Lewis v. County of San Diego, 120919 FED9, 17-56346

Docket Nº:17-56346, 17-56421, 18-55148, 18-55306
Party Name:MICHAEL LEWIS; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; et al., Defendants-Appellees. MICHAEL LEWIS; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; et al., Defendants-Appellants. MICHAEL LEWIS; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendant-Appellant. LAUREN TAYLOR; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. COUNTY ...
Judge Panel:Before: WARDLAW and HURWITZ, Circuit Judges, and BATAILLON, District Judge.
Case Date:December 09, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

MICHAEL LEWIS; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; et al., Defendants-Appellees.

MICHAEL LEWIS; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; et al., Defendants-Appellants.

MICHAEL LEWIS; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendant-Appellant.

LAUREN TAYLOR; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendant-Appellee.

Nos. 17-56346, 17-56421, 18-55148, 18-55306

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 9, 2019

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Argued and Submitted October 17, 2019 Pasadena, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California Nos. 3:13-cv-02818-H-JMA, 3:13-cv-02818-H-JMA, 3:13-cv-02818-H-JMA, 3:13-cv-02818-H-JMA Marilyn L. Huff, District Judge, Presiding

Before: WARDLAW and HURWITZ, Circuit Judges, and BATAILLON, [**] District Judge.

MEMORANDUM [*]

These cross-appeals arise from the district court's entry of an amended judgment and award of $499, 509.00 in attorneys' fees against San Diego County for its warrantless removal of two children from their home. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

The jury returned a verdict finding that only the supervising social worker, Benita Jemison, 1 acted intentionally and unreasonably in instructing the social workers at the scene, Ian Baxter and Nancy Quinteros, to remove the children. But the jury also found that Jemison did not cause Fourth Amendment injury to the children and was not deliberately indifferent to the parents' Fourteenth Amendment rights. Despite finding no underlying constitutional violation, the jury found the County liable for failing to adequately train its social workers.

Although the district court found the jury's verdicts inconsistent, the parties agreed that it was unnecessary to call the jury back to deliberate further. Instead, they asked the court to resolve the inconsistency through post-trial motions. In an order denying the parties' post-trial motions, the district court amended the verdict to find that Jemison caused the children's Fourth Amendment injury as a matter of law and upheld the verdict against the County. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978).

1. Judgment as a matter of law may be granted where "the evidence permits only one reasonable conclusion, and that conclusion is contrary to the jury's verdict." Wallace v. City of San Diego, 479 F.3d 616, 624 (9th Cir. 2004). Because Baxter and Quinteros would not have removed the children unless Jemison ordered them to do so, the only reasonable conclusion permitted by the evidence is that Jemison caused a violation of the children's Fourth Amendment rights. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the County's motion to set aside the Monell verdict. See Transgo, Inc. v. Ajac Transmission Parts Corp., 768 F.2d 1001, 1014 (9th Cir. 1985) (standard of review).

2. We lack jurisdiction over the denial of the County's untimely motion challenging the Monell verdict as a matter of law. The County filed a timely "bare-bones motion" but stated no grounds for the motion in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7(b)(1). The County's supplemental brief-filed after the 28-day deadline-cannot cure its...

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