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Gardner v. Unified Government of Wyandotte County

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 4, 2015

JEFFREY GARDNER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIFIED GOVERNMENT OF WYANDOTTE COUNTY/ KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

KATHRYN H. VRATIL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion To Alter Or Amend Judgment (Doc. #178) filed October 27, 2014, and Defendants' Motion To Strike Plaintiff's Reply To Defendants' Response In Opposition To Plaintiff's Memorandum In Support Of Motion To Alter Or Amend Judgment (Doc. #193), filed December 19, 2014. For the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules both motions.

I. Factual And Procedural Background

Jeffrey Gardner brings suit against the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas and Rick Armstrong, James Brown, Kevin Steele, Terry Ziegler, Greg Lawson, Curtis Nicholson and Michael York in their official and individual capacities. Gardner alleges that defendants violated his constitutional rights and committed various torts when they conducted a sting operation. See Pretrial Order (Doc. #63) entered December 12, 2013; Complaint (Doc. #1) filed December 22, 2011.[1] Another officer involved in the sting operation, Patrick Callahan, also filed suit and asserted similar claims against many of the same defendants. See Callahan v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte Cnty. & Kan. City, Kan., No. 11-cv-2621-KHV.

On December 13, 2013, one week before the dispositive motion deadline, defendants filed motions to exceed the 30-page limitation imposed by D. Kan. R. 7.1(e) and the pretrial order here and in Callahan.[2] See, e.g., Defendants' Motion To Exceed The Thirty Page Limitation Of Its Memorandum In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. #66). The Court sustained the motions, ruling that each defendant could file one brief with an argument section not to exceed 40 pages.[3] See Order (Doc. #67) entered December 16, 2013.

On December 20, 2013, the individual defendants filed joint motions for summary judgment in each case. See, e.g., Defendants Rick Armstrong, James Brown, Greg Lawson, Curtis Nicholson, Kevin Steele, Michael York & Terry Zeigler's Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. #71). Among other things, the motions sought summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity.

On July 25, 2014, in Callahan, the Court denied summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity and struck the remaining summary judgment briefs. The Court noted that the record raised genuine issues of material fact whether defendants had arrested Callahan and if so, whether they had probable cause to do so; thus, genuine issues of material fact prevented the Court from granting summary judgment to defendants on the issue of qualified immunity.[4] Order (Doc. #450), in Callahan. The Court noted that the summary judgment briefs in general (including the briefs with respect to qualified immunity) did not comply with D. Kan. Rule 56.1. That rule requires that briefs in support of a motion for summary judgment begin with a section that contains a "concise" statement of material facts. Id. The Court explained defendants' failure to comply as follows:

[M]any of the factual statements run in excess of half a page (some statements are multiple pages) and they incorporate multiple sources of deposition testimony, exhibits, etc. In response, by necessity, plaintiffs' responses are anything but "concise." The result is an intractable mass (i.e. mess) which is (1) disproportionate to the simplicity of the claims which are presented in this case; and (2) disproportionate to the resources which the Court can devote to the resolution of these summary judgment motions.

Id.

The day that the Court entered this order in Callahan, it entered an order to show cause why those rulings should not apply to the corresponding proceedings in Gardner's case. Order To Show Cause (Doc. #159) entered July 25, 2014. Specifically, the Court ordered the parties to show why the Court should not deny defendants' motion for summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity and strike the balance of the summary judgment motions. See id. Gardner did not respond to that order. Defendants responded by requesting that "in the interest of justice, " the Court not do so. Defendants stated as follows:

[T]he ruling in Callahan on the issue of qualified immunity is not equally applicable to the case at bar. The facts relating to each individual Defendants' [sic] interactions with the named Plaintiffs in this case differ from those presented in the Callahan motion. Therefore, a unique consideration of those facts relevant to qualified immunity is required in this case.

See Defendants' Response To Order To Show Cause (Doc. #163) filed August 1, 2014 at 3. Defendants' response did not identify any specific factual differences between Callahan's case, however, and that of Gardner. No party filed a reply.

On August 8, 2014, defendants in Callahan sought reconsideration of the order denying them summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity and striking the balance of their summary judgment motions.[5] Again, to "prevent manifest injustice, " they asked the Court to "reach the merits" of the issues raised. More specifically, defendants argued that they were "entitled" to a "full analysis" of qualified immunity before trial and that as a matter of law, they had probable cause to arrest plaintiff or reasonable suspicion to detain him. Defendants also argued that the Court had abused its discretion in striking their motions under D. Kan. Rule 56.1. On September 9, 2014, the Court overruled the motion for reconsideration in Callahan.[6] See Memorandum And Order (Doc. #464).

On October 2, 2014, the Court entered similar rulings in Gardner. Specifically, the Court overruled defendants' motion for summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity and struck the balance of their summary judgment ...


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