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Pinnock v. Doe

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 19, 2014

MARLENE M. PINNOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE; CHP COMMISSIONER JOSEPH FARROW; C.H.P. OFC.D. ANDREW #20470; C.H.P. INVESTIGATOR S. TAKETA #16454; DOES 2-10, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY ACTION [34]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Marlene M. Pinnock filed this action after Defendant California Highway Patrol ("CHP") Officer Daniel Andrew allegedly struck her 10 to 15 times on the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles, California. CHP conducted an internal investigation of the incident and then turned the matter over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. In light of the pending investigation, Andrew moves to stay the action for 90 days to preserve his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and ability to defend this lawsuit. The Court finds that a brief stay is warranted and thus GRANTS Andrew's Motion. (ECF No. 34.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On July 1, 2014, Pinnock was walking along the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles, California, around La Brea Avenue. (FAC ¶ 12.) Andrew, a CHP officer, addressed her by name. ( Id. ) Pinnock responded that she was going to leave the freeway. ( Id. ) She began exiting the freeway and was then thrown to the ground. ( Id. ) Andrew repeatedly punched Pinnock on her temples, face, and shoulders 10 to 15 times. ( Id.; ¶ 22) Pinnock told the officer to "stop" because she had not done anything to him. ( Id. ¶ 12) After Pinnock turned slightly, Andrew ripped her dress. ( Id. ) Andrew, assisted by another officer, then arrested Pinnock. ( Id. ) The incident was caught on video tape by three passersby. ( Id. ¶¶ 17-19.)

Since the incident, Andrew has been under investigation by CHP and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. (Schwartz Decl.) CHP has finished its investigation and turned the matter over to the District Attorney to make the decision whether to criminally prosecute Andrew. ( Id. )

On July 17, 2014, Pinnock filed this action against Andrew, CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow, and CHP Investigator S. Taketa. (ECF No. 1.) Pinnock alleges claims for civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; conspiracy to violate civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3); Monell liability; and claims under California's Ralph and Bane Acts. ( Id. ) On August 19, 2014, Defendants filed a series of motions to dismiss and strike. (ECF Nos. 18-20, 25.) Andrew then filed this Motion to Stay Action for 90 days pending the District Attorney's review of the incident. (ECF No. 34.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

The Constitution does not ordinarily require a stay of civil proceedings pending the outcome of related criminal proceedings. Keating v. Office of Thrift Supervision, 45 F.3d 322, 324 (9th Cir. 1995.) It is constitutionally permissible for a defendant to have to choose between testifying in a civil matter and asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege. Id. While a stay is an "extraordinary remedy that should be granted only when justice so requires, " Chao v. Fleming, 489 F.Supp.2d 1034, 1037 (W.D. Mich. 2007), a court may decide in its discretion to stay civil proceedings when the interests of justice require it. Federal Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Molinaro, 889 F.2d 899 (9th Cir. 1989).

In deciding whether to stay civil proceedings in light of parallel criminal proceedings, the Ninth Circuit has expounded various factors a court should consider, including (1) the extent to which the civil case implicates the defendant's Fifth Amendment rights; (2) the plaintiff's interests in proceeding expeditiously and potential prejudice resulting from a delay; (3) judicial efficiency; (4) the interests of nonparties; and (5) the public's interests in the pending civil and criminal litigation. Keating, 45 F.3d at 324-25.

IV. DISCUSSION

After considering all of the Keating factors, the Court finds that the extent to which Andrew's Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination would be implicated in this action justify a 90-day stay to determine whether the District Attorney will pursue criminal prosecution.

A. Extent to which Andrew's Fifth Amendment rights are implicated

While the extent to which a defendant's Fifth Amendment rights are implicated is a significant factor, it is only one consideration a court must weigh against the others. Keating, 45 F.3d at 326. Courts have recognized that there is a strong case in favor of a stay after a grand jury returns a criminal indictment and where there is a large degree of overlap between the facts involved in both cases. See Molinaro, 889 F.2d at 903; Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v. Dresser Indus., 628 F.2d 1368, 1375-76 (D.C. Cir. 1980); Chao v. Fleming, 498 F.Supp.2d 1034, 1037 (W.D. Mich. 2007); McCormick v. Rexroth, No. C 09-4188 JF, 2010 WL 934242, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 15, 2010). But a stay is not necessarily warranted where a defendant's Fifth Amendment rights can be protected ...


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