to stop Cochran for
speeding in violation of Mont. Code Ann. § 61-8-303.
Cochran alleges, however, that Defendant Scott Newell stopped
Cochran because of Cochran's friendship with Dave Herman.
(Doc. 6 at 7.) Cochran does not deny that he was speeding.
Id. at 6. Cochran has failed to allege that probable
cause did not exist for the stop.
claims against Newell and Mike Gavigan shall be dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Arrest on April 21, 2017
Lynch determined that Cochran's allegations against Diane
Copeland and Brian Gootkin should be dismissed. (Doc. 6 at
11.) Cochran alleges that a law enforcement officer in Idaho
arrested him on a Georgia warrant after having been released
on a bond in Gallatin County, Montana. Id. at 11.
Cochran alleges that that Copeland and others told him that
the Georgia arrest warrant would not be enforced against him
while he traveled to Georgia. Id. at 10.
Lynch determined that Cochran does not allege that either
Copeland or Gootkin violated his constitutional rights under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at 11. Judge Lynch
further concluded that Cochran's allegations merely
assert that the law enforcement officer in Idaho unlawfully
arrested him. Id. Cochran does not allege any facts
to suggest that Copeland or Gootkin were involved in the
Idaho arrest. Id. Copeland and Gootkin shall be
Gallatin County Jail and Gallatin County Sheriff's
Lynch determined that Cochran cannot sue Gallatin County Jail
and the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office. Id. at
12. Judge Lynch determined that a jail or detention facility
constitutes a building that cannot be sued. See Barnes v.
Missoula Cnty. Det. Facility, 2008 WL 5412448 (D. Mont.
Lynch further determined that the Gallatin County
Sheriff's Office lacks the capacity to be sued as it
constitutes a departmental subunit of Gallatin County.
Id. at 12. Montana law establishes the statutory
structure for subjecting state, county, city, and municipal
governmental entities to liability. In specific circumstances
governmental entities have liability for their torts and
employees acting within the scope of their employment. Mont.
Code Ann. § 2-9-102. A governmental entity includes
“the state and political subdivisions.” Mont.
Code Ann. § 2-9-101(3). Judge Lynch concluded that
Gallatin County Sheriff's department does not fall within
the definition of a governmental entity or a political
subdivision. (Doc. 6 at 13.)
Lynch determined that only Gallatin County, not its
individual county departments, would be subject to liability
for the torts of its officers and employees within the
various departments of the county. Mont. Code Ann. §