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Reinert v. Tucker

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

May 8, 2018

RICHARD DOUGLAS REINERT, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DET. TUCKER, DET. KRIVITZ, and DET. RICHARDSON, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JEREMIAH C. LYNCH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on: (1) Plaintiff Douglas Reinert, Jr.'s Motion to Change John Doe to Danielle Perry, R.N. (Doc. 26); (2) Plaintiff Reinert's Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 27); (3) Defendants' Motion for Protective Order (Doc. 29); and (4) Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (Docs. 33, 37, and 41). Trial is scheduled to commence on June 4, 2018. (Doc. 15.)

         Plaintiff Reinert's motion to amend and motion for sanctions are denied. Defendants' motions for summary judgment are granted and the motion for protective order is denied.

         I. Motion to Change John Doe to Danielle Perry, R.N.

         On March 2, 2018, Reinert filed a Motion to Change John Doe to Danielle Perry, R.N. at RiverStone Health Clinic whom he alleges denied him medical care for four months while he was incarcerated at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. (Doc. 26.)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) states that the pretrial scheduling order “must limit the time to join other parties, amend the pleadings, complete discovery, and file motions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(3)(A). After a scheduling order has been entered, the court may modify the schedule only for good cause. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). Rule 16's good cause inquiry focuses primarily on the diligence of the party requesting the amendment. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992).

Unlike Rule 15(a)'s liberal amendment policy which focuses on the bad faith of the party seeking to interpose an amendment and the prejudice to the opposing party, Rule 16(b)'s “good cause” standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment. The district court may modify the pretrial schedule if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension . . . Although the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification. If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.

Id. (quotation marks and citations omitted).

         The Court's Scheduling Order set the deadline for amending the pleadings as January 12, 2018 nearly a month before Reinert filed his motion to amend. The parties were specifically advised of Rule 16's “good cause” requirement in the Scheduling Order which provided that the schedule would “not be modified except by leave of the Court upon a showing of good cause and only if a request is made before the expiration of the deadline at issue.” (Doc. 15 at 1-2.)

         Reinert has failed to demonstrate the existence of good cause that would warrant his untimely motion to amend. Reinert was well aware that RiverStone Health was the medical provider at Yellowstone County Detention Facility as he named RiverStone Health Clinic as a Defendant in his original complaint filed October 31, 2016. (Doc. 2.) And he specifically named the “Head Nurse of YCDF extension of RiverStone Health” as a Defendant in his Amended Complaint. (Doc. 6.) Reinert was advised in the Court's August 17, 2017 Order that the Court could not serve unnamed individuals without further information. He was given an opportunity to conduct discovery to determine the identities of any unknown defendants and was told to seek leave to file an amended complaint if he was successful in that regard. (Doc. 10 at 13-14.) There is no indication that Reinert made any attempt to utilize Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 to subpoena RiverStone Health Clinic to determine the identities of the individuals who he alleges denied him medical treatment at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility.[1]

         Because Reinert has failed to make any showing of good cause to justify his untimely motion to amend, the motion is properly denied.

         II. Motion Requesting Sanctions on Defendants

         Reinert seeks sanctions on Defendants based upon their alleged failure to collect evidence of Reinert's injuries and intoxication while he was in their custody. He alleges this loss of evidence prejudiced him in his criminal trial and would prejudice him in this civil matter. (Doc. 27.)

         As Reinert was advised in the Court's August 17, 2017, his claims regarding Defendants' failure to document or catalogue his injuries cannot be addressed in this action. An inmate may not bring an action under § 1983 if its success would release the plaintiff from confinement or shorten its duration, Preiser v, Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973), or would necessarily imply the invalidity of the conviction or sentence, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). Where the plaintiff's success on a §1983 action would necessarily imply the invalidity of his underlying conviction or sentence, he must first “prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254.” Heck, at 487-88. “A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983.” Id. at 488.

         Reinert alleges Defendants failed to catalogue his injuries on the night of his arrest in an attempt to deny him evidence to support his claim of innocence. According to his appellate brief filed with the Montana Supreme Court, Reinert was convicted of deliberate homicide on March 6, 2015. State v. Reinert, Montana Supreme Court No. DA 15-0669. That conviction is currently on appeal to the Montana Supreme Court and therefore has not been reversed.

         To the extent Reinert is seeking sanctions based upon spoilation of evidence in this case, he has failed to establish a basis for sanctions. Although the “Ninth Circuit has . . . not set forth a precise standard for determining when [spoiliation] sanctions are appropriate, ” the majority of trial courts have adopted the following test: (1) “the party having control over the evidence had an obligation to preserve it at the time it was destroyed”; (2) “the records were destroyed with a culpable state of mind”; and (3) “the evidence was relevant to the party's claim or defense such that a reasonable trier of fact could find that it would support that claim or defense.” Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., 888 F.Supp.2d 976, 989-90 (N.D.Cal.2012) (citations and internal quotations and brackets omitted); see also Leon v. IDX Sys. Corp., 464 F.3d 951, 958 (9th Cir.2006) (outlining a similar test for determining when to “impos[e] the harsh sanction of dismissal”) (citation and internal quotations omitted). The party seeking spoliation sanctions bears the burden of establishing each element. Apple, 888 F.Supp.2d at 989-90.

         Reinert's motion does not indicate what evidence, if any, has been destroyed, by whom, for what reason, or how that evidence is relevant to support his claims. The motion will be denied.

         III. Motion for Protective Order

         Defendants filed a motion for protective order regarding what they construed as Reinert's second set of discovery requests. (Doc. 29.) On March 19, 2018, Defendants filed a notice indicating that Reinert intended to withdraw the discovery request. (Doc. 47.) Defendants submitted a March 13, 2018 letter in which Reinert indicated that the document that Defendants construed as a second set of discovery was actually a “stray notes page that accidently made its way into my answers to your interrogatories. I never meant for you to receive that page.” (Doc. 47-1 at 4.)

         In light of Reinert's withdrawal of the document construed as a discovery request, the motion for protective order will be denied as moot.

         IV. Motions for Summary Judgment

         A. Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Under summary judgment practice, “[t]he moving party initially bears the burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). The moving party may accomplish this by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admission, interrogatory answers, or other materials” or by showing that such materials “do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B).

         “Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only prove that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case.” Oracle Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). Summary judgment should be entered, “after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, 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.” See 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. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should be granted, “so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied.” Id.

         If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. But “[a] plaintiff's verified complaint may be considered as an affidavit in opposition to summary judgment if it is based on personal knowledge and sets forth specific facts admissible in evidence.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1132 n.14 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact “that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         “In evaluating the evidence to determine whether there is a genuine issue of fact, ” the court draws “all inferences supported by the evidence in favor of the non-moving party.” Walls v. Cent. Costa Cnty. Transit Auth., 653 F.3d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 2011). It is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 (citations omitted).

         B. Pending Claims

         Reinert's remaining claims are: (1) alleged denial of medical care claim pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Count I); and (2) a substantive due process claim relating to an alleged failure to give Miranda warnings before conducting a custodial interrogation (Count II).

         C. Undisputed Facts

         In the late evening hours of December 21, 2013, Billings Police Officers responded to a 9-1-1 emergency distress call and found Reinert and his wife Danielle in their home with a 25-year old female, deceased from multiple gunshot wounds, who was later identified as Jessica Lee French Stephenson. (Defendants' Statements of Undisputed Facts, Docs. 34, 38, 42 (“SUF”) at ¶ 1.)[2] Reinert was detained and transported to the Billings Police Department as the investigation continued in the early morning hours of December 22, 2013. (SUF at ¶¶ 2-3.)

         Based upon the video taken in the interview room, Tucker entered the interview room at 1:26 a.m., introduced himself to Reinert, and asked him how he was doing. Reinert indicated that he needed to use the restroom and Tucker told him that they were going to get some things done and then would try and fulfill that request. (Exhibit G--Video of Interview Room #2, Conventionally filed as Docs. 44-46 (“Video”) at 1:26:31 - 1:27:22 a.m.).[3] Tucker was in the interview room for less than a minute and there was no further conversation between Tucker and Reinert at that time.

         Detective Hallam entered the room at 1:36:28 and took a number of photographs of Reinert. Detective Hallam asked Reinert if he was hurt anywhere. Reinert indicated his wrists hurt. Hallam asked him if had any physical pain other than from the handcuffs. Reinert said he had to pee. Hallam then asked if Reinert was hurt anywhere, asking if he had any broken bones or anything like that. Reinert said other than my left leg being hurt and his right foot. He stated, “I can barely stand.” Hallam asked how recent that injury was and Reinert stated “a little while ago.” (Video, 1:38:15 - 1:39:10 a.m.) There is no further discussion of injuries on the video.

         Tucker reentered the interview room at 1:58:14 and the following conversation was held between Reinert and Tucker:

Tucker: What I'm going to do is get a gun shot residue kit collected, just rubbing these little things on your hands just for gun shot residue. You ok with ...

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