764 F.2d 703 (9th Cir. 1985), 84-2169, Ortega v. O'Connor

Docket Nº:84-2169.
Citation:764 F.2d 703
Party Name:Magno J. ORTEGA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Dennis M. O'CONNOR, Executive Director, Napa State Hospital; Richard Friday, Business Manager, Napa State Hospital, Dorothy Owen, Personnel Officer, Napa State Hospital; Stefan Donoviel, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:June 27, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 703

764 F.2d 703 (9th Cir. 1985)

Magno J. ORTEGA, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Dennis M. O'CONNOR, Executive Director, Napa State Hospital;

Richard Friday, Business Manager, Napa State Hospital,

Dorothy Owen, Personnel Officer, Napa State Hospital;

Stefan Donoviel, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 84-2169.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 27, 1985

Argued and Submitted April 11, 1985.

Page 704

Gilbert T. Graham, San Francisco, Cal., for plaintiff-appellant.

Teresa Tan, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Francisco, Cal., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Before SCHROEDER, NELSON and REINHARDT, Circuit Judges.

NELSON, Circuit Judge:

Magno Ortega appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment against him in an action alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and state law. We reverse and remand with respect to Ortega's section 1983 claim and affirm the grant of summary judgment against Ortega on his pendent state claims.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Ortega, a state licensed physician and psychiatrist, held the position of Chief of Professional Education at Napa State Hospital ("Napa"), a public institution operated and owned by the State of California. In July 1981, Ortega became the subject of an investigation into the management practices of his department. Dennis O'Connor, Executive Director of Napa, asked Ortega to take vacation leave during the investigation and not to return without O'Connor's written approval. Upon expiration of Ortega's vacation, O'Connor placed Ortega on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation. The investigation concerned the propriety of the acquisition of a computer and sexual harassment charges.

On August 17, 1981, a hospital staff member informed O'Connor that Ortega had told his secretary that he had taken the computer to his home. O'Connor apparently believed that the computer belonged to the hospital, though in fact, Ortega had acquired the computer with his own funds and with funds donated by resident physicians. Although Ortega routinely took the computer home over weekends, O'Connor became concerned and directed four hospital officials to enter Ortega's office and investigate the matter.

Upon entering Ortega's office, the investigating officials attempted to sort through the items that they found, which included many of Ortega's personal belongings and papers. The officials took some of the items for use in the ongoing investigation of Ortega. The lock on the door to Ortega's office was changed, and Napa personnel eventually removed the items from the office for storage in a special locked area, where they were available for Ortega to pick them up.

The office, located on Napa's campus, had been assigned to Ortega in his capacity as Chief of Professional Education. Ortega had occupied the office for seventeen years and his name was on the door. He alleged that he kept the office locked at all times when he was not in it and was the only person who had a key. Ortega believed that no one else had ever entered his office without his permission during his tenure. Napa contends that the investigating officials believed that the computer was state property and that they believed that state records and files in Ortega's office needed protection. The computer, however, was not kept in Ortega's private office, but in an adjacent room, and the state records and files were located in the secretaries' office.

Page 705

Napa contends that established hospital policy was to inventory property in the offices of departing or...

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