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Lee v. Dawson

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

July 12, 2019

RANDY LEE, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL DAWSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 50) for summary judgment by defendants James Fouts, then Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Onawa, and the City of Onawa (together, the municipal defendants), and a motion (Doc. No. 51) for summary judgment by defendants Daniel Dawson and the State of Iowa (together, the state defendants). Plaintiff Randy Lee has filed a resistance (Doc. No. 63) and the defendants have filed replies. See Doc. Nos. 64-65. I find that oral argument is not necessary. See Local Rule 7(c).

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This action stems from the execution of a search warrant on September 13, 2015. Lee initiated this lawsuit on September 11, 2017, by filing a petition (Doc. No. 3) in Iowa District Court for Monona County against the municipal defendants. On September 12, 2017, Lee filed an amended petition (Doc. No. 3-1) against the same defendants.

         On November 27, 2017, he added the state defendants. See Doc. No. 3-2. He also identified the following counts for the first time:

● Count I - Procedural and Substantive Process - Iowa State Constitution Article I, § 8 Against All Defendants
● Count II - Procedural and Substantive Due Process - Iowa State Constitution Article I, §§1 and 9 Against All Defendants
● Count III - Violation of Plaintiff's Federal Constitutional Rights - United States Constitution 2nd and 4th Amendments

Doc. No. 3-2. The municipal defendants removed the case to this court on December 13, 2017, based on federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. See Doc. No. 1. The state defendants consented to the removal. See Doc. No. 9.

         Lee filed an amended complaint (Doc. No. 26) on March 20, 2018. The amended complaint, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges that Dawson and Fouts conducted a search on September 13, 2015, pursuant to a search warrant that lacked probable cause. Doc. No. 26 at 2. Lee asserts the following claims:

● Count I - Unreasonable Search and Seizure[1]
● Count II - Second Amendment - U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 9 -Iowa Constitution Id. at 5-6.

         The state defendants filed a pre-answer motion (Doc. No. 28) to dismiss, which I granted in part and denied in part. I granted it as to: (1) Lee's § 1983 claims against the state defendants based on alleged violations of the United States Constitution and (2) his claim in Count I alleging a violation of article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution based on the alleged lack of probable cause to support the search warrant. I denied it as to the remaining state law claims in Count I and Count II, meaning the following counts are at issue in this motion as to both defendants:

● Count I
o A violation of article I, section 1 of the Iowa Constitution
o A violation of article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution based on an alleged unauthorized search of his residence and seizure of his service weapon.
● Count II - a violation of article I, section 9 of the Iowa Constitution based on seizure of his service weapon

         Both counts also consist of § 1983 claims against the municipal defendants based on alleged violations of the Second and Fourth Amendments.

         III. RELEVANT FACTS

         The following facts are undisputed for purposes of defendants' motions for summary judgment unless otherwise noted:[2]

         Prior to the alleged incident that underlies the law enforcement action in this case, Lee and the victim had a romantic relationship. Fouts was aware of this relationship because he had discussed it with the victim in the past. Fouts also has a close relationship with the victim's family and worked with the victim's mother. Doc. No. 64 at 1. Lee's supervisor, Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt, was also aware of the tumultuous relationship and, after speaking to the victim or her family concerning an incident in June 2015, instructed Lee not to have contact with the victim or her family. Id. at 1-2. Shortly before the incident in this case, Lee alleges his vehicle tires were slashed at his personal residence and that he had considered seeking a protection order against the victim, believing she was the culprit. Id. Fouts denies knowledge of this incident or that Lee had personal and professional issues with one of Fouts' family members regarding a highspeed chase in which Lee and the relative were allegedly involved.

         The incident in this case arose on September 13, 2015, when the victim contacted an individual she had seen the previous day and reported that she and Lee had nonconsensual sex. Doc. No. 63-1 at 3. The victim also told her friend. Id. The three met and contacted the victim's mother, who met up with them. Id. at 4. The victim's mother then called Monona County Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Bellis and reported the incident. Bellis contacted his supervisor, Sheriff Pratt, who instructed him to contact Fouts. Fouts was off-duty but met Bellis at his personal residence and discussed the claims of nonconsensual sex between the victim and Lee. Doc. No. 63-1 at 4. Bellis and Fouts went to go meet the victim and her mother. Id.

         Fouts met with the victim privately and recorded the interview, which lasted approximately 25 minutes. Id. He arranged for the victim to undergo a sexual assault examination at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Id. Fouts also informed the victim she would need to provide a written statement, however he never obtained one. Doc. No. 64 at 6. Lee alleges that during the interview, Fouts made multiple comments to the victim that were inappropriate and demonstrated animus towards Lee. Defendants deny these comments for lack of support by the cited materials, which is a transcript of the interview. The alleged comments or subjects of the comments include:

● Lee has a known drinking and drug problem
● It was Fouts' responsibility to investigate and charge Lee and that a DCI agent would not be needed because it was a cut and dry case
● Various comments about Lee's state of mind
● Various comments that coaxed and developed facts that the victim did not report
● Comments about the victim's and Lee's relationship, such as Lee was controlling the victim
● Fouts had known the victim all her life, so she should feel comfortable talking to him
● Fouts had his own relationship issues that the victim and her mother knew about

Id. at 5-6.[3]

         Fouts consulted the Chief of Police for the City of Onawa and was directed to contact the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI). Fouts also contacted Sheriff Pratt and met with the County Attorney. Fouts expressed his opinion that search warrants should be obtained. Doc. No. 64 at 2. Three DCI agents arrived, including Dawson. Fouts shared the interview recording with him.[4] Fouts did not provide Dawson with a written report or investigation, although he states he would typically do so. Doc. No. 65-1 at 3-4. Fouts denies that he discussed the relationship history between Lee and the victim. Doc. No. 64 at 3. Dawson states Fouts told him that Lee and the victim had an on-again, off-again relationship. Doc. No. 65-1 at 3. Dawson did not conduct any interviews or inquire about the victim's criminal history or credibility. Doc. No. 54 at 3; Doc. No. 65-1 at 4-5. Dawson drafted the search warrant applications for Lee's person and residence. He states he did so with the assistance of Fouts. Doc. No. 65-1 at 5. The application included a single affidavit. Id. Fouts did not review the search warrant applications or affidavit. Doc. No. 64 at 3.

         Lee takes issue with several facts alleged in the affidavit, arguing that they are inconsistent with the victim's recorded interview. The municipal defendants deny nearly all of Lee's assertions as unsupported by the cited materials. See Doc. No. 64 at 3-4. The state defendants note that many of the victim's statements are ambiguous, citing to quotations from the transcript of the interview. Doc. No. 65-1 at 6-10. According to Lee, the inconsistencies consist of the following:

● The affidavit alleges that Lee used his service weapon to threaten the victim and wanted the victim to shoot/kill him with the service weapon. The victim also reported there would be a second firearm located on a night stand near Lee's bed. However, the victim stated she did not believe that firearm was Lee's service weapon and the only firearm was located near Lee's bed. The victim also stated numerous times that she did not feel threatened by the firearm and that Lee did not point or threaten her with it. See Doc. No. 63-1 at 9.
● The affidavit alleges that Lee forced the victim to drive them to her parents' house to retrieve more alcohol or that Lee forced the victim to return to his residence. However, the victim never stated that Lee forced her to drive them anywhere and admitted that Lee believed he was in danger.
● The affidavit alleges that Lee consumed a bottle of wine and while he was consuming it, became mad at the victim and threw a wine glass against the back door. However, the victim stated that Lee threw the empty wine glass the following morning or afternoon as she was leaving. She also never stated the wine glasses were thrown at her or that she felt threatened.
● The affidavit alleges that Lee forced the victim to remove her clothing and made her get into his bed at night, but they did not have sex. The victim never stated she was forced to remove her clothing, but that she did not want to have sex because Lee was drunk so they went to sleep. The victim woke up the next morning and Lee was going through her phone.
‚óŹ The affidavit alleges that Lee's tires were slashed and he had installed security cameras. However, this information did not come from the victim as indicated in the ...

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