Hansen v. Bozeman Police Department

Hansen v. Bozeman Police Department, 2015 MT 143 (May 26, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Hansen’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint; and (2) whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to the police department.

Short Answer: (1) No; and (2) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Corey Hansen is a veteran who suffers from service-connected physical conditions, including a seizure disorder. He has a service dog that alerts him to oncoming seizures. In 2011, Hansen and some friends planned a visit to the C’Mon Inn in Bozeman. Hansen had a reservation and had stayed there with his service dog previously. He left copies of his dog’s certification papers on file at the hotel, and they were still on file when Hansen arrived to check in, accompanied by his service dog wearing the appropriate identification vest.

The hotel staff refused to let Hansen register because of his dog. Hansen explained his disability, the papers, the previous visits, and none of it made a difference. Eventually Hansen called 911 and complained the hotel was violating his rights by refusing him entry. A hotel employee also called 911 to ask that Hansen be removed from the premises.

The Bozeman police responded. They interviewed Hansen and his friends, and the C’Mon Inn manager. The officers told Hansen he would have to leave, suggested other motels where he could stay with his dog, and obtained a hotel business card so he would file a complaint if he wished.

Hansen filed a discrimination complaint against the C’Mon Inn, and was eventually awarded $15,000 in damages by the Human Rights Bureau hearing officer.

Hansen also filed a complaint against the police department. The Human Rights Bureau investigated and concluded there ad been no discrimination. The Human Rights Commission upheld that decision and issued a right to sue notice. Hansen filed this action.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court denied Hansen’s motion to amend his complaint, and granted summary judgment to the police department. Hansen appeals and the Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: (1) Hansen filed suit on Oct. 18, 2012, and moved for leave to file an amended complaint on June 3, 2014, so that he could add a claim that the police department negligently trained and supervised its officers. The scheduling order deadlines for the close of discovery and amendment of pleadings had already passed. Hansen argued he did not learn of the facts supporting the new claim until he deposed the responding officers. Bozeman objected.

The district court concluded Hansen had unduly delayed the depositions and the motion to amend, and had already been through two Human Rights proceedings. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Hansen’s motion.

(2) Hansen alleged that the responding officers violated the Montana Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court concluded neither statute required the officers to enforce Hansen’s asserted rights against the C’Mon Inn. The Supreme Court analyzes each statute and agrees.