United States District Court, E.D. California
GUILLERMO BONILLA-CHIRINOS and SANDRA HERNANDEZ, individually and as guardians ad litem of J.B., a minor, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF WEST SACRAMENTO and police officers KENNETH FELLOWS, MICHELLE TATE, ANTHONY HERRERA, THOMAS MAGGIANO, JENNIFER GRILLAT, ERIC ANGLE, MATTHEW LUIZ, and DAVID STALLIONS, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.
ORDER RE: MINOR'S COMPROMISE
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Guillermo Bonilla-Chirinos and Sandra Hernandez, individually
and on behalf of their son J.B., brought this action against
defendants the City of West Sacramento (“the
City”) and several West Sacramento police officers
alleging, among other things, that defendants used excessive
force in arresting them and violated their Fourteenth
Amendment right to familial association. After the court
granted summary judgment in whole or in part as to several
claims and defendants (Docket No. 40) and the Ninth Circuit
found that qualified immunity applied to plaintiffs'
Fourteenth Amendment familial association claims (Docket No.
90), the only claims remaining are plaintiffs' excessive
force claims against Kenneth Fellows, Michelle Tate, and
Anthony Herrera. J.B.'s sole remaining claim is that
defendant Herrera used excessive force against him by
pointing a shotgun in his direction during his parents'
arrest at their residence.
the case was remanded by the Ninth Circuit, the parties
settled the case and plaintiffs now seek approval of the
settlement for J.B., a minor. (Docket No. 101.) The court
held a hearing on plaintiff's Motion to Approve
Minor's Compromise on January 13, 2020.
the Eastern District of California's Local Rules, the
court must approve the settlement of the claims of a minor.
E.D. Cal. L.R. 202(b). The party moving for approval of the
settlement must provide the court “information as may
be required to enable the [c]ourt to determine the fairness
of the settlement or compromise[.]” Id. at
L.R. 202(b)(2); see also Robidoux v. Rosengren, 638
F.3d 1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 2011) (stating that district courts
have a duty “to safeguard the interests of minor
plaintiffs” that requires them to “determine
whether the net amount distributed to each minor plaintiff in
the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable[.]”).
Robidoux, the Ninth Circuit specifically instructed
district courts to “limit the scope of their review to
the question whether the net amount distributed to each minor
plaintiff in the settlement is fair and reasonable, in light
of the facts of the case, the minor's specific claim, and
recovery in similar cases.” 638 F.3d at 1181-82.
the proposed settlement, plaintiff Sandra Hernandez will
receive $9, 800 and plaintiffs Guillermo Bonilla-Chirinos and
J.B. will receive no compensation. (Mot. 2 (Docket No.
101).) While the court has some concern about a
settlement which provides no compensation to minor J.B., the
court recognizes plaintiffs' representations that (1)
there were no claims by J.B. that he suffered any physical
injuries or physical abuse at the hands of defendants; (2)
J.B.'s excessive force claim was unlikely to succeed with
a jury and was weaker than his claim for deprivation of
familial association, which was dismissed by the Ninth
Circuit; (3) J.B. has difficulty remembering and articulating
how the incident emotionally impacted him, which would make
it difficult to prove damages to a jury; (4) the time and
expenses involved in trying the claim greatly outweigh the
nominal damages he might receive from a jury; (5) the jury
would likely reject J.B.'s claim, leading to taxation of
statutory costs against him; and (6) his mother's claim
for emotional and physical damages was the strongest of the
remaining claims in this case. (Mot. 3-5.) The court further
recognizes that defendants have vigorously defended this
case, including successfully obtaining a reversal of this
court's denial of qualified immunity as to
plaintiff's deprivation of familial association claim,
and defendants continue to deny any liability.
court, having considered all of the papers on file as well as
the parties' representations at the hearing on this
motion, finds that the settlement is fair and reasonable and
in the best interests of minor J.B., given all of the
circumstances of this case, notwithstanding the fact that he
will receive no compensation. See E.D. Cal. L.R. 202(b);
see also Robidoux, 638 F.3d at 1179. Accordingly,
the court will approve the settlement of plaintiffs'
claims against defendants and will grant plaintiffs'
Motion to Approve Minor's Compromise.
THEREFORE ORDERED that the Motion to Approve Minor's
Compromise (Docket No. 101) be, and the same hereby is,
 Plaintiffs do not state what portion
of this settlement amount, if any, will be deducted for
 Indeed, at the hearing on the motion,
J.B.'s mother stated that while he has some memory of the
events at issue in the complaint, he did not remember a gun
being pointed at him.
 Plaintiffs cite no case involving a
minor's compromise where the minor received no
compensation, though the court notes that if plaintiffs had
simply dismissed J.B.'s claim, no approval of the court
would be required. This settlement of J.B.'s claim for no
compensation, but ...