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Janet Favreau, et al v. the City of Escondido

June 11, 2012

JANET FAVREAU, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF ESCONDIDO, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT UNDER RULE 54(b) [DOC. 45]

Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). (Pls.' Mot. [Doc. 45]; see also Pls.' Reply [Doc. 47].) Plaintiffs ask this Court to enter judgment in favor of Defendant Timothy Reiley, a detective for the City of Escondido Police Department, so that they may immediately appeal this Court's March 12, 2012 order granting in-part and denying in-part summary judgment for Defendants. (See id.; Court's MSJ Order [Doc. 43].) If judgment under Rule 54(b) is entered, then Plaintiffs also seek a stay of the remaining unadjudicated claims. (See Pls.' Mot.) Defendants oppose. (Defs.' Opp'n [Doc. 46].) The Court considers the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. L. R. 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion for judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

This case concerns the death of Jennifer Favreau, a confidential informant for the City of Escondido Police Department ("Escondido Police").*fn1 On October 15, 2009, Jennifer was shot and killed by Escondido Police Detective Timothy Reiley during the arrest of her boyfriend, Christopher Ramirez. The arrest operation was supervised by Detective Roger Cirilo.

Plaintiffs are Jennifer's mother, Janet Favreau, and minor daughter, D.F., proceeding individually and as Jennifer's successors-in-interest. (See Compl.) On November 15, 2010, Plaintiffs filed suit against the City of Escondido ("City"), Detective Reiley, Detective Cirilo, and Chief of Escondido Police Jim Maher. (See id. at 1-2.) Plaintiffs alleged various federal and state-law causes of action against Reiley and Cirilo, including (1) use of excessive force under the Fourth Amendment, (2) violation of Jennifer's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, (3) deprivation of Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to a familial relationship with Jennifer, (4) negligence, (5) and violation of California Civil Code §52.1, a state civil rights statute. (See Compl.) Plaintiffs also asserted Monell supervisory liability and negligent supervision against the City and Chief Maher. (See id.)

On March 12, 2012, the Court granted summary judgment for Detective Reiley on each of Plaintiffs' claims.*fn2 (See Court's MSJ Order.) At the same time, the Court denied summary judgment for Detective Cirilo on the Fourteenth Amendment and negligence claims. (See id.) The Court withheld judgment on the claims against Cirilo because they were not fully briefed by the parties. (See id. at 28-29, 38.) The Court also denied summary judgment on the Monell and negligent supervision claims against Chief Maher and the City. (See id. at 29-30, 41-42.) Plaintiffs now seek entry of judgment for Detective Reiley on all claims. (Pls.' Mot. 5, 8.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) permits the district court to direct entry of final judgment on individual claims in a multi-claim or multi-party action "only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay." Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). The rule allows the district court to "determine, in the first instance, the appropriate time when each 'final decision' upon 'one or more but less than all' of the claims in a multiple claims action is ready for appeal." Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Mackey, 351 U.S. 427, 435 (1956). Application of Rule 54(b) is a two-step process. First, the court must ensure that it has, in fact, "rendered a final judgment, that is, a judgment that is an ultimate disposition of an individual claim." Wood v. GCC Bend, LCC, 422 F.3d 873, 878 (9th Cir. 2005). Second, the court must weigh concerns of efficient judicial administration against the equitable interests of the parties at hand. Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 8 (1980).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Final Judgment

As a threshold matter, the Court "must first determine that it is dealing with a 'final judgment.'" Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 7. "It must be a 'judgment' in the sense that it is a decision upon a cognizable claim for relief, and it must be 'final' in the sense that it is an 'ultimate disposition of an individual claim.'" Id. Finality for purposes of Rule 54(b)is governed by the same standard of finality applicable to suits generally. See Az. State Carpenters Pension Trust Fund v. Miller, 938 F.2d 1038, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1991). "A decision is final . . . if it ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment." Id. at 1039 (quoting Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. v. Mayacamas Corp., 485 U.S. 271, 275 (1988)).

The parties do not dispute that this Court's March 12, 2012 order finally adjudicated all of Plaintiffs' claims against Detective Reiley. (Pls.' Mot. 6; Defs.' Opp'n 2.) The Court agrees. There may be similar claims remaining against Cirilo, Maher, and the City, but with respect to Reiley, nothing is left to do but enter judgment. Miller, 938 F.2d at 1039-40; see also Horn v. Transcon Lines, Inc., 898 F.2d 589, 593 (7th Cir. 1990) ("Rule 54(b) allows the district court to enter a final judgment when it has resolved all claims concerning a single party, or has wrapped up a single claim with respect to all parties.") (emphasis added) (Easterbrook, J.).

B. Interests of Judicial Administration

Next, the Court must consider whether "judicial administrative interests" justify delay of immediate appeal. Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8. On this point, the Ninth Circuit has clearly warned against using Rule 54(b)to permit "peicemeal appeals in cases which should be reviewed only as single units." Wood, 422 F.3d at 879 (quoting McIntyre v. United States, 789 F.2d 1408, 1410 (9th Cir. 1986)). This is particularly true when judgment is sought on claims that share common factual issues with unadjudicated claims. Id.; Morrison-Knudsen Co., Inc. v. Archer, 655 F.2d 962, 965 ...


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