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Richard Pike v. J. Brad Hester et al

May 6, 2013

RICHARD PIKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. BRAD HESTER ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert C. Jones United States District Judge

ORDER

This case arises out of alleged defamation, illegal searches and seizures, and general harassment of an Elko County employee by several sheriff's deputies because of a private dispute between the employee and a sheriff's deputy. Pending before the Court is a Motion to Bifurcate

No. 49). For the reasons given herein, the Court denies the motion.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. The Parties

Plaintiff Richard Pike is employed by Defendant Elko County (the "County") as the Director of the City of Jackpot Recreation Center (the "Center"). (Compl. ¶ 10, May 25, 2012, ECF No. 1). Plaintiff's supervisor is the Director of Elko County Public Works, Mr. Lynn Forsberg, who is not a party to this action. (See id. ¶ 19). Defendants J. Brad Hester and Sean

employed by the County as deputy sheriffs with Defendant Elko County Sheriff's Office ("ECSO"). (Id. ¶¶ 11--12). Defendants Rick Keema and Jim Pitts are also employed by

and ECSO as the Under-Sheriff and Sheriff, respectively, and they are alleged to be "officers" of the County as that term is used in Section 32 of the Nevada Constitution and final policymakers for the purposes of municipal liability claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See id. ¶¶ 13--14). Pike and Hester have a history of animosity arising out of Pike's previous supervision over Hester's minor child in Pike's capacity as assistant coach of a high school football team the Fall of 2008. (See id. ¶ 18).

B. The First Unlawful Search

Plaintiff has had an office at the Center since about September 2007, where he keeps personal affects such as photographs. (Id. ¶¶ 21--23). In or about August 2011, Deputy Hester (who was at that time a sergeant), accompanied by Deputy Munson and non-party Deputy Mike Moore, unlocked one of the outer doors of the Center and searched the Center without a warrant, based upon the maliciously false pretense that Plaintiff was selling the illegal drug known as "ecstasy" to school children. (See id. ¶¶ 27--28, 34). Once inside the Center, Hester ordered Moore to conduct a dog sniff throughout the building. (Id. ¶ 29). During the dog sniff, Hester unlocked the door to Plaintiff's office and searched it, including Plaintiff's desk, without a

Id. ¶¶ 30, 34). During the search, Hester seized an envelope from Plaintiff's desk $500 that non-party James Ward had left with Plaintiff to be given to Plaintiff's God- Ward, for travel expenses. (Id.). Hester then ordered Moore to perform a dog sniff of Plaintiff's office, and the dog did not react to anything in Plaintiff's office. (Id. ¶ 31). Hester then asked Moore if he were "sure" there was nothing in the office and asked him to perform

sniff "right here," pointing to Plaintiff's filing cabinet. (Id.). Moore complied, and again did not react. (Id.). Plaintiff did not have any illegal drugs, but he suspects that Hester planted illegal drugs, i.e., ecstasy, during the search, and that the dog simply failed to react to

See id. ¶ 32).

In or about October 2011, ECSO informed Plaintiff of the August 2011 ...


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