United States District Court, S.D. California
D.C., a minor by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, Helen Garter, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; JESSIE POLINSKY CHILDREN'S CENTER; and SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO STAY CASE [DOC. NO.
Michael M. Anello United States District Judge
D.C., a minor, has filed this putative class action through
his guardian ad litem pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging Defendants violated his and putative class
members' constitutional rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
See Doc. No. 19. Defendant County of San
Diego now moves the Court to stay this action.
See Doc. No. 47. The Court found the matter suitable
for determination on the papers and without oral argument
pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the following
reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to stay the
contests the constitutionality of medical examinations
conducted on children at Polinsky Children's Center
(“Polinsky”), “a 24-hour facility for the
temporary emergency shelter of children who are separated
from their families.” See First Amended
Complaint (“FAC”), Doc. No. 19 ¶ 10.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in May 2014, the San
Diego County Health and Human Services Agency
(“HHSA”), an agency of Defendant San Diego
County, determined that Plaintiff “had been injured
while in the custody of his father, and that the injury was
suspicious for child abuse.” FAC ¶ 21. On August
20, 2014, Plaintiff alleges his mother, Katy Evans, was on a
ship pursuant to her duties as a Petty Officer First Class in
the United States Navy. The FAC states that a friend of
Evans's, Wes Bowen, was caring for Plaintiff that day.
Plaintiff was two years old at the time. While in Bowen's
care, Plaintiff purportedly fell and scraped his forehead.
Plaintiff alleges Bowen informed Evans immediately, and Evans
contacted Defendant HHSA.
August 21, 2014, Plaintiff alleges his father had a
supervised visit with him during which the supervisor did not
monitor his father adequately. Plaintiff contends that on
August 22, 2014, he was examined by a child abuse specialist
at the Chadwick Center for Children and Families. Chadwick
Center is a “hospital-based child advocacy and trauma
treatment center.” See FAC ¶ 24. The
specialist allegedly concluded Plaintiff's injuries to
his forehead were likely caused by an accident, but found a
small bruise behind his right ear which she found suspicious
of child abuse because it was similar to the injury
Plaintiff's father had inflicted on Plaintiff in May
2014. Plaintiff alleges that he was then removed from
Evans's control and care.
August 22, 2014, Plaintiff alleges he was taken to Polinsky
and upon his arrival, he was given a “cursory
‘wellness' check by staff” and placed into
the general population. See FAC ¶ 26. The next
morning, Plaintiff contends he was subjected to a physical
examination, including an external examination of his
genitalia and rectum. He alleges that his mother was not
notified of the examination, was not present for it, and did
not consent to it. Plaintiff contends that there were no
exigent circumstances to justify the examination, nor had the
County or its agents obtained a court order or warrant.
on the examination at Polinsky, Plaintiff alleges a violation
of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable
investigatory searches, and a violation of his Fourteenth
Amendment right to family association. Plaintiff contends
that Defendant County is liable to him and putative class
members because Polinsky maintained, and may still maintain,
a policy, custom, and practice of subjecting all children
admitted to Polinksy to the same “22-point”
physical examination that Plaintiff was subjected to within
24 hours of their admittance. See FAC ¶ 30. The
FAC states that the County's policy, custom, and practice
explicitly prohibits parents from attending the examinations,
and that County physicians routinely conduct the examinations
without first notifying the children's parents or legal
guardians, and without a court order, warrant, or the
presence of exigent circumstances.
district court has discretionary power to stay proceedings in
its own court under Landis v. North American
Co.” Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d
1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Landis v. North
American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). “The
power to stay a case is ‘incidental to the power
inherent in every court to control the disposition of the
causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for
itself, for counsel, and for litigants.'”
Halliwell v. A-T Sols., No. 13-CV-2014-H KSC, 2014
WL 4472724, at *7 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 10, 2014) (quoting
Landis, 299 U.S. at 254). A district court may stay
a case “pending resolution of independent proceedings
which bear upon the case, ” even if those proceedings
are not “necessarily controlling of the action before
the court.” See Leyva v. Certified Grocers of
California, Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-64 (9th Cir. 1979).
However, “[o]nly in rare circumstances will a litigant
in one cause be compelled to stand aside while a litigant in
another settles the rule of law that will define the rights
of both.” See Landis, 299 U.S. at 255.
determining whether to grant a stay pursuant to
Landis, courts in the Ninth Circuit weigh the
“competing interests which will be affected by the
granting or refusal to grant a stay, ” including
“the possible damage which may result from the granting
of a stay, the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer
in being required to go forward, and the orderly course of
justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating
of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be
expected to result from a stay.” See Lockyer,
398 F.3d at 1110 (quoting CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300
F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962)).
judicial economy and case management concerns “standing
alone [are] not necessarily  sufficient ground[s] to stay
proceedings.” See Dependable Highway Exp., Inc. v.
Navigators Ins. Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066 (9th Cir.
2007); Yong v. I.N.S., 208 F.3d 1116, 1119 (9th Cir.
2000) (stating “considerations of judicial economy . .
. cannot justify  indefinite, and potentially lengthy
stay[s]”). Further, “if there is even a fair
possibility that the stay for which [the movant] prays will
work damage to some one else, ” the movant “must
make out a clear case of hardship or inequity in being
required to go forward.” See Landis, 299 U.S.
at 255; Dependable Highway Exp., Inc., 498 F.3d at
1066. The Ninth Circuit has instructed that “being
required to defend a suit, without more, does not constitute
a ‘clear case of hardship or inequity' within the
meaning of Landis.” See Lockyer, 398
F.3d at 1112. Also, courts in the Ninth Circuit have
indicated that the potential harm of delaying a plaintiff
injunctive relief weighs more heavily against granting a stay
than the potential harm to a plaintiff seeking only monetary
relief. See Lockyer, 398 F.3d at 1112; I.K. ex
rel. E.K. v. Sylvan Union Sch. Dist., 681 F.Supp.2d
1179, 1191 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (“Delayed reception of
ordinary money damages, however, is not a type of potential
damage that is particularly weighty under a Landis
analysis.”); Aldapa v. Fowler Packing Co.,
Inc., No. 115CV00420DADSAB, 2016 WL 6124216, at *1 (E.D.
Cal. Oct. 20, 2016) (“[S]taying a suit seeking
injunctive relief against ongoing or future harm causes a
more significant hardship against a plaintiff resisting a
stay than a suit for damages.”).
“[a] stay should not be granted unless it appears
likely the other proceedings will be concluded within a
reasonable time in relation to the urgency of the claims
presented to the court.” Leyva, 593 F.2d at
864. “Generally, stays should not be indefinite in
nature.” See Dependable Highway Exp., Inc.,
498 F.3d at 1066. The Ninth Circuit has stated that even a
stay that terminates “upon the ‘resolution of
[an] appeal'” has an indefinite term because the
Supreme Court could grant certiorari to review the appellate
court's decision, or the appellate court could remand to
the district court for further proceedings. Yong,
208 F.3d at 1119. Thus, a district court should give due
weight to the requested length of a stay in exercising their
discretionary power to stay proceedings. See id.
Request for ...