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Haskett v. Flanders

United States District Court, D. Colorado

July 20, 2015



R. Brooke Jackson United States District Judge

This order addresses defendant’s two summary judgment motions and his motion to compel. All are denied.


This case arises from a feud that would not have spilled into the judicial system had a little more common sense prevailed on both sides. Animosity between Phillip Haskett and Gary Flanders dates back to 2006 when they became embroiled in a dispute concerning a tract of land in Colorado Springs. The present chapter began on November 1, 2012.

Haskett, who claims to be a resident of Texas, was in Colorado Springs that morning, and at about 9:45 a.m. he entered the downtown post office. Flanders, whom the plaintiff describes as a “convicted felon, ” happened to be nearby at the time and allegedly spotted Haskett’s vehicle due to its Texas tags. Armed with a camera, Flanders took it upon himself to begin taking multiple photographs of the vehicle, exterior and interior (through the windows). Flanders allegedly then hid behind a mail box awaiting Haskett’s emergence from the post office.

Emerge he did, and Flanders leapt to the task of taking pictures of Haskett. That did not sit well with Haskett (he threatened to “rape and kill me, ” says Flanders), but Haskett managed to get into his vehicle and drive off. Flanders quickly approached a couple of bystanders who might have seen or heard some of the fracas. Some 90 minutes later Flanders reported an attempt on his life to a 911 operator.

Officer Dominick Luna was dispatched to meet Flanders and take his report. Haskett alleges that Officer Luna then interviewed the two purported witnesses and, after doing so, that Luna “entered” an arrest warrant for Plaintiff into CSPD’s system.” ECF No. 30 at ¶ 31. Officer Luna’s initial effort to contact Haskett (at a cell phone number helpfully provided by Flanders) was unsuccessful, but a lawyer arranged for Haskett to pick up a “no arrest” summons the next day. Haskett was charged with harassment in municipal court, but the municipal prosecutor later dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

I suspect that both gentlemen might have been better served if the story had ended there. However, on December 16, 2013, a little over a year after the incident, Haskett, representing himself pro se, filed the present lawsuit, basing federal jurisdiction both on diversity of citizenship and on federal question jurisdiction. He joined as defendants not only Flanders but also Officer Luna and the Colorado Springs Police Department.

In his original Complaint, ECF No. 1, Haskett asserted six claims: (1) defamation against Flanders, alleging that Flanders had told a Mr. Carvill that Haskett had implicated Carvill in a murder plot, thereby causing Carvill to renege on an agreement to assign to Haskett a judgment that Carvill had previously obtained against Flanders; (2) intentional interference with contractual relations, the Carvill deal again; (3) malicious prosecution against Flanders and Officer Luna, basically accusing Flanders of maliciously providing false information to Luna, and implying that Luna maliciously acted on it by causing Haskett to be prosecuted; (4, but misnumbered 3) a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all defendants under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, asserting among other things that Luna conducted a “sham” investigation as part of a local law enforcement conspiracy to rid Colorado Springs of Mr. Haskett; (5, misnumbered 4) a respondeat superior claim against the Colorado Springs Police Department; and (6, misnumbered 5) a racketeering claim under RICO against all defendants, again essentially grounded in the alleged conspiracy to get Haskett to leave town.

The “City Defendants” (Luna and the Police Department) moved to dismiss, but before the motion was briefed by parties or considered by the Court, it was mooted by Haskett’s filing of an amended complaint. I will not dwell on that version because it was soon stricken by Magistrate Judge Mix for non-compliance with the rules regarding amendment to pleadings.

Haskett then sought and was granted leave to file an amended complaint. This version, essentially a Track Changes version of the original, named Flanders, Luna and now the City of Colorado Springs, but not the Colorado Springs Police Department, as defendants. ECF No. 30. The recitation of alleged facts was expanded, and the claims changed somewhat. The First and Second Claims, against Flanders concerning the Carvill matter, was not changed. The Third Claim, malicious prosecution against Flanders and Luna, was beefed up a bit but is otherwise largely the same as before. The Fourth Claim, still brought pursuant to § 1983, asserted violations of Haskett’s rights under the Fourth (no longer the Fifth) and Fourteenth Amendments. The Fifth Claim asserted that all defendants conspired to interfere with Haskett’s civil rights to substantive due process and equal protection of the laws, contrary to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). Finally, the Sixth Claim sought respondeat superior liability against the City of Colorado Springs for the wrongful acts of Officer Luna. Mr. Haskett prays both for $10 million in damages and for a court order requiring that the Colorado Springs Police Department obtain court permission before contacting Haskett as part of any criminal investigation.

Flanders filed two motions to dismiss the amended complaint, both on procedural grounds: one for insufficient service of process, the other for a combination of lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient process and insufficient service of process (or alternatively to strike immaterial, impertinent and scandalous material from the amended complaint). ECF Nos. 35 and 49. I referred both motions to Judge Mix. She denied the first one [ECF No. 35] and recommended that I deny the second one [ECF No. 60]. No objection was filed to the recommendation, and I accepted it and denied the motion to dismiss. ECF No. 63.

Meanwhile the City Defendants had filed another motion to dismiss. ECF No. 37. Again, I referred the motion to the magistrate judge. In a thoughtful and patient recommendation, Judge Mix addressed not only the claims against the City Defendants but also certain of the claims against Flanders. Regarding the latter, she noted that Mr. Haskett had been granted leave to proceed in this case in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and that courts retain the authority to dismiss such claims if they find that they fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

Judge Mix recommended that the motion to dismiss filed by the City Defendants be granted, and that all claims against Officer Luna and the City of Colorado Spring be dismissed. She further recommended that Haskett’ Fourth and Fifth Claims against Flanders be dismissed. ECF No. 66 at 22. No objections were filed, and this Court issued an order dismissing claims as recommended. ECF No. 68. That left three claims in the case, all state law claims: Claims One and Two, arising from the Carvill matter, and Claim Three, accusing Flanders of malicious prosecution.

Mr. Flanders, who like his adversary represents himself pro se, has filed two summary judgment motions, one addressed to Claim Three, and the other addressed ...

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