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This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/07/2019 at 01:24:44 (UTC).

ESTATE OF ZELALEM ESHETU EWNETU ET AL VS COUNTY OF LA ET AL

Case Summary

On 04/12/2018 ESTATE OF ZELALEM ESHETU EWNETU filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against COUNTY OF LA. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is LAURA A. SEIGLE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****2015

  • Filing Date:

    04/12/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

LAURA A. SEIGLE

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

ESTATE OF ZELALEM ESHETU EWNETU

ZELEKE SEBLE

EWNETU SEWUNET

MAMO ABEBECH TSEGAYE INDIVIDUALLY AND

TSEGAYE ALEMSHET

Defendants and Respondents

DOE DEPUTY SHERIFF 1 AND 2

LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

DOES 3 TO 50

LOS ANGELES COUNTY OF

GANNON TIMOTHY

BOWLEY SERGEANT

LATTUCA SHANE

HAUSER DEPUTY

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

GREENE R. BROWNE ESQ.

PALMER JUSTIN A

Defendant Attorneys

HURRELL THOMAS C. ESQ.

HURRELL THOMAS CHARLES

 

Court Documents

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/25/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/25/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

DECLARATION OF FARYAR BARZIN ESQ.IN SUPPORT OF AUTOMATIC 30DAY EXTENSION OF MEET AND CONFER REQUIREMENT PRIOR TO FILING DEMURRER PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 430.14A2

6/11/2018: DECLARATION OF FARYAR BARZIN ESQ.IN SUPPORT OF AUTOMATIC 30DAY EXTENSION OF MEET AND CONFER REQUIREMENT PRIOR TO FILING DEMURRER PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 430.14A2

DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT AND COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT;DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

6/11/2018: DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT AND COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT;DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES' DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT

6/20/2018: DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES' DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT

STIPULATION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER REGARDING INFORMATION DISCLOSED DURIGNG DISCOVERY;AND ETC.

7/20/2018: STIPULATION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER REGARDING INFORMATION DISCLOSED DURIGNG DISCOVERY;AND ETC.

Substitution of Attorney

10/22/2018: Substitution of Attorney

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

10/24/2018: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

10/24/2018: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

Answer

3/18/2019: Answer

Stipulation and Order

3/26/2019: Stipulation and Order

Notice of Deposit - Jury

4/10/2019: Notice of Deposit - Jury

Notice of Motion

6/11/2019: Notice of Motion

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

6/11/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Opposition

6/17/2019: Opposition

CIVIL DEPOSIT

4/12/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR WRONGFUL DEATH 1. NEGLIGENCE ;ETC

4/12/2018: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR WRONGFUL DEATH 1. NEGLIGENCE ;ETC

SUMMONS

4/12/2018: SUMMONS

19 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/03/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery") - Held - Continued

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  • 07/03/2019
  • Minute Order ( (Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery"))); Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/03/2019
  • Certificate of Mailing for (Minute Order (Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery")) of 07/03/2019); Filed by Clerk

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  • 06/26/2019
  • Reply (Memorandum In Support of Motion for Peace Officer Personnel Records); Filed by Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (Plaintiff); Sewunet Ewnetu (Plaintiff); Mamo, Abebech Tsegaye, individually and (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/17/2019
  • Opposition (The Opposition of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Custodian of Personnel Records To The Plaintiffs' Motion for Production of Peace Officer Personnel and Internal Affairs Files of Defendants); Filed by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (Defendant)

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  • 06/11/2019
  • Memorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/11/2019
  • Motion for Discovery of Peace Officer Personnel Records (Pitchess Motion); Filed by Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/10/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment - Not Held - Rescheduled by Party

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  • 05/29/2019
  • Answer (to Second Amended Complaint); Filed by Los Angeles, County of (Defendant); Shane Lattuca (Defendant); Timothy Gannon (Defendant)

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  • 05/16/2019
  • at 11:00 AM in Department 4B, Laura A. Seigle, Presiding; Informal Discovery Conference (IDC) - Held

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32 More Docket Entries
  • 06/11/2018
  • DECLARATION OF FARYAR BARZIN ESQ.IN SUPPORT OF AUTOMATIC 30DAY EXTENSION OF MEET AND CONFER REQUIREMENT PRIOR TO FILING DEMURRER PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 430.14A2

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 06/11/2018
  • DEFENDANTS LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT AND COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT;DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/25/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/25/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 05/25/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 05/25/2018
  • PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

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  • 04/12/2018
  • CIVIL DEPOSIT

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  • 04/12/2018
  • SUMMONS

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  • 04/12/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (Plaintiff); Sewunet Ewnetu (Plaintiff); Mamo, Abebech Tsegaye, individually and (Plaintiff) et al.

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/12/2018
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR WRONGFUL DEATH 1. NEGLIGENCE ;ETC

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC702015    Hearing Date: September 30, 2020    Dept: 50

 

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

estate of zelalem eshetu ewnetu, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

the county of los angeles, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 702015

Hearing Date:

September 30, 2020

Hearing Time:

10:00 a.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR AN ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO COMPLY WITH STATUTORY BOND REQUIREMENT PER C.C.P. § 1030

Background

Plaintiffs, including the Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu and Abebech Tsegaye Mamo (“Mamo”), individually and as Successor in Interest to the Estate of Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action on April 12, 2018 against, inter alia, Defendant the County of Los Angeles (the “County”) and various sheriff’s deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (the “Sheriff’s Department”) (collectively, “Defendants”). The operative Second Amended Complaint was filed on December 17, 2018, and asserts causes of action for negligence (wrongful death), violation of Civil Rights under the Bane Act, negligent hiring, training, and supervision, and battery. This lawsuit arises out of the shooting death of Zelalem Ewnetu by Sheriff’s Department deputies on April 12, 2017; Mamo is Mr. Ewnetu’s mother.

Defendants now move for an order requiring Plaintiffs to post a bond in the amount of $263,172 pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1030. Mamo opposes.

Request for Judicial Notice

The Court grants Mamo’s request for judicial notice as to Items 1 and 5. The Court denies Mamo’s request for judicial notice as to Items 2-4.

Discussion

Code of Civil Procedure section 1030, subdivision (a) provides that “[w]hen the plaintiff in an action or special proceeding resides out of the state . . . the defendant may at any time apply to the court by noticed motion for an order requiring the plaintiff to file an undertaking to secure an award of costs and attorney’s fees which may be awarded in the action or special proceeding.” Code of Civil Procedure section 1030, subdivision (b) provides that such a motion “shall be made on the grounds that the plaintiff resides out of the state . . . and that there is a reasonable possibility that the moving defendant will obtain judgment in the action or special proceeding.” In support of the motion, the defendant shall submit an affidavit setting forth the nature and amount of the costs and attorney’s fees incurred and expects to incur as well as a memorandum of points and authorities. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1030, subd. (b).)

Defendants contend that Plaintiffs should be required to file an undertaking to secure an award of costs and attorney’s fees because Plaintiffs reside in Addis Abba, Ethiopia and are not California residents and because there is a reasonable possibility that Defendants will obtain judgment in this action. Mamo counters that there is no reasonable possibility that a jury will find in Defendants’ favor. Moreover, Mamo argues that even if there were a reasonable possibility that Defendants will prevail, the Court should exercise its discretion to waive the requirement because Mamo is indigent. “Where the plaintiff establishes indigency, a trial court has discretion to waive the posting of security under Code of Civil Procedure section 1030.” (Baltayan v. Estate of Getemyan (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1427, 1433.) “However, the plaintiff should make a prima facie showing that he has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the required undertaking or that he is unable to furnish it.” (Id. at p. 1434.)

Counsel for Mamo states that on September 11, 2020, he contacted a broker to several bond surety companies to determine the cost of a statutory bond for $263,172. (Palmer Decl., ¶ 3.) The broker advised that 100% collateral for the principal amount would be required, and it would need to be provided in the form of a cashier’s check or bank letter of credit. (Palmer Decl., ¶ 4.) The fee for such a bond could range from 1% to 3% of the total bond. (Palmer Decl., ¶ 4.) Mamo attests to the fact that she cannot provide a cashier’s check or bank letter of credit for $263,172, and that she does not know anyone who could or would post the undertaking for her. (Mamo Decl., ¶ 3.) Mamo attests to the fact that she lives in Ethiopia, and that she is a widow. (Mamo Decl., ¶ 6.) Mamo does not work and did not work when her husband was alive, because her husband provided all of the financial support for their family for cultural reasons. (Mamo Decl., ¶ 6.) Mamo currently relies on her son to provide for the family, and he is currently unemployed. (Mamo Decl., ¶ 6.) Mamo estimates her total monthly income to be less than $300 per month. (Mamo Decl., ¶ 6.) Mamo also attests to the fact that she does not own property or other appreciable assets; she does not have investment holdings, life insurance policies, or retirement accounts. (Mamo Decl., ¶¶ 7-8.) Mamo does not have a college education and has not worked in more than 30 years. (Mamo Decl., ¶ 10.)

The Court finds that Mamo has made a prima facie showing that she is unable to furnish the undertaking. Defendants argue that Mamo has not shown that she attempted to obtain the undertaking, but Baltayan does not require that this element be established if it can be shown that the plaintiff is unable to furnish the undertaking. Defendants also argue that Mamo did not include in her declaration a statement that she has no friend or relative who would be willing to post a bond for her, but Mamo does state that she does not know anyone who would or could post the undertaking for her, and the Court finds this to be sufficient. Defendants also point to evidence that Mamo received a life insurance settlement for Mr. Ewnetu’s death totaling $25,000, and that Mamo received $3,500 from CalPERS. (Sharaby Decl., ¶ 3, Ex. 1, pp. 29-30.) Defendants argue that this evidence contradicts the assertion that she cannot pay the fee for the statutory bond. But even if Mamo had the funds to pay the fee for the bond, Mamo has established that she cannot put up the collateral for the bond, which is indisputably necessary to secure a bond. Therefore, based on the evidence presented, the Court exercises its discretion to waive the posting of a bond under Code of Civil Procedure section 1030. Because the Court finds that Mamo’s indigency supports waiving any bond requirement, the Court need not and does not determine whether Defendants have established a reasonable possibility of obtaining judgment in this action.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ motion is denied.

Mamo is ordered to provide notice of this ruling.

DATED: September 30, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Case Number: BC702015    Hearing Date: July 07, 2020    Dept: 50

 

 

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

estate of zelalem eshetu ewnetu, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

the county of los angeles, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 702015

Hearing Date:

June 30, 2020

Hearing Time:

8:30 a.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR ADDITIONAL PRODUCTION OF PEACE OFFICER PERSONNEL RECORDS

Background

Plaintiffs filed this action on April 12, 2018 against, inter alia, Defendant the County of Los Angeles (the “County”) and various sheriff’s deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (the “Sheriff’s Department”). The operative Second Amended Complaint was filed on December 17, 2018, and asserts causes of action for negligence (wrongful death), violation of Civil Rights under the Bane Act, negligent hiring, training, and supervision, and battery. This lawsuit arises out of the shooting death of Zelalem Ewnetu by Sheriff’s Department deputies on April 12, 2017.

On October 4, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for production of personnel and internal affairs files of the individual peace officer defendants (Pitchess motion). The Court ordered an in camera inspection to be scheduled for October 30, 2019, and the County was ordered to bring all nonattorney-client privileged records from five years prior to April 12, 2017 that were potentially responsive to the following categories of documents:

  1. Documents prepared by the Sheriff’s Department or in the possession of any Sheriff’s Department employee concerning the April 12, 2017 shooting death of Mr. Ewnetu,

  2. Each citizen or internal complaint filed against Deputy Gannon, Deputy Lattuca, Deputy Hauser, and Sergeant Bowley that concerns an allegation of excessive force, dishonesty or untruthfulness, preparing false and misleading police reports, and racial profiling, and all documents related to any investigation of any such complaints,

  3. All recordings and transcripts of interviews taken of employees of the Sheriff’s Department concerning Mr. Ewnetu’s shooting, and

  4. Documents contained in the personnel files of Deputy Gannon, Deputy Lattuca, Deputy Hauser, and Sergeant Bowley that relate to allegations of excessive force, dishonesty or untruthfulness, falsifying police reports, and racial profiling.

On October 30, 2019, the Court conducted the in camera review of the documents produced by the County. The Court ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding the production of documents based on the Court’s findings and continued the hearing to November 6, 2019. On November 6, 2019, the Court ordered that the County must disclose via email the reporting parties’ names and contact information including civilian witnesses’ names and contact information identified by the Court at the October 30, 2019 in camera review. The Court then ordered briefing and set a hearing regarding additional information sought by Plaintiffs. On January 10, 2020, the Court issued an order permitting Plaintiffs to file revised briefing.

The Court now considers the revised supplemental briefs filed by Plaintiffs and the County.

Discussion

First, the Court notes that, based on Plaintiffs’ second supplemental brief, it is entirely unclear what information or documents are at issue. As stated in their second supplemental brief, “Plaintiff contends all relevant information within a peace officer[‘s] records must be produced, pursuant to an appropriate protective order.” (Plaintiffs’ Second Suppl. Brief, p. 1:27-2:1.) But that is just a reiteration of the standard for the second step on a Pitchess motion. ((See Warrick v. Superior Court (2005) 35 Cal.4th 1011, 1019 [describing the two-step procedure for securing disclosure of peace officer personnel records and stating that “only that information falling within the statutorily defined standards of relevance” are disclosed following the in camera hearing].)

The statutorily defined standard of relevance is set forth in Evidence Code section 1045, subdivision (b)(3), which excludes from disclosure those facts “that are so remote as to make disclosure of little or no practical benefit.” (Evid. Code, section 1045, subd. (b)(3).) Thus, it is uncontroversial that “relevant” information in a peace officer’s personnel records must be disclosed. Plaintiffs contend that they should be entitled to “more than the names and addresses of witnesses” but do not specify what that entails. (Plaintiffs’ Second Suppl. Brief, p. 4:17-18.) The Court also notes that Plaintiffs’ previous briefing on this issue was similarly vague, such that Plaintiffs were provided a second opportunity to clarify their position. In any event, the Court presumes that the additional disclosures at issue are the verbatim party and witness statements contained in filed complaints about police misconduct or otherwise contained in a police officer’s personnel records.[1]

Consequently, the question presented is whether the verbatim party and witness statements are “so remote as to make disclosure of little or no practical benefit.” (Evid. Code, section 1045, subd. (b)(3).) Plaintiffs offer very little in the form of facts to answer this question. Plaintiff assert in a conclusory manner that the verbatim statements are relevant for impeachment purposes and are “directly relevant” to the negligence and wrongful death claims. (Plaintiffs’ Second Suppl. Brief, p. 2:19-20.) Plaintiffs also assert that this information could reveal “other key documents, name and information which would greatly impact this case.” (Plaintiffs’ Second Suppl. Brief, p. 4:18-19.) Not only is this speculative, but Plaintiffs cite to no examples of key documents or names that would have any impact on this case.

To the extent that Plaintiffs argue that a liberal interpretation of Evidence Code section 1045, subdivision (b)(3) supports ordering the disclosure of verbatim witness statements, the Court is unpersuaded. As an initial matter, the Court notes that the California Supreme Court has stated that “[t]ypically, the trial court discloses only the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of individuals who have witnessed, or have previously filed complaints about, similar misconduct by the officer.” (Warrick v. Superior Court, supra, 35 Cal.4th at p. 1019.) Notwithstanding this dicta, Plaintiffs rely primarily on two cases in support of their position: Riske v. Superior Court (2018) 22 Cal.App.5th 295 and Haggerty v. Superior Court (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 1079.

Plaintiffs discuss Riske at length, but the issue in Riske was the interpretation of Evidence Code section 1045, subdivision (b)(1), which excludes from disclosure “[i]nformation consisting of complaints concerning conduct occurring more than five years before the event or transaction that is the subject of the litigation in aid of which discovery or disclosure is sought.” (Evid. Code, section 1045, subd. (b)(1).) The Court of Appeal in Riske had no occasion to determine the outer bounds of the relevance standard set forth in subdivision (b)(3) and, more importantly, did not decide whether verbatim party and witness statements should or should not be excluded from disclosure.

Haggerty is similarly inapposite because there, the Court of Appeal affirmed the general rule (cited in Warrick) that where someone “seeks prior third party complaint discovery,” the discovery is appropriately limited to witness identification information. (Haggerty v. Superior Court, supra, 117 Cal.App.4th at p. 1090.) The Court of Appeal went on to hold that this limitation does not necessarily apply to discovery outside of prior third-party complaints. (Ibid. .) In Haggerty, the disclosure at issue was an unredacted internal affairs report that the Court of Appeal found was “directly relevant to the matters at issue in the lawsuit” because “the investigation at issue concerns the very incident that is the subject of the civil claim.” (Ibid. .)

As best the Court can tell, Plaintiffs are seeking prior third-party complaint discovery and therefore the limitations discussed in Haggerty and Warrick apply. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have not demonstrated good cause for the disclosure of anything beyond identification information for any individual who reported misconduct by the identified officers or gave witness statements as part of such reports.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs’ motion is denied.

The County is ordered to provide notice of this ruling.

DATED: June 30, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court


[1] This presumption is based on the information provided in the County’s various opposition briefs that, to the Court’s knowledge, have not been controverted by Plaintiffs. To the extent that Plaintiffs are seeking entirely new categories of documents, further discovery under the Pitchess procedure requires a showing that the information already provided by the County is “inadequate to enable [Plaintiffs] to prepare [their] case.” (Kelvin L. v. Superior Court (1976) 62 Cal.App.3d 823, 828-829; see also Carruthers v. Municipal Court (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 439, 442 (noting that under the Pitchess procedure, the requesting party has a right “to seek additional discovery if the information thus received proves ‘inadequate’”).) The Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to make such a showing.

Case Number: BC702015    Hearing Date: February 28, 2020    Dept: 50

THE COURT HAS NOT RECEIVED CONFORMED COPIES OF THE BRIEFS FILED BY THE PARTIES.  CONSEQUENTLY, THE MATTER WAS NOT WORKED UP AND WILL HAVE TO BE RESCHEDULED.  THE PARTIES ARE ORDERED TO FILE CONFORMED COPIES OF THE BRIEFS IN DEPT. 50 BY MARCH 2D.  THE CLERK WILL RESET THE HEARING AFTER THE BRIEFS ARE RECEIVED AND WILL CONTACT COUNSEL TO DETERMINE AVAILABLE DATES. NO APPEARANCE IS NECESSARY AT THE HEARING TOMORROW.

Case Number: BC702015    Hearing Date: January 10, 2020    Dept: 50

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Department 50

estate of zelalem eshetu ewnetu, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

the county of los angeles, et al.

Defendants.

Case No.:

BC 702015

Hearing Date:

January 10, 2020

Hearing Time:

8:30 a.m.

[TENTATIVE] ORDER RE:

PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR ADDITIONAL PRODUCTION OF PEACE OFFICER PERSONNEL RECORDS

Background

Plaintiffs filed this action on April 12, 2018 against, inter alia, Defendant the County of Los Angeles (the “County”) and various sheriff’s deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (the “Sheriff’s Department”). The operative Second Amended Complaint was filed on December 17, 2018, and asserts causes of action for negligence (wrongful death), violation of Civil Rights under the Bane Act, negligent hiring, training, and supervision, and battery. This lawsuit arises out of the shooting death of Zelalem Ewnetu by Sheriff’s Department deputies on April 12, 2017.

On October 4, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for production of personnel and internal affairs files of the individual peace officer defendants (Pitchess motion). The Court ordered an in camera inspection to be scheduled for October 30, 2019, and the County was ordered to bring all nonattorney-client privileged records from five years prior to April 12, 2017 that were potentially responsive to the following categories of documents:

  1. Documents prepared by the Sheriff’s Department or in the possession of any Sheriff’s Department employee concerning the April 12, 2017 shooting death of Mr. Ewnetu,

  2. Each citizen or internal complaint filed against Deputy Gannon, Deputy Lattuca, Deputy Hauser, and Sergeant Bowley that concerns an allegation of excessive force, dishonesty or untruthfulness, preparing false and misleading police reports, and racial profiling, and all documents related to any investigation of any such complaints,

  3. All recordings and transcripts of interviews taken of employees of the Sheriff’s Department concerning Mr. Ewnetu’s shooting, and

  4. Documents contained in the personnel files of Deputy Gannon, Deputy Lattuca, Deputy Hauser, and Sergeant Bowley that relate to allegations of excessive force, dishonesty or untruthfulness, falsifying police reports, and racial profiling.

On October 30, 2019, the Court conducted the in camera review of the documents produced by the County. The Court ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding the production of documents based on the Court’s findings and continued the hearing to November 6, 2019. On November 6, 2019, the Court ordered that the County must disclose via email the reporting parties’ names and contact information including civilian witnesses’ names and contact information identified by the Court at the October 30, 2019 in camera review. The Court then set a hearing regarding additional information sought by Plaintiffs, namely, the documents identified during the in camera review (the “Underlying Documents”), not just the names and contact information.

Plaintiffs now move for an order that the County make additional disclosures. The county opposes.

Discussion

The Court notes that although Plaintiffs mention the Underlying Documents in their motion, it appears that Plaintiffs have abandoned that request. Instead, Plaintiffs now appear to be seeking disclosure of documents relating to (1) discharge of firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer, (2) use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer resulting in death or great bodily injury, (3) incidents in which a sustained finding was made by a law enforcement agency or oversight agency that an officer engaged in sexual assault involving a member of the public, (4) incidents in which a sustained finding was made by a law enforcement agency or oversight agency of dishonesty relating to the reporting, investigation, or prosecution of a crime, or the reporting or investigation of misconduct by another officer, and (5) personnel records within the meaning of Penal Code section 832.8. The first four categories of documents are documents which are authorized pursuant to Penal Code section 832.7, subdivision (b) to be made available for public inspection pursuant to the California Public Records Act. Although not specified, Plaintiffs are presumably seeking the above categories of documents as they relate to the individual deputy defendants.

Plaintiffs contend that these documents are discoverable pursuant to Evidence Code sections 1043 and 1046. However, as noted by the County in its opposition, Plaintiffs already had their opportunity to request disclosure of documents pursuant to Evidence Code section 1043—their original Pitchess motion. As set forth in the Court’s October 4, 2019 order, disclosure of peace officer personnel records involves two steps. The first step is the filing of a Pitchess motion, and the second step is the Court’s in camera review of the documents to determine their relevance. To the extent that Plaintiffs are attempting to repeat the first step, further discovery under the Pitchess procedure requires a showing that the information already provided by the County is “inadequate to enable [Plaintiffs] to prepare [their] case.” (Kelvin L. v. Superior Court (1976) 62 Cal.App.3d 823, 828-829; see also Carruthers v. Municipal Court (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 439, 442 [noting that under the Pitchess procedure, the requesting party has a right “to seek additional discovery if the information thus received proves ‘inadequate’”].) The Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to make such a showing.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs’ motion is denied.

The County is ordered to provide notice of this ruling.

DATED: January 10, 2020 ________________________________

Hon. Teresa A. Beaudet

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

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