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Monte v. County of San Diego

August 12, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge


Defendants*fn1 move for summary judgment in the above-captioned case. The motion has been fully briefed and submitted on the papers without oral argument. Having carefully considered the matters presented, the Court enters the following order.


Plaintiffs bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of their fourth amendment rights, and state law claims for battery, assault, negligence, false arrest/false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of California Civil Code § 52.1. Plaintiff Sarah Del Monte is the mother of plaintiff Jennifer Del Monte, who is the mother of Kalo Grimsby. Jennifer shares custody of her daughter, Kalo, with Kalo's father.

Sarah and Jennifer live in the same home where Kalo stays when she is in Jennifer's physical custody. (Complaint at ¶ 9.)

Plaintiffs allege*fn2 that on December 11, 2004, Deputy Stevens of the San Diego Sheriff's Department went to plaintiffs' home in response to Kalo's father's report that Jennifer was violating a child custody order concerning the transfer of Kalo to her father. (Complaint at ¶ 10.) Jennifer told Deputy Stevens that it was not yet time for the turnover of Kalo to her father, and Kalo was ill and needed to remain at Jennifer's home. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Jennifer showed Deputy Stevens a note from Kalo's doctor and the applicable custody order. Deputy Stevens showed Jennifer the later-dated note from the same physician. After some discussions, Jennifer was handcuffed and placed in a police car. (Id. at 12.) Deputy Stevens went back to the house and told Sarah to prepare Kalo for her time with her father. Sarah refused to get Kalo ready and closed the door preventing Deputy Stevens' entry into the house. (Id. at ¶ 13.)

Thereafter, Sergeant Webb entered the house and discussed the situation with Sarah. Sergeant Webb showed Sarah the second note from Kalo's physician that indicated that she could rest at either parent's house. (Id. at ¶¶ 14, 15.) Sarah then called 911. While on the phone with the 911 operator, plaintiffs allege that Sergeant Webb "took the phone and struck [Sarah] on the side of her face and her ear with the phone. He then grabbed her left arm, twisted it, and banged her head against the desk numerous times. SARAH asked for help and for an ambulance. However, her requests were ignored." (Id. at 16.)

Deputy Stevens and Deputy Silva*fn3 came into the room when Sergeant Webb handcuffed Sarah, who was then transported to a police station where she alleges she requested an ambulance, smelling salts and her medications that were left at her home. Sarah was cited for violation of California Penal Code section 148(a)(1), resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer. She was then released from custody. (Id. at ¶¶ 20, 21.) Sergeant Webb told Sarah he would take her to the hospital but she refused. (Id. at ¶23.) Shortly after arriving home, Sarah went to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas Emergency Department for the injuries she contends were inflicted by Sergeant Webb. At the hospital, Sergeant McCauley, also of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, took Sarah's statement. After Sergeant McCauley left Sarah, she had "an acute coronary syndrome episode" and was admitted to the hospital. (Id. at ¶¶ 23, 24.)

Jennifer was arrested for violation of California Penal Code section 278.5(a), depriving visitation of a child; and Penal Code section 166(a)(4), disobeying a court order. These charges were later dismissed. Jennifer also contends that she was not permitted to take her medication while she was in the police car. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the parties' burdens on summary judgment. Rule 56(c) empowers the court to enter summary judgment on factually unsupported claims or defenses, and thereby "secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 327 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 919 (9th Cir. 2001). When a defendant moves for summary adjudication of plaintiff's claims, as is the case here, the moving party can meet its burden by pointing out the absence of evidence from the nonmoving party. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325; see also Garneau v. City of Seattle, 147 F.3d 802, 807 (9th Cir. 1998). If the movant meets his burden, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show summary adjudication is not appropriate. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 317, 324. The non-movant must go beyond the pleadings to designate specific facts showing there are genuine factual issues which "can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

A "genuine issue" of material fact arises if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). When ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court cannot engage in credibility determinations or weighing of the evidence; these are functions for the jury. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Welles, 279 F.3d 796, 800 (9th Cir. 2002). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1180 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1106 (2003). The court is not required "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable

Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996), but rather "may limit its review to the documents submitted for purposes of summary judgment and those parts of the record specifically referenced therein." Carmen v. San ...

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