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Chase M. Riggi, Individually v. City of Placerville; City of Placerville

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 14, 2011

CHASE M. RIGGI, INDIVIDUALLY
AND BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, JAMES M. RIGGI; ESTATE OF LINDA CAROL CLARK, BY AND THROUGH HER SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST, CHASE M. RIGGI, BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, JAMES M. RIGGI; MARTY HANSEN; AND JOAN BEATRICE LEWIS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF PLACERVILLE; CITY OF PLACERVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT; CITY OF PLACERVILLE POLICEMAN NICOLAS MAURER; PLACERVILLE POLICE CHIEF GEORGE NIELSEN; EL DORADO COUNTY; EL DORADO COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICT; EL DORADO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH; MARSHALL MEDICAL CENTER; AND DOES 1 THROUGH 20, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Through this action, The Chase M. Riggi, Marty Hansen, Joan Beatrice, and the Estate of Linda Carol Clark ("Plaintiffs") seek redress for the alleged wrongful death of Linda Carol Clark. In addition to claims for wrongful death, Plaintiffs assert several survival causes of action proceeding as decedent's successor-in-interest. Plaintiffs have filed the requisite declaration to bring a survival action pursuant to California Civil Procedure Code § 377.32. However, the declaration did not fully comply with the requirements of § 377.32. As a result, Plaintiffs lack standing to assert a survival action.

It is fundamental that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Vacek v. United States Postal Serv., 447 F.3d 1141, 1145 (9th Cir. 2006). Regardless of whether the issue is raised by the parties, federal courts are required to consider jurisdictional issues such as standing. Bernhardt v. County of Los Angeles, 279 F.3d 862, 868 (9th Cir. 2002). As a result, a district court may dismiss a claim sua sponte for lack of standing. Id.

The party bringing a survival action has the burden to show that a particular state law authorizes the action, and that the plaintiff meets the statutory requirements. Hayes v. County of San Diego, No. 09-55644, 2011 WL 982472, at *2 (9th Cir. Mar. 22, 2011). California Civil Procedure Code § 377.32 requires that a plaintiff bringing a survival action file a declaration or affidavit under penalty of perjury. Id. at *3. As part of the required declaration, plaintiff must state the date and place of the decedent's death. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 377.32(a)(2).

A certified copy of the decedent's death certificate must also be attached to the declaration. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 377.32(c). Compliance with the requirements of § 377.32 is a prerequisite for standing to bring a survival action in federal court. Hayes, 2011 WL 982472, at *3.

In the instant case, Plaintiffs filed a declaration, but did not fully comply with the statutory requirements. Specifically, Plaintiffs did not include a declaration of the place of decedent's death as required by § 377.32(a)(2). Further, a certified copy of decedent's death certificate is not attached to the declaration as required by § 377.32(c). Because Plaintiff's declaration is defective, Plaintiffs lack standing to bring a survival action. As a result, the Court must dismiss the survival causes of action.

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs' survival causes of action are hereby DISMISSED without prejudice. Plaintiffs may file an amended complaint and declaration within twenty (20) days of the electronic filing of this order. If an amended complaint and declaration are not filed within said twenty (20)-day period, Plaintiffs' survival causes of action will be dismissed with prejudice and without further notice to the parties.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20110414

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