Tarabochia v. Adkins, No. 11-35837 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In 2007, Appellants, commercial fishers, were stopped by officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) while driving on a public highway. The officers pulled Appellants’ vehicle over to check for compliance with fish and game laws. The inspection failed to reveal any fish and game violations. Appellants filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the WDFW officers violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by stopping and searching their automobile and harassing them over the years. The district court dismissed the case, concluding (1) qualified immunity precluded Appellants’ Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim because the law regarding warrantless stops by WDFW officers was not clearly established at the time of the stop; and (2) the relevant statute of limitations barred Appellants’ Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the stop violated Appellants’ clearly established Fourth Amendment rights, and therefore, the WDFW officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on Appellants’ Fourth Amendment claim; and (2) the district court correctly dismissed Appellants’ substantive due process claim. Remanded.