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Hernandez v. County of Los Angeles

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 17, 2017

MIGUEL HERNANDEZ, ANNA HERNANDEZ, A.A.H., a minor, and A.H., a minor, by and through their guardian ad Litem, CELIA HERNANDEZ, individually and as successors in interest to MIGUEL A. HERNANDEZ, deceased, and A.I.H., a minor by and through his guardian ad litem, LAKEN TAMBUNTING, individually and as successor in interest to MIGUEL A. HERNANDEZ, deceased, Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES; NATHAN GILLESPIE; and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.


          LAW OFFICES OF DALE K. GALIPO LAW OFFICES OF JOHN BURTON Dale K. Galipo, Esq. Renee V. Masongsong, Esq. John Burton, Esq. Attorneys for Plaintiffs

          Judge John F. Walter Judge.


          Honorable Suzanne H. Seal United States District/Magistrate Judge.


         Discovery in this action is likely to involve production of confidential, proprietary, or private information for which special protection from public disclosure and from use for any purpose other than prosecuting this litigation may be warranted. Accordingly, the parties hereby stipulate to and petition the Court to enter the following Stipulated Protective Order. The parties acknowledge that this Order does not confer blanket protections on all disclosures or responses to discovery and that the protection it affords from public disclosure and use extends only to the limited information or items that are entitled to confidential treatment under the applicable legal principles. The parties further acknowledge, as set forth in Section 12.3, below, that this Stipulated Protective Order does not entitle them to file confidential information under seal; Civil Local Rule 79-5 sets forth the procedures that must be followed and the standards that will be applied when a party seeks permission from the court to file material under seal.


         In this case plaintiffs are making claims of unlawful arrest, detention, excessive force, Monell claims, and wrongful death against the defendants. Plaintiffs have requested internal investigation reports, personnel file of Deputy Nathan Gillespie, written policies, medical records, criminal histories of Miguel Hernandez and Michael Mofford, autopsy report, and disciplinary information. Some of these documents are confidential and/or are not available to the general public, and also contain sensitive personal/private information about third parties. Plaintiffs have also requested dispatch calls and other Sheriffs Department radio communications concerning the incident in this case. These recordings also contain information about unrelated matters and third parties.

         The United States Supreme Court has recognized the importance of protective orders to safeguard the privacy of individuals. See Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 34-37(1984). The Ninth Circuit has stated that discovery should be more limited with regard to third parties to protect them from harassment, inconvenience, or disclosure of confidential documents. Dart Industries Co. v. Westwood Chemical Co., 649 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1980). Further, under California law peace officer personnel records are confidential. California Evidence Code Sections 1043, 1045; Pitchess v. Super.Ct. (Echeveria) (1974) 11 C3d 531, 537-540, 113 CR 897, 901-903. In this case, the documents and data sought implicate privacy rights for Deputy Nathan Gillespie as well as third parties.

         Additionally, documents on these matters contain confidential and sensitive information regarding the workings of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department. General disclosure of this information would harm such interests and prevent the Department from effectively performing its duties to the public. Therefore, the Sheriffs Department has a strong security interest in preventing general disclosure of this information.

         Plaintiff is requesting all Sheriffs Department written guidelines, policies and procedures. These documents and communications also are not generally available to the public and contain sensitive and confidential information concerning the operation of the Sheriffs Department. General knowledge of the policies and procedures of the Sheriffs Department would endanger the security of Sheriffs Department personnel who perform their duties, as criminals, detainees and arrestees could anticipate Department tactics, thus nullifying their effectiveness and threatening the safety of law enforcement personnel. See Kelly v. City of San Jose (N.D. Cal. 1987)114 F.R.D. 653, 666. ("A police department's interest in not permitting the general public to have access to such materials [manuals and memoranda on law enforcement policies] may be weighty. Legitimate law enforcement efforts could be frustrated, and the lives of officers could be endangered, if anyone who wanted to could learn details about how officers are trained to accomplish their missions in specific situations.")

         Accordingly, to expedite the flow of information, to facilitate the prompt resolution of disputes over confidentiality of discovery materials, to adequately protect information the parties are entitled to keep confidential, to ensure that the parties are permitted reasonable necessary uses of such material in preparation for and in the conduct of trial, to address their handling at the end of the litigation, and serve the ends of justice, a protective order for such information is justified in this matter. It is the intent of the parties that information will not be designated as confidential for tactical reasons and that nothing be so designated without a good faith belief that it has been maintained in a confidential, non-public manner, and there is good cause why it should not be part of the public record of this case.

         2. DEFINITIONS

         2.1 Action: this pending federal law suit 2.2 Challenging Party: a Party or Non-Party that challenges the designation of information or items under this Order.

         2.3 "CONFIDENTIAL" Information or Items: information (regardless of how it is generated, stored or maintained) or tangible things that qualify for protection under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), and as specified above in the Good Cause Statement.

         2.4 Counsel: Outside Counsel of Record and House Counsel (as well as their support staff).

         2.5 Designating Party: a Party or Non-Party that designates information or items that it produces in disclosures or in responses to discovery as "CONFIDENTIAL" or "ATTORNEYS EYES ONLY." 2.6 Disclosure or Discovery Material: all items or information, regardless of the medium or manner in which it is generated, stored, or maintained (including, among other things, testimony, transcripts, and tangible things), that are produced or generated in disclosures or responses to discovery in this matter.

         2.7 Expert: a person with specialized knowledge or experience in a matter pertinent to the litigation who has been retained by a Party or its counsel to serve as an expert witness or as a consultant in this Action.

         2.8 House Counsel: attorneys who are employees of a party to this Action. House Counsel does not include Outside Counsel of Record or any other outside counsel.

         2.9 Non-Party: any natural person, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity not named as a Party to this action.

         2.10 Outside Counsel of Record: attorneys who are not employees of a party to this Action but are retained to represent or advise a party to this Action and have appeared in this Action on behalf of that party or are affiliated with a law firm which has appeared on behalf of that party, and includes support staff.

         2.11 Party: any party to this Action, including all of its officers, directors, employees, consultants, retained experts, and Outside Counsel of Record (and their support staffs).

         2.12 Producing Party: a Party or Non-Party that produces Disclosure or Discovery Material in this Action.

         2.13 Professional Vendors: persons or entities that provide litigation support services (e.g., photocopying, videotaping, translating, preparing exhibits or demonstrations, and organizing, storing, or retrieving data in any form or medium) and their employees and subcontractors.

         2.14 Protected Material: Disclosure or Discovery Material that is designated as "CONFIDENTIAL" or "ATTORNEYS EYES ONLY" including:

(i) Personnel file for Nathan Gillespie
(ii) Internal Affairs/Homicide investigation file
(iii) Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department written guidelines, policies, ...

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