Dalton et al v. County of San Diego et al

Filing 45

ORDER (1) Granting Motion to Seal 27 , (2) Granting Joint Motion to Authenticate Documents 40 , and (3) Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Summary-Judgment Motion 29 . Signed by Judge Thomas J. Whelan on 3/27/2024. (exs)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 STEVEN DALTON, et al., Case No.: 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) Plaintiffs, 12 13 v. 14 COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., 15 16 17 Defendants. ORDER (1) GRANTING MOTION TO SEAL [DOC. 27], (2) GRANTING JOINT MOTION TO AUTHENTICATE DOCUMENTS [DOC. 40], AND (3) GRANTING IN PART AND SUMMARY-JUDGMENT MOTION [DOC. 29] 18 19 20 summary judgment. Defendants have also filed a motion to seal certain exhibits. 21 Plaintiffs oppose the motion for summary judgment but not the motion to seal. 22 Additionally, the parties have filed a joint motion to authenticate documents. 23 The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. 24 See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the motion to seal 25 [Doc. 27], GRANTS the joint motion to authenticate documents [Doc. 40] and 26 GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the summary-judgment motion [Doc. 29]. 27 28 1 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 2 3 I. MOTIONS TO SEAL Defendants move to seal Exhibits A through N, filed in support of their summary- judgment motion. (See Defs 4 [Doc. 27] 1:26 28.) The basis for the motion are either marked as Confidential under the protective order in this 5 case, which requires the parties to request filing under seal, or implicate juvenile police 6 and mental health records. Id.) 7 8 Kamakana v. City 9 and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Nixon v. Warner 10 , 435 U.S. 589, 597 & n. 7 (1978)). Although access to judicial records is 11 12 secret for policy reas 13 Id. (citing Times Mirror Co. v. United States, 873 F.2d 14 15 particular court 16 17 Id. (citing Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). 18 ds applies fully to dispositive 19 20 Kamakana 21 whether by trial or summary judgment, is at the heart of the interest in ensuring the 22 23 Id. (quoting Valley Broadcasting Co. v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1986)). 24 dicial records attached to a 25 26 27 Id. (citing Foltz the dispositive motion, or its attachments, were previously filed under seal or protective Id. 28 2 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 D. 2 On December 29, 2021, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the County and Deputy 3 Collins. The Amended Complaint asserts three claims for relief against the Deputy under 4 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for (1) unreasonable seizure ( 5 (Pizzo 6 claims against both Defendants for negligence, false arrest (as to Dalton) and Violation of Plaintiffs file this lawsuit. arrest), (2) unreasonable seizure ) and (3) state-created danger. Plaintiffs also assert three state-based 7 8 9 10 Defendants now move for summary judgment. They contend Deputy Collins is entitled to qualified immunity for the section 1983 claims. Defendants also seek summary adjudication of all of the state claims and the request for punitive damages. 11 12 III. LEGAL STANDARD 13 Summary judgment is appropriate under Rule 56(c) where the moving party 14 demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment 15 as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 16 (1986). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the 17 outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Freeman 18 v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir. 1997). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if 19 20 Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. 21 The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the 22 absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party 23 can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential 24 25 failed to m 26 on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322- 27 28 T.W. E , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). 15 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 2 3 Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1030 (9th Cir. 2001). 4 5 6 Keenan v. Allen, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Richards v. Combined Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1995)). 7 If the moving party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party cannot defeat 8 9 Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 10 586 (1986); Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995) 11 (citing Anderson 12 support of the nonmovin 13 14 15 there is a gen 16 Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). When making this determination, the court must view all inferences drawn from 17 the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Matsushita, 18 475 U.S. a 19 of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge, [when] he 20 Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. 21 22 23 IV. DISCUSSION A. Qualified Immunity 24 25 for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or 26 Pearson v. 27 Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 28 (1982)). the need to hold public 16 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 2 probability or substantial chance of criminal activity, not an actual showing of such District of Columbia v. Wesby, U.S. , 138 S.Ct. 577, 586 (2018) (quoting 3 Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 232 (1983)). However, the information upon which 4 probable cause is based must be reasonably trustworthy. See Allen v. City of Portland, 73 5 6 en, at the time of arrest, the agents know reasonable trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a prudent person in 7 8 9 Because Deputy probable cause determination relied on information from O.D., Peng v. Mei Chin Penghu, 335 F.3d 970, 979 (9th Cir. 2003), is helpful to the 10 Peng, the defendant officer was dispatched to a family dispute over 11 title documents relating to property. While at the scene, the victim, through a translator, 12 told the officer that her brother forcibly took the documents from her. The officer then 13 interviewed two other witnesses using the same translator, who told the officer that the 14 witnesses saw the brother grab the documents again 15 arrested the brother for robbery 16 17 Id. at 976. Charges were not filed against the brother, who sued the officer under section 1983 18 for unlawful seizure. The officer moved to dismiss arguing that because there was 19 probable cause to arrest plaintiff, there was no constitutional violation, and the officer 20 was entitled to qualified immunity. The district court agreed and dismissed the case. 21 On appeal, plaintiff argued, among other things, that there was no probable cause 22 Id. at 973. In rejecting the 23 argument, the Ninth Circuit cited the office 24 translator represented confirmed the victim 25 concluded: 26 27 28 . Id. at 978 979. The court then We are satisfied that [the officer] made a reasonable investigation under the circumstances before he arrested [plaintiff]. [Citation omitted.] We conclude that scene of an alleged domestic disturbance does not defeat probable cause if: 18 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 confirmed O.D. had been violent. And Dalton also confirmed O.D. had pulled a knife on 2 Pizzo and was yelling. This information further contradicts 3 Next, t contention. - 4 state and 5 frightful. The video confirms 6 sad and her voice quivered. However, the video also appears to show that O.D. quickly 7 regained her composure and 8 generally unemotional and matter of fact, with no indication of sadness or fright. 9 Moreover, aside from a few relatively short periods of sadness, the video reveals that for she was credible because she appeared sad and O.D. appeared -up questions were 10 most of the interview (before and after describing the alleged abuse), O.D. was calm, 11 affable and at times joked with the Deputy and laughed. Also relevant, O.D. appeared to 12 become defensive when her younger sister began to tell the Deputy that she saw O.D. 13 ard Pizzo yelling at O.D. to take your nails out of my arm. 14 s labile demeanor, there is no dispute that some of her 15 s were inconsistent. Most significantly, 16 explanation of why she ran away changed after being warned by the Deputy. Initially, 17 O.D. twice stated that she simply went for a walk because her parents told her to. 18 Immediately after the Deputy warned O.D. that she would be taken back to the hospital 19 and placed on a hold if she ran away again, O.D. alleged she left because Dalton abused 20 her. Another example is O.D. denial that she du 21 not only contradicted by 22 heard Pizzo yelling at O.D. to take your nails out of my arm. 23 24 , but by m, which was statement that she -cause argument relies, in part, on the contention that O.D. appeared credible because she was sad and frightful. The video, 25 r was labile, often changing in an instant or in 26 immediate response to a question. It further confirms that for most of the interview, O.D. 27 was calm and affable, and at times joked with the Deputy and laughed. Additionally, 28 there is no dispute there were i 21 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 investigation was made even more difficult because Dalton quickly became agitated and 2 failed to cooperate. Additionally, the lack of a mental-health expert likely placed the 3 Deputy in a more difficult situation 4 having a mental-health crises. 5 Nevertheless, none of the facts Deputy Collins was aware of at the time of the 6 arrest 7 15 or 16 CPS cases was suspicious, under the circumstances they warranted further 8 investigation. For all these reasons, the Court finds Defendants have failed to establish 9 10 11 b) Was the law clearly established? 12 13 Reese v. County of Sacramento, 888 F.3d 1080, 1037 (9th Cir. 2018). In evaluating whether a 14 15 16 Saucier, 533 U.S. at 202. In determining whether a right is clearly established, courts 17 18 19 Prison Legal News v. Lehman, 397 F.3d 692, 702 (9th Cir. 2005); Sorrels v. McKee, 290 20 21 22 23 Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 24 25 immunity unless the very action in question has previously been held unlawful, but it is to 26 Anderson v. 27 Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987). This is particularly true in the Fourth Amendment 28 25 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 depression, who was not current on her medication, and had pulled a knife on her parents 2 and run away. Additionally, the alleged perpetrator of the child abuse Dalton quickly 3 became agitated and 4 Court has not found a case that would have provided notice to Deputy Collins that 5 probable cause was lacking at the time of the arrest and additional investigation was 6 necessary, Deputy Collins is entitled to qualified immunity. gation. Because the 7 8 9 10 11 2. Pizzo a) Was there a constitutional violation? Pizzo contends she was unlawfully detained by Deputy Collins. The undisputed facts do not support her claim. 12 13 or show of authority, terminates or restrains his freedom of movement. Brendlin v. 14 California, 551 U.S. 249, 254 (2007). An officer has restrained the liberty of the citizen 15 if, taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police 16 conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to 17 U.S. v. Chan-Jimenez, 125 F.3d 18 1324, 1326 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 434 (1991)). A 19 interference, however 20 21 United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 114 n.5 (1984). If a consensual encounter has ripened into an investigatory 22 23 Heien v. North Carolina, 574 U.S. 54, 60 (2014). The appropriate inquiry is whether the 24 liberty such that a reasonable person under the 25 circumstances would not have felt free to disregard the order. U.S. v. Enslin, 327 F.3d 26 788, 795 (9th Cir. 2003). 27 28 Here, there is no dispute that Deputy Collins never told Pizzo she was detained. Instead, Plaintiffs argue Pizzo believed she was not free to leave because: 27 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 D. 2 Defendants also seek summary adjudication of Plaintiffs Punitive Damages. 3 As set forth in their motion, punitive damages are only available where a 4 conduct is motivated by evil motive or intent or involves reckless or callous indifference 5 to the federally protected rights of others. Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 56 (1983). 6 Reckless or callous indifference has been described as a defendant engaging in conduct 7 Fair 8 Hous. Ctr. of Washington v. Breier-Scheetz Properties, LLC, 743 F. App'x 116, 118 (9th 9 Cir. 2018). 10 11 opposition argues the following Ninth Circuit Pattern Jury Instruction applies to their request for punitive damages: 12 that harmed the plaintiff was malicious, oppressive or in reckless disregard of the 13 14 Conduct is malicious if it is accompanied by ill will, or spite, or if it is for the purpose of injuring the plaintiff. 15 16 he circumstances, 17 defendant acts in the face of a perceived risk that its actions will violate the 18 19 An act or omission is oppressive if the defendant injures or damages or otherwise violates the rights of the plaintiff with unnecessary harshness or severity, such as by misusing or abusing authority or power or by taking advantage of some . 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ( at 19:24 following undisputed facts support an award of punitive damages: (1) Deputy Collins was aggravated at not being notified that O.D. had returned; (2) he was aggravated at being ignored by Dalton; (3) ; and (4) the Deputy said if he returned Id. at 20:9 15.) The argument lacks merit. 35 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 As an initial matter, because summary adjudication is appropriate as to all of 2 3 Thus, request for punitive damages is at issue. 4 5 ages, two of the facts Plaintiffs cite above i.e., 6 7 occurred after Dalton was arrested and, therefore, are not relevant to whether Deputy Coll 8 Accordingly 9 10 (1) not being notified that O.D. returned home and (2) Dalton ignoring him. 11 12 As an initial matter, Plaintiffs have not cited and the Court is unaware of any case where punitive damages have been awarded because law enforcement appeared 13 argument. 14 It establishes that throughout 15 Collins was calm, polite, never used threatening language and was focused on attempting 16 Even assuming for the sake of argument the Deputy was interaction with Pizzo and Dalton, Deputy 17 frustrated with Plaintiffs 18 failure to cooperate with his investigation, the Court finds it did not rise to the level of 19 20 tutional rights. Thus, summary adjudication is required. 21 22 23 V. CONCLUSION & ORDER For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the motion to seal [Doc. 27], 24 GRANTS the joint motion to authenticate documents [Doc. 40] and GRANTS IN 25 PART and DENIES IN PART the summary-judgment motion [Doc. 29] as follows: 26 27 Summary adjudication is granted in favor of Defendants as to claims for relief. 28 36 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG) 1 2 Section 1983 Claim, Bane Act Claim and request for punitive damages. 3 Negligence Claim based on his 4 unreasonable seizure. 5 Plaintiffs shall file a copy of their exhibits in support of the opposition (i.e., 6 MSJ 001 MSJ 197) within one week of the date of this order. 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED Dated: March 27, 2024 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 37 3:21-CV-2143 W (WVG)

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