The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge
Defendants move for summary judgment on each claim in this action. Plaintiffs oppose the motion except for the portion against their fifth claim for employment discrimination alleged under California Government Code § 12940. Plaintiffs request this claim be dismissed. The request is granted; this claim is dismissed.
Plaintiffs Thong Vo, Ngau Thi Nguyen, and Tien Hong Vo's (the "Property Plaintiffs") claims concern inspections of a real property located at 6045 Pomegranate Avenue, Sacramento, California (the "Pomegranate Property") and a subsequent state criminal prosecution against them for violations of various zoning, building, and health and safety laws concerning the Pomegranate Property. The Pomegranate Property was owned by Tien, who leased the Property to her parents Thong and Nguyen. Three buildings are located on the property, in which Thong and Nguyen operated group homes for eighteen mentally impaired persons. On October 22, 2004, Nguyen made an emergency telephone call for assistance because a resident on the property was not taking prescribed medication and Nguyen feared for this resident's health. Captain Christopher Quinn of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District responded to that call. While on the property, Captain Quinn declares he observed hazardous conditions, including an open trench that was six feet in depth. He notified various other government agencies that hazardous conditions existed on the Pomegranate Property. In response to that notification, Defendant Deputy District Attorney Natalia Luna, Sacramento County Building Inspector Robin Rasmussen and Plaintiff Karen Alexandrou of the Sacramento County Code Enforcement Division, conducted an inspection of the Pomegranate Property on October 25, 2004.
After that inspection, the Nuisance Response Team ("NRT"), which is comprised of individuals from various government agencies, including Defendants Deputy District Attorneys Luna and Karen Maxwell, and Captain James Cooper of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, and Plaintiffs Alexandrou and Richard Maddox of the Code Enforcement Division, held an emergency meeting on October 27, 2004 to discuss the Pomegranate matter. Immediately following the meeting, members of the NRT conducted another inspection of the Pomegranate Property.
In late 2004, Luna filed criminal charges against the Property Plaintiffs based on conditions found on the Pomegranate Property. The Property Plaintiffs allege the inspections and the criminal prosecution led to a distress sale of the Pomegranate Property in approximately March 2005.
Further, Plaintiff Sonia Luong claims Defendants' actions triggered her obligation to indemnify Tien (who had purchased the Pomegranate Property from Luong before Defendants' inspections of the property) for "an apparent breach of the warranty of quiet enjoyment" which she owed Tien. (First Am. Compl. Prayer for Relief ¶ 5.) Luong alleges she had to satisfy this obligation when Tien was forced to sell the property "in an attempt to avoid future prosecution." (Id.) Luong also declares she was forced to settle this warranty dispute with Tien by forgiving a portion of the debt Tien owed her for the purchase of the Pomegranate Property.
The Property Plaintiffs allege the inspections and criminal prosecution constituted proscribed housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA") and the California Fair Housing and Employment Act ("FEHA"), and also violated other California law and the Property Plaintiffs' federal constitutional rights.
Plaintiffs Richard Maddox and Karen Alexandrou were employed in the County's Code Enforcement Division at the time of the inspections, but were reassigned after the October 27 Pomegranate Property inspection. They allege their reassignments were made in retaliation for certain statements they made in defense of the Property Plaintiffs concerning the inspections of the Pomegranate Property and the criminal prosecution of the Property Plaintiffs.
Defendants seek summary judgment on Maddox and Alexandrou's claims, arguing these Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claims since any injury suffered from their reassignments is not "fairly . . . trace[able]" to any Defendant's action, but rather is "th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court." Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1991) (internal quotations citation omitted). Each Defendant submits a declaration denying participation in the decision to reassign Maddox and Alexandrou. Further, Maddox's supervisors Cheryl Creson and Robert Sherry declare they decided to reassign him. Moreover, Alexandrou's supervisor Larry Brooks declares he decided to reassign her. Plaintiffs counter Maddox and Alexandrou were reassigned at the behest of the Defendants.
Standing is not satisfied "if the injury complained of is the result of the independent action of some third party not before the court, [but this principle] does not exclude injury produced by determinative or coercive effect upon the action of someone else." Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 169 (1997).
In Maddox's case, Creson and Sherry declare that one month before the inspections of the Pomegranate Property, they each received an email from Defendant Chief Deputy District Attorney Cindy Besemer, informing them that Maddox had been improperly communicating with the criminal defense attorneys in an unrelated criminal prosecution handled by the District Attorney's Office. Further, they declare they knew that tension existed between Maddox and the District Attorney's Office prior to the Pomegranate matter. Soon after the email from Besemer, psychologist Patricia Wiklund was hired by the Human Resources Manager for the Sacramento County Municipal Services Agency to assess the ongoing tension between the Code Enforcement Division and the District Attorney's Office. Wiklund reported her findings to Creson, in which Wiklund stated Maddox's behavior undermined the effectiveness of the Code Enforcement Division.
In addition, Sherry and Creson declare that around September 2, 2005, they received a complaint from the District Attorney's Office that a memorandum written by Maddox regarding the inspection of the Pomegranate Property had been produced to the Property Plaintiffs pursuant to a subpoena in the criminal case although this memorandum had not been previously delivered to the District Attorney's Office. Sherry and Creson declare they reviewed the memorandum, following which they met with Maddox to discuss the ...