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Robbins v. City of San Diego Police Dep't

March 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jeffrey T. Miller United States District Judge


Plaintiff Bruce D. Robbins ("Robbins") filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants City of San Diego Police Department ("SDPD"), Randall Henrizi ("Henrizi"), Jaime (erroneously sued as "John") Alvarado ("Alvarado"), and Diane (erroneously sued as "Jane") Hodges ("Hodges"). (Doc. No. 1). Henrizi, Alvarado, and Hodges are police officers employed by SDPD. Robbins voluntarily dismissed Alvarado and Hodges. (Doc. Nos. 6, 8). SDPD and Henrizi now move for summary judgment based on declarations provided by Henrizi and defense counsel Wendy Davisson. (Doc. No. 20). In its motion for summary judgment, SDPD provided Klingele/Rand notice to Robbins. (See Doc. No. 20).

The summary judgment hearing was originally scheduled for January 8, 2010. (Doc. No. 20). Rather than file an opposition, Robbins moved for a continuance, alleging that he never received proper notice of the motion. (Doc. No. 22). The court granted Robbins's motion and scheduled the hearing for February 19, 2010. (Doc. No. 24). At the hearing on February 19, 2010, Robbins-who had not filed yet filed an opposition-requested another continuance. The court complied, resetting the hearing for March 5, 2010 and giving Robbins until February 22, 2010 to file an opposition and supporting affidavits. (Doc. No. 29). Robbins eventually filed an opposition but did not submit any supporting evidence. (Doc. No. 33).

The court finds this matter appropriate for disposition without oral argument. See CivLR 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the court hereby GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


On July 6, 2007, at approximately 10:30 PM, Henrizi and Alvarado responded to a 9-1-1 call made from the residence at 5428 Forbes Avenue. (Doc. No. 20, Declaration of Randall Henrizi, hereinafter "Decl.," ¶ 3). There they encountered a "visibly intoxicated" Robbins and his parents. (Decl. ¶ 3). Henrizi and Alvarado spoke with both Robbins and his parents. (Decl. ¶ 3). At some point, either Henrizi or Alvarado may have asked Robbins to step outside the house. (Doc. No. 1, Complaint, hereinafter "Compl."). In either case, Robbins eventually left the residence, followed by Henrizi and Alvarado. (Decl. ¶ 4).

Soon after, Henrizi and Alvarado decided to arrest Robbins because "he was so intoxicated that he was unable to care for himself or the safety of others." (Decl. ¶ 4). Alvarado-while informing Robbins that Alvarado was placing Robbins under arrest-took hold of Robbins's right arm and pulled it behind Robbins's back. (Decl. ¶ 5). Robbins, raising his left arm, turned towards Alvarado. (Decl. ¶ 5). Henrizi grabbed Robbins's left wrist and elbow. (Decl. ¶ 5). Robbins continued to struggle, so Henrizi and Alvarado took Robbins to the ground, where he was handcuffed. (Decl. ¶ 5).

Henrizi and Alvarado either took Robbins to detox or to be booked. (Decl. ¶ 6, Compl.). At some point, Robbins was diagnosed with a coronoid process fracture of the left elbow. (Compl.) Robbins attributes this injury to the "controlled take down." (Compl.)

Robbins was treated for the injury at a UCSD emergency room and then returned to the downtown jail. (Compl.).


Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine issue of material fact and... the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The court must examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). If the moving party, however, "meets its initial burden of identifying for the court the portions of the materials on file that it believes demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party may not rely on the mere allegations in the pleadings in order to preclude summary judgment." Nilsson, Robbins, Dalgarn, Berlines, Carson & Wurst v. La. Hydrolec, 854 F.2d 1538, 1542 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing T.W. Elec. Servs. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Assoc., 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987)). Indeed, "Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment... against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).


Defendant SDPD moves for summary judgment on four theories. First, it argues that it is not a proper party under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because it is a department of a municipal entity. Second, SDPD argues that it must be dismissed because there are no allegations or evidence to support a Monell claim. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). Third, SDPD claims that Robbins's pendent claim for negligence fails because there is no governmental tort liability for common-law negligence. Fourth, SDPD claims it cannot be liable under section 1983 because Henrizi's actions were objectively reasonable as a matter of law, and therefore there was no violation of Robbins's constitutional rights.

Defendant Henrizi moves for summary judgment on three theories. First, he argues that the "controlled take down" was objectively reasonably as a matter of law. Second, he argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity. Third, Henrizi argues that the pendent negligence claim must fail along with the section 1983 ...

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