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Tonokouin v. City of Sacramento

June 1, 2009

GREG TONOKOUIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF SACRAMENTO, CAPTAIN JOSE VALENZUELA, SERGEANT JUSTIN RISKY, AND DOES 1-10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

On November 16, 2007, Greg Tonokouin ("Plaintiff") brought an action in Sacramento Superior Court against the City of Sacramento, Captain Jose Valenzuela, and Sergeant Justin Risky (collectively, "Defendants"), for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, interference with prospective economic advantage, and injunctive relief under California Civil Code § 3422. On January 14, 2008, Defendants removed the action to this Court. Defendants subsequently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff opposed the Motion. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.*fn1

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was employed by Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center ("SCMHTC"). In November of 2004, a patient accused Plaintiff of a sexual battery. Statement of Undisputed Facts ("SUF") ¶ 6. There had been two previous accusations against Plaintiff of inappropriate sexual contact in or about 2000 and 2001. Id. ¶ 8. On May 5, 2005, following an investigation, Plaintiff was arrested pursuant to a warrant for two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a dependant person, in violation of California Penal Code § 288(c)(2). Id. ¶ 1.

On May 18, 2005, the City of Sacramento posted a press release on its public website concerning Plaintiff's arrest (the "Press Release"). Id. ¶ 2. The Press Release stated:

On November 18, 2004, the Sacramento Police Department responded to the report of a sexual battery committed by a Crisis Unit staff member against a patient within the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center (SCMHTC). The battery was described as a forced and unwanted kiss. SCMHTC is a County facility that houses clients for a myriad of psychological impairments.

Upon further investigation, Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Detective Amy Crosby, learned that in 2000, two former SCMHTC patients had previously filed complaints with SCMHTC involving inappropriate sexual contact by the same suspect. One client, a 25-year-old female, claimed she was sexually pursued and kissed by the suspect, eventually leading to consensual sex within the facility. The other client, a 44 year-old female, claimed the suspect hugged her in a sexual manner and sexually pursued her as well.

After an extensive investigation, Detective Crosby arrested the former SCMHTC staff employee, Greg Tonoukouin [sic] (DOB-11/05/64) on May 5, 2005 for two felony counts of Lewd and Lascivious Acts against a dependent adult.

As far as we know there are no further allegations of inappropriate contact between this suspect and patients at SCMHTC. The allegations against this particular staff employee appear to be confined to these three patients. Patients at SCMHTC are designated dependent adults since they are receiving treatment for mental impairments that render them a danger to others or incapable of caring for their own safety.

Anyone with information regarding this case is requested to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or (800) AA-CRIME. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for up to a $1,000 reward.

Knopf Decl., Ex. D, Docket at 22. The Press Release also included a picture of Plaintiff. Id.

Plaintiff became aware of the Press Release on May 20, 2005. Id. All charges against Plaintiff, including several that were subsequently added, were dismissed on October 31, 2006. The Press Release, however, remained on the City of Sacramento website.

Plaintiff presented a claim regarding his state law causes of action on April 25, 2007. Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in Sacramento Superior Court on November 16, 2007. Id. ¶ 4.

OPINION

The limitations period for a claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the same as that of the analogous state law claim. See Fink v. Shedler, 192 F.3d 911, 914 (9th Cir. 1999). In California, the statute of limitations for defamation is ...


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