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Aldridge v. Nye County Nevada

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 27, 2019

NYE COUNTY NEVADA et al., Defendants.




         Before the Court is [16] Defendants Joshua Armendariz and Ann Horak’s Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the motion in part.


         Plaintiff Leah Ann Aldridge filed a complaint against Defendants Nye County, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, Deputy Joshua Armendariz, Deputy Ann Horak, and Lieutenant David Boruchowitz on June 4, 2018. The complaint brought five causes of action: a claim against all Defendants for violation of Plaintiff’s Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; battery against Armendariz; intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants; civil conspiracy against all Defendants; and negligence and respondeat superior against Wehrly and Nye County.

         Defendants Armendariz, Horak, Nye County, and Wehrly filed the instant motion on January 23, 2019 (ECF No. 16). Defendant Boruchowitz joined the motion on January 25, 2019 (ECF No. 22) and filed a separation Motion for Summary Judgment on January 23, 2019 (ECF No. 20).

         On September 5, 2019 a hearing was held on both Motions for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 16, 20). The Court granted Boruchowitz’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20). ECF No. 32. The Court also granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants Nye County and Sharon Wehrly on the instant motion, and granted in part in favor of Defendants Armendariz and Horak as to Plaintiff’s Fourth and Eighth Amendment claims under Count I. Id.

         The Court now considers the remaining claims under the instant motion as alleged against Defendants Armendariz and Horak.


         a. Undisputed Facts

          Plaintiff was arrested during a traffic stop and detained at Nye County Detention Center (“NCDC”) on April 17, 2017. Defendant Armendariz booked plaintiff. Defendant Horak was also present when Plaintiff arrived at NCDC.

         Plaintiff was initially placed into a holding cell. Later, Armendariz took Plaintiff out of the holding cell and took her booking photograph. After taking Plaintiff’s photograph, Armendariz directed Plaintiff to sit and began to ask her questions. Plaintiff requested to have a lawyer present while she answered questions pursuant to the booking process. Armendariz put Plaintiff back in her cell. Later, Plaintiff was taken out of the cell for fingerprinting and further processing. Plaintiff asked that pictures be taken of her alleged injuries and Horak complied. Plaintiff was later bailed out of the facility.

         The surveillance equipment at NCDC has audio as well as video capabilities. Plaintiff requested surveillance footage from Lieutenant Boruchowitz of NCDC during her detention there, who provided it to her after some time.

         b. Disputed Facts

          The parties have different characterizations of the circumstances and the force deployed by Defendant Armendariz when he placed Plaintiff back in her cell.

         According to Defendant Armendariz, he took Plaintiff out of her cell and directed her to sit, then asked her intake questions to complete the booking process. Armendariz Decl. Ex. C, at 1, ECF No. 17. Defendants state Plaintiff became agitated during this process and that she would not answer questions without an attorney. Id. Defendants further allege that Armendariz informed Plaintiff she did not have a right to an attorney during the booking process and that she would return to the holding cell if she did not cooperate. Id. at 1-2. Defendants also assert Plaintiff was told to voluntarily return to the cell and ignored instructions, whereupon Armendariz took Plaintiff’s arms by the armpit, walked her to the cell, and placed her on the floor. Id. at 2. Defendant Armendariz states he gave Plaintiff multiple opportunities to return to her cell voluntarily before he placed her in the cell and that she “dropped her weight in an attempt to go limp” when he stood her up. Id. at 2.

         Plaintiff’s version of events differs. Plaintiff states that when asked questions by Defendant Armendariz, she exercised her “Fifth Amendment” rights and asked for an attorney. Aldridge Dep. 20:1, 18:15 Ex. A-1, ECF No. 17. Plaintiff states Defendant Armendariz was agitated, “went into a tirade, ” walked around the desk, forcibly grabbed Plaintiff from behind, dragged her, then threw her to the floor of the holding cell. Id. at 20:9, 29:19. Plaintiff states that she was never told to get up from her seat and return to her cell voluntarily. Id. at 21:6. Plaintiff states she sustained injuries to her head, neck, elbow, and left side hip. Id. at 70:22. Plaintiff also states that Defendant Armendariz cursed at her. Id. at 17:22.


         Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show “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); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When considering the propriety of summary judgment, the court views all facts and draws all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Gonzalez v. City of Anaheim, 747 F.3d 789, 793 (9th Cir. 2014). If the movant has carried its burden, the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not ...

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