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Custer v. City of Houston

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

May 30, 2019

ROBIN CUSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF HOUSTON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Nancy K. Johnson, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Pending before the court[1] is Defendant City of Houston's (“Defendant City”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc 38). The court has considered the motion, the response, all other relevant filings, and the applicable law. For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendant City's motion.

         I. Case Background

         Plaintiff filed this civil rights action alleging a Constitutional violation as a result of Defendant City's failure to train its police officers regarding their Fourth Amendment obligations.[2]

         A. Factual Background [3]

         On March 5, 2015, two HPD officers drove into Plaintiff's driveway while Plaintiff and her husband Ricky Custer (“Mr. Custer”) were not home.[4] The officers walked around the exterior of Plaintiff's home and disabled the home's security cameras.[5] One of the officers used his flashlight to break open the front door, and the officers entered Plaintiff's home.[6] After they exited the home, leaving the front door open, the officers took the mail out of Plaintiff's mailbox.[7] The officers then re-entered their vehicle and parked it down the street from Plaintiff's house.[8]

         Mr. Custer came home to find his house had been entered and the security cameras disabled.[9] After Mr. Custer called Plaintiff, she came home from work and reviewed the footage on their security cameras.[10] Plaintiff's neighbor also had footage of the incident captured on his camera.[11]

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed this action alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983"), the Texas Torts Claims Act, and state law claims of negligence and gross negligence.[12] After reviewing Defendant City's motion to dismiss, the court dismissed all claims except for Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim regarding Defendant City's failure to train its police officers on their Fourth Amendment responsibilities.[13]

         II. Legal Standards

         Disposition of Plaintiff's case at this stage involves review of both procedural and substantive legal standards.

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals that no genuine dispute exists regarding any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Stauffer v. Gearhart, 741 F.3d 574, 581 (5th Cir. 2014). A material fact is a fact that is identified by applicable substantive law as critical to the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Ameristar Jet Charter, Inc. v. Signal Composites, Inc., 271 F.3d 624, 626 (5th Cir. 2001). To be genuine, the dispute regarding a material fact must be supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could resolve the issue in favor of either party. See Royal v. CCC & R Tres Arboles, L.L.C., 736 F.3d 396, 400 (5th Cir. 2013)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

         The movant must inform the court of the basis for the summary judgment motion and must point to relevant excerpts from pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of genuine factual issues. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323; Topalian v. Ehrman, 954 F.2d 1125, 1131 (5thCir. 1992). If the movant carries its burden, the nonmovant may not rest on the allegations or denials in the pleading but must respond with evidence showing a genuine factual dispute. Stauffer, 741 F.3d at 581 (citing Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5thCir. 2007)). The court must accept all of the nonmovant's evidence as true and draw all justifiable inferences in her favor. Coastal Agric. Supply, Inc. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 759 F.3d 498, 505 (5th Cir. 2014)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

         B. ...


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