|Public Entity Team|
The Public Entity Group of Low, Ball & Lynch represents municipalities, transportation districts, airports, school and recreation districts, hospitals, and water and sanitation districts throughout California in all aspects of litigation.
* Practice group chairs
Public Entity Team News
Dale Allen and Dirk Larsen Obtain a Ninth Circuit ReversalShareholders Dale Allen and Dirk Larsen recently obtained the Ninth Circuit’s reversal of the district court’s denial of partial summary judgment in a police-practices case. In the decision, the Ninth Circuit agreed that a police officer who deployed up to four Taser cycles in an attempt to control a suspect could not be liable to the individual’s family for his use of the Taser. The suspect died shortly after the encounter, and his family argued that he should not have been tased because a scar on his chest indicated an implanted pacemaker. The Ninth Circuit held that, as of the time of the incident, clearly established law did not prohibit the use of the Taser under the circumstances.
Dirk Larsen Obtains Summary Judgment on Two Public Entity Cases
In Ti v. BARTD, the plaintiff alleged that she was injured when train doors closed on her as she paused in the doorway while entering a BART train. The court found that the closing of train doors does not pose a substantial risk of harm to foreseeable users exercising due care, and thus does not constitute a dangerous condition of public property within the meaning of Government Code §835.
In Lee v. Greater Vallejo Recreation District and City of Vallejo, the plaintiff alleged that he was injured when he was struck by a limb that fell from a eucalyptus tree at a park owned by the City of Vallejo and operated by the Greater Vallejo Recreation District. The court found that the falling limb constituted a natural condition of unimproved property, thus immunizing the City and District from liability under Government Code §831.2. In doing so, it rejected the plaintiff's argument that eucalyptus trees are not "natural conditions" because they are not native to California. The court also found that the wooden footbridge on which the plaintiff was standing constituted a recreational trail, thus also immunizing the City and District from liability under Government Code §831.4.
Associate Kevin Allen Obtains Summary Adjudication in a Public Entity CaseIn Pryor v. City of Clearlake, et al., a federal civil rights action, the plaintiff alleged violation of constitutional rights against the City and individual officers. Officers arrested Plaintiff in his home after, among other things, Plaintiff threatened to kill his own brother, as well as the assembled officers. Plaintiff was tased twice during the arrest, with the second tasing after Plaintiff was shot multiple time by another officer. The officer fired because he (the officer) was on the ground, Plaintiff was approaching him, and the officer believed Plaintiff had a knife.The Court granted summary adjudication to various causes of action, including unlawful entry, excessive force on the Taser use, equal protection, and Monell liability. On unlawful entry, the Court found: (1) the claim was barred by collateral estoppel; (2) officers had consent to enter the residence; and (3) an emergency situation existed. On excessive force, the Court found the first tasing was lawful force, and that both tasings were protected by qualified immunity. On equal protection, the Court found no evidence the City had an unlawful custom, policy, or practice.