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Shaw v. County of San Diego

June 24, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


On April 27, 2007, Plaintiff Walter M. Shaw ("Plaintiff") filed a First Amended Complaint against Defendants County of San Diego, the Alpine Sanitation District, and the San Diego Flood Control District (collectively "Defendants"). Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, filed March 12, 2009, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 as to all causes of action alleged in the First Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 46]. Plaintiff opposes the motion [Doc. No. 48]. Defendants' filed a reply [Doc. No. 49]. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


The issues before the Court involve approximately 14 acres of land ("property") in San Diego County that was once owned by Plaintiff. (Amended Complaint ("AC") ¶ 8.) Starting in the 1980's, developers began constructing a subdivision called Crown Hills adjacent to Plaintiff's property. (Id. ¶ 30) On December 10, 1984, an Environment Impact Report ("EIR") stated that prior to the approval of the final subdivision map the developer was required to provide proof of sewer service availability and payment for the extension of lines to the Crown Hills subdivision.

The record indicates that on February 1, 1985 the County Planning Commission approved the tentative map for the Crown Hills subdivision at a public hearing. Plaintiff and neighboring property owners were mailed notices of the public hearing and notice of the hearing was published. On March 6, 1985, the Board of Supervisors approved the subdivision map and certified the EIR prepared for the subdivision. At a public hearing on July 29, 1987 Defendants approved the final development map for the subdivision.

Plaintiff alleges that in 1985 in an effort to comply with the EIR and avoid constructing a sewer line pump, Defendants fraudulently created a map which indicated a pre-existing sewer line across the property that connected an existing main sewer line to the subdivision. (Id. ¶ 38) Plaintiff claims that he did not become aware of the alleged use of the fraudulent map until sometime in 2001. At some time after the creation of the alleged fraudulent map, Plaintiff attempted to create a site preparation map of his property. Plaintiff was required to obtain approval by Defendants for Plaintiff's site preparation map. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conditioned the approval of his site preparation plan on Plaintiff granting a public easement through his property. (Id. ¶ 34) Plaintiff granted a sewer easement to Defendant Alpine Sanitation District which was recorded on March 27, 1986 and accepted as a public sewer on December 1, 1993. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants placed a lien on his property in 1989 to finance the construction of the sewer line. (Id. ¶ 45) Plaintiff claims that the lien was improper because Defendants had responsibility for financing and maintaining the sewer line. (Id.)

On December 27, 2001, Plaintiff commenced a series of lawsuits in state court. First, Plaintiff filed a tort claim against Defendant County of San Diego. In August of 2002, Plaintiff filed a complaint for damages against the County, alleging violation of a mandatory duty, negligence, and inverse condemnation. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint against the County on April 23, 2003, adding an additional claim for breach of contract. On November 4, 2003, the state trial court granted summary judgment for the County as to all causes of action.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, appealed the judgment in January 2004. Plaintiff first raised the issue of the allegedly fraudulently created map in his January 2004 appeal. The appellate court refused to consider the merits of the claim because Plaintiff had not plead properly a cause of action based on the fraudulent map allegation at the trial court level. On July 15, 2005, the appellate court issued an order affirming the trial court's decision and a rehearing petition was subsequently denied on August 9, 2005. Plaintiff then appealed to the California Supreme Court, which denied his petition for review on October 12, 2005. As a last effort, Plaintiff filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied on April 27, 2006. Subsequently Plaintiff filed a petition for rehearing, which was denied on July 31, 2006.

On December 8, 2006, Plaintiff, again proceeding pro se, filed a three-count complaint in this Court against Defendants alleging: 1) use of a fraudulent map in violation of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause; 2) use of a fraudulent map in violation of the California Subdivision Map Act; 3) Fraudulent Concealment of a mandatory duty; and 4) taking of property in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process. [Doc. No. 1] Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, [Doc. No. 6], which the Court granted without prejudice on February 27, 2007. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on April 27, 2007. [Doc. No. 10] Defendants filed a second motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on May 7, 2007. On August 16, 2007, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Takings Clause claim, but denied the motion as to Plaintiff's state law claims and his federal Due Process claim. [Doc. No. 14]. On March 12, 2009 Defendants' filed a motion for summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 on all remaining causes of action [Doc. No. 46]. Plaintiff opposes the motion [Doc. No. 48]. Defendants' filed a reply [Doc. No. 49].




Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a party is entitled to summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). It is beyond dispute that "[t]he moving party bears the initial burden to demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." Horphag Research Ltd. v. Garcia, 475 F.3d 1029, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007)(citation omitted). "Once the moving party meets its initial burden, . . . the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

A mere scintilla of evidence is not sufficient "to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment; instead, the nonmoving party must introduce some 'significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint.'" Fazio v. City & County of San Francisco, 125 F.3d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 252). Thus, in opposing a summary judgment motion it is not enough to simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (citations omitted). However, when assessing the record to determine whether there is a "genuine issue for trial," the court must "view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in h[er] favor." Horphag, 475 F.3d at 1035 (citation omitted). On a summary judgment motion, the court may not make credibility determinations; nor may it weigh conflicting evidence. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Thus, as framed ...

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