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Williams v. California of Californioa

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 19, 2014

ROBERT WILLIAMS, SR.; ROBIN FLEMING; LAVONIA WILLIAMS; PAYNE CARE CENTER; KINGSLEY HOME CARE; ROBERT WILLIAMS, II, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA; SAN GABRIEL POMONA REGIONAL CENTER; CLAIRE MATSUSHITA, in her individual and official capacities; R. KEITH PENMAN, in his individual and official capacities; CLAUDIA HEMINGWAY, in her individual and official capacities; ADRIANE PICAZO, in her individual and official capacities; LUCIANA GALARZA, in her individual and official capacities, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California October 10, 2013.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:11-cv-04803-GHK-AGR. George H. King, Chief District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal and adopted the district court's disposition in an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by two residential community care facilities and their employees alleging violations of their First Amendment right to freedom of religion when they were forced to provide direct staff support to a developmentally disabled client who wished to attend Jehovah's Witness services.

Plaintiff named as defendants Claire Matsushita, Regional Manager of the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services, and a regional community agency and its employees that contracted with the state to assist in implementation of California's Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, a statutory scheme enacted by the California legislature to provide services for developmentally disabled persons.

The panel affirmed (1) the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint against Matsushita because plaintiffs failed to allege specific facts against Matsushita other than to identify her title; (2) the district court's holding that defendants' interpretation of the Lanterman Act and its regulations did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments; and (3) the district court's denial of leave to amend because of futility of amendment.

Leo J. Terrell (argued), Beverly Hills, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Jeffrey Whittington (argued), Nicholas W. Sarris, Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP, Calabasas, California, for Defendants-Appellees San Gabriel Pomona Regional Center, R. Keith Penman, Claudia Hemingway, Adriane Picazo, and Luciana Galarza.

Donna M. Dean (argued), Deputy Attorney General, Office of the California Attorney General, Los Angeles, California, for Defendant-Appellee Claire Matsushita.

Before: Harry Pregerson, Kim McLane Wardlaw, and Richard C. Tallman, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1003

PER CURIAM:

Plaintiffs -- Payne Care Center, Kingsley Home Care Center, and their named employees -- appeal from the district court's dismissal of their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint. The complaint alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' First Amendment right to freedom of religion by forcing them to provide direct staff support to a developmentally disabled client who wished to attend Jehovah's Witness services.

After carefully reviewing the briefs and record, and reviewing de novo the district court's conclusions of law, we affirm: (1) the district court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' complaint against Defendant-Appellee Claire Matsushita because Plaintiffs failed to allege specific facts against Matsushita other than to identify her title; (2) the district court's holding that Defendants' interpretation of the Lanterman Act, Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § § 4500-4906, and its regulations, did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments; and (3) the district court's denial of leave to amend because of futility of amendment.

We commend the district court for its thoughtful and legally correct approach to this case. We thus adopt the district court's well-reasoned and comprehensive disposition, Williams v. California, 990 F.Supp.2d 1009 (C.D. Cal. 2012), and incorporate it here. We attach the disposition as Appendix A.

AFFIRMED.

APPENDIX A

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

Robert Williams, Sr., et al., Plaintiffs, v. State of California, et al., Defendants.

CASE NO. CV 11-4803-GHK (AGRx).

Signed March 23, 2012.

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