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Penny I. Frazer, As Successor, Etc v. County of San Joaquin et al

January 26, 2011

PENNY I. FRAZER, AS SUCCESSOR, ETC., PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN JOAQUIN ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Super. Ct. No. CV027720)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz,j.

Frazer v. County of San Joaquin CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

In this lawsuit, plaintiff John Miller, through his successor in interest, Penny I. Frazer, alleges that defendant Bruce Hopperstad, San Joaquin County's former Director of Mental/Behavioral Health, improperly had Miller investigated, arrested, jailed and prosecuted, for allegedly doing self-dealing handyman work. This work was done for clients of Miller's sister, Lauri Tribbey, while Tribbey was a deputy public guardian for the county.*fn1

The trial court granted summary judgment for defendants Hopperstad and San Joaquin County (the County). We shall affirm. We will set forth the facts as we discuss the issues.

DISCUSSION

I. The Complaint

A defendant's motion for summary judgment must address the liability theories alleged in the complaint. (Tsemetzin v. Coast Federal Savings & Loan Assn. (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1334, 1342.)

The claims surviving Miller's death that are alleged in his complaint are: violation of civil and constitutional rights (first cause of action); violation of civil rights under title 42 United States Code section 1983 (second cause of action); the County's failure to supervise its employees, i.e., supervisor liability under title 42 United States Code section 1983 (sixth cause of action); and false imprisonment (third cause of action).

The alleged basis of these claims is that Hopperstad, individually and on behalf of the County, made a false report to law enforcement alleging elder/dependent-adult abuse by Miller and actively caused Miller to be unlawfully arrested, jailed and prosecuted, thereby violating his civil and constitutional rights and falsely imprisoning him.

II. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

The aim of the summary judgment procedure is to discover, through the use of declarations and other evidence disclosed prior to trial, whether the parties possess evidence of disputed issues of material fact requiring the factfinding process of a trial. (Kurokawa v. Blum (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 976, 988.)

We review the trial court's summary judgment decision independently, considering all the evidence set forth in the moving and opposing papers except that to which objections were made and sustained. (Roe v. McDonald's Corp. (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 1107, 1113 (Roe).) If a defendant moving for summary judgment shows, through its evidentiary papers, that the plaintiff cannot establish at least one element of the plaintiff's cause of action, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to present evidence that a triable issue of material fact actually exists as to that element; if the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment results. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 853-854 (Aguilar); Johnson v. United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children's Foundation (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 740, 753-754 (Johnson).)

Because a summary judgment denies the losing party a trial, we liberally construe the evidence in support of that party and resolve doubts concerning the evidence in that party's favor. (Wiener v. Southcoast ...


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