LAWRENCE AND SPRENGER Obtain Summary Judgment in Unlawful Seizure/Excessive Force Case

On November 8, 2016, USDC Judge George H. Wu granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Fontana and Fontana Police Chief Rodney Jones in Navarro v. City of Fontana, Case No. 15-cv-1650-GW (GJSx), an unlawful seizure and excessive force case brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Fontana police officers made contact with Plaintiff in a motel parking lot, where he was walking with his wife and his three children. During the officers’ interaction with Plaintiff, he appeared to swallow some drugs that he had in his pocket.

Plaintiff alleged that the officers used excessive force to unlawfully detain, search, and arrest him. Plaintiff also alleged that the City and Police Department maintained a custom of unlawful seizures and unreasonable force, inadequately training their officers, and ratified unlawful conduct of their officers. On summary judgment, LBAC argued that Plaintiff’s nolo contendere plea to violating Penal Code § 148 barred those claims under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and judicially estopped him from pursuing those claims. As to Plaintiff’s Monell claim, LBAC argued that Plaintiff had no evidence that the City or Chief Jones were deliberately indifferent or that they ratified the allegedly unlawful conduct. The Court adopted all of LBAC’s arguments, granted the Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety, and entered judgment in favor of the City and Chief Jones.

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