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Dean v. Sacramento County

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

August 12, 2013

DENNIS DEAN SR., INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST FOR DECEDENT DENNIS DEAN JR., SUSANNAH HARDESTY, INDIVIDUALLY, Plaintiffs,
v.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, SCOTT JONES, INDIVIDUALLY, AMY HUMPHREYS, and DOES 1 THROUGH 100 INCLUSIVE, Defendants.

RANDOLPH CREGGER & CHALFANT LLP ROBERT L. CHALFANT, SBN 203051 WENDY MOTOOKA, SBN 233589 Sacramento, CA Attorneys for Defendants. SACRAMENTO COUNTY and SCOTT JONES, individually

ORDER ON MOTION TO RELIEVE PLAINTIFF FROM COMPLYING WITH CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 945.4 AND FOR AN ORDER TO ALLOW FILING OF LATE CLAIM PER GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 946.6(C)(1)

JOHN A. MENDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Dennis Dean Sr. and Susannah Hardesty filed a civil action on April 12, 2013, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and related state-law torts. Defendants County of Sacramento and its Sheriff Scott Jones moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. On June 13, 2013, following a stipulation by the parties, the Court granted Plaintiffs 60 days to file an amended complaint and terminated the motion.

On June 27, 2013, Plaintiffs moved for an order to be relieved from the state-law claims filing requirements, pursuant to California Government Code section 946.6. Defendants opposed the motion on the grounds that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter, and in the alternative, opposed the motion on the merits. The motion was argued on August 7, 2013, with David Asch appearing for Plaintiffs, and Wendy Motooka and Peter Cress appearing for Defendants.

At oral argument, Plaintiffs requested that the Court exercise its jurisdiction to hear the motion, or that the Court allow Plaintiffs an additional 60 days to file their amended complaint. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED for lack of jurisdiction. There being no objection to Plaintiffs' request for additional time to file an amended complaint, Plaintiffs' request for extension of time is GRANTED.

OPINION

Under specified circumstances, California Government Code section 946.6 authorizes a claimant to petition for relief from the claims presentation requirements of California Government Code section 945.4. At issue in this motion is whether this Court is a proper court to hear the petition. The statute provides: "The proper court for filing the petition is a superior court that would be a proper court for the trial of an action on the cause of action to which the claim relates." Cal. Gov't Code ยง 946.6(a). The plain language of the statute limits jurisdiction over such petitions exclusively to state superior courts.

While there has been a split in authority over whether a federal court has jurisdiction to hear a petition under California Government Code section 946.6, the majority view is that the federal courts lack jurisdiction. See, e.g., Crisp v. Wasco State Prison, 2013 WL 3805150 at *2 (E.D. Cal. 2013); Henderson v. Alameda County Med. Ctr., 2007 WL 1880376 at *1 (N.D. Cal. 2007). The Court agrees with the majority. The minority view is unpersuasive, as it is based on statutory language that has since been amended out of the statute. Rahimi v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. (Amtrak), 2009 WL 1883756 at *4 (N.D. Cal. 2009); Perez v. Escondido , 165 F.Supp.2d 1111, 1115 (S.D. Cal. 2001).

ORDER

For the reasons stated above, the Court rules as follows:

1. Plaintiffs' Motion To Relieve Plaintiff From Complying With California Government Code Section 945.4 And For An Order To Allow Filing Of Late Claim Per Government Code Section 946.6(C)(1) is DENIED for lack of jurisdiction.

2. Plaintiffs' request for a further extension of time to file their amended complaint is GRANTED. Plaintiffs shall have until October 12, 2013, to file their amended complaint.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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