United States District Court, D. Colorado
LESLIE WILLIAM WELCH, EVA WELCH, a minor child, by and through her next friend, LESLIE WILLIAM WELCH, and HAYDEN WELCH, a minor child, by and through her next friend, LESLIE WILLIAM WELCH, Plaintiffs,
JANE SAUNDERS, and JOHN SPAW, Defendants.
ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
William J. Martinez United States District Judge
Leslie William Welch, Eva Welch, and Hayden Welch
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) bring this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Jane Saunders
and John Spaw (collectively, “Defendants”)
claiming violations of their rights under the Fourth and
Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (See ECF
No. 30 ¶¶ 27, 29.) Specifically, this dispute
centers on whether Defendants were acting pursuant to a valid
court order on March 17, 2014, when they “directed
Plaintiffs to depart and vacate their leasehold
premises.” (Id. ¶ 16.)
the Court are the following motions: (1) Plaintiffs'
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 52) and (2)
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Cross-Motion”) (ECF No. 54). For the reasons
set forth below, Defendants' Cross- Motion is granted,
and Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is
judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56 “if the movant shows 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);
see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248-50 (1986). A fact is “material” if,
under the relevant substantive law, it is essential to proper
disposition of the claim. Wright v. Abbott Labs.,
Inc., 259 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 2001). An issue
is “genuine” if the evidence is such that it
might lead a reasonable trier of fact to return a verdict for
the nonmoving party. Allen v. Muskogee, 119 F.3d
837, 839 (10th Cir. 1997).
analyzing a motion for summary judgment, a court must view
the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adler v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir.
1998) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). In addition, the
Court must resolve factual ambiguities against the moving
party, thus favoring the right to a trial. See Houston v.
Nat'l Gen. Ins. Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir.
following facts are undisputed, unless attributed to one
party, or another, or otherwise noted.
times relevant to this action, Kathleen
Mueller's ex-husband, Kenneth Mueller, was the owner
of a property located at 5035 McIntyre St., Golden CO 80401.
(ECF No. 54 ¶ 4; ECF No. 55 ¶ 4; see also
ECF No. 54-6 at 2.) Plaintiff Leslie Welch leased the barn on
the property pursuant to a written “Residential Lease
Agreement” with Mr. Mueller. (ECF No. 30 ¶ 9; ECF
No. 49 ¶ 9; see also ECF No. 54-6 at 2-5.)
August 15, 2013, a misdemeanor criminal case was brought upon
the allegations of Ms. Mueller that she was assaulted by Mr.
Mueller. (ECF No. 30 ¶ 11; ECF No. 49 ¶ 11.) On
August 17, 2013, a mandatory protection order was entered
against Mr. Mueller (the “August Protection
Order”). (ECF No. 54-1 at 2-3.) The August Protection
Order named Ms. Mueller as the protected party and ordered
that “no tenants and or caretakers employed by [Kenneth
Mueller] [are] authorized to live on [the] property at 5035
McIntyre St. (Id. at ¶ 8.) On October 4, 2013,
the August Protection Order was modified to remove the above
statement as to tenants and caretakers (the “October
Protection Order”). (ECF No. 54-5 at 2-3.)
times relevant, Defendants were Deputy Sheriffs with the
Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriff's Office. (ECF No. 54
¶ 3; ECF No. 55 ¶ 3.) On March 17, 2014, Defendants
directed Plaintiffs “to vacate the property” (ECF
No. 54 ¶ 6; ECF No. 55 ¶ 6) which, according to
Plaintiffs, forced them to leave “behind the personal
property that they were unable to remove prior to complying
with” the Defendants' order (ECF No. 30 ¶ 16).
Spaw's police report reflects that the Defendants
believed they were acting pursuant to a state court order
signed by the Honorable Thomas E. Vance. (ECF No. 54-2 at
4-5.) The police report further states that Ms. Mueller
handed Defendant Spaw a copy of the mandatory protection
order, referring to the August Protection Order.
(Id. at 4.) The police report also states that
Defendant Spaw provided Mr. Welch with a copy of the August
Protection Order and explained to him the content of the
order, including the provision stating that no tenants are
authorized to live on the property. (Id. at 4-5;
see also ECF No. 55 ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs did in
fact vacate the property later that evening. (ECF No. 54
¶ 7; ECF No. 55 ¶ 7.)
initiated this lawsuit on October 14, 2015, and filed a First
Amended Complaint on February 8, 2016. (ECF Nos. 1, 30.)
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the First Amended
Complaint on February 12, 2016. (ECF No. 31.) The Court
granted in part and denied in part Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 46.)
remaining “First Claim for Relief” incorporates
sub-claims, including claims that: (1) Defendants deprived
them of their “property rights without due process in
violation of the Fifth Amendment, ” and (2) Defendants
“seiz[ed Plaintiffs] property without [a] court order
in violation of the Fourth Amendment[.]” (ECF No. 30 at
10 ¶ 27.)
November 20, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 52.) On December 12, 2016,
Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 56.) Plaintiffs filed
their Reply on December 26, 2016. (ECF No. 58.)
November 21, 2016, Defendants filed their Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 54.) Plaintiffs responded on
December 9, 2016 (ECF No. 55), and Defendants replied on
December 23, 2017 (ECF No. 57).