United States District Court, Central District of California

Opinions and Orders of Previous Years

Subject: Case Number:Title:Date Posted:
Opinions and Orders of Previous Years CV 99-11629-GAF (AJWx)
Consolidated with
CV 99-11835-GAF (AJWx)
[and all identified "Ramparts" cases]
Javier F. Ovando v. City of Los Angeles, et al. - Order Re MONELL10/31/2000


Javier F. Ovando,


City of Los Angeles, et al,
Case No. CV 99-11629-GAF (AJWx)
Consolidated with CV 99-11835-GAF (AJWx)


In connection with the reassignment of those Section 1983 actions designated as “Ramparts Cases,” the Court has undertaken a review of the various complaints pending against a variety of defendants and has identified a number of issues that need to be promptly addressed to permit the Court to turn to questions of class certification.

(1) Class Action Allegations — Non-Monell Claims
From the Court’s review of the class action allegations, it appears that, although the class allegations are not identical in all complaints, they deal with Monell liability rather than the case-specific tortious conduct of the individual defendant-officers. The Court recognizes that the officers’ conduct may be offered as evidence regarding Monell liability. Nevertheless, it is the tentative view of the Court that the liability of the individual officers who allegedly committed constitutional torts cannot be decided via class action.

In the Court’s view, this is consistent with Rule 23, Fed.R.Civ.P., which requires first that there be common issues of fact or law for all members of the class under subsection (a). As to the constitutional torts of the individual officers, it does not appear that this threshold is met. Furthermore, even if it could be met, class certification would require the Court to determine under Rule 23 that prosecuting the actions against the individual officers separately would create the risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications such that incompatible standards would be established for the party opposing the class, or that separate adjudications would dispose of the interests of those not parties to the adjudication or would substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests. These elements do not appear to be present either. Whether or not a plaintiff prevails against an individual officer in one case would not seem in any way to prejudice any of the parties to any other case, nor does it create a risk of subjecting defendant officers to inconsistent or varying adjudications through the application of incompatible standards. Thus, in respect to the conduct of the individual officers, these cases are no more amenable to class action determination than any Section 1983 case.

Having made these observations, the Court recognizes that it may have misread or overlooked class action allegations that purport to address the individual tort claims. Furthermore, the Court recognizes the possibility that there may be an argument to be made (one that has not occurred to the Court) for proceeding on the individual tort claims via class action. Accordingly, if any plaintiff is seeking to pursue the claims against the individual defendant officers by way of class action, each and every such plaintiff is to give notice to the Court of such intent on or before November 20, 2000, and to submit with such notice a memorandum of points and authorities, not to exceed 10 pages, setting forth their class action theory and the authority supporting their right to proceed under such theory.

(2) Qualified Immunity
In its review of the pending “Ramparts” complaints and the answers thereto, the Court has not identified any case in which any individual officer is asserting the defense of qualified immunity on the ground that his conduct conformed to policies of the Los Angeles Police Department or some other municipal entity. Nevertheless, to ensure that the Court has not overlooked any such claim and to expedite the handling of these cases, the Court is hereby ordering defense counsel for all individual officers to notify the Court, on or before November 20, 2000, whether they intend to defend their case on the ground that their conduct was in conformity with a municipal policy. In that regard, any defendant so indicating must state the following:

    (1) The policy on which the officer is relying for his defense;
    (2) The date on which the policy was promulgated;
    (3) The official or agency that promulgated the policy.

A non-response to this order will be deemed a statement that the non-responding individual officer is acknowledging that he is not claiming qualified immunity by conducting himself in accordance with municipal policy, and the officer will be precluded thereafter from raising such a defense.

Dated: October 31, 2000

Gary Allen Feess
United States District Judge

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