United States District Court, S.D. California
SAN DIEGO BRANCH OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, et al., Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO RELIEVE
PLAINTIFFS FROM CLAIM FILING REQUIREMENTS (ECF NO.
JANIS L. SAMMARTINO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Relieve
Plaintiffs From Claim Filing Requirements Under California
Government Code Section 945.4, (“MTN, ” ECF No.
48). Also before the Court is Defendants City of El Cajon and
Jeff Davis's Opposition to the Motion, (“Davis
Opp'n, ” ECF No. 50), Defendants County of San
Diego and Sheriff Gore's Opposition to the Motion,
(“Gore Opp'n, ” ECF No. 51), and
Plaintiffs' Reply, (ECF No. 56). After considering the
Parties' arguments and the law, the Court rules as
Andrew Pastor, Anthony Jimenez, Carl Box, Eric Bidwell, Eric
Burney II, Ian Whitehouse, Jaimie Wilson, Jean Vilsaint, Jeff
Provanzano, Levandis Carter, Michael Feinstein, and Teagan
Daniels (“Plaintiffs”) seek relief from the claim
filing requirements of California Government Code §
945.4 to add state law claims to the present action. (MTN
Plaintiffs request the Court grant leave to file a Third
Amended Complaint alleging state law claims arising from the
same facts and circumstances already alleged in the operative
complaint. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiffs seek to add a
claim for violation of the Bane Act (Cal. Civil Code §
52.1),  and state law claims for false
arrest/imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. (Id. at 3.)
incidents at issue occurred in early October 2016 and
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint later that month.
(See ECF No. 1.) In January 2017, Plaintiffs allege they
prepared the state law claims to be asserted against
Defendants, but, due to counsel error, neglected to serve the
claims on Defendants. (MTN 3.) In May 2017, Plaintiffs
submitted petitions to Defendants the City of El Cajon and
County of San Diego to file late claims pursuant to Cal. Gov.
Code § 911.4. (Id.) Both Defendants denied
Plaintiffs' petitions within the month. (Id. at
4.) In August 2017, Plaintiffs filed the present Motion
seeking relief from this Court.
has sovereign immunity against tort claims for money damages,
but the California Tort Claims Act (“CTCA”)
provides a limited waiver of this immunity. Under the CTCA, a
plaintiff can bring tort claims against state and local
public entities only if the plaintiffs comply with the strict
procedural requirements enumerated in the CTCA. See Cal.
Gov. Code § 815. Among the procedural prerequisites
for suit is the CTCA's requirement that a claimant file a
written claim with the proper public entity. See Id.
§§ 905.2, 910, 911.2, 945.4. The claim must be
presented to the relevant public entity no later than six
months after the cause of action accrued. Id. §
911.2. If the claim is not presented within that time, a
written application may be made to the public entity for
leave to present the late claim. Id. § 911.4.
The application must be presented to the public entity
“within a reasonable time not to exceed one year after
the accrual of the cause of action and shall state the reason
for the delay in presenting the claim.” Id.
application is denied, the claimant's recourse is to file
a petition with “a superior court that would be a
proper court for the trial of an action on the cause of
action to which the claim relates.” Id. §
946.6. “The granting of a petition under section
946.6 allows the petitioner to bypass the claims
procedure altogether, and does not then require the re-filing
of a late claim.” Perez v. Escondido, 165
F.Supp.2d 1111, 1115 (S.D. Cal. 2001).
Whether this Court Has Jurisdiction to Grant Relief
argue this Court does not have jurisdiction to hear this
Motion because Plaintiffs were required to file a petition in
the California superior court to be relieved of
California's government claim requirements prior to
bringing their claims under state law. (Davis Opp'n 5
(citing Government Code § 946.6).) Plaintiff argues this
Court does have jurisdiction, and cites Perez v.
Escondido, which held: “There is no plain language
in section 946.6 depriving this Court of
jurisdiction.” (MTN 5 (quoting 165 F.Supp.2d at 1115).)
Ninth Circuit has not decided whether a federal court, rather
than a state court, has jurisdiction to rule on a petition
for leave to file a late claim, and there is a split of
authority among California's district courts.”
Garza v. Alvara, 2016 WL 4921542 (E.D. Cal. July 8,
2016) (citing cases regarding the split of authority);
see also Medina v. Lopez, No. 1:14-cv-01850-GSA
(PC), 2015 WL 1405284, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 26, 2015)
(finding the district court does not have authority to grant
the relief pursuant to § 946.6 requested by the
plaintiff); Underwood v. Knowles, No.
1:08-cv-00986-GSA PC, 2009 WL 577662, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Mar.
3, 2009) (same); Ovando v. City of Los Angeles, 92
F.Supp.2d 1011, 1022 (C.D. Cal. 2000) (“[F]ederal
district courts have jurisdiction to consider whether the
claimant has complied with the Act; the question presented by
a § 946.6 petition, however, is whether a
claimant should be relieved of his obligations under
the Act and is separate from the merits and not properly
within a federal court's subject matter
jurisdiction.”). The majority of courts hold the
district court does not have jurisdiction to rule on a §
946.6 petition, with two outlier cases holding the opposite.
See Perez, 165 F.Supp.2d at 1115; Rahimi v.
AMTRAK, No. C 08-4712 MEJ, 2009 WL 1883756, at *3-4
(N.D. Cal. June 30, 2009) (citing and following
Perez). But, as Defendants and other courts
have pointed out, Perez
relied in part on the language of § 946.6 . . .
[that] predated amendments that went into effect in 2002.
Prior to 2002, § 946.6(a) in pertinent part
stated that the ‘proper court for filing the petition
is a court which would be a competent court for the
trial of an action on the cause of action to which the claim
relates and which is located in a county or judicial district
which would be a proper place for the trial of the
action.' Cal. Gov. Code § 946.6(a) (2001 ed.)
(emphasis added). . . . However, since 2002, the language of
§ 946.6(a) has become more specific. The ‘proper
court' for obtaining relief is no longer ‘a court,
' rather it is now ‘a superior court.'
See Cal. Gov. Code § 946.6(a). Section 946.6(a)
could have been left unamended with respect to specifically
identifying the proper court, but it was changed.”
Hill v. City of Clovis, No. 1:11-cv-1391 AWI SMS,
2012 WL 787609, at *12 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2012). The court in
Rahimi relied on Perez in finding the
district court had jurisdiction to hear the motion, but the
court did not address the change in the language of Gov. Code
§ 946.6. See 2009 WL 1883756, at *3-4. The
Court concurs with Hill and the majority of cases