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Year in Review: 2017 California Public Entity Cases

CLAIM PRESENTATION

  • Santos v. Los Angeles Unified School District, 17 Cal.App.5th 1065 (2017)
    • Summary judgment based on non-compliance with Tort Claim Act reversed in a motor vehicle accident case where there are triable issues as to whether the Los Angeles Unified School District misled the plaintiff as to the relationship between the school district and the Los Angeles School Police Department, whose driver was involved in the accident, so that the school district is equitably estopped from asserting the noncompliance defense.
  • J.M. v. Huntington Beach Union High School District, 2 Cal.5th 648 (2017)
    • Petition for relief from tort claim requirements presented by minor who was injured in school football game was properly denied because minor failed to present timely claim, timely application for late claim relief, and timely petition, and minor’s estoppel claims based on school district’s failure to send him written notice of the deemed denial of his application for late claim rejected because school district not required to provide such notice.

DISCOVERY

  • Haniff v. Superior Court, 9 Cal.App.5th 191 (2017)
    • Plaintiff cannot be compelled to undergo a vocational rehabilitation examination because such an examination is not expressly authorized under the Civil Discovery Act.

INVERSE CONDEMNATION

  • County of San Mateo v. Superior Court, 13 Cal.App.5th 724 (2017)
    • A city tree is a work of public improvement for inverse condemnation purposes only when the tree is deliberately planted by or at the direction of the public entity as part of a planned project or design serving a public purpose or use.

TRAIL IMMUNITY

  • Toeppe v. City of San Diego, 13 Cal.App.5th 921 (2017)
    • Summary judgment granted based on trail immunity reversed because plaintiff, who was injured when a eucalyptus tree fell on her while walking on a trail in a city park, did not base her dangerous condition cause of action on the condition of the trail, but on the failure to maintain the tree.
  • Garcia v. American Golf Corp., 11 Cal.App.5th 532 (2017)
    • Summary judgment based on trial immunity arising out of plaintiffs being hit by an errant golf ball while on an adjacent trail reversed based on holding that a city-owned golf course cannot assert trail immunity when: (1) the golf course is adjacent to a trail abutting a public street; (2) the golf course is a commercially operated, revenue-generating enterprise; (3) the golf course has a dangerous condition that exposes people outside it to a risk of harm from third parties hitting errant golf balls; and (4) the dangerous condition of the golf course caused harm to a user of the trail.

NATURAL CONDITION IMMUNITY

  • County of San Mateo v. Superior Court, 13 Cal.App.5th 724 (2017)
    • Minor plaintiff was injured when a tree fell on his tent; Court found triable issues of fact as to whether a campsite with amenities such as a picnic table, fire pit, and metal foot locker is unimproved so that the natural condition immunity applied.

PUBLIC RECORDS ACT

  • City of San Jose v. Superior Court, 2 Cal.5th 608 (2017)
    • City employee’s writings concerning public business are not excluded from disclosure under the Public Records Act merely because they were sent or received using personal account

POLICE LIABILITY CASES

  • S.B. v. County of San Diego, 864 F.3d 1010 (9th Cir. 2017)
    • Qualified immunity granted for deadly force because general excessive force principles do not generally create clearly established law; to deny qualified immunity requires identification of “a case where an officer acting under similar circumstances … was held to have violated the Fourth Amendment.”
  • County of Los Angeles v. Mendez, 137 S. Ct. 1539 (U.S. Supreme Court 2017)
    • The United States Supreme Court struck down the Ninth Circuit’s provocation rule and reiterated that Fourth Amendment use-of-force is only examined under the Graham
  • Lowry v. City of San Diego, 858 F. 3d 1248 (9th Cir. 2017) (en banc)
    • Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment. The case arose from officers’ response to an office building burglar alarm. Upon arriving on-scene within minutes and finding an open door to a suite, police called-out (including a canine warning). When no one responded, the dog was sent in. The dog bit a worker sleeping on a couch. In finding the force reasonable, the Court noted: (1) the moderate nature of the force; (2) the reasonable belief there was a burglary-in-progress (and the dangerousness of such calls); (3) that a warning about the dog were given; (4) the subject did not respond to those warnings; and (5) the dog’s off-leash deployment was reasonable for officer safety.
  • Klein v. City of Beverly Hills, 865 F.3d 1276 (9th Cir. 2017) 
    • The Ninth Circuit addressed the accrual date for search-related judicial deception claims. The panel held that “the discovery rule applies to a judicial deception claim” and that Mr. Klein’s claim “began accruing when the underlying affidavit became reasonably available.” It then found his claim timely, noting his diligent but unsuccessful efforts to obtain the search warrant in the case.

This document is intended to provide you with general information about legal developments. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have questions about the contents of this alert, please contact Kimberly Chin at 415-697-3455 or at kchin@aghwlaw.com; or Kevin Allen at 415-697-3459 or at kallen@aghwlaw.com. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.