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2018 Mid-Year Review: California Public Entity Cases

***ADDENDUM***
The California Supreme Court has granted review to Big Oak Flat. In light of this development and the current legislative effort, we recommend that public entities wait to take action under Government Code section 935 until there is more legal clarity.

CLAIM PRESENTATION

  • Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District v. Superior Court (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 403*
    • Public entities are allowed to create and enforce their own claim presentation requirements for childhood sexual abuse claims under Government Code section 935 because childhood sexual abuse claims are not subject to the California Tort Claims Act pursuant to Government Code section 905.
    • *NOTE: The California Legislature is currently considering SB 1053, which, if passed, would amend Government Code section 935 so that it would not apply to claims of childhood sexual abuse. This legislation appears to be in response to the issues raised in Big Oak Flat and would prohibit public entities from creating their own claim presentation requirements for claims arising out of childhood sexual abuse.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

  • Regents of University of California v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 607
    • In overturning an appellate court decision finding UCLA owed no duty to a student who was killed by another student who was experiencing delusions and auditory hallucinations, the California Supreme Court held that colleges and universities are in a special relationship with their students and thus owe a duty of care to enrolled students who are at foreseeable risk of being harmed in a violent attack while participating in curricular activities at school.

TRAIL IMMUNITY

  • Arvizu v. City of Pasadena (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 760
    • The Courts of Appeal affirms that trail immunity applies not only to negligent maintenance of a trail, but also to claims arising from the design of a trail, such as the lack of warnings or guardrails or the location of the trail.

DAMAGES

  • Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics, LLC (2018) 22 Cal.App.5th 1266
    • Insured plaintiffs who opt to treat outside their insurance coverage are classified as if they are an uninsured plaintiff under Howell, thus allowing them to put into evidence, and possibly recover, the full amount of their medical bills.

POLICE LIABILITY CASES

  • Parker v. City of Los Angeles, 2018 WL 1078960 (9th Cir. 2018)
    • Summary judgment affirmed, dismissing Fourth Amendment claim for denial of medical care claim, where officer had inquired as to Plaintiff’s injury and whether he needed an ambulance, Plaintiff answered equivocally, and Plaintiff was ambulatory and left the scene on his own.
  • Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. 1148 (2018)
    • The U.S. Supreme Court granted qualified immunity to a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim, reversing Ninth Circuit denial, where an officer shot a woman carrying a large kitchen knife who had moved within a few feet of a potential victim and who failed to acknowledge at least two police commands to drop the knife.
  • Easley v. City of Riverside, 890 F. 3d 851 (9th Cir. 2018)
    • The Ninth Circuit held that, where a defendant pleads qualified immunity as an affirmative defense, a District Court has the power to grant the defense, regardless of whether defendant moved for summary judgment.

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; Kevin Allen at 415-697-3459 or at kallen@aghwlaw.com; or Christina Forst at 415-697-3469 or cforst@aghwlaw.com. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.