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Kayla Cashman, By and Through Her Guardian Ad Litem Bernadette Hilgeman, Stephen Cashman v. San Diego Unified School District

November 8, 2011

KAYLA CASHMAN, BY AND THROUGH HER GUARDIAN AD LITEM BERNADETTE HILGEMAN, STEPHEN CASHMAN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Anthony J. BattagliaU.S. District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANTS' EX PARTE APPLICATION; AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' EX PARTE APPLICATION [Docs. 54, 60, 65]

Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 54), Defendants' Ex Parte Application for Leave to File Excess Pages (Doc. 60), and Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Application for Leave to File an Evidentiary Objection (Doc. 65). For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment,(2) DENIES as moot Defendants' Ex Parte Application, and (3) DENIES Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Application.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

In March 2007, when Kayla Cashman ("Kayla") was a fifteen-year-old sophomore at Patrick Henry High School, she went for an allegedly unauthorized "joyride" in a school golf cart following a track meet. She ultimately lost control of the golf cart, crashed it, and fractured her ankle. (SS, Facts 1-5.) Vice Principal James Good suspended her for three days, and School Police Officer Jesus Montana charged her with joyriding and vandalism. (SS, Facts 30-31, 86-87.) Officer Montana submitted his arrest report to the District Attorney ("DA"), who elected to prosecute Kayla for joyriding and vandalism. (SS, Facts 33-36.) The criminal case went to trial in Juvenile Court, but the Court dismissed the charges after the close of the prosecution's case, concluding that the DA had not proven the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. (SS, Facts 37-40.)

Kayla and her father then sued the San Diego Unified School District, as well as Mr. Good and Officer Montana as individuals. Plaintiffs filed the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on February 27, 2009. (Doc. 27.) It alleges violations of 4 U.S.C. § 1983 for unreasonable seizure (against Officer Montana and Mr. Good), and false arrest and malicious prosecution (against Officer Montana), as well as state-law claims for negligence, false arrest, and violations of Civil Code section 52.1 (which provides a cause of action for a violation of constitutional rights). In addition, Mr. Cashman asserts a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and both Plaintiffs seek punitive damages. Defendants filed the instant Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on May 27, 2011.*fn2

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Miller v. Glenn Miller Prod., Inc., 454 F.3d 975, 987 (9th Cir. 2006).

In order to prevail, a party moving for summary judgment must show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim, or to a defense on which the nonmoving party will bear the burden of persuasion at trial. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos. Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). When the nonmoving party would bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden on summary judgment by simply pointing out to the Court an absence of evidence from the nonmoving party. Miller, 454 F.3d at 987. "The moving party need not disprove the other party's case." Id.

Once the movant has made that showing, the burden shifts to the opposing party to produce "evidence that is significantly probative or more than 'merely colorable' that a genuine issue of material fact exists for trial." LVRC Holdings LLC v. Brekka, 581 F.3d 1127, 1137 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing FTC v. , 265 F.3d 944, 954 (9th Cir. 2001)); see also Miller, 454 F.3d at 988 ("[T]he nonmoving party must come forward with more than 'the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence.'") (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

The Court must review the record as a whole and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Hernandez v. Spacelabs Med. Inc., 343 F.3d 736, 738 (9th Cir. 2000). However, unsupported conjecture or conclusory statements are insufficient to defeat summary judgment. Id.; Surrell v. Cal. Water Serv. Co., 518 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2008). "Thus, '[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'" Miller, 454 F.3d at 988 (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).

III. DISCUSSION

In their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Defendants argue that: (1) all of the Section 1983 claims fail because the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from liability, and because Officer Montana had probable cause to arrest Kayla; (2) the state-law claims for violations of Civil Code 52.1 and false arrest fail because the individual defendants are entitled to discretionary immunity, and because the undisputed evidence establishes the existence of probable cause; (3) Mr. Cashman's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress raises no triable issue of fact because the District engaged in no "outrageous" conduct; and (4) there is no evidence to support an award of punitive damages, based on either state or federal claims. Each of these issues is discussed in turn Section 1983 Claims Defendants argue that the Section 1983 claims fail because both Officer Montana and Mr. Good are entitled to qualified immunity from liability, and regardless of immunity, they fail on the merits because Officer Montana had probable cause to arrest Kayla.

It appears to the Court that both immunity and the merits hinge on the existence of probable cause. The Court finds that Officer Montana was aware of the following facts before he arrested Kayla:

* The school custodian told him a student had stolen a golf cart and crashed it. (SS, Fact 6.)

* The track coach said Kayla had taken the golf cart without his permission, and that another student had been in the golf cart with Kayla. The track coach confirmed that Kayla had crashed the golf cart. (SS, Facts 7-11.)

* One of the students who had express permission to drive the golf cart said he had not given Kayla permission ...


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