On March 24, 2020, in Spangler v. County of Ventura, et al., a case handled by Rocco Zambito and Jim Eicher, LBAC successfully obtained affirmance of a lower court order granting summary judgment and awarding attorneys’ fees in favor of the County of Ventura. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff had alleged Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in a case arising out of a police chase involving a Ventura County Deputy Sheriff and the plaintiff’s adult son, who was observed riding a motorcycle and committing multiple traffic violations. While attempting to evade the Sheriff’s Deputy, the plaintiff’s son drove off a roadway and over a hillside, resulting in his death. On appeal, the plaintiff asserted that the District Court did not apply the proper standard in ruling on the plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment claim and erred in sanctioning the plaintiff for continuing to pursue frivolous claims. Following oral argument, which was Mr. Zambito’s first oral argument before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ever, the Court issued its decision affirming the District Court’s decision on all grounds, holding that the District Court correctly applied the “purpose-to-harm” standard in evaluating the plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment claim and did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees in favor of the County of Ventura.
On January 28, 2020, Natalie Price obtained summary judgment in favor of the County of Orange in a federal and state law discrimination and retaliation case, Vanessa Hamilton v. Orange County Sheriff’s Department, brought by a former Sheriff’s Department employee. Plaintiff argued that she was selected to work a mandatory overtime shift on account of her race and her previous lawsuit against the County (which LBAC also prevailed on summary judgment in September, 2018). Plaintiff further argued that, when she refused to work the mandatory overtime shift, the Department’s decision to terminate her was pretextual and racial discrimination and retaliation were the true motives. Ms. Price argued that Plaintiff had no evidence to support her contentions and that, even if there was some evidence, the indisputable evidence was that the Department terminated her because she failed to report for a mandatory overtime shift and she was untruthful with her supervisors and during the Internal Affairs investigation. Furthermore, even if Plaintiff could dispute the Department’s lawful reasons for terminating her employment, the County was still entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff could not establish that the County had a policy or custom of discrimination or retaliation.
On January 23, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Fourteenth Amendment claim against the County of Los Angeles in Sakamoto, et al. v. County of Los Angeles. In this case, an elderly man was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and detained for approximately 12 hours in the County jail before being released with a citation. His family members filed suit, alleging failure to protect, after the man failed to return home and was subsequently found dead not far from the jail. After obtaining voluntary dismissals of several state law claims and judgment on the pleadings for the remaining state law wrongful death claim, Emily Suhr and Raymond Sakai successfully obtained summary judgment as to the sole remaining Section 1983 claim by demonstrating that the County had no notice that the man would be unable to care for himself if released. In affirming the decision, the Ninth Circuit reiterated that no County employee acted with deliberate indifference to a known or obvious danger, precluding liability against the County.
On April 19, 2019, Mike Allen and Jin Choi successfully obtained an Order granting summary judgment as to all claims brought against the County of Los Angeles in a wrongful conviction case, Paul Blumberg vs. County of Los Angeles, et al. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2010, was a hard fought case over almost eight years of Central District of California and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals litigation. Continue reading
In an unpublished decision dated July 24, 2018, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Equal Protection and Due Process claims brought by various Plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Santa Monica and various individual Santa Monica employees in Miller v. City of Santa Monica, et al. Plaintiffs asserted that they had the right to operate a parking garage in the City of Santa Monica, but that that the City arbitrarily deprived them of their right to a permit, Continue reading