United States District Court, Central District of California
November 4, 2014
AARON RAISER, Plaintiff,
LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF, ET AL., Defendants
Aaron Raiser, Plaintiff, Pro se, Woodland Hills, CA.
For Los Angeles County Sheriff, Defendant: Rina Michelle Mathevosian, Nelson and Fulton, Los Angeles, CA.
SECOND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
RALPH ZAREFSKY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the undersigned submits this Second Report and Recommendation to the Honorable R. Gary Klausner, United States District Judge. On November 3, 2014, this matter came on for hearing on the motion by the only remaining defendant, Los Angeles County Sheriff (the County), for summary judgment. Rina M. Mathevosian of Nelson & Fulton appeared for the County. The pro se plaintiff, Aaron Raiser, did not appear.
Plaintiff describes himself as a " mobile homeless" white male who lives nomadically in his car in the greater Los Angeles area. He claims that the County has a policy or custom of improperly harassing and briefly detaining parked motorists, and that this policy underlay his being detained on several occasions, although only two occurred in the two years prior to this lawsuit. (Plaintiff also sued 25 DOE deputies, but the Court has dismissed them from the action.) But Plaintiff cites no " Monell evidence" of such a County policy or practice and only cites his prior detentions and future fears. The undersigned thus recommends granting the County's motion for summary judgment.
According to the complaint, Plaintiff was detained at his parked car on several occasions by County deputies, when similarly parked persons were not detained. Typically, a deputy asked Plaintiff for identification and an explanation for Plaintiff's presence at the location, during which time Plaintiff was not free to leave. He contends that he was never reasonably suspected of any illegal conduct, although he supplies no foundation for that allegation. Plaintiff blames these detentions on County policies or customs, including improper training. He claims that the detentions, while brief, violated his constitutional rights to equal protection and against unreasonable search and seizure.
B. County's Motion For Summary Judgment
Among other things, the County points to the absence of evidence of any policy of the sort(s) alleged. (Defendant does not point out the absence of evidence of a custom, per se, in its opening brief, although (a) Defendant does so in its Reply, and, (b) in any event, perhaps Defendant intended " policy" to include any well-entrenched but unofficial custom or practice.)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
" The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of showing there is no genuine issue for trial, before the nonmoving party must introduce evidence. But the moving party is not initially required to introduce evidence negating an element on which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial (although the moving party may, and often does, do so). Rather, the moving party need only point out to the Court that, on at least one such element, no evidence supports the non-moving party's case. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 815 (9th Cir. 1994).
Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading but rather must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
DISCUSSION: NO MONELL EVIDENCE
Subdivisions of states, like the County, can only be liable in a federal civil rights action if their official policies or unofficial but entrenched practices were the moving force behind a violation of the plaintiff's rights. See generally City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 389, 109 S.Ct. 1197, 103 L.Ed.2d 412 (1989); Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 692-95, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). The County notes that there is no " Monell evidence" of any policy at all, including any bearing on roadside detentions or related training. See Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ ¶ 1-2.
In opposition, Plaintiff cites no evidence about any such policy or custom. (He also purports to testify, without foundation, that he was not suspected of any wrongdoing when approached by deputies. Plaintiff is not a mind reader. That testimony is inadmissible.) Instead, he only reiterates that deputies detained him on several occasions, as alleged in the complaint -- only two of which occurred within the two-year limitations period prior to this action. (Indeed, prior to one instance each in 2011 and 2013, see Pl.'s Affidavit ¶ ¶ 2-4, Plaintiff must go back several years, to 2007, for his next-most-recent detention.) He makes no pretense of having evidence of an official policy . Nor do a few isolated actions by non-policymaking employees, namely the various DOE deputies -- again, only two since 2007 -- suffice as evidence of a custom . See Trevino v. Gates, 99 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 1996) (" Liability for [an] improper custom may not be predicated on isolated or sporadic incidents"). Without evidence of any County policy or practice, Plaintiff logically cannot prove that any County policy or practice was the moving force behind his alleged constitutional injuries. No material factual dispute exists to be tried. The Court should grant the County's motion.
For the foregoing reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the District Court --
(1) enter an Order (a) accepting the findings and conclusions in this Second Report and Recommendation and (b) granting Defendant Los Angeles County Sheriff's motion for summary judgment; and
(2) enter Judgment dismissing the action with prejudice as to the Los Angeles County Sheriff and without prejudice as to DOES 1-25.