United States District Court, E.D. California
ZONE SPORTS CENTER, LLC, a California limited liability corporation; HEIDI BARBIS, as guardian ad litem for CLAIRE BARBIS, a minor, Plaintiffs,
BEN RODRIGUEZ, an individual, Defendant.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF ZONE SPORTS, LLC’S STANDING
UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT
K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Zone Sports Center, LLC (“Zone”) and Claire
Barbis, by and through her guardian ad litem Heidi Barbis
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”), filed this civil
rights suit against Defendant Benjamin Rodriquez
(“Defendant”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
At the pretrial conference held June 23, 2016, the Court
ordered the parties to brief the issue of whether Zone has
standing under the Fourth Amendment as to any of the four
properties searched on May 28, 2009, pursuant to a warrant
supported by Defendant’s affidavit. For the
reason’s set forth below, the Court finds that Zone
does not have standing under the Fourth Amendment as to any
of the four properties.
27, 2009, Defendant, a criminal investigator for the
California Department of Insurance Fraud, sought a search
warrant for four locations: 3950 N. Cedar Avenue, Fresno, CA
93711, and 4020 N. Cedar Avenue, Fresno, CA 93711(two
businesses); 4000 N. Cedar Avenue, Fresno, CA 93711 (a
storage building); and 2536 W. Stuart Avenue, Fresno, CA
93711 (the Barbises’ family home) (collectively
“the Properties”). Defendant believed that the
searches would uncover evidence of insurance fraud, various
types of workers’ compensation fraud, and unemployment
insurance code violations. The warrant was signed by a
Superior Court Judge, based upon a Statement of Probable
Cause submitted by Defendant. The Statement of Probable Cause
contained information attributed to Detective Rhames, a
detective with the Fresno Police Department. The search
warrant sought to seize various pieces of electronic
equipment and various types of business records. On May 28,
2009, at approximately 7:30 a.m., the search warrant was
executed at all four locations. Detective Rhames visited all
four locations during the execution of the search warrant.
amended complaint listed the following Plaintiffs: Milton
Barbis; Heidi Barbis; their daughter, Claire Barbis; Fresno
Rock Taco, LLC; The Fine Irishman, LLC; and Zone Sports
Center, LLC. The claims of Milton and Heidi Barbis, Fresno
Rock Taco, and The Fine Irishman were dismissed by this Court
because they were not disclosed to the Bankruptcy Court as
required by law. (Docs. 35 (dismissing claims because
Barbises had not disclosed their claims on their schedule of
assets); 64 (dismissing claims because the LLCs were wholly
owned by Milton Barbis and John Benjamin -- individuals who
had filed for bankruptcy -- and were not disclosed to the
bankruptcy court).) Zone was not dismissed from the complaint
because the Court found a genuine dispute remained as to
whether it was judicially estopped from bringing its
claims. (Doc. 64, p. 6.) The Court also dismissed
all claims against defendants Detective Rhames and the City
of Fresno. (Doc. 64.) At this time, the only remaining claims
in this case are Plaintiff’s claims for violation of
the Fourth Amendment.
before the Court is the issue of whether Zone Sports Center
has Fourth Amendment standing as to the Properties searched
pursuant to the warrant.
the Fourth Amendment, “[t]he right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause. . .
.” U.S. CONST. amend. IV. Application of this right
“depends on whether the person invoking its protection
can claim a justifiable, a reasonable, or a legitimate
expectation of privacy that has been invaded by government
action.” Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 740
(1979) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
person has standing to sue for a violation of this particular
“right of the people” only if there has been a
violation “as to him, ” personally. Mancusi
v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364, 367 (1968). In other words,
Fourth Amendment standing, unlike Article III standing,
“is a matter of substantive [F]ourth [A]mendment law;
to say that a party lacks [F]ourth [A]mendment standing is to
say that his reasonable expectation of privacy has not been
infringed.” United States v. Taketa, 923 F.2d
665, 669 (9th Cir. 1991). This follows from the Supreme
Court’s famous observation that the Fourth Amendment
“protects people, not places.” Katz v. United
States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967).
prevail on a Fourth Amendment claim, plaintiffs must allege
sufficient facts to show that they had a reasonable
expectation of privacy in the object of the search. A
reasonable expectation of privacy exists when: (1) a person
“manifest[s] a subjective expectation of privacy in the
object of the challenged search”; and (2)
“society [is] willing to recognize that expectation as
reasonable.” California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S.
207, 211 (1986) (citing Katz v. United States, 389
U.S. 347, 360 (1967) (Harlan, J., concurring)); see also
United States v. McKennon, 814 F.2d 1539, 1543 (11th
Cir. 1987) (the subjective prong is a factual inquiry).
must also allege sufficient facts to show that their
expectation of privacy was objectively reasonable. A
legitimate expectation of privacy “by definition means
more than a subjective expectation of not being
discovered.” United States v. Whaley, 779 F.2d
585, 590 (11th Cir. 1986) (internal quotation omitted).
Determining the legitimacy of a privacy expectation entails a
balancing of interests -- no single factor is determinative.
Oliver, 466 U.S. at 177. Although there is no
“talisman that determines in all cases those privacy
expectations that society is prepared to accept as
reasonable, ” O’Connor v. Ortega, 480
U.S. 709, 715 (1987), courts may consider “the uses to
which the individual has put a location . . . and our
societal understanding that certain areas deserve the most
scrupulous protection from government invasion, ”
Oliver v. U.S., 466 U.S. 170, 178 (1984); see
also McKennon, 814 F.2d at 1543 (the objective prong is
a question of law).
does not require solitude. . . . [E]ven ‘private’
business offices are often subject to the legitimate visits
of coworkers, supervisors, and the public, without defeating
the expectation of privacy unless the office is ‘so
open to fellow employees or the public that no expectation of
privacy is reasonable.’” United ...