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Sharon Bristow v. Mr. Vandayburg

November 14, 2011

SHARON BRISTOW,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MR. VANDAYBURG, ET AL.,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Patricia A. Gaughan

Memorandum of Opinion and Order

INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court upon Federal Defendant Timothy Shook's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 25). This is a civil rights case. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

FACTS

Plaintiffs, Sharon Bristow and Lisa Gilroy, filed this action against defendants, "Mr. Vandayburg," Timothy Shook, Ross Wilbur, and the United States of America, alleging wrongdoing associated with interactions between the parties.

Plaintiff Sharon Bristow is the mother of Bradley Bristow ("Bristow"), a fugitive wanted in Florida. On January 20, 2011, defendants Shook and Vandayburg received a telephone call from their supervisor regarding a tip on Bristow's location. According to the tip, Bristow was located at his mother's residence. Plaintiff Gilroy also resided there. Defendants went to the residence and spoke with plaintiffs. During the conversation, Gilroy informed Shook that Bristow was at the apartment the previous day, but that she did not know his present location. She further informed Shook that she was afraid Bristow's mother would "throw her out" of the apartment if she learned that Gilroy was cooperating with defendants. Gilroy told Shook that she worked at a local gas station and then provided Shook with the location and her work hours. Shook gave Gilroy his contact information and Gilroy said she would call Shook. A few days passed without any communication from Gilroy.

On January 22, 2011, defendants drove to the gas station where Gilroy worked. According to Shook's declaration, the following transpired:

I was driving a 2010 Ford Explorer and [defendant Vandayburg] was in the passenger seat. Around 2:00 p.m., we observed Gilory walking into the parking lot. [We] remained in our vehicle. When Gilroy approached, I rolled down the driver's side window and called Gilroy by her name, displaying my badge so she would recognize me. I asked Gilroy, in a normal tone of voice, if she had a second to talk and she agreed. I told Gilroy that she could get in the back of the car so that no one would see her talking to [us]. [We] remained in the front seat of the car. Gilroy walked around the vehicle, opened the back door, and got in voluntarily. [We] never blocked Gilroy's way, escorted Gilroy to our vehicle, brandished our weapons, flashed our lights, physically touched Gilroy, or otherwise acted in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to question the voluntary nature of the encounter. Gilroy was not restrained or patted down for weapons, and the doors to the vehicle remained unlocked during the entire encounter. (Shook Decl. at ¶¶ 6-7).

During the encounter, Gilroy informed defendants that she had not heard from Bristow, but that he may have been in contact with his mother. The encounter lasted only a few minutes and Gilroy's demeanor was friendly and cooperative. At no point did Gilory indicate that she did not wish to speak to defendants. Nor did she seek to terminate the encounter or appear upset. Defendants did not inform Gilroy that she was being detained and, according to defendants, Gilory was free to leave at any time.

Thereafter, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit. The sole remaining claim is plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim against defendant Shook. All remaining claims have previously been dismissed.

Defendant Shook filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity and no opposition was filed.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended on December 1, 2010, provides in relevant part that:

A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any ...


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