Tekoh v. Cnty. of L. A.

Citation270 F.Supp.3d 1163
Decision Date31 August 2017
Docket NumberCV 16–7297–GW (SKx)
Parties Terence B. TEKOH v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, et al.
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of California

Maria Cavalluzzi, Cavalluzzi and Cavalluzzi, Hollywood, CA, John C. Burton, John Burton Law Offices, Pasadena, CA, for Terence B. Tekoh.

Rickey Ivie, Antonio K. Kizzie, Ivie McNeill and Wyatt APC, Los Angeles, CA, for County of Los Angeles, et al.



The Court's Final Decision on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication [40] is attached hereto.

Ruling on Motion for Summary Judgment
I. Background

Plaintiff Terence B. Tekoh ("Tekoh" or "Plaintiff") sues two Los Angeles Sheriff's Department ("LASD") sergeants: Carlos Vega ("Vega") and Dennis Stangeland ("Stangeland") for violations of his civil rights.1 See generally First Amended Complaint, Docket No. 37. Plaintiff asserts two claims of violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. First, Plaintiff alleges that Vega deprived him of his rights under the U.S. Constitution by: (1) arresting him without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) subjecting him to coercive custodial interrogation and generating an involuntary and false confession in violation of the Fifth Amendment; and (3) fabricating evidence to cause Plaintiff to be maliciously prosecuted in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. ¶ 47. Second, Plaintiff asserts that Stangeland violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by (among other things): (1) working in concert with Vega, subjecting Plaintiff to coercive interrogation and generating a false confession, which caused Plaintiff to be prosecuted in violation of the Fifth Amendment; (2) authorizing Vega to arrest Plaintiff without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and (3) filing a false, misleading, and incomplete police report. Id. ¶ 48.

Defendants now move for summary judgment or, in the alternative, partial summary judgment. See generally Defendants' First Amended Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion") and concomitant evidentiary materials, Docket No. 42; Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Opp'n"), Docket No. 45, and concomitant evidentiary materials, Docket Nos. 46–50; Defendants' Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition ("Reply"), Docket No. 55; Defendants' Response and Objections to Plaintiff's Statement of Genuine Disputes ("DRO"), Docket No. 56; and Defendants' Request for Evidentiary Ruling on Specified Objections, Docket No. 57.

II. Legal Standard As To Summary Judgments

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense—or the part of each claim or defense—on which summary judgment is sought, and the court shall grant it when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits/declarations show that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) ; see also Miranda v. City of Cornelius , 429 F.3d 858, 860 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005). As to materiality, "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is "genuine" if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

To satisfy its burden at summary judgment, a moving party with the burden of persuasion must establish "beyond controversy every essential element of its [claim or defense]." S. Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana , 336 F.3d 885, 888 (9th Cir. 2003) ; O'Connell & Stevenson, Rutter Group Prac. Guide: Fed. Civ. Proc. Before Trial ("Federal Practice Guide ") § 14:126 (2016); cf. Robi v. Five Platters, Inc. 918 F.2d 1439, 1441–42 (9th Cir. 1990) (noting summary judgment is a proper way to establish affirmative defenses, including issue preclusion) (citations omitted). By contrast, a moving party without the burden of persuasion "must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or show that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial." Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc. , 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000) ; see also Devereaux v. Abbey , 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc) ("When the nonmoving party has the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only point out ‘that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.’ ") (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986), and citing Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson , 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir. 2000) (holding that the Celotex "showing" can be made by "pointing out through argument ... the absence of evidence to support plaintiff's claim")).

If the party moving for summary judgment meets its initial burden of identifying for the court the portions of the materials on file that it believes demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party may not rely on the mere allegations in the pleadings in order to preclude summary judgment[, but instead] must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.

T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) (citing, among other cases, Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 ).

"A non-movant's bald assertions or a mere scintilla of evidence in his favor are both insufficient to withstand summary judgment." See FTC v. Stefanchik , 559 F.3d 924, 929 (9th Cir. 2009). In addition, the evidence presented by the parties must be admissible. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Conclusory, speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment. See Thornhill Publ'g Co., Inc. v. GTE Corp. , 594 F.2d 730, 738 (9th Cir. 1979). Relatedly, "[a]ny objections to declarations or other evidence must be made at or (preferably) before the hearing, and should be ruled upon by the court before ruling on the motion itself." Federal Practice Guide § 14:333 (citing Hollingsworth Solderless Terminal Co. v. Turley , 622 F.2d 1324, 1335 n.9 (9th Cir. 1980) ; Sigler v. American Honda Motor Co. , 532 F.3d 469, 480 (6th Cir. 2008) ). In judging evidence at the summary judgment stage, however, courts do not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, and must view all evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See T.W. Elec. Serv. , 809 F.2d at 630–31 (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) ); Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ("The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [the non-movant's] favor.").

"If the court does not grant all the relief requested by the motion, it may enter an order stating any material fact—including an item of damages or other relief—that is not genuinely in dispute and treating the fact as established in the case." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(g) ; see also Federal Practice Guide § 14:352 ("A partial summary judgment may be granted on motion of either party for adjudication of particular claims or defenses.") (citing id. § 14:33).

III. Evidentiary Rulings

Defendants object to certain evidence offered into the record by Plaintiff in his Opposition to the Motion. See generally Defendants' Evidentiary Objections ("DEO"), Docket No. 57. On a motion for summary judgment, "[a]dmissibility is determined under the Federal Rules of Evidence." Federal Practice Guide § 14:162.2. "An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose" a summary judgment motion "must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(4) ; see also Federal Practice Guide § 14:162.

An initial problem with the DEO is that it is not formulated in a manner in which the Court can make the necessary rulings on the objections contained therein. First, the DEO's initial pages contain a delineation of "general procedural and evidentiary rules"—some of which the Court agrees and some of which it disagrees. See Docket No. 57 at pages 4–10 of 138. However, while a court is obligated to make rulings on objections to evidence that are material to the motion, it is not required to critique a party's articulation of evidentiary rules. See Norse v. City of Santa Cruz , 629 F.3d 966, 973 (9th Cir. 2010) ("Before ordering summary judgment in a case, a district court must not only provide the parties with notice and an opportunity to respond to adverse arguments, it must also rule on evidentiary objections that are material to its ruling."). "An objection is material if the court has considered the evidence that is the subject of the objection." See Federal Practice Guide § 14:111.2.

Second, in the DEO at pages 9–35 (Docket No. 57 at pages 10–36 of 138), Defendants have placed pages from various declarations of the Plaintiff and his proffered witnesses and ask the Court to make a collective ruling of either "sustained" or "denied" on the included portions of each declaration in totality without further breakdown or specification. This Court will not make overbroad rulings nor will it do the work that counsel should have done—which is isolating relevant...

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  • Rogers v. Williams
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
    • 21 Mayo 2019
    ...an officer's tactics are so extreme as to undermine a suspect's ability to exercise free will." Tekoh v. County of Los Angeles, 270 F.Supp.3d 1163, 1176 (C.D. Cal. 2017) (citing Cunningham v. City of Wenatchee, 345 F.3d 802, 810 (9th Cir. 2003)) Here, the third amended complaint fails to al......

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