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Samaan v. Jones

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 23, 2019

NABIL SAMAAN, Plaintiff,
SCOTT R. JONES, Defendant.


         Defendant Scott Jones, the Sacramento County Sheriff, submitted a trial brief asserting plaintiff Nabil Samaan lacks standing to seek injunctive relief in this action in the form of a court order mandating defendant issue him a permit to carry a concealed weapon (“CCW permit”). Trial Br., ECF No. 79. Plaintiff opposes, Opp'n, ECF No. 87, and defendant has replied, Reply, ECF No. 88. The court has considered the parties' briefing and, as explained below, finds plaintiff lacks standing to seek injunctive relief. The court therefore DISMISSES the sole remaining claim in this case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This First Amendment retaliation case arises from defendant's revocation of plaintiff's CCW permit in March 2016. See First Am. Compl., ECF No. 17, at 2-4; Summ. J. Order, ECF No. 69, at 1-7. Plaintiff contends defendant, in his official capacity as the Sacramento County Sheriff, wrongfully revoked his permit in retaliation for plaintiff's exercising his First Amendment right to free speech; specifically, in retaliation for emails plaintiff sent to County officials during previous disputes. See Summ. J. Order at 1-7. This is the only claim proceeding to trial in this matter. See Id. at 22 (granting defendants summary judgment on all claims other than First Amendment retaliation claim against defendant Jones arising from emails). Plaintiff seeks only injunctive relief in the form of a court order mandating defendant issue him a CCW permit. Parties' Joint Pretrial Statement (“JPTS”), ECF No. 70, at 5. Since initiating this case, in or about September 2018, plaintiff moved from Sacramento County to his current residence in Placer County; plaintiff certified in the parties' October 25, 2018 Joint Pretrial Statement he “is no longer a resident of, nor does he have a principal place of business in, the County of Sacramento.” Id. at 3.

         Defendant submitted his trial brief contesting plaintiff's standing on March 18, 2019, Trial Br., and plaintiff responded on June 21, 2019, Opp'n, after the court ordered him to do so, ECF No. 86. Defendant then filed his reply, representing for the first time that plaintiff now has obtained a CCW permit from Placer County. ECF No. 88. Defendant submitted along with his reply brief a copy of a CCW permit issued to plaintiff by the Placer County Sheriff on February 13, 2019. Placer County CCW Permit, ECF No. 88-1. In light of defendant's new assertions, the court ordered plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be dismissed. Order to Show Cause (“OSC”), ECF No. 89. Plaintiff responded and continued to assert he has standing. OSC Resp, ECF No. 92. Defendant then filed a reply to the OSC. OSC Reply, ECF No. 97.


         Defendant argues plaintiff lacks standing to seek injunctive relief because plaintiff cannot demonstrate any real or immediate threat of repeated injury. Trial Br. at 3; Reply at 3. Specifically, defendant contends that by moving out of Sacramento County and obtaining a CCW permit from Placer County, plaintiff mooted his claim for injunctive relief. Reply at 3. Defendant further contends his revocation of plaintiff's CCW permit did not preclude plaintiff from reapplying for or being reissued a CCW permit in Sacramento County. Trial Br. at 3. Plaintiff asserts he still has standing to proceed in this action. Opp'n at 2; OSC Resp. at 1-2.

         A. Legal Standard: Standing

         Standing is an “essential component” of the case or controversy requirement of Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution. Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 940 (9th Cir. 2003). To satisfy Article III's standing requirements, a plaintiff must show (1) he has suffered an “injury in fact” that is concrete and particularized and actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, not merely speculative, that a favorable decision would redress the injury. Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000) (citing Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)). A plaintiff must demonstrate standing “with respect to each form of relief sought, whether it be injunctive relief, damages, or civil penalties.” Bates v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 511 F.3d 974, 985 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Laidlaw, 528 U.S. at 185).

         A plaintiff seeking injunctive relief, as here, “must demonstrate that he has suffered or is threatened with a ‘concrete and particularized' legal harm, coupled with ‘a sufficient likelihood that he will again be wronged in a similar way.'” Id. (internal citation omitted) (quoting first Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560, and then City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 111 (1983)). The latter inquiry turns on whether the plaintiff has a “real and immediate threat of repeated injury.” Id. (internal quotations omitted) (quoting O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 496 (1974)). The threat of future injury cannot be “conjectural or hypothetical” but must be “certainly impending” to constitute an injury in fact for injunctive relief purposes. Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 889 F.3d 956, 967 (9th Cir. 2018) (emphasis omitted). “In addition, the claimed threat of injury must be likely to be redressed by the prospective injunctive relief.” Bates, 511 F.3d at 985-86 (citing Graham v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, 149 F.3d 997, 1003 (9th Cir. 1998), abrogated on other grounds by Levin v. Commerce Energy, Inc., 560 U.S. 413 (2010)).

         B. Mootness

         Defendant contends he no longer has authority to issue plaintiff a CCW permit because plaintiff no longer resides in Sacramento County. Reply at 3. Defendant further argues even if plaintiff's move out of Sacramento County does not moot plaintiff's claim, by obtaining a CCW permit from Placer County plaintiff has already obtained the relief he seeks in this lawsuit. Id. Plaintiff opposes both arguments. Opp'n at 3; OSC Resp. at 1-2.

         A federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction when the controversy before it becomes moot. In re Burrell, 415 F.3d 994, 998 (9th Cir. 2005). “[A] case is moot when the issues presented are no longer ‘live' or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome.” Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 496 (1969). A case becomes moot when there is no reasonable expectation that the alleged violation will recur and “interim relief or events have completely and irrevocably eradicated the effects of the alleged violation.” Los Angeles County v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631 (1979); see also Scott v. Pasadena Unified Sch. Dist., 306 F.3d 646, 656 (9th Cir. 2002) (“An action will be moot only if ‘[a] determination . . . of the legal issues tendered by the parties is no longer necessary to compel . . . and could not serve to prevent' the action from which one party seeks relief.” (alteration in original) (quoting DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 317 (1974))). Thus, “[t]he basic question in determining mootness is whether there is a present controversy as to which effective relief can be granted.” Nw. Envtl. Def. Ctr. v. Gordon, 849 F.2d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Geophysical Corp. of Alaska, 732 F.3d 693, 698 (9th Cir. 1984)).

         1. Plaintiff's Residence

         Defendant argues regardless of whether plaintiff's Placer County CCW permit affects his standing, plaintiff's move out of Sacramento County moots his claim for injunctive relief because defendant no longer has jurisdiction to issue plaintiff a CCW permit. Trial Br. at 3; Reply at 4; OSC Reply at 3-4. California Penal Code section 26150 permits the sheriff of a county to issue a CCW permit to a person upon proof of four criteria. Cal. Penal Code § 26150(a)(1)-(4). One of these criteria is that: “The applicant is a resident of the county or a city within the county, or the applicant's principal place of employment or business is in the county or a city within the county and the applicant spends a substantial period of time in that place of employment or business.” Id. ...

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