J.C. A Minor By v. Beverly Hills Unified Sch. Dist.

Citation711 F.Supp.2d 1094
Decision Date06 May 2010
Docket NumberNo. CV 08-03824 SVW (CWx).,CV 08-03824 SVW (CWx).
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of California
PartiesJ.C., a minor by and through her guardian ad litem R.C., Plaintiff,v.BEVERLY HILLS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT; Erik Warren, both in his individual capacity and as principal of Beverly Vista School, Cherryne Lue-Sang, both in her individual capacity and as assistant principal of Beverly Vista School; and Janice Hart, both in her individual capacity and as an employee of Beverly Vista School, Defendants.



Evan Seth Cohen, S. Martin Keleti, Cohen and Cohen, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff.

Gary R. Gibeaut, Nancy Ann Mahan-Lamb, Gibeaut Mahan and Briscoe, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendants.


STEPHEN V. WILSON, District Judge.


Plaintiff J.C. brought this action against the Beverly Hills Unified School District, and school administrators Erik Warren, Cherryne Lue-Sang, and Janice Hart (“the individual Defendants), for the alleged violation of her constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, as well as damages against the individual defendants, and nominal damages in the amount of $1.00 against the School District.

The parties have brought cross motions for summary adjudication. Plaintiff J.C. seeks summary adjudication as to her First and Second Causes of Action against the individual Defendants and the District for the alleged violation of her First Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also seeks summary adjudication on her Third Cause of Action for violation of her right of due process, also under section 1983.

The individual Defendants, Warren, Hart, and Lue-Sang, seek summary adjudication as to the First Cause of action for money damages on the grounds of qualified immunity.

For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for summary adjudication as to the First and Second Causes of Action. An order regarding Plaintiff's due process claim, the Third Cause of Action, will follow shortly.

The Court also GRANTS the individual Defendants' motion for summary adjudication. The individual Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's First Cause of Action for money damages.


The following material facts are undisputed. Plaintiff J.C. was a student at Beverly Vista High School (“the School”) in May 2008. Individual Defendant Erik Warren (Warren) is, and at all relevant times was, the principal of the School. Individual Defendants Cherryne Lue-Sang (Lue Sang) and Janice Hart (Hart) are, and at all relevant times, were the administrative principal and counselor at the School, respectively.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 27, 2008, after the students had been dismissed from the School for the day, Plaintiff and several other students gathered at a local restaurant. (Plaintiff's Statement of Undisputed Facts in Support of Motion for Summary Adjudication [“PSUF”] 1.) While at the restaurant, Plaintiff recorded a four-minute and thirty-six second video of her friends talking. (PSUF 7.) The video was recorded on Plaintiff's personal video-recording device. ( Id.) The video shows Plaintiff's friends talking about a classmate of theirs, C.C. (PSUF 8.) One of Plaintiff's friends, R.S., calls C.C. a “slut,” says that C.C. is “spoiled,” talks about “boners,” and uses profanity during the recording. (Defendants' Statement of Uncontroverted Facts in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Adjudication [“DSUF”] 7; Declaration of J.C. in Support of Pl.'s Mot. For Summ. Adjudication [“J.C. Supporting Decl.”], Exh. 1 [YouTube video].) R.S. also says that C.C. is “the ugliest piece of shit I've ever seen in my whole life.” (J.C. Supporting Decl., Exh. 1 [YouTube video].) During the video, J.C. is heard encouraging R.S. to continue to talk about C.C., telling her to “continue with the Carina rant.” (DSUF 9.)

In the evening on the same day, Plaintiff posted the video on the website “YouTube” from her home computer. (DSUF 10.) YouTube is a publicly-available website where persons can post video clips for viewing by the general public. While at home that evening, Plaintiff contacted 5 to 10 students from the School and told them to look at the video on YouTube. She also contacted C.C. and informed her of the video. (DSUF 11-12.) C.C. told Plaintiff that she thought the video was mean. (Declaration of John W. Allen in Opp'n to Pl. Mot. For Summary Judgment [Allen Opp'n Decl.”], Exh. H, [J.C. Depo. at 53:25-54:17].) Plaintiff asked C.C. whether she would like Plaintiff to take the video off the website, but C.C. asked her to keep the video up. ( Id. at 53:25-54:17.) C.C.'s mother told C.C. to tell Plaintiff to keep the video on the website so that they could present the video to the School the next day. (DSUF at 17.)

Plaintiff estimates that about 15 people saw the video the night it was posted. The video itself received 90 “hits” on the evening of May 27, 2008, many from Plaintiff herself. (DSUF 13-14.)

On May 28, 2008, at the start of the school day, Plaintiff overheard 10 students discussing the video on campus. (DSUF 15.) C.C. was very upset about the video and came to the School with her mother on the morning of May 28, 2008 so they could make the School aware of the video. C.C. spoke with school counselor Hart about the video. She was crying and told Hart that she did not want to go to class. (DSUF 18, 20.) C.C. said she faced “humiliation” and had “hurt feelings.” (PSUF 20.) Hart spent roughly 20-25 minutes counseling C.C. and convincing her to go to class. (DSUF 22.) C.C. did return to class, and the record indicates that she likely missed only part of a single class that morning. ( Id.; Declaration of John Allen In Support of Def.'s Mot. For Summary Judgment [“Allen Supporting Decl.”], Exh. N [Lue Sang Depo. at 15:4-11] [testifying that she met with C.C. and her mother for, at most, 45 minutes].)

School administrators then investigated the making of the video. Lue-Sang viewed the video while on the school campus. (Decl. of S. Martin Keleti in Support of Pl. Mot. [“Keleti Supporting Decl.”], Exh. A [“Lue-Sang Depo. at 95:4-7].”) She called Plaintiff to the administrative office to write a statement about the video. (PSUF 13.) Lue-Sang and Hart also demanded that Plaintiff delete the video from YouTube, and from her home computer. (PSUF 17.) School administrators questioned the other students in the video, including R.S., V.G., and A.B., and asked each of them to make a written statement about the video. (DSUF 25.) R.S.'s father came to the School and watched the video with R.S. on campus. (DSUF 23.) He then took R.S. home for the rest of the day. ( Id.)

Lue-Sang and Hart also contacted principal Warren regarding the video. (PSUF 15.) Warren then contacted Amy Lambert, the Director of Pupil Personnel for the District, regarding whether the School could take disciplinary action against Plaintiff for posting the video on the Internet. (DSUF 37.) Lambert discussed the situation with attorneys and advised Warren that Plaintiff could be suspended. (DSUF 38.) Plaintiff was suspended from school for two days. (PSUF 25.) No disciplinary action was taken against the other students in the video. (PSUF 27.)

Plaintiff had a prior history of videotaping teachers at the School. In April 2008, Plaintiff was suspended for secretly videotaping her teachers, and was told not to make further videotapes on campus. (DSUF 43-44.) During the investigation about the YouTube video on May 28, 2008, school administrators also discovered another video posted by Plaintiff on YouTube of two friends talking on campus. (DSUF 41.) It is unclear when this video was recorded or posted on the Internet, but it clearly was made while J.C. was at School. 2

Students at the School cannot access YouTube or other social networking websites on the School's computers, as those websites are blocked by means of a filter. (PSUF 29.) Certain cell phones can access the Internet, including the YouTube website, and allow the user to view videos. (DSUF 35.) However, the School is not aware of how many students have cell phones with that capability. (PSUF 31.) Students at the School are prohibited from using their cell phones on campus in any manner. (PSUF 30.) There is no evidence that any student viewed the YouTube video on his or her cell phone while at School. The only instances the video was viewed on campus, to the parties' knowledge, were during the school administrator's investigation of the video.

III. ANALYSISA. Legal Standard

Rule 56(c) requires summary judgment for the moving party when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Tarin v. County of Los Angeles, 123 F.3d 1259, 1263 (9th Cir.1997).

The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If that party bears the burden of proof at trial, it must affirmatively establish all elements of its legal claim. See Southern Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885 (9th Cir.2003) (per curiam). Otherwise, the moving party may satisfy its Rule 56(c) burden by ‘showing’-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548.

Once the moving party has met its initial burden, Rule 56(e) requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and identify specific...

To continue reading

Request your trial
19 cases
  • Doe v. Hopkinton Pub. Sch., CIVIL ACTION NO. 19-11384-WGY
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • 22 Septiembre 2020
    ...that could reasonably lead school officials to forecast disruption." Pls.’ Mem. 12 (quoting J.C. ex re R.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified Sch. Dist., 711 F. Supp. 2d 1094, 1111 (C.D. Cal. 2010) ). Finally, they argue that, as matter of law, the type of emotional harm inflicted on Roe does not qu......
  • Sagehorn v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 728, Civil No. 14–1930 (JRT/BRT).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Minnesota
    • 11 Agosto 2015
    ...complex and ill-defined area, particularly where the internet complicates the campus boundaries. J.C. ex rel. R.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified Sch. Dist., 711 F.Supp.2d 1094, 1125 (C.D.Cal.2010) ("The Supreme Court has yet to address whether off-campus speech posted on the Internet, which subs......
  • T.V. ex rel. B.V. v. Smith-Green Cmty. Sch. Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • 10 Agosto 2011
    ...the team or the school, much less disruption that is “substantial” or “material.” Consider, for example, J.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified School District, 711 F.Supp.2d 1094 (C.D.Cal.2010), where school administrators dealt with the aftermath of a student's video clip posted to the website “Yo......
  • J.S. v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • 13 Junio 2011
    ...34, 39 & n. 4 (2d Cir.2007) ( Tinker applies to off-campus speech in certain circumstances), J.C. ex rel. R.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified Sch. Dist., 711 F.Supp.2d 1094, 1104, 1107 (C.D.Cal.2010) (same), and Killion v. Franklin Reg'l Sch. Dist., 136 F.Supp.2d 446, 454–55 (W.D.Pa.2001). In my ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT