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Moria Rogers v. Seibert Family Trust 1995

October 11, 2011

MORIA ROGERS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEIBERT FAMILY TRUST 1995, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO SANCTION DEFENDANT FOR DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE (Docs. 41 and 42)

Plaintiff Moria Rogers moves this Court for an order sanctioning Defendants for destroying copies of video surveillance of Rogers' rented trailer in Defendants' mobile home park. Defendants respond that, since indicating that the recordings were lost or destroyed, they were able to locate the recordings and have provided copies to Rogers. Rogers replies that Defendants have given her fewer than the number of recordings that she expected in light of Defendant Leslie Seibert's deposition statement that he had retained copies of surveillance tapes that interested him. Because no evidence supports the conclusion that Defendants lost or destroyed any video surveillance recordings, the Court denies Rogers' motion for sanctions.

I. Procedural and Factual Background

In April 2005, Moria Rogers,*fn1 the plaintiff in this action, purchased a mobile home parked on a leased lot in Sierra Hide-Away Mobile Home Park, which was managed by Defendant Leslie Seibert, who is also a member of its owning partnership. Disagreements between Rogers and Seibert developed almost immediately. Although many details of the parties' relationship figure in the case as a whole, this motion only relates to Plaintiff's claim that Defendants invaded her privacy by installing video surveillance system intended to observe activities in Rogers' home.

On July 5, 2009, Seibert provided a letter to all tenants, indicating that park management had observed a need for identification and documentation of activities in the park. Citing reports of a possible theft and of an outsider who had entered the park and knocked on a tenant's door at 4:00 a.m., Seibert disclosed that management intended to install video surveillance equipment and solicited the tenants' comments on the matter. In her response, Rogers declared that taping her would be an invasion of her privacy and accused Seibert of "aggressive and obsessive stalking behavior." Doc. 44-5.

On July 18, 2009, Seibert reported to the tenants, among other matters, that eighteen of nineteen tenants who responded to his inquiry favored installation of video surveillance equipment. Seibert stated:

We are going to do what we can to provide security and a feeling of safety. For any others that do not want surveillance in this park I can only say with all the kindness I can, that surveillance cameras are going to be installed as soon as possible. And that is a fact. And surveillance is going to be time dated and recorded 24/7. What we are doing is providing security and proof of events for everyone who lives in this park. This is an adult park age 55 years and older, no children and that is why a number of you selected this park. But a number of you have also expressed to me that as your age has advanced you feel more vulnerable, especially as we have observed our society become more angry and violent. Surveillance does not necessarily stop crime, but often de[ter]s the crime because of the surveillance. And de[ter]ing of crime is a good thing.

Doc. 44-3 at 2.

On July 27, 2009, Rogers, who was then pregnant, complained to Defendant Leslie Seibert, the park manager, that, among other things, the privacy of her master bedroom had been compromised by the installation of video surveillance cameras in the park and removal of landscaping that screened her home from the street.

On or about August 27, 2009, Rogers gave birth. She continued to live in her mobile home with her infant. On December 11, 2009, Sierra Hide-Away filed a declaratory judgment action in California Superior Court, Madera County, seeking a order that Rogers could no longer reside in a mobile home in Sierra Hide-Away with her infant.*fn2

On April 5, 2010, Rogers filed the complaint in this case, alleging claims for violation of the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. § 3604(b)), the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (California Government Code § 12955(b)), and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code § 51 et seq.); unfair business practices (California Business & Professions Code § 17204); negligence; negligent interference with prospective economic advantage; intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; and invasion of privacy.

On April 6, 2010, Rogers's attorney deposed Seibert in the declaratory judgment action. According to Rogers, Seibert stated that he had made permanent copies of some video surveillance tapes, which he retained in his home. Immediately following the deposition, Rogers's attorney served Seibert with the summons and complaint in this case.

The relevant portion of the deposition reads as follows:

Q. How many video surveillance cameras were installed?

A. Well, we had seven installed, but I really only have three now, and I'm going to activate probably one other because four of them were attached to my own unit where I could ...


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