Joann Davis, an individual; Paul Cilley, an individual, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
United States of America; Norman Conley, Defendants-Appellants.
and Submitted February 8, 2017 Pasadena, California
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of California, D.C. No. 5:13-cv-00483-CBM-KK
Consuelo B. Marshall, District Judge, Presiding
K. Rubiner (argued), Gerard Fox Law P.C., Los Angeles,
California; Steven I. Wallach, Gerard Fox Law P.C., New York,
New York; for Defendants-Appellants.
B. Schlueter (argued), Schlueter Law Firm PC, Redlands,
California, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.
Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge, and Andrew J.
Kleinfeld and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges.
panel affirmed the district court's denial of federal
agent Norman Conley's motion for summary judgment on the
ground of qualified immunity for a Bivens v. Six Unknown
Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 389 (1971), claim
brought by Joann Davis against Conley, alleging wrongful
detention under the Fourth Amendment.
who is an elderly woman, was detained by Conley in a public
parking lot for two hours, while she stood in urine-soaked
pants, and Conley questioned her incident to a search,
concerning Davis' possession of a paperweight containing
a rice-grain-sized bit of lunar material.
panel held that Davis raised genuine issues of material fact
as to whether Conley's detention of Davis was
unreasonably prolonged and degrading under Frankline v.
Foxworth, 31 F.3d 873, 876 (9th Cir. 1994). The panel
also held that the circumstances leading up to the sting
operation further supported the conclusion that Conley's
detention of Davis was unreasonable where: Conley knew that
Davis wanted to sell the paperweight due to her financial
hardship arising from her severely ill son's medical
expenses; Conley knew that Davis believed the paperweights
were legally gifted to her late husband for his service as a
NASA engineer; Conley knew that Davis initiated contact with
NASA for assistance in selling the paperweight legally; and
Conley did not inform Davis that her possession of the
paperweight was illegal or ask her to surrender it to NASA.
The panel concluded that Conley was not entitled to qualified
immunity as a matter of law.
THOMAS, Chief Judge:
appeal, we consider whether a federal agent is entitled to
qualified immunity from suit for detaining an elderly woman
in a public parking lot for two hours, while she stood in
urine-soaked pants, to question her, incident to a search,
about her possession of a paperweight containing a
rice-grain-sized bit of lunar material. We conclude he is
not, and we affirm the judgment of the district court.
Davis, and her late husband Robert, worked together at North
American Rockwell, which had a contract with the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration ("NASA") in
connection with the nation's space program. By all
accounts, Robert was a brilliant engineer, and he ultimately
became a manager of North American Rockwell's Apollo
project. While working on the space program, he received many
items of memorabilia, including two lucite paperweights. One
contained a rice-grain-sized fragment of lunar material, or
"moon rock;" the other contained a small piece of
the Apollo 11 heat shield. According to unverified family
lore, the paperweights were given to Robert by Neil Armstrong
in recognition of Robert's service to NASA.
Robert died in 1986, Joann retained possession of the
paperweights. She married her current husband, Paul Cilley,
in 1991. Davis began experiencing financial hardship in 2011.
Her son was severely ill, having had over 20 surgeries and
requiring expensive medical care. In addition, she
unexpectedly had to raise several grandchildren when their
mother, Davis's youngest daughter, died.
suggested that the paperweights might have value, so Davis
began contemplating selling them to cover some of his medical
costs. She contacted some public auction houses, without
success, so she then contacted NASA via email for assistance
in "find[ing] a buyer for 2 rare Apollo 11 space
artifacts." She explained that "[b]oth of these
items were given to [her late husband] by Neil Armstrong,
" and that "[he] was very ...