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Garcia v. City of Fresno

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 2, 2018

ROSEANNE GARCIA., et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF FRESNO, et al., Defendants.


         Currently before the Court are a petition for minor's compromise by Plaintiff A.M., by and through his guardian ad litem Rachel Curtice (“Plaintiff A.M.”), and an amended petition for minor's compromise. (ECF Nos. 47, 50.) The matter was referred to the undersigned for issuance of findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. A hearing on the motion was set for April 11, 2018. The Court, having reviewed the record, finds this matter suitable for decision without oral argument. See Local Rule 230(g).[1]Accordingly, the previously scheduled hearing set for April 11, 2018, will be vacated and the parties will not be required to appear at that time.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In the early morning hours of August 7, 2015, Fresno Police Department Officer Clayton Smith responded to a call to investigate a man brandishing a firearm. When Officer Smith arrived, he attempted to arrest decedent Aaron Allen Marchese (“decedent”). Decedent turned away and pulled up his shirt. Officer Smith shot decedent twice.

         On September 9, 2016, this action was filed by Plaintiff Roseanne Garcia (“Plaintiff Garcia”). (ECF No. 1.) On September 27, 2016, Plaintiffs A.M. and Garcia (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed a first amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.) On September 27, 2016, Plaintiff A.M. filed a motion to appoint a guardian ad litem, his mother, Ms. Curtice. (ECF No. 12.) On September 29, 2016, Ms. Curtice was appointed guardian ad litem for Plaintiff A.M. (ECF No. 14.)

         On November 11, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff A.M., as an individual and successor in interest to decedent, brought claims for unreasonable detention and arrest, excessive force and denial of medical care, Monell liability, battery, negligence, false arrest or imprisonment, and violation of the Bane Act. Plaintiff Garcia brought a separate claim for interference with familial relationship.

         On January 29, 2018, Plaintiff A.M. and Defendants filed a stipulation dismissing Plaintiff A.M.'s claims with prejudice. (ECF No. 45.) However, as Plaintiff A.M. had not filed a motion or approval of a proposed settlement or compromise, the Court ordered Plaintiff A.M. to file a motion for approval of a proposed settlement or compromise. (ECF No. 46.)

         On March 5, 2018, Plaintiff A.M. filed a petition for minor's compromise. (ECF No. 47.) On March 30, 2018, Plaintiff A.M. filed an amended petition for minor's compromise.[2] (ECF No. 50.)


         Local Rule 202(b) states that “[n]o claim by or against a minor or incompetent person may be settled or compromised absent an order by the Court approving the settlement or compromise.” Any application for approval of a proposed settlement or compromise must disclose, among other things, the following:

the age and sex of the minor or incompetent, the nature of the causes of action to be settled or compromised, the facts and circumstances out of which the causes of action arose, including the time, place and persons involved, the manner in which the compromise amount or other consideration was determined, including such additional information as may be required to enable the Court to determine the fairness of the settlement or compromise....

Local Rule 202(b)(2).[3]

         “District courts have a special duty, derived from Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c), to safeguard the interests of litigants who are minors.” Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2011). “In the context of proposed settlements in suits involving minor plaintiffs, this special duty requires a district court to ‘conduct its own inquiry to determine whether the settlement serves the best interests of the minor.' ” Id. However, in Robidoux, the Ninth Circuit cautioned that this inquiry “requires only that the district court consider whether the net recovery of each minor plaintiff is fair and reasonable, without regard to the amount received by adult co-plaintiffs and what they have agreed to pay plaintiffs' counsel.” Id. at 1182 (holding that district court erred in denying settlement based solely on the proportion of the settlement going to plaintiffs' counsel).


         The petition for minor's compromise sets forth the required information. Plaintiff A.M. is 13 years of age. The minor's claims are based on the death of his father, the decedent, on August 7, 2015, when he was shot and killed by Defendant Smith. The injuries sustained by Plaintiff A.M. ...

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