Trujillo v. City of Ontario, EDCV04-1015-VAP SGLX.

Citation428 F.Supp.2d 1094
Decision Date14 April 2006
Docket NumberNo. EDCV04-1015-VAP SGLX.,EDCV04-1015-VAP SGLX.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
PartiesSteven TRUJILLO; et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF ONTARIO, A Municipal Corporation; et al., Defendants.

Peter Eliasberg (argued) and Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, and Della Bahan, Puja Batra, and Peter Bibring of Bahan & Associates in Pasadena, CA, for plaintiffs.

Bruce Disenhouse of Kinkle, Rodiger & Spriggs in Riverside, CA, for Defendants.

AMENDED ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' AND DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

PHILLIPS, District Judge.

Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment came before this Court for hearing on March 20, 2006. After reviewing and considering all papers filed in support of, and in opposition to, the Motions, as well as the arguments advanced by counsel at the hearing, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on August 13, 2004, and their First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on October 28, 2004. Plaintiffs are officers of the City of Ontario Police Department ("OPD"). [FAC ¶¶ 3-9.] They allege that in 1996, Defendants secretly installed a video camera in the OPD's men's locker room. [Id. ¶¶ 1, 28-32.]

The Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification on April 14, 2005, certifying the following class: "[A]ll persons who were employed by the Ontario Police Department or volunteered for the Ontario Police Department, used the Department's men's locker room during the period in which the surveillance equipment was installed, and were recorded by the surveillance equipment." [April 14, 2005, Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification at 13.]

Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on September 29, 2005, adding Michael Thompson. [Compare SAC ¶¶ 15 and 30 with FAC ¶¶ 15 and 30.] The Second Amended Complaint alleges the following Claims: (1) violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) violation of Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution; and (3) common law invasion of privacy.

On October 17, 2005, counsel entered into a Stipulation to Dismiss Defendant Joe Sifuentes with prejudice from this action.

On February 21, 2006, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Motion For Partial Summary Judgment ("Pls.' Notice") and a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Pls. Mem. P. & A."), and lodged concurrently a Statement of Uncontroverted Facts and Conclusions of Law. Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment on liability against Defendants Brad Schneider, Michael Thompson, and the City of Ontario. [Pls. Notice at 2.] On March 6, 2006, Defendants filed an Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Pretrial [sic] Summary Judgment ("Defs.' Opp'n"). Plaintiffs filed a Reply Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Pls.' Reply") on March 13, 2006.

On February 21, 2006, Defendants filed a Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment and/or Summary Adjudication and a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment/Summary Adjudication of Issues ("Defs.' Mem. P. & A."). On March 6, 2006, Plaintiffs filed a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pls.' Opp'n") and a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts and Responses to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts concerning Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendants filed their Reply ("Defs.' Reply") on March 13, 2006.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment shall be granted when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party must show that "under the governing law, there can be but one reasonable conclusion as to the verdict." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

Generally, the burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that it is entitled to summary judgment. Margolis v. Ryan, 140 F.3d 850, 852 (9th Cir.1998); Retail Clerks Union Local 648 v. Hub Pharmacy, Inc., 707 F.2d 1030, 1033 (9th Cir.1983). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying the elements of the claim or defense and evidence that it believes demonstrates the absence of an issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

Where the moving party has the burden at trial, "that party must support its motion with" credible evidence ... that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 331, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The burden then shifts to the non-moving party "and requires that party . . . to produce evidentiary materials that demonstrate the existence of a `genuine issue' for trial. . ." Id.; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(e).

A genuine issue of material fact will exist "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Barlow v. Ground, 943 F.2d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir. 1991); T.W. Elec. Serv. Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630-31 (9th Cir.1987).

III. UNCONTROVERTED FACTS

The following material facts have been adequately supported by the moving parties and are uncontroverted. They are "admitted to exist without controversy" for the purposes of these Motions.1 See L.R. 56-3.

In 1996 and 1997, the OPD was located at 200 North Cherry Avenue. [Stipulation of Undisputed Facts and Stipulation as to Admissibility of Certain Documents for Motions for Summary Judgment and Partial Summary Judgment ("Stipulation") lodged on February 21, 2006.] In July 1996, OPD Officer Bret Larson ("Larson") filed a police report stating that his flashlight had been recently stolen from the men's locker room. [Stipulation.] The theft investigation was assigned to Defendant OPD Detective Brad Schneider ("Schneider"). [Stipulation.] In addition to the theft of the flashlight, Defendant Schneider had heard rumors of other thefts in the locker room. [Deposition of Brad Schneider ("Schneider Depo.") at 153:1-153:5.]

Sometime in 1996, as part of the investigation, Defendant Schneider arranged with Defendant Michael Thompson ("Thompson"), a non-employee of OPD and long time personal friend of Defendant Schneider, to have a surveillance camera ("the camera") installed behind a ceiling tile near one of the entrances to the locker room. [Stipulation; Schneider Depo. at 184:5-185:24, Deposition of Michael Thompson ("Thompson Decl.") at 10:11-11:19.] The camera was installed behind the tile in such a way that it was concealed from view. [Stipulation.] Defendant Thompson knew that the camera would record the male officers changing clothes in the locker room; however, he was unaware that the videotaping was "unlawful." [Deposition of Michael Thompson ("Thompson Depo.") at 13:15-13:17, 17:17-19:1, 40:5-41:1, 44:2-44:20.]

The camera was connected to a timelapse video cassette recorder ("the VCR") located in the office of the Communications Sergeant. [Stipulation.] No one from the OPD attempted to obtain a warrant, or obtained a warrant, for covert or overt video surveillance of the locker room. [Stipulation.]

All sworn male officers below the rank of Lieutenant who worked out of the North Cherry Avenue building, as opposed to off-site locations such as the airport narcotics unit, had a locker in the men's locker room. [Stipulation.] While the locker room contained showers, toilets, urinals, and sinks, the camera recorded only the area around Larson's locker. [Stipulation.] Defendant Schneider placed a "bait" bag in the area of Larson's locker because it was an area furthest from the showers and bathroom area and was a central area where the officers mingled while in the locker room. [Schneider Depo. at 157:11-157:20.]

Defendant Schneider told the investigators from the Sheriffs' Department that he remembered putting the bait bag out over a single weekend, that nothing was taken, and he was not sure if another member of the OPD took over the investigation after he was promoted. [Declaration of Peter Eliasberg ("Eliasberg Decl.") at Ex. 4, 9-11 of 17 in Declarations in Support of Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pls.' Decl. in Opp'n").] Defendant Schneider never placed a tape from the VCR into evidence. [Id. at 12 of 17.]

Officers regularly changed, showered, and used the sinks, toilets, and urinals in the locker room, whereas the general public used restroom facilities located in the lobby of the building. [Stipulation.] Suspects, arrestees, and persons being questioned had no access to the locker room. [Stipulation.]

The locker room was self-contained and accessible through one of two doors. [Stipulation.] Persons in the hallway outside the locker room could not see into it, unless one of the doors was held open. [Stipulation.] Suspects, arrestees, and persons being questioned had no access to the hallway outside the locker room. [Stipulation.]

There were no signs in the locker room or anywhere else in the OPD North Cherry Avenue Building announcing that the locker room was subject to video, audio, or photographic surveillance. [Stipulation.] OPD employees were never informed by OPD management, either orally or in writing, that they might be subject to video, audio, or photographic surveillance in the locker room. [S...

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