Delores A. Mosher, appearing pro se, has appealed from a summary judgment dismissing her civil rights action against H. C. Saalfeld, the Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs, and Wesley J. Robinson, a trust officer employed by the Department.
In her amended complaint appellant sought actual and punitive damages from appellees, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they conspired to and did deprive her of property without due process of law by forcibly entering her house while she was at work, removing personal property, locking her out of the house by changing the locks, and posting the house with "No Trespass" signs. The case was referred to a United States Magistrate for trial. After extensive discovery, appellees moved for summary judgment. The magistrate recommended that the motion be granted. Following objections by appellant, the district judge made a de novo review of the portions of the proposed findings and recommendations to which objection had been made. Summary judgment was then entered dismissing the action. We affirm.
On June 23, 1969, the Veterans Administration found James L. Bury, a veteran, "incompetent to properly handle funds" and "in need of a guardian". In state court proceedings his mother was appointed his guardian on May 1, 1970. On September 30, 1971 Bury married appellant, and on July 10, 1972 the court substituted appellant as Bury's guardian. The facts leading to this action were well summarized by the magistrate as follows:
Liability of Saalfeld
In her deposition appellant stated that she named Saalfeld as a defendant
Appellant argues that she does not rely upon the doctrine of respondeat superior, but rather upon her allegation that Saalfeld conspired with Robinson to deprive her of her property. While it is true that conspiracy claims may be brought under § 1983 (Mizell v. North Broward Hospital District, 427 F.2d 468, 473 (5 Cir. 1970)), more than vague conclusory allegations are required to state a claim. See Hickey v. New Castle County, 428 F.Supp. 606, 611 (D.Del.1977). In her deposition appellant relies upon alleged conversations between Saalfeld, the Governor of Oregon and others, but she did not set forth the substance of the conversations. In any event, these conversations occurred after appellant had been locked out of her house. The facts upon which appellant relies are insufficient to show that Saalfeld conspired with anyone to deprive appellant of her property or to violate her constitutional rights.
Liability of Robinson
Robinson relies upon the defenses of qualified executive immunity and absolute judicial immunity. Under the qualified executive immunity doctrine (see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 247-48, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974)), this court has held that a government officer performing acts in the course of official conduct is insulated from damage suits "if (1) at the time and in light of all the circumstances there existed reasonable grounds for the belief that the action was appropriate and (2) the officer acted in good faith". Mark v. Groff, 521 F.2d 1376, 1379-80 (9 Cir. 1975).
Robinson has met these conditions. As conservator of Bury's estate, it was Robinson's duty to protect Bury's property. See Or.Rev.Stat. §§ 126.293 and 126.313(1). The reasonableness of Robinson's actions must be determined from what he knew at the time. Robinson was informed that the house was unoccupied and that the telephone had been disconnected. Bury requested him to retrieve certain items from the house. Robinson found the mailbox full of letters, confirming in his own mind that no one had been at the house for a substantial period of time. Robinson stated he entered the house through a broken basement window.
Appellant submitted various affidavits in an effort to dispute Robinson's good faith. While the affidavits contradicted some minor factual matters,
Summary judgment is appropriate where no material issues of fact exist and where a party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), Fed.R.Civ.Pro. It is not intended to cut off a party's right to a jury trial where there are genuine issues to try, 6 Moore's Federal Practice, Para. 56.06 (2d Ed.1976), but is intended to eliminate the waste of the time and the resources of litigants and the courts where it is shown there are no material issues of fact. Zweig v. Hearst Corp., 521 F.2d 1129, 1135-36 (9 Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1025, 96 S.Ct. 469, 46 L.Ed.2d 399 (1975). When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported by affidavits or other material, the adverse party may not rest upon the allegations of his pleadings. He must respond by affidavits or otherwise and set forth "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial". Rule 56(e), Fed.R.Civ.Pro. Although both the magistrate and district judge carefully explained this requirement to appellant, she did not come forth with material facts which controvert the defendants' defenses. While appellant attempted to "articulate disputed factual issues", the district court found "none that are material". We agree. Summary judgment was proper.