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Doe v. City of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 1, 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, Dicks and Workman APC, San Diego, CA; Andrew J. Spielberger, Balaban & Spielberger LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Daniel K. Balaban, Balaban & Spielberger, LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Holly N. Boyer, Esner, Chang & Boyer, Pasadena, CA; Joseph Gary Dicks, DICKS & WORKMAN, APC, San Diego, CA.

For San Diego, City of, by and through the San Diego Police Department, a public entity, Defendant: 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 U-T San Diego, NBC 7, KGTV 10 News, Fox 5, KFMB News 8, Voice of San Diego, Intervenors: Guylyn Remmenga Cummins, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton, San Diego, CA.

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ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT CITY OF SAN DIEGO'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 201]

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

This action arises out of a March 8, 2011 incident in which Plaintiff Jane Doe (" Plaintiff" or " Doe" ) was sexually assaulted and battered by San Diego Police Department Officer Anthony Arevalos. Plaintiff, in part, seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). In the present motion, Defendant City of San Diego (the " City" ) moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff's Monell claim. [Doc. No. 201.] On February 24, 2014, the Court issued a tentative ruling denying the City's motion. Thereafter, the Court held a hearing on the matter. Upon consideration of the comprehensive record before the Court, including the written and oral arguments of counsel, the Court AFFIRMS its tentative ruling and DENIES the City's summary judgment motion. The Court's ruling today expresses no opinion as to the merits of Plaintiff's Monell claim; rather, it permits Plaintiff to present her claim to a jury as a contested question of fact.

Background[1]

Anthony Arevalos served as a police officer for the San Diego Police Department for nearly twenty years. On paper--in particular, his police personnel file--he was a standout officer; in practice, he was nothing but. Indeed, Arevalos' tenure with the SDPD included numerous complaints of sexual misconduct and other deviant behavior. Yet, despite repeated instances of misconduct, Arevalos' conduct went largely undocumented and was only minimally disciplined.

The City contends that Arevalos was a rogue officer who acted alone in his base behavior, and that the SDPD could not have known that he would sexually assault and batter a female arrestee. Plaintiff, however, paints a darker scene. She contends that the SDPD engages in a custom of condoning sexual and other serious misconduct by officers, and that a pervasive code of silence prevents officer misconduct from being discovered, investigated, and appropriately resolved. Accordingly, Plaintiff contends the City should be held liable for her injuries. The Court will outline the factual predicate for Plaintiff's claim and existing factual disputes in the discussion that follows.

Evidentiary Objections

The City of San Diego contends that the vast majority of evidence Plaintiff produces to support her opposition is inadmissible. The Court finds that many of the City's objections are well taken. In particular, Plaintiff has improperly supported her statement of facts by citing to the factual statements set forth by her expert witnesses in their reports rather

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than citing to facts in the record. This is improper: " The law is clear . . . that an expert report cannot be used to prove the existence of facts set forth therein." In re Citric Acid Litigation, 191 F.3d 1090, 1102 (9th Cir. 1999). Thus, to the extent Plaintiff relies solely on the expert reports to support her factual statement, the Court SUSTAINS Defendants' objection.[2] Additionally, the Court SUSTAINS Defendants' objections to Plaintiff's exhibits WW, YY, CCC, DDD, HHH through RRR, UUU, AAAA, CCCC, DDDD, KKKK, TTTT, UUUU, WWWW, XXXX, YYYY, and the declaration of " DB," attached to Linda Workman's supplemental declaration filed February 20, 2014. These exhibits either contain inadmissible hearsay, were not properly authenticated, are irrelevant, or were untimely filed.

All evidentiary objections not referenced herein are either overruled,[3] or the evidence in question was not material to the resolution of this motion, rendering the objections moot.

Legal Standard

A motion for summary judgment should be granted if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The purpose of summary judgment " is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses." Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for the motion, and identifying portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a triable issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630-31 (9th Cir. 1987).

If the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The opposing party " must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 588, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). When a party fails to properly address another party's assertions of fact, a court may consider these facts as undisputed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). If the motion and supporting materials, including facts considered undisputed, show the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court may grant the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3). Summary judgment is not appropriate if the non-moving party presents evidence from which a reasonable jury could resolve the disputed issue of material fact in his or her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Barlow v. Ground, 943 F.2d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir. 1991). However, " [w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to

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find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.

Discussion

The City moves for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff's evidence fails to raise a triable issue of fact that would allow a reasonable jury to find that Plaintiff has proven her Monell claim.

I. Monell Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 " provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508, 110 S.Ct. 2510, 110 L.Ed.2d 455 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989).

Municipalities cannot be held vicariously liable under section 1983 for the actions of their employees. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. " Instead, it is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983." Id. at 694.

To impose liability on a government entity, a plaintiff must show that " the municipality itself causes the constitutional violation through 'execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy.'" Ulrich v. City & County of San Francisco, 308 F.3d 968, 984 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 694). The asserted policy or custom need not be ...


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