Bonsall Unified School District v. Curras et al

Filing 7

ORDER Granting 5 Ex Parte Motion For Use of Pseudonym ; Granting 6 Mary C.'s Motion to Appoint Guardians ad Litem. Defendants' application to use an abbreviated pseudonym in place of their surname is granted. Defendants' Petition to appoint guardians ad litem is granted. Melissa C. and Richard C. are hereby appointed as guardians ad litem for Mary C. for the purpose of answering and bringing claims in this action. Signed by Judge Thomas J. Whelan on 10/27/2017. (jao)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 BONSALL UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, 15 ORDER: Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No.: 17-CV-1386 W (MDD) v. (1) GRANTING EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR USE OF PSEUDONYMS [DOC. 5]; AND RICHARD C., et al., Defendants. 16 (2) GRANTING MARY C.’S PETITION TO APPOINT GUARDIANS AD LITEM [DOC. 6] 17 18 19 20 Pending before the Court are: (1) Defendants’ ex parte application to use an 21 abbreviated pseudonym in place of their surname in this matter [Doc. 5]; and (2) a 22 petition by Defendant Mary C., a minor, to appoint guardians ad litem. [Doc. 6.] Despite 23 the passing of eleven days since the filing of both documents, Plaintiff has not opposed 24 either. The Court decides the matters on the papers submitted and without oral argument. 25 For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant both the Application and the Petition. 26 // 27 // 28 // 1 17-CV-1386 W (MDD) 1 2 I. USE OF PSEUDONYMS “In this circuit, we allow parties to use pseudonyms in the ‘unusual case’ when 3 nondisclosure of the party’s identity ‘is necessary . . . . to protect a person from 4 harassment, injury, ridicule or personal embarrassment.’ ” Does I thru XXIII v. 5 Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058, 1067–68 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting United States 6 v. Doe, 655 F.2d 920, 922 n. 1 (9th Cir. 1981)). “[A] party may preserve his or her 7 anonymity in judicial proceedings in special circumstances when the party’s need for 8 anonymity outweighs prejudice to the opposing party and the public’s interest in knowing 9 the party’s identity.” Id. at 1068. In cases in which anonymity is being used to shield a 10 party from retaliation, the Court evaluates: “(1) the severity of the threatened harm . . .; 11 (2) the reasonableness of the anonymous party’s fears . . .; and (3) the anonymous party’s 12 vulnerability to . . . retaliation[.]” Id. Any prejudice to the opposing party is to be 13 evaluated precisely at each stage of the proceedings. Id. The Court must also take into 14 account “whether the public’s interest in the case would be best served by requiring that 15 the litigants reveal their identities.” Id. 16 Here, Defendants contend that “the use of pseudonyms is necessary to prevent the 17 disclosure of private medical, psychological, and academic information regarding Mary 18 C.[,] which might cause embarrassment to her and her parents.” (Ex Parte App. for Use 19 of Pseudonyms [Doc. 5] 2:8–10.) This makes sense, as the case involves a student’s 20 curriculum adapting to meet her particular medical needs. (See Compl. [Doc. 1]; Answer 21 and Cross-Compl. [Doc. 4].) Any potential harm could be severe, taking the form of 22 disclosure of a child’s private medical information. Such disclosure could cause 23 ramifications for her future, and it could cause embarrassment to her family. Any public 24 interest in a school district’s treatment of special needs students does not hinge on 25 Plaintiffs’ identities, and there would appear to be no prejudice to Plaintiff in granting the 26 request. Plaintiff does not oppose. 27 28 Defendants’ application to proceed using an abbreviated pseudonym in place of their surname will be granted. [Doc. 5.] 2 17-CV-1386 W (MDD) 1 II. APPOINTING A GUARDIAN AD LITEM “A minor or an incompetent person who does not have a duly appointed 2 3 representative may sue by a next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court must 4 appoint a guardian ad litem--or issue another appropriate order--to protect a minor or 5 incompetent person who is unrepresented in an action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(c)(2). This 6 rule “requires a court to take whatever measures it deems proper to protect an 7 incompetent person during litigation.” United States v. 30.64 Acres of Land, More or 8 Less, Situated in Klickitat Cty., State of Wash., 795 F.2d 796, 805 (9th Cir. 1986). 9 “[T]he appointment of a guardian ad litem is more than a mere formalism. A guardian ad 10 litem is authorized to act on behalf of his ward and may make all appropriate decisions in 11 the course of specific litigation.” Id. The question of whether to appoint a guardian ad 12 litem is committed to the district court’s sound discretion. Id. Mary C.’s petition represents to the Court that: (1) Petitioner Mary C. is ten years 13 14 old; (2) she has no general guardian; (3) no previous petition for appointment of a 15 guardian ad litem has been filed in this matter; and that (4) Melissa and Robert C., 16 Mary’s parents, with whom she resides, are both willing and able to act as her guardian 17 ad litem in this action. (Petition [Doc. 6] ¶¶ 1–5.) Given the foregoing findings of fact, 18 the petition to appoint Melissa and Robert C. as Mary C.’s guardian ad litem will be 19 granted. 20 // 21 // 22 // 23 // 24 // 25 // 26 // 27 // 28 // 3 17-CV-1386 W (MDD) 1 III. CONCLUSION & ORDER 2 In light of the foregoing: 3 Defendants’ application to use an abbreviated pseudonym in place of their surname 4 is GRANTED. [Doc. 5.] 5 Defendants’ Petition to appoint guardians ad litem is GRANTED. [Doc. 6.] 6 Melissa C. and Richard C. are hereby appointed as guardians ad litem for Mary C. for the 7 purpose of answering and bringing claims in this action. 8 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 27, 2017 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 17-CV-1386 W (MDD)

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