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Richard Hylton v. City of San Diego

November 13, 2012

RICHARD HYLTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, DOES 1-10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel United States District Judge

ORDER:

1) GRANTING DEFENDANT ANYTIME TOWING'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION;

2) GRANTING CITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT;

3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT;

4) DENYING DEFENDANT ANYTIME TOWING'S MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT;

5) DENYING DEFENDANT CITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DECLARE PLAINTIFF A VEXATIOUS LITIGANT;

6) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE REQUEST FOR ANYTIME TOWING; CLARIFICATION; LIENENFORCEMENT COLLECTION 7) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S EX SERVICES; LIENENFORCEMENT, INC.; PARTE REQUEST FOR ORDER BILLY ANDAL; EMERY ENRIQUEZ; TO PRESERVE FUNDS;

8) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S EX

PARTE MOTION FOR

TEMPORARY RESTRAINING

ORDER

[Dkt. Nos. 48, 69, 83, 86, 127 134, 145, 150.]

Before the Court are Defendant Anytime Towing's motion to dismiss and motion for summary adjudication as to all claims against it; Defendants City of San Diego, Andal and Enriquez' motion for summary judgment; Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; City Defendants' motion to declare Plaintiff a vexatious litigant; Plaintiff's ex parte notice of request and request for clarification; Plaintiff's ex parte request or motion for order to preserve funds; and Plaintiff's ex parte notice of and motion for temporary restraining order.*fn1 The motions are submitted on the papers without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1).

After a review of the briefs, supporting documentation, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS Defendant Anytime Towing's motion for summary adjudication as to all claims against it; GRANTS Defendants City of San Diego, Andal and Enriquez's motion for summary judgment as to all claims against it; DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; DENIES Defendant Anytime Towing's motion to dismiss as moot; DENIES City Defendants' motion to declare Plaintiff a vexatious litigant; DENIES Plaintiff's ex parte notice of request and request for clarification; DENIES Plaintiff's ex parte request or motion for order to preserve funds; and DENIES Plaintiff's ex parte notice of and motion for temporary restraining order against City Defendants.

Procedural Background

On May 12, 2011, Plaintiff Richard Hylton filed a complaint against Defendants. (Dkt. No. 1.) On September 26, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint and motion for partial judgment as a matter of law. (Dkt. No. 21.) On October 27, 2011, Defendant Anytime Towing filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. No. 26.) On February 24, 2012, Defendants City of San Diego and Enriquez filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 43.) On March 26, 2012, District Judge Sammartino granted Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint and denied as moot Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as a matter of law, Defendant Anytime Towing's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Defendants City of San Diego and Enriquez' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 47.)

On March 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint against Defendants Anytime Towing, City of San Diego, Officer Emery Enriquez, Officer Billy Andal, Lienenforcement Collection Services, and Lienenforcement, Inc. (Dkt. No. 56.) On March 28, 2012, Defendant Anytime Towing filed a motion to dismiss and on May 16, 2012, Defendants City of San Diego, Andal and Enriquez ("City Defendants") filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 48, 69.) On May 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed a notice of dismissal with prejudice as to Lienenforcement, Inc. erroneously sued as Lienenforcement Collection Services, and Lienenforcement, Inc. (Dkt. No. 72.)

On May 29, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions against City Defendants and Defendant Anytime Towing. (Dkt. Nos. 78, 79.) On June 18, 2012, Defendant Anytime Towing filed a motion for summary adjudication. (Dkt. No. 83.) On June 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment against all Defendants and a motion for rule 11 sanctions. (Dkt. Nos. 86, 87.) On July 3, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for permanent injunction. (Dkt. No. 94.) City Defendants filed a motion to declare Plaintiff a vexatious litigant on August 15, 2012. (Dkt. No. 127.)

On August 17, 2012, District Judge Sammartino denied Plaintiff's motion for sanctions against City Defendants and Anytime Towing and denied Plaintiff's motion for permanent injunction. (Dkt. No. 128, 129.) On the same date, the Court also overruled Plaintiff's objection to Magistrate Judge McCurine's order for sanctions. (Dkt. No. 130.) On August 28, 2012, Plaintiff withdrew his motion for sanctions filed on June 21, 2012. (Dkt. No. 166.)

On August 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for order to preserve funds. (Dkt. No. 134.) On September 10, 2012, Plaintiff filed an ex parte notice of request and request for clarification. (Dkt. No. 145.) On September 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed an ex parte notice for motion for temporary restraining order.*fn2 (Dkt. No. 150.) On October 9, 2012, the matter was transferred to the undersigned judge. (Dkt. No. 161.)

Pending before the Court are the following motions:

1. On March 28, 2012, Defendant Anytime Towing filed a motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 48.)

Plaintiff's opposition was filed on April 30, 2012. (Dkt. No. 64.) Defendant filed a reply on May 3, 2012. (Dkt. No. 65.) Because Anytime Towing subsequently filed a motion for summary adjudication on June 18, 2012, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to dismiss as MOOT.

2. On May 16, 2012, City Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 69.) Plaintiff's opposition was filed on June 6, 2012. (Dkt. No. 82.) City Defendants filed a reply on June 21, 2012. (Dkt. No. 85.)

3. Defendant Anytime Towing's motion for summary adjudication was filed on June 18, 2012. (Dkt. No. 83.) Plaintiff's opposition was filed on July 17, 2012. (Dkt. No. 103.) Defendant filed a reply on July 19, 2012. (Dkt. No. 105.)

4. On June 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment as to all Defendants. (Dkt. No. 86.) Defendant Anytime Towing filed an opposition on July 19, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 106, 107.) City Defendants filed an opposition on July 19, 2012. (Dkt. No. 109.) Plaintiff filed a reply on August 8, 2012. (Dtk. No. 120.)

5. On August 15, 2012, City Defendants filed a motion to declare Plaintiff a vexatious litigant. (Dkt. No. 127.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on September 18, 2012. (Dkt. No. 148.) On September 27, 2012, Defendants filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 155.)

6. On August 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed an ex parte request or motion for order to preserve funds. (Dkt. No. 134.) Defendant Anytime Towing and City Defendants filed an opposition on September 27, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 152, 154.) Plaintiff filed a reply on October 15, 2012. (Dkt. No. 163.)

7. On September 10, 2012, Plaintiff filed an ex parte notice of request and request for clarification. (Dkt. No. 145.) No briefing schedule was issued and no oppositions have been filed.

8. On September 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed an ex parte notice of and motion for temporary restraining order against City Defendants. (Dkt. No. 150.) City Defendants filed an opposition on October 25, 2012. (Dkt. No. 164.) Plaintiff filed a reply on November 7, 2012. (Dkt. No. 168.)

Factual Background

It is undisputed that on May 12, 2010, Plaintiff was stopped by San Diego Police Officers Enriquez and Andal for driving with an expired registration tab. (Dkt. No. 83-3, Enriquez Decl. ¶ 3, 4; Dkt. No. 86-3, Hylton Decl. at 1.)

A. City Defendants' Facts

When Defendants Enriquez and Andal stopped Plaintiff for an expired registration tab, they checked the Mobile Data Terminal ("MDT") in their squad car to obtain DMV records which showed that Plaintiff was the registered owner of the vehicle but that the vehicle's registration had expired on August 8, 2009. (Dkt. No. 83-3, Enriquez Decl. ¶ 4; Ex. A.) Based on the information from the DMV, Enriquez cited and impounded the vehicle in accordance with California Vehicle Code section 22651(o)(1)(A)*fn3 . (Id. ¶ 5.) At the time of the vehicle impound, Enriquez conducted a vehicle inventory of the vehicle according to the City's towing procedure. (Id. ¶ 6.) A vehicle impound report was completed for Plaintiff's vehicle including an estimate of the vehicle value to comply with the vehicle report and towing manual requirements. (Id.)

B. Plaintiff's Facts

According to Plaintiff, on May 12, 2010, when he was stopped by Officers Enriquez and Andal, he provided them with evidence of a paid registration; however, the officers informed him that his car was going to be impounded because the car registration was expired. (Dkt. 86-3, Hylton Decl. at 1.) He states that Officer Andal demanded his car keys and Plaintiff complied. (Id.) Andal suggested that he call someone to pick him up. (Id.) When Plaintiff asked Andal whether he could drive it home and park it, he refused. (Id.) Plaintiff states that Enriquez stood by the passenger side and asked him what kind of business he was in and where he worked. (Id. at 2.) Initially, Plaintiff did not respond. (Id.) When Enriquez asked again, Plaintiff told him that he developed software but did not see how that was relevant. (Id.) Andal provided him a citation for "expired registration" (Id. at 2.) He told both officers that the registration was incomplete but not expired. (Id.) "Andal then flared and snalred, I know that things are tough nowadays but you should have paid your registration months ago, or words to that effect." (Id.) When Plaintiff asked how he could recover his car, Andal advised that he would have to pay a towing fee and would have to provide the towing company with a valid registration. (Id.) He advised both officers that in order to get a valid registration, he would have to get the smog inspection but since the towing company will have the car, it meant he could never get the car. (Id. at 3.) Andal then said "Look that is your problem. Are you sure that I wont (sic) find guns, drugs or nuclear weapons in the car." (Id.) Plaintiff told Andal that there were none and walked home. (Id.)

C. Defendant Anytime Towing's Facts

On May 12, 2010, pursuant to the valid contract between Anytime Towing and the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Police Department contacted Anytime Towing to tow the Plaintiff's car. (Dkt. No. 83-5, Cravens Decl. ¶¶ 5-7; Exs. A, B.) The SDPD provided Anytime Towing with a Vehicle Report, which provided background information on the Vehicle, the basis for why it was being impounded and the appraisal value between $301-$4000. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.; Exs. C, D.) Anytime Towing prepared its own inventory and prepared towing receipt that detailed a towing fee of $178.00 plus a mileage fee of $22.00. (Id. ¶ 6, Ex. C.)

Plaintiff admitted that he received a Notice of Stored Vehicle from the San Diego Police Department prior to May 19, 2010 that identified Anytime Towing. (Dkt. No. 83-4, Hackett Decl., Ex. A, Hylton Depo. at 180:21-181:8, 233:15-23.) Since Anytime Towing did not hear from Plaintiff within seventy-two hours, it, through Clear Choice Lien Service, Inc. ("Clear Choice") obtained the Vehicle's registration information from the DMV on May 19, 2010. (Dkt. No. 83-5, Cravens Decl. ¶¶ 8, 11-12, 18; Ex. H.)*fn4 On May 20, 2012, Anytime Towing, through Clear Choice sent Plaintiff, via certified mail, return receipt requested, and the DMV, via certified mail, the "Notice of Pending Lien Sale for Vehicle Valued $4000 or Less." (Id. ¶ 9; Exs. E, F.) At least 10 days prior to and including the sale date of June 21, 2010, Anytime Towing posted a copy of the Lien Notice at its office. (Id. ¶ 11.) Anytime Towing did not receive an opposition to the Lien Notice prior to the sale on July 15, 2010. (Id. ¶12.) On July 15, 2010, Plaintiff's Vehicle was sold at an auction for $600.00 (Id.¶ 13; Ex G.) Following the sale of the Vehicle, Anytime Towing provided the Certification of Lien Sale for Vehicle Valued $4,000 or Less to the buyer and the "Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability" to the DMV to inform them of the sale. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 15; Exs. G, H.) As of July 15, 2010 and continuing through today, Anytime Towing's unrecovered fees and costs is $1,228.00. (Id. ¶ 16; Ex. J.)

Anytime Towing asserts it does not regularly, on behalf of itself or others, engage in the collection of money owing or alleged to be due or owing from a natural person to another person or entity. (Id. ¶ 20.) Instead, it uses agencies such as Rickenbacker and Lien Enforcement to collect money that persons owe to Anytime Towing. (Id.) Anytime Towing did not discuss with Plaintiffs amounts he owed to it except when Plaintiff first contacted Anytime Towing by letter on August 30, 2010 to inform Anytime Towing that Rickenbacker contacted him regarding the $1,228.00 and to request documentation for that amount. (Id. ¶ 21.) Anytime Towing has not furnished any ...


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