Vincent v. Reyes, Case No. 19-cv-00329-RMI

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
Writing for the CourtROBERT M. ILLMAN United States Magistrate Judge
PartiesCAMERON OMARI VINCENT, Plaintiff, v. JONATHAN REYES, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date05 October 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 19-cv-00329-RMI

JONATHAN REYES, et al., Defendants.

Case No. 19-cv-00329-RMI


October 5, 2020


Re: Dkt. No. 45

Now pending before the court is a motion for summary judgment (dkt. 45) on Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (dkt. 27) filed by Defendants the City and County of San Francisco, and San Francisco Sheriff's Deputies Jonathan Reyes and Kyle Tauscher. The court finds this matter to be suitable for disposition without oral argument under Civ. Local R. 7-1(b). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


On October 10, 2018, Plaintiff was a detainee in Defendants' custody while awaiting trial on certain charges. See Second Amend. Compl. ("SAC") (dkt. 27) at 3. On that day, he was scheduled to be transported by Defendants Tauscher and Reyes from the jailhouse to the courthouse. Id. When Defendants Reyes and Tauscher were placing Plaintiff into a transport van, they bound him with leg restraints and handcuffs and placed him in one of the two makeshift jail cells in the back of the transport van, neither of which were equipped with seatbelts. Id. at 3; see also Defs.' Mot. (dkt. 45) at 9. Upon seeing the condition inside the transport van, Plaintiff made several requests for Defendants to use a seat belt; however, he was told not to worry about a seatbelt, and Defendant Tauscher reportedly told Plaintiff that he did not care about his safety

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while threatening him that, "one way or another," he was going to get in that van, "or else." See Pl.'s Opp. (dkt. 46) at 6 (citing Pl.'s Decl. (dkt. 46-2) at 2-3; and, Pl.'s Deposition Excerpts (dkt. 46-1) at 3, 4). Perceiving Defendant Tauscher's "or else" admonishment as a threat, Plaintiff entered the van (see Pl.'s Decl. (dkt. 46-2) at 3) whereupon the Officer-Defendants placed him in the makeshift cell that was closer to the driver's compartment (see Defs.' Mot. (dkt. 45) at 9). At this point, Plaintiff was still manacled and bound in leg restraints when the van left the jailhouse on its journey to the courthouse with Defendant Tauscher driving and Defendant Reyes occupying the front passenger seat. See id.; see also Pl.'s Decl. (dkt. 46-2) at 2.

Once the transport van exited the parking facility of the jailhouse, Defendant Tauscher accelerated aggressively (or, as Plaintiff put it, "the van accelerated at a very high rate of speed") which caused Plaintiff to slide backwards in his seat until his body crashed into the side of the jail cell within the van, causing him to suffer a back injury. Id. at 3. When the van reached the red light at the next intersection, Defendant Tauscher "abruptly stepped on the brakes" with sufficient force to cause Plaintiff to "slide uncontrollably with force into [the] holding cage" in a manner that caused additional injuries to his shoulder and back. Id. When the traffic light turned green, Defendant Tauscher once again accelerated aggressively - "at a very high rate of speed" - which, in turn, caused Plaintiff to slide backwards in his seat until he crashed into the back of the holding cage in which he was confined, causing further injury to his back and shoulder. Id. Upon approaching the red light at the next intersection "at a high rate of speed," Defendant Tauscher came dangerously close to colliding with a vehicle directly in front of the van, and once again abruptly stepped on the breaks, which in turn sent Plaintiff "slid[ing] uncontrollably with force into the holding cage," causing further injuries to his head and shoulder. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Tauscher purposely "drove the van very recklessly [] [while] repeatedly speeding and abruptly stepping on his brakes" in order to cause Plaintiff injury due to having challenged him regarding a desire to be transported in a van with seatbelts. Id. Shortly thereafter, James Stephens side-swiped the transport van, the impact of which sent Plaintiff flying "with great force" into the side of the holding cage and causing still further injuries to his head, back, and ankles. Id. at 4; see

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also Defs.' Mot. (dkt. 45 at 10).1 Because Plaintiff's hands and feet were bound, but because he was not restrained in his seat with any seatbelt, and because he was rendered incapable of bracing himself or otherwise protecting his body, the above-described impacts caused Plaintiff a series of injuries. See Pl.'s Decl. (dkt. 46-2) at 4; Pl.'s Opp. (dkt. 46) at 6-7; see also Pl.'s Deposition Excerpts (dkt. 46-1) at 4-6. As result of the combined effects of the injuries that Plaintiff suffered when being bounced around the inside of this transport van while his hands and feet were bound, he was immediately transported by ambulance to the hospital for medical treatment. See SAC (dkt. 27) at 4. Thereafter, Plaintiff timely filed an administrative claim for compensation pursuant to California Government Code § 910, et seq., which was rejected by the City and County of San Francisco on December 3, 2018. Id. The instant lawsuit followed.

Plaintiff's SAC raises three claims. In Claim-1, invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff complains of a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights "in that Defendants knew of the dangerous condition that he was placed in by the Defendants not securing him in a seatbelt and driving in a reckless manner, knew of the risk of danger those conditions posed, and failed to take any corrective action to remedy those conditions." See SAC (dkt. 27) at 4. As to the City and County of San Francisco's involvement, Plaintiff notes only that the above-discussed violation of his rights "occurred as the result of the deliberate, reckless, and malicious acts, omissions, and practices of the City and County of San Francisco Sheriff's Department . . . [because] the City has sanctioned and ratified its sheriff's deputies' actions to engage in the deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's constitutional rights, including in this case; failed to train and supervise its deputies properly to ensure they transport pre-trial detainees [safely] under the color of the law; and acted with deliberate indifference in failing to properly train its deputies or to adopt policies necessary to prevent such constitutional violations." Id. at 5. In Claim-2, Plaintiff presents a state-law negligence claim against Defendants Tauscher and Reyes, against twenty-five unnamed Doe Defendants, and a vicarious liability claim against the City and County of San Francisco pursuant to California Government Code § 815.2. Id. at 5-6. Pursuant to Claim-2, Plaintiff also seeks

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declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 6. In Claim-3, Plaintiff presents a state-law negligence claim against Defendant Stephens, contending that the negligent operation of his automobile proximately caused Plaintiff to suffer injuries due to Defendant Stephens side-swiping the transport van. Id. at 6-7. However, on August 17, 2020, Defendant Stephens reached a settlement with Plaintiff, to which the other Defendants had no objection, and which was approved by the court on September 10, 2020. See Motion for Settlement (dkt. 48); and, Order Approving Settlement (dkt. 50).


Summary judgment is proper if the pleadings and evidence in the record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact," and thus, that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The party seeking summary judgment must shoulder the initial burden of identifying the portions of the pleadings and record evidence that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In this context, facts are considered "material" when they are such as might affect the outcome of the case; issues are "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact finder could find for the nonmoving party; and, a dispute is "material" when it could affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

In the summary judgment context, the movant bears the burden to produce evidence negating an essential element of each claim on which they seek judgment, or, at least the burden to make a showing that the non-moving party cannot produce evidence sufficient to satisfy their burden of proof at trial. See Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). If the movant meets that burden, the non-moving party may defeat summary judgment by showing, through admissible evidence, that a material factual dispute exists. See California v. Campbell. 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 1998). When deciding a summary judgment motion, courts view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in their favor. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see also Hunt v. City of Los Angeles, 638 F.3d 703, 709 (9th Cir. 2011). Summary judgment is generally inappropriate when

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credibility is at issue. SEC v. M & A West. Inc., 538 F.3d 1043, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Therefore, "[w]here [material] facts are disputed, their resolution and determinations of credibility 'are manifestly the province of a jury.'" Wall v. County of Orange, 364 F.3d 1107, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Santos v. Gates, 287 F.3d 846, 852 (9th Cir. 2002)).


Defendants move for summary judgment on Calim-1 (Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claim) and Claim-2 (the state-law negligence claim). See Defs.' Mot. (dkt. 45) at 12-19. Additionally, Defendants Tauscher and Reyes argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to Claim-1. Id. 15-16. As to the deliberate indifference claim, Defendants' primary argument is that Claim-1 fails because "there is no...

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