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Doe v. City of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 27, 2014

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Jane Doe, an individual, Plaintiff: Browne Greene, LEAD ATTORNEY, Greene, Broillet & Wheeler LLP, Santa Monica, CA; Linda G Workman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joseph Gary Dicks, Dicks and Workman APC, San Diego, CA; Andrew J. Spielberger, Daniel K. Balaban, Balaban & Spielberger, LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Holly N. Boyer, Esner, Chang & Boyer, Pasadena, CA.

For San Diego, City of, by and through the San Diego Police Department, a public entity, Kevin Friedman, an individual, William Lansdowne, an individual, Defendants: Christina M Milligan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Donald F Shanahan, Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, CA; Keith W Phillips, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of San Diego, City Attorneys Office, San Diego, CA; Michelle Landis Gearhart, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley & Heft LLP, San Diego, CA; Mitchell D Dean, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley and Heft, Solana Beach, CA.

For Anthony Arevalos, an individual, Defendant: Kevin M Osterberg, LEAD ATTORNEY, Haight Brown and Bonesteel LLP, Riverside, CA.

For David Bejarano, an individual, Defendant: Christina M Milligan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Donald F Shanahan, Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, CA; Karen Lynn Rogan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Chula Vista City Attorneys Office, Chula Vista, CA; Keith W Phillips, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of San Diego, City Attorneys Office, San Diego, CA; Michelle Landis Gearhart, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley & Heft LLP, San Diego, CA; Mitchell D Dean, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley and Heft, Solana Beach, CA.

For Danny Hollister, Rudy Tai, Robert Kanaski, Victoria Binkerd, Max Verduzco, Defendants: Keith W Phillips, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of San Diego, City Attorneys Office, San Diego, CA; Michelle Landis Gearhart, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley & Heft LLP, San Diego, CA; Mitchell D Dean, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley and Heft, Solana Beach, CA; Christina M Milligan, Donald F Shanahan, Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, CA.

For Jorge Guevara, Defendant: Keith W Phillips, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of San Diego, City Attorneys Office, San Diego, CA; Michelle Landis Gearhart, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daley & Heft LLP, San Diego, CA; Christina M Milligan, Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, CA.

For U-T San Diego, Voice of San Diego, KFMB News 8, Fox 5, KGTV 10 News, NBC 7, Intervenors: Guylyn Remmenga Cummins, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton, San Diego, CA.

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ORDER GRANTING SUPERVISOR DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 191]

Hon. Michael M. Anello, United States District Judge.

This case arises out of the tortious conduct of former San Diego Police Officer

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Anthony Arevalos. In response to Arevalos' acts, Plaintiff Jane Doe (" Plaintiff" or " Doe" ) filed suit against Defendants City of San Diego (the " City" ), Arevalos, and nine of Arevalos' past supervisors [1] in the San Diego Police Department (the " Supervisor Defendants" ). In the present motion, the Supervisor Defendants seek summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims asserted against them. [Doc. No. 191.] Upon consideration of the comprehensive record before the Court, including the written and oral arguments of counsel, the Court GRANTS the Supervisor Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

Background[2]

The facts surrounding the encounter between Jane Doe and Officer Arevalos have been thoroughly recited by this Court in previous orders and need not be repeated here. Instead, the Court focuses its attention on the facts involving the Supervisor Defendants.[3]

Jane Doe was not Anthony Arevalos' only victim. Rather, beginning in the late 1990's, Arevalos was allegedly involved in a number of other sexually-laced incidents. Plaintiff contends that Arevalos' police supervisors intentionally covered up his repeated misconduct, rendering them personally liable for Plaintiff's injuries. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint asserts fourteen claims against the Supervisor Defendants.[4] Liability for the Supervisor Defendants is primarily premised on four past incidents involving Officer Arevalos, in addition to general details regarding Arevalos' misconduct within the SDPD. The Court will briefly outline the facts related to Arevalos' past misconduct.

The 5150 Detainee Incident: Defendants Tai, Hollister, and Guevara

The first report of misconduct involving Officer Arevalos occurred in the late 1990's. At that time, Officer Arevalos, along with Officer Francisco Torres, was

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dispatched to a call regarding a young, naked woman dancing at a local park. Officer Torres persuaded the woman to put her clothes on, and the officers placed her in handcuffs for a psychiatric hold pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150.

Officer Torres states that as they were driving to a local hospital, Officer Arevalos encouraged the female to undress again, and that the female said that she would have sex with the officers. Arevalos engaged in and encouraged the sexual banter.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Officer Torres went to get a nurse. Torres claims that when he returned to the patrol car, the detainee was naked again and Torres saw what appeared to be camera flashes. Torres assumed Arevalos was taking pictures of the nude girl. Officer Torres alleges that the girl had Officer Arevalos' police baton inserted into her vagina.

Torres contacted his own supervisor, Defendant Danny Hollister, to report the incident. According to Defendant Hollister, Torres informed him that Arevalos had an inappropriate conversation with the female, had encouraged her to disrobe, and had taken photographs of her. Hollister testified that he did not remember if Torres mentioned anything about Arevalos encouraging the detainee to place his service baton in her vagina.

Defendant Hollister, who was not in Arevalos' chain of command, informed Defendant Rudy Tai, Arevalos' direct supervisor, of Arevalos' behavior. Officer Torres also met with Defendant Tai. There is a dispute over what information Defendant Tai received regarding the incident. Tai denies being told by Torres that Arevalos photographed the detainee or encouraged her to use his baton in a sexual fashion. Torres claims, however, that he told Tai everything that he had witnessed.

Tai interviewed Arevalos, who admitted to making inappropriate sexual remarks, but characterized them as flirtatious and joking. Tai also informed his commanding officers, Defendant Jorge Guevara and Captain Olias,[5] of the inappropriate remarks by Arevalos. Tai conducted and completed his investigation regarding the allegations, and concluded that Arevalos' conduct was unprofessional.[6] Arevalos was verbally reprimanded and instructed that this type of conduct would not be tolerated in the future. A written reprimand was not issued.

The Susy S. Incident: Defendant Chief Bejarano

Susy S. contends Arevalos mistreated her during a traffic stop in March or April 2001. While driving a marked police car, Arevalos pulled up next to Ms. S's vehicle, made flirtatious comments to her, and asked her to pull her vehicle over and stop. Ms. S refused to stop and drove towards her home instead; Arevalos followed.

Ms. S contends that she stopped her car in front of her apartment building and Officer Arevalos stopped almost bumper-to-bumper behind her. Ms. S was frightened and began screaming, " What are you doing? Why are you trying to pull me over?" and " Help me." Ms. S claims that when she exited her vehicle, Arevalos grabbed her wrists behind her back and pushed his groin into her buttocks. She claims he also placed his hands on her breasts.

Ms. S contends her husband came outside as she was screaming, and that she began describing the situation to him. Officer

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Arevalos said that she failed to signal for a turn, and he wrote her a citation. Ms. S refused to sign the citation and knocked the ticket book to the ground, but her husband picked it up and told her to sign the citation.

Ms. S claims she called the police department the next day to report Arevalos, and that she met personally with Defendant Chief Bejarano. She also claims that she had a second meeting with Chief Bejarano a few days later. She testified that Chief Bejarao met her in a parking structure near City Hall and told her that " everything was taken care of" and that Arevalos was " going to have consequences." Susy S. told Chief Bejarano that she wanted Arevalos fired.

Ms. S's husband has no recollection of his wife ever telling him that Arevalos touched her. Nor does he recall her telling him that she was going to SDPD to complain about Arevalos' conduct. She told him that she was upset because the officer had tried to pull her over in an alley.

The Supervisor Defendants contend Susy S.'s claim is not supported by the record, and that it is a fictionalized account such that no reasonable jury could believe it. For instance, Arevalos was stationed in the Southern Division in 2001, and the alleged incident with Susy S. occurred within the parameters of the Western Division. Also, it was not the practice or custom of intake officers to contact Chief Bejarano and advise him that a citizen was filing a complaint regarding an officer's conduct. Nor was it Bejarano's practice to meet personally with citizens who complained of officer misconduct. Bejarano has no recollection of ever having an appointment to meet with Susy S. during his tenure with the SDPD.

The MP Incident: Defendants Verduzco and Binkerd

In July 2007, sixteen-year-old MP, wearing a bathing suit covered by a top, was stopped while driving by Officer Arevalos. Arevalos told her that her license plate tags were about to expire, but MP responded that the tags were valid until October or December. Arevalos told her to exit her vehicle so she could look at the tags. Once behind the vehicle, Officer Arevalos told MP to " bend over" to look at the tags. Even though she could see the tags while standing, MP bent over as she was told. Officer Arevalos was standing behind MP as she did so, and MP states that Arevalos was " really weird and uncomfortable." MP immediately drove home and told her father, LP, what had occurred. LP called a friend in the police force, Sergeant Art Bowen, to complain. LP told Bowen that Arevalos had stood behind MP while making her bend over to look at her plainly visible tags. Sergeant Bowen then used the Department's messaging system to contact Arevalos' supervisor, Sergeant Max Verduzco, providing the details of what MP and LP reported.

Later, LP called Sergeant Verduzco directly to report Arevalos' behavior. LP thought Arevalos should be fired. Verduzco told LP that parents in La Jolla cause trouble anytime their kids are pulled over. LP then contacted Verduzco's supervisor, Victoria Binkerd. After speaking with Binkerd, LP decided against filing an official complaint. According to Plaintiff, LP did not pursue the matter further because he did not want to risk damage to his friend ...


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