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Kantz v. Brantingham

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 19, 2017

LORRE and GREG KANTZ, Plaintiffs,



         Before the court is defendants Mitch Brantingham, Alvin McNeil, and Lyon County's (collectively “Defendants”) motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 22. Plaintiffs Lorre and Greg Kantz (the “Kantzs”) filed an opposition (ECF No. 26) to which Defendants replied (ECF No. 29).

         I. Background

         This is a Section 1983 action arising from the allegedly unlawful arrest of plaintiff Lorre Kantz (“Mrs. Kantz”) by defendant Deputy Mitch Brantingham (“Deputy Brantingham”) of the Lyon County Sheriff's Department. Mrs. Kantz, along with her husband Greg Kantz (“Mr. Kantz”), have brought suit against Deputy Brantingham; Sheriff Alvin McNeil (“Sheriff McNeil”), Sheriff of the Lyon County Sheriff's Department; and Lyon County.

         The allegedly unlawful arrest at issue occurred on May 26, 2015, in the town of Stagecoach in Lyon County, Nevada, after Deputy Brantingham and non-party Deputy Erick Kusmerz (“Deputy Kusmerz”) responded to a 9-1-1 call made by non-parties the DeFord family, who alleged that Mr. Kantz and another unidentified person were standing on the edge of the DeFord's property pointing rifles at them. ECF No. 26. When Deputy Kusmerz and Deputy Brantingham arrived at the DeFord's property they noticed a vehicle driving away. Id. The deputies followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop, at which point the Kantzs pulled over, stepped out of their car, and greeted the deputies. Because the 9-1-1 call involved a reported firearm, Deputy Kusmerz initiated a pat-down of Mrs. Kantz while Deputy Brantingham did the same to Mr. Kantz. Neither of the Kantzs had any weapons on their person. Id. Deputy Kusmerz then looked through the windows of the Kantzs' car and saw no visible weapons. Id.

         Deputy Kusmerz took control of the scene as the investigating deputy[1] and left for the DeFords' property to collect photos and witness statements. Deputy Brantingham stayed with the Kantzs and acted as a cover officer.[2] Id. After Deputy Kusmerz left, the Kantzs asked Deputy Brantingham why they had been stopped and he explained the nature of the DeFords' 9-1-1 call. The Kantzs then described their long history with the DeFords to Deputy Brantingham, explaining that the DeFords frequently called the Sheriff's department to place meritless complaints against the Kantzs due to a long-standing feud between the two families. Id. Non-party Deputy Julie Redmond (“Deputy Redmond”) then arrived on scene to assist Deputy Brantingham. Once Deputy Redmond arrived, Mrs. Kantz began to video record the interaction on her cell phone.[3]

         After listing off many of the various complaints that the DeFords had made over the years, Mrs. Kantz mentioned to Deputy Brantingham that she planned to make a civil standby call[4] for the following day while she posted “No Trespassing” signs on her commercial property located across the road from the DeFords. ECF No. 8. Deputy Brantingham told Mrs. Kantz that no deputy would respond to such a call because she did not need a deputy present to set up the signs. Mrs. Kantz then asked how her previous civil standby call[5] and this new proposed call differed. ECF No. 26.

         While discussing this unrelated issue, Deputy Brantingham ordered Mrs. Kantz to stop interrupting him or he would arrest her for obstruction. The Kantzs asked Deputy Brantingham what Mrs. Kantz could be obstructing and Deputy Brantingham responded that the interruptions were preventing him from asking any questions.[6] ECF No. 22; Ex. 2. Mrs. Kantz began to state that Deputy Brantingham could ask her any questions he wanted, but then shifted mid-sentence and requested an attorney. Id. Deputy Brantingham responded “okay, ” and ordered Mrs. Kantz to go sit on the back of her car. Id. Mrs. Kantz reiterated that she wanted an attorney, and Deputy Brantingham replied that she did not “have a right to one right now” and to “go sit down.” Id. Mrs. Kantz asked why she had to go sit down, and Deputy Brantingham replied, “because I told you so.” Id. Although initially turning towards their vehicle, Mrs. Kantz turned back to the face Deputy Brantingham, stating “I have to make sure I can still record.” Id. Mrs. Kantz then walked towards her car, but stops to partially turn back to face Deputy Brantingham and say, “I take great offense to this; we're not second class citizens.” Id. Mrs. Kantz then continued walking towards the back of her car.

         Before she makes it to the car, Deputy Brantingham orders her to place her hands behind her back. Deputy Brantingham then conducted another search of Mrs. Kantz's person, despite witnessing Deputy Kusmerz perform the same search earlier. Id. Once again, no weapons were found on Mrs. Kantz's person. Mrs. Kantz then asked Deputy Bratingham why she was being arrested and he responded that she was not being arrested, but merely detained, at which point he handcuffed Mrs. Kantz and placed her in the back seat of his patrol car with the windows rolled up and all of the doors closed. ECF No. 26. After several minutes in the back of the car, Mrs. Kantz complained of trouble breathing. Deputy Brantingham called for medics who arrived at the scene and counseled that Mrs. Kantz had experienced an anxiety induced panic attack. Id. Mrs. Kantz eventually recovered and Deputy Brantingham began transporting her to Lyon County jail. ECF No. 22. During the transportation, Mrs. Kantz again complained of trouble breathing and requested medical attention. ECF No. 26. Deputy Brantingham again called the medics and released Mrs. Kantz from custody, allowing the medics to transport her to a hospital where she was treated and eventually released. ECF No. 26. Subsequently, the Kantzs initiated the present action against Defendants. ECF No. 1. Thereafter, Defendants filed the present motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 22.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a court shall grant summary judgment if the factual record, including depositions, interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits, “show that there are no genuine issues as to any material facts and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” A “genuine” issue of material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the non-movant can show some clear dispute of fact, then summary judgment is inappropriate. The court is required to view the facts and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant. United States v. Diebold Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). However, the non-movant must show more than merely a slight metaphysical doubt of the facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

         To satisfy their burden on summary judgment, the Defendants, as movants, must show: (1) affirmative, non-contradicted evidence that negates an essential element of the Plaintiff's claims, or (2) demonstration that the Plaintiff's evidence is insufficient to support an essential element of their claim. Celotex Crop. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Once the movant has made a showing of either of the above, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

         III. Discussion

         In their complaint, the Kantzs allege five separate claims for relief. Their principal claim is a Fourth Amendment violation based upon Deputy Brantingham's unlawful arrest of Mrs. Kantz. See ECF No. 1. The Kantzs also allege several Nevada state-law claims against Defendants arising from the alleged unlawful arrest, including claims for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of ...

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