798 F.3d 895 (9th Cir. 2015), 13-55632, Patel v. City of Montclair

Docket Nº:13-55632
Citation:798 F.3d 895
Opinion Judge:Milan D. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judge:
Party Name:MAHESH PATEL; HOSPITALITY FRANCHISE SERVICE, INC., DBA Galleria Motel, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF MONTCLAIR, a municipal corporation; G. FONDARIO, Badge No. F943, Defendants-Appellees
Attorney:Frank A. Weiser, Los Angeles, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants. William Litvak and Gilbert Mikalian, Dapeer Rosenblit & Litvak LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before: Milan D. Smith, Jr. and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges and Royce C. Lamberth,[**] Senior District Judge. Opinion by Judge N.R. Smith.
Case Date:August 18, 2015
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 895

798 F.3d 895 (9th Cir. 2015)

MAHESH PATEL; HOSPITALITY FRANCHISE SERVICE, INC., DBA Galleria Motel, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF MONTCLAIR, a municipal corporation; G. FONDARIO, Badge No. F943, Defendants-Appellees

No. 13-55632

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 18, 2015

Submitted, Pasadena, California: June 1, 2015. [*]

Page 896

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No.2:11-cv-08637-MWF-SP. Michael W. Fitzgerald, District Judge, Presiding.

SYLLABUS

SUMMARY[***]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's order dismissing a complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that police officers violated plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights when they came onto the public areas of his motel and cited him for code violations observed in plain view.

The panel held that police officers do not conduct a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment merely by entering an area of private, commercial property that is open to the public.

Frank A. Weiser, Los Angeles, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

William Litvak and Gilbert Mikalian, Dapeer Rosenblit & Litvak LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Milan D. Smith, Jr. and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges and Royce C. Lamberth,[**] Senior District Judge. Opinion by Judge N.R. Smith.

OPINION

Page 897

Milan D. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judge:

Police officers do not conduct a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment merely by entering an area of private, commercial property that is open to the public. Therefore, we affirm the district court's order dismissing Mahesh Patel's complaint alleging that City of Montclair police officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

BACKGROUND

Mahesh Patel owned the corporation, Hospitality Franchise Service, Inc. (" HSF)" and the Galleria Motel, in Montclair, California.1 As its business, the Galleria Motel primarily rented rooms on an extended basis to middle-aged and elderly low-income residents receiving public assistance. These residents often could not find or afford other low-income housing.

Police officers for the City of Montclair came onto the public areas of the Galleria Motel and cited Patel for code violations observable in plain view. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Patel filed a lawsuit on behalf of himself and HFS against the City of Montclair and its police officers in 2011. The only allegation in the complaint (relevant to this appeal) was Patel's claim that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion, holding that neither Patel nor HFS had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the areas of the Galleria Motel that were open to the public. Patel timely appeals this determination.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

" A dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is reviewed de novo." Gant v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 772 F.3d 608, 614 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 2005)). " All allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id.

DISCUSSION

We must here determine whether police officers conduct a " search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when they come onto private, commercial property

Page 898

that is open to the public. In this case, police officers entered the public areas of the Galleria Motel and issued citations based on code violations they observed in plain view. Patel does not contend that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public areas of the Galleria Motel, which would be necessary under the line of cases beginning with Katz v. United States...

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