Plata et al v. Schwarzenegger et al

Filing 2204

ORDER by Judge Thelton E. Henderson staying 2180 Motion by Dondi Van Horn for leave to file complaint against Receivers. Motion hearing set for 08/31/09 is vacated. (tehlc3, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/12/2009)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 v. IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA MARCIANO PLATA, et al., Plaintiffs, NO. C01-1351 TEH ORDER STAYING MOTION BY DONDI VAN HORN FOR LEAVE TO FILE COMPLAINT AGAINST RECEIVERS ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, et al., Defendants. United States District Court 11 For the Northern District of California 12 On July 2, 2009, Dondi Van Horn, a former prisoner, filed a motion for leave to file a 13 complaint against Receiver J. Clark Kelso and his predecessor, Robert Sillen, based on a 14 claim for deliberate indifference pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Van Horn and the Receiver 15 subsequently stipulated to have the motion heard on August 31, 2009. With good cause 16 appearing for the reasons discussed below, this Court now VACATES the motion hearing 17 and STAYS consideration of Van Horn's motion pending resolution of two cases currently 18 before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 19 Van Horn initially filed suit against the Receivers and various other defendants in the 20 United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. On January 28, 2009, 21 Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill granted the Receivers' motion to dismiss because Van Horn 22 failed to obtain leave of this Court to sue the Receivers.1 Van Horn v. Hornbeak Order on 23 Receiver Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (Ex. B to Ernst Decl.). The court based its ruling in part on 24 the conclusion that the lawsuit "challenges the Receivers' conduct in performing the very 25 duties Judge Henderson created the receivership to accomplish" and not "tortious conduct or 26 negligent acts pursuant to ordinary business operations unrelated to the Receivers' official 27 28 1 The case remains pending against other defendants. 1 responsibilities." Id. at 6-7. Van Horn's appeal of the order dismissing the Receivers is 2 currently pending before the Ninth Circuit. 3 The Ninth Circuit's decision on Van Horn's appeal may be dispositive of the instant 4 motion. In her moving papers, Van Horn agrees that the Receiver is entitled to immunity 5 when he "performs actions within the ambit of his judicial-prescribed duties," including 6 "high-level operational" or "managerial functions," as opposed to "oversight of the day-to7 day delivery of medical services within the prison system." Mot. at 12-14.2 If the Ninth 8 Circuit affirms the order dismissing the Receivers and agrees that Van Horn's allegations are 9 based on the Receivers' conduct "within the ambit of [their] judicial-prescribed duties," then 10 the Receivers would be immune from Van Horn's proposed suit based on Van Horn's own United States District Court 11 interpretation of the law. Alternatively, if the Ninth Circuit reverses the order dismissing the For the Northern District of California 12 Receivers, then Van Horn could proceed against the Receivers in the Eastern District of 13 California and her motion for leave to sue the Receivers in this Court would become moot. 14 Another case involving a request for leave to sue the Receiver is also currently 15 pending before the Ninth Circuit. In that case, Medical Development International ("MDI") 16 v. CDCR, MDI sought leave to sue the Receiver on a breach-of-contract theory. Although 17 Van Horn's claims based on allegations of deliberate indifference are distinguishable from 18 MDI's contract claims, the Ninth Circuit's decision may nevertheless help define the scope 19 of the Receivers' immunity. 20 In light of both of the above pending appeals, this Court finds it prudent and efficient 21 to stay resolution of Van Horn's motion until after both appeals have been decided. Once 22 those decisions have become final, Van Horn and the Receiver shall meet and confer and file 23 a joint statement with the Court proposing a supplemental briefing schedule in light of the 24 appellate decisions. In the meantime, the Court encourages Van Horn and the Receiver to 25 discuss whether, as the Receiver's counsel has declared under penalty of perjury, the 26 27 The Court does not decide at this time whether, assuming Van Horn's dichotomy is correct, the allegations at issue in the proposed complaint would fall on the side of "day-to28 day operations" or "high-level operational functions." 2 2 1 Receivers actually adopted the policy Van Horn alleges they failed to adopt, see Exs. 2a & 2 2b to Dodd Decl., and, if so, whether Van Horn's proposed complaint against the Receivers 3 remains viable. 4 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 7 Dated: 08/12/09 8 9 10 THELTON E. HENDERSON, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT United States District Court 11 For the Northern District of California 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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