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Gordon v. City & County of San Francisco

April 30, 2004


DISCOVERY ORDER Granting in part Docket # 34


Plaintiff's motion to compel further production of records came on for hearing on April 28, 2004. Michael Sorgen appeared for Plaintiff. Assistant City Attorney Scott Wiener appeared for Defendant City and County of San Francisco and the individual defendants. The Court considered the pleadings and oral argument of counsel and hereby grants the motion, to the extent that Defendants shall produce all responsive documents to the Court for in camera review within twenty days of the date of the receipt of this order.

Factual Background

May 18 2002, Plaintiff hosted a party to celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday at his home at 1588 Hayes street. May 19, at approximately 3 a.m., police officer Latanya Briggs responded to a report of a street fight that originated in Plaintiff's home. The parties acknowledge differences of opinion over the facts of the case. Plaintiff claims Officer Briggs called in a Code 4, to computer assisted dispatch, that there was no longer a situation requiring law enforcement intervention.

Officers Robert Duffield and Christa Peters arrived to back up Officer Briggs. Defendants state that upon arriving at the residence, they observed that Plaintiff was drunk, belligerent, hostile, and resisted arrest. Defendants assert that any harm Plaintiff suffered was the result of his spirited resistance to lawful police conduct.

According to Plaintiff, police illegally invaded his home and used excessive force to unlawfully arrest him. Plaintiff states he was hosting a quiet party and that he was not intoxicated. He claims one officer struck him on the back of the legs with her baton, knocking him to the ground, and five officers held him face down on the pavement. He suffered severe abrasions on his forehead and nose, bruises on his arms and a bloody nose. Defendants claimed he injured himself resisting the police. He alleges physical and emotional harm as a result of the arrest.

No charges were filed against Plaintiff for this incident.

Procedural Background

January 10, 2003, Plaintiff filed this action in the Superior Court of California, in and for the City and County of San Francisco. The complaint alleged violations arising under California state law for assault, battery, false arrest and false imprisonment, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for excessive force, false arrest, and false imprisonment. February 24, 2003, Defendant removed the action to Federal Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. March 17, 2003, the clerk reassigned the case to Judge Hamilton. Jury trial in this matter is set for November 1, 2004. On March 19 Plaintiff filed this motion for further production of records.

The Discovery Dispute

This discovery dispute arose following Defendants' refusal to produce documents Plaintiff requested on October 8, 2003, (Sorgen Declaration at Ex. 1) including the Office of Citizen Complaints ("OCC") files and portions of the personnel files of the individual defendants and their performance evaluations. Plaintiff agrees to in camera review of the documents, redaction of personal information and production subject to a protective order.

Plaintiff requested "use of force" logs (Request # 1); documents transcribing or related to all CADs (computer-assisted dispatches regarding Plaintiff's address dating back to 1998 including those by Officer Latanya Briggs on May 19, 2002 (Request # 2); documents regarding "zones" of the human body where force may be applied (Request # 3); personnel, EEO and employee relations files of the three defendant officers, including OCC complaints and lawsuits (Request # 4- Duffield, Request # 5 - Peters, Request # 6 - Briggs). Plaintiff has withdrawn all discovery requests for Officer Briggs. (Per counsel at the hearing on this motion).

Defendants agreed to produce use-of-force log entries as to Officer Duffield only; documents related to CADs (computer-assisted dispatches) to 1588 Hayes Street # 1 for six months previous to the request; the City's General Order regarding use of force, and any documents regarding zones of the human body where force may be applied. (Sorgen Declaration at Ex. 3)

Defendants objected to the remainder of Plaintiff's requests, including the requests for documents from officers' personnel files and OCC files, on grounds of vagueness and overbreadth and their intent to move the trial court to bifurcate and stay trial of Plaintiff's claim under ...

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