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Baldwin v. Estherville

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

October 2, 2018

GREGORY BALDWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ESTHERVILLE, IOWA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER CERTIFYING QUESTIONS TO THE IOWA SUPREME COURT

          MARK W. BENNETT U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 2

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS ........................................................................ 4

         A. Baldwin's Proposals ................................................................ 4

         1. The question regarding independence of claims ..................... 5

         2. The question regarding who decides “all due care” immunity ..................................................................... 9

         B. The City's Proposals ............................................................. 12

         1. The question regarding application of the punitive damages standard ........................................................ 13

         2. The question regarding retroactive availability of punitive damages or attorney's fees ................................... 14

         III. CONCLUSION ............................................................................ 16

         This case arises from plaintiff Gregory Baldwin's arrest by police officers of defendant City of Estherville, Iowa, for riding his ATV on and in a ditch beside a street in the City, allegedly in violation of a state statute that the officers believed had been, but was not, incorporated into the City's Code of Ordinances. Although I granted summary judgment for the City and the individual police officers on Baldwin's claim of violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and his claim of false arrest, I reserved ruling on his claims against the City for violations of the Iowa Constitution.[1]I certified to the Iowa Supreme Court the question of whether a defendant can raise a defense of qualified immunity to an individual's claim for damages for violation of article I, §§ 1 and 8 of the Iowa Constitution. The Iowa Supreme Court answered that question in the affirmative and adopted an “all due care” qualified immunity defense. In an Opinion And Order, filed September 14, 2018, see Baldwin v. Estherville, Iowa, ___F.Supp.3d ___, 2018 WL 4567326 (N.D. Iowa Sept. 14, 2018), I concluded, inter alia, that several additional questions should be certified to the Iowa Supreme Court. That Opinion And Order is incorporated in full by reference. At my invitation, the parties have now proposed certain additions and deletions to those questions.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The factual background to this case is set out in considerable detail in my prior ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment, see Baldwin v. Estherville, Iowa, 218 F.Supp.3d 987, 989-93 (N.D. Iowa 2016), then by the Iowa Supreme Court in Baldwin v. City of Estherville, 915 N.W.2d 259, 261-65 (Iowa 2018), and briefly reprised in my September 14, 2018, Opinion And Order, Baldwin, 2018 WL 4567326, at *1-*2. Similarly, some of the procedural background is set out in more detail in my ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment, see Baldwin, 218 F.Supp.2d at 993-95, and in my September 14, 2018, Opinion And Order, Baldwin, 2018 WL 4567326, at *2-*4. Those statements are incorporated by reference into this Opinion And Order.

         In the September 14, 2018, Opinion And Order, I granted the City's July 12, 2018, Motion For Leave To Amend Answer to assert the newly-minted “all due care” qualified immunity defense to Baldwin's Iowa constitutional claims. I also denied as moot the City's August 11, 2012, Second Motion For Summary Judgment. I granted in part Baldwin's August 11, 2016, Motion For Partial Summary Judgment, as supplemented, but I also reserved ruling on parts of that Motion. Specifically, I granted the part of that Motion seeking summary judgment in Baldwin's favor on Counts I and III of his petition to the extent that I concluded that his rights under article I of the Iowa Constitution were violated, but I reserved ruling on that part of his Motion, as supplemented, seeking summary judgment or determinations as to the following matters: (1) that the City is not entitled to “all due care” qualified immunity for that violation of the Iowa Constitution, (2) that the defendants acted in reckless disregard of his rights under article I of the Iowa Constitution, as a gateway to a jury award of punitive damages, and (3) that Baldwin is entitled to attorney's fees. Baldwin, 2018 WL 4567326, at *27.

         For reasons set out in some detail in the September 14, 2018, Opinion And Order, I also tentatively formulated the following questions as ones on which I believe an authoritative answer by the Iowa Supreme Court will be determinative in this case:

1. Can the City assert qualified immunity to a claim for damages for violation of the Iowa Constitution based on its officers' exercise of “all due care”?
2. If the City can assert such a defense, on the facts presented in this case, does the City have “all due care” qualified immunity to liability for damages for the violation of Baldwin's right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure under article I of the Iowa Constitution? This question necessarily includes questions about the extent to which reliance on a warrant may satisfy the “all due care” standard and whether the “all due care” analysis considers alternative bases for probable cause or a warrant on which the officers did not rely.
3. If punitive damages are an available remedy against an individual defendant for a violation of a plaintiff's rights under the Iowa Constitution, can punitive damages be awarded against a municipality that employed the individual defendant and, if so, under what standard?
4. If punitive damages are available in answer to the previous question, would a reasonable jury be able to find that the applicable standard was met on the facts presented in this case?
5. If an award of attorney's fees would have been available against an individual defendant for a plaintiff who attains some degree of success on a claim of a violation of a plaintiff's rights under the Iowa Constitution, would they be available against a municipality that employed the individual defendant and, if so, under what standard?

Baldwin, 2018 WL 4567326, at *25-*26.

         On September 24, 2018, the parties responded to my invitation to offer amendments to the questions I proposed or to offer different and additional questions that would lead to the authoritative and efficient disposition of Baldwin's Iowa constitutional claims. Id. at *27. In his response, Baldwin proffers two additional questions. In its response, the City suggests that Proposed Question No. 4, above, should not be certified, and proposes one additional question. Thus, I turn to consideration of the parties' proposed additions and deletions to the questions to be certified to the Iowa Supreme Court.

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         A. Baldwin's Proposals

         I will consider, in turn, the two additional questions that Baldwin asserts I should certify to the Iowa Supreme Court.

         1. The question regarding ...


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