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California Government Tort Liability Practice

Provides in-depth procedural and substantive guidance on claims against public entities or employees based on the California Government Claims Act.

Provides in-depth procedural and substantive guidance on claims against public entities or employees based on the California Government Claims Act.

  • Representing claimants, public entities, and public employees
  • Defense and indemnification
  • Claim procedures: preparation, presentation, and consideration of claim
  • Late claim proceedings; tolling limitation period
  • Bringing the action
  • Principles of public entity and public employee liability
  • General and specific immunities of public entities and employees
  • Dangerous condition of public property
  • Claims under the Federal Civil Rights Act (§1983)
  • Government Claims Act, including Van Alstyne’s notes and comments
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Provides in-depth procedural and substantive guidance on claims against public entities or employees based on the California Government Claims Act.

  • Representing claimants, public entities, and public employees
  • Defense and indemnification
  • Claim procedures: preparation, presentation, and consideration of claim
  • Late claim proceedings; tolling limitation period
  • Bringing the action
  • Principles of public entity and public employee liability
  • General and specific immunities of public entities and employees
  • Dangerous condition of public property
  • Claims under the Federal Civil Rights Act (§1983)
  • Government Claims Act, including Van Alstyne’s notes and comments

1

Overview of the Government Claims Act

Girard Fisher

Robert J. Waldsmith

  • I.  SCOPE OF BOOK AND THIS CHAPTER  1.1
  • II.  THE GOVERNMENT CLAIMS ACT: AN OVERVIEW
    • A.  Summary of Contents of the Act  1.2
    • B.  Act Is Constitutional  1.3
    • C.  Actions Against Public Employees
      • 1.  Public Employee Liability Under the Act  1.4
      • 2.  Public Entity Defense and Indemnification of Public Employee  1.5
    • D.  Public Entity Liability Under the Act
      • 1.  No Common Law Liability  1.6
      • 2.  Government Claims Act Liabilities
        • a.  Vicarious Liability  1.7
        • b.  Liability for Independent Contractor’s Act or Omission  1.8
        • c.  Liability for Breach of Mandatory Duty Imposed by Enactment  1.9
        • d.  Dangerous Condition Liability  1.10
      • 3.  Statutory Liabilities Outside the Act  1.11
      • 4.  Effect on Contractual Liability and Other Remedies  1.12
    • E.  Immunities and Defenses
      • 1.  Government Claims Act Immunities
        • a.  General Principles of Immunity
          • (1)  Public Entity Immunity  1.13
          • (2)  Public Employee Immunity  1.14
        • b.  Specific Immunities Within the Act  1.15
      • 2.  Application of Government Claims Act Immunities to Statutory Liability Outside the Act  1.16
      • 3.  Application of Immunities and Defenses Outside the Act to Government Claims Act Liabilities  1.17
        • a.  Examples of Defenses Outside the Act Asserted by Public Entity  1.18
        • b.  Examples of Defenses Outside the Act Asserted by Public Employee  1.19
    • F.  Damages Awardable Under the Act
      • 1.  Damages for “Injury”  1.20
      • 2.  Availability of Punitive Damages  1.21
    • G.  Claims Presentation Statutes, Statutes of Limitation, and Late Claim Relief  1.22
    • H.  Posttrial Proceedings and Funding of Tort Liabilities  1.23
  • III.  HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF GOVERNMENT CLAIMS ACT  1.24
    • A.  Governmental Immunity Doctrine Before the Act  1.25
    • B.  Immunity Before the Act Limited to Tort Damages  1.26
    • C.  Exceptions to Governmental Tort Immunity Before the Act
      • 1.  Judicially Recognized Exceptions Before the Act  1.27
      • 2.  Statutory Liability Before the Act  1.28
    • D.  Liability and Immunity of Public Officers Before the Act
      • 1.  Personal Liabilities  1.29
      • 2.  Discretionary Immunity  1.30
      • 3.  Absence of Vicarious Liability  1.31
      • 4.  Privileged Trespass  1.32
      • 5.  Employee Indemnification Provisions [Deleted]  1.33
      • 6.  Statutory Immunities of Public Officers  1.34
    • E.  Claims Procedures Before the Act  1.35
      • 1.  Compliance Was Mandatory  1.36
      • 2.  Doctrine of Substantial Compliance  1.37
      • 3.  Doctrine of Estoppel  1.37A
    • F.  Indemnification and Defense of Public Employees Before the Act  1.38
    • G.  Judicial Revolution: Muskopf and Lipman Cases Abolished Governmental Immunity Doctrine  1.39
    • H.  Legislative Response: Government Claims Act  1.40
      • 1.  Law Revision Commission Reports and Recommendations  1.41
      • 2.  Law Revision Commission Comments  1.42
      • 3.  Use of Law Revision Commission Reports, Recommendations, and Comments to Determine Legislative Intent  1.43
      • 4.  Legislative Comments  1.44
      • 5.  Components of Act Enacted Separately  1.45
  • IV.  COURTS’ NARROW OR BROAD CONSTRUCTION OF GOVERNMENT CLAIMS ACT  1.46
    • A.  Origins of Differing Interpretations  1.47
    • B.  May Depend on Provisions of Government Claims Act Being Interpreted  1.48
    • C.  Factors Considered for Interpretation  1.49
    • D.  Examples of Cases Finding Liability, Narrowly Interpreting Scope of Immunities  1.50
    • E.  Examples of Cases Finding No Liability, Broadly Interpreting Scope of Immunities  1.51

2

Representation of Claimant or Defendant

Ralph L. Jacobson

Robert J. Waldsmith

  • I.  FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE AGREEING TO REPRESENT CLAIMANT
    • A.  Ascertain Facts  2.1
      • 1.  Possible Conflicts of Interest  2.2
      • 2.  Time Limits Under Government Claims Act  2.3
        • a.  If Claim Is at Risk of Being Late  2.4
        • b.  If Claim Is Already Late  2.5
      • 3.  Contacting Witnesses
        • a.  Witnesses Represented by Counsel  2.6
        • b.  Nonparty Private Entity Witnesses  2.7
        • c.  Public Entity Witnesses  2.8
        • d.  Determining Witness’s Status  2.9
        • e.  Interviewing Witnesses and Obtaining Statements  2.10
          • (1)  Investigators  2.11
          • (2)  Attorneys  2.12
      • 4.  Retaining Experts  2.13
    • B.  Determine Applicability of Government Claims Act
      • 1.  Ascertain Whether Potential Defendants Are Public Entities or Employees Under the Act  2.14
      • 2.  Ascertain Liability Under the Act  2.15
      • 3.  Consider Applicable Immunities and Defenses  2.16
    • C.  Consider Effect of Proposition 51 on Selecting Defendants  2.17
    • D.  Consider Causes of Action Not Involving Government Claims Act  2.18
    • E.  Consider Likely Damage Award  2.19
    • F.  Consider Likelihood of Settlement  2.20
    • G.  Consider Costs of Proving Case  2.21
    • H.  Consider Claimant’s Potential Liability for Defense Costs If Action Not Brought in Good Faith or With Reasonable Cause  2.22
  • II.  AGREEING TO REPRESENT
    • A.  Discuss Realistic Expectations About Outcome  2.23
    • B.  Inform Claimant of Realistic Timetable and Obligations  2.24
    • C.  Attorney Fee Agreements
      • 1.  Contingency Fee Agreements  2.25
        • a.  Requirements of Contingency Fee Contract  2.26
        • b.  Tailoring Contract for Possibility of Other Than Lump-Sum Cash Payment  2.27
        • c.  Contingency Fee Contracts in Actions Against Health Care Providers  2.28
      • 2.  Noncontingency Fee Agreements  2.29
    • D.  Inform Client of His or Her Obligations [Deleted]  2.30
    • E.  Inform Client of Counsel’s Next Anticipated Contact  2.31
    • F.  Advise Client Not to Discuss Claim With Others  2.32
  • III.  DECLINING TO REPRESENT
    • A.  Communicating With Claimant in Writing  2.33
    • B.  Counsel Should Not Provide Client With Opinion on Merits of Case  2.34
    • C.  Discuss Time Limits  2.35
    • D.  Referring Client to Other Attorneys  2.36
    • E.  Send Letter Declining to Undertake Representation  2.37
  • IV.  SELECTED OFFICE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS
    • A.  Calendaring  2.38
      • 1.  Minimum Requirements of Calendaring System Under Government Claims Act  2.39
      • 2.  Date When Suit Must Be Filed  2.40
    • B.  Tickler or Other System [Deleted]  2.41
    • C.  Filing Systems  2.42
    • D.  Recording Expenses  2.43
    • E.  Supervision of Office Personnel  2.44
  • V.  DEFENSE PERSPECTIVE
    • A.  Counsel Representing Public Entities and Public Employees  2.45
    • B.  Preliminary Considerations in Evaluating Cases  2.46
    • C.  Determining Conflict of Interest  2.47
    • D.  Fee Agreements [Deleted]  2.48
  • VI.  FORMS: LETTERS DECLINING TO UNDERTAKE REPRESENTATION
    • A.  Form: When Period to Present Claim Has Not Elapsed  2.49
    • B.  Form: When Counsel Has Been Consulted After Claims Presentation Period Has Elapsed  2.50

3

Identifying Public Entity and Public Employee Defendants

Robert J. Waldsmith

Ralph L. Jacobson

Andrew R. Gillin

Luke Ellis

  • I.  IDENTIFYING PUBLIC ENTITY DEFENDANTS
    • A.  Public Entity Defined  3.1
    • B.  Using Roster of Public Agencies  3.2
    • C.  Stationery and Identity Card Requirement of Govt C §7530  3.3
    • D.  Independent Public Entity or Subsidiary?
      • 1.  Importance  3.4
      • 2.  Criteria  3.5
      • 3.  Examples of Subsidiaries  3.6
  • II.  IDENTIFYING PUBLIC EMPLOYEE DEFENDANTS
    • A.  Definition of Public Employee  3.7
      • 1.  “Servants” and “Agents”  3.8
      • 2.  Judicial Officers Included  3.9
      • 3.  Compensation Not Material  3.10
      • 4.  Independent Contractors Excluded  3.11
    • B.  Examples of Public Employees
      • 1.  Under Case Law  3.12
      • 2.  By Statute  3.13
    • C.  Ascertaining Appropriate Public Entity Employer in Particular Situations
      • 1.  Court Personnel  3.14
        • a.  Trial Judges Are Employees of State  3.15
        • b.  Referee Paid by Parties Not County Employees  3.16
        • c.  Small Claims Court Advisers Not County Employees  3.17
        • d.  Other Court Personnel Generally Considered County Employees  3.18
      • 2.  Ex Officio Personnel  3.19
    • D.  Determining Existence of Employment  3.20

4

Defense and Indemnification

Girard Fisher

Robert J. Waldsmith

  • I.  OVERVIEW
    • A.  Public Entity’s General Duty to Defend and Indemnify Employee  4.1
    • B.  Employee Defense and Indemnification Not Limited to Government Claims Act Liabilities  4.2
    • C.  Employee Defense Provisions  4.3
    • D.  Employee Indemnification Provisions  4.4
    • E.  Impact of Employee Indemnification on Satisfaction of Judgment  4.5
    • F.  Other Sources of Defense and Indemnification
      • 1.  Contracts and Memorandums of Understanding  4.6
      • 2.  Enactments  4.7
      • 3.  Insurance and Joint Powers Agencies Coverage  4.8
  • II.  DEFENSE OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES  4.9
    • A.  Public Entity’s Mandatory Duty to Provide Defense  4.10
      • 1.  Actions Subject to Duty  4.11
      • 2.  Methods of Providing Defense  4.12
      • 3.  Included Expenses  4.13
      • 4.  Employee’s Request for Defense From Public Entity  4.14
      • 5.  Public Entity’s Response to Employee’s Request for Defense  4.15
        • a.  Unconditional Defense  4.16
        • b.  Refusal of Defense on Entity’s Determination of No Obligation  4.17
        • c.  Defense Pursuant to Reservation of Rights  4.18
      • 6.  General Rule That Entity Cannot Recover Costs of Defense  4.19
      • 7.  Exceptions to Rule Against Recovery of Costs  4.20
      • 8.  Constitutional Debt Limitation Inapplicable  4.21
    • B.  Exceptions to Entity’s Mandatory Duty to Provide Defense  4.22
      • 1.  Outside Scope of Employment; Fraud, Corruption, or Malice  4.23
      • 2.  Specific Conflict of Interest  4.24
      • 3.  Entity’s Action Against Its Employee  4.25
    • C.  Proceedings in Which Entity Has Discretion to Defend
      • 1.  Overview  4.26
      • 2.  Disciplinary Proceedings  4.27
      • 3.  Administrative Proceedings  4.28
      • 4.  Criminal Proceedings  4.29
    • D.  Employee’s Rights When Entity Refuses Defense  4.30
    • E.  Conflicts of Interest and Independent Counsel
      • 1.  Overview  4.31
      • 2.  Circumstances That Create Conflicts  4.32
      • 3.  When Entity Refuses Employee’s Defense  4.33
      • 4.  Defense and Indemnification Without a Reservation of Rights  4.34
      • 5.  Defense of Employee Pursuant to Reservation of Rights and Written Informed Consent  4.35
      • 6.  Right to Independent Counsel  4.36
      • 7.  Selection of Independent Counsel  4.37
  • III.  INDEMNIFICATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
    • A.  Public Entity’s General Duty to Indemnify Employees  4.38
    • B.  When Public Entity Provides Unconditional Defense  4.39
    • C.  When Request Made But Public Entity Elects Not to Provide Defense  4.40
    • D.  When Defense Provided Under Reservation of Rights  4.41
    • E.  When Judgment Paid by Employee  4.42
    • F.  Indemnification for Punitive Damages  4.43
    • G.  No Duty to Indemnify When Elected Official Unlawfully Intervenes in or Influences Judicial Proceeding or Is Convicted of Specified Felonies  4.44
    • H.  When Duty to Indemnify Conflicts With Memorandum of Understanding  4.45
  • IV.  ENTITY’S RIGHT TO INDEMNIFICATION FROM EMPLOYEE
    • A.  General Rule  4.46
    • B.  Exceptions to General Rule
      • 1.  Employee’s Misconduct Caused by Fraud, Corruption, or Actual Malice; Employee’s Failure or Refusal to Conduct Defense in Good Faith  4.47
      • 2.  Intentional Wrongdoing of Elected Official  4.48
  • V.  REIMBURSEMENT FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS  4.49
    • A.  “Firefighter’s Rule”  4.50
    • B.  Exceptions to Firefighter’s Rule  4.51
  • VI.  INDEMNIFICATION BETWEEN ENTITY AND THIRD PARTIES
    • A.  Right to Recovery Under Comparative Equitable Indemnity  4.52
    • B.  Right to Express Contractual Indemnity  4.53
    • C.  Right to Equitable Indemnity  4.53A
    • D.  Effect of Proposition 51  4.54
      • 1.  Comparative Equitable Indemnity Limited Under Proposition 51  4.54A
      • 2.  Pre-Verdict Settlements  4.54B
      • 3.  Post-Verdict Settlements  4.54C
    • E.  Public Entity’s Liability to Third Party for Indemnity  4.55
  • VII.  JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY WHEN CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT EXISTS
    • A.  Applicable Rules  4.56
      • 1.  Agreements Creating Joint and Several Liability  4.56A
      • 2.  Joint Powers Agreements  4.56B
    • B.  No Tort Liability Under Third Party Beneficiary Theory  4.57

5

Overview of Claim Procedures

Girard Fisher

Robert C. Ceccon

Daniel P. Barer

  • I.  INTRODUCTION  5.1
    • A.  Development of Uniform Claims Procedures  5.2
    • B.  Elimination of Procedural Barriers to Liability
      • 1.  General Consent to Suit  5.3
      • 2.  Authority to Respond in Damages  5.4
  • II.  CLAIMS AGAINST PUBLIC ENTITIES
    • A.  General Features of Claims Procedures
      • 1.  Written Claim Must First Be Presented  5.5
      • 2.  Purpose of Claims Presentation Requirements  5.6
      • 3.  Claims Must Be for “Money or Damages”  5.7
        • a.  Tort Claims  5.8
        • b.  Contract Claims  5.9
        • c.  Subrogation Claims  5.10
        • d.  Indemnity Claims  5.11
        • e.  Intervention in Industrial Accident Cases  5.12
        • f.  Class Action Claims  5.13
      • 4.  Compliance With Claims Presentation Requirements Prerequisite to Action
        • a.  General Rule  5.14
        • b.  Relying on Another Party’s Claim Generally Prohibited; Exception  5.15
        • c.  Effect of Variance Between Content of Claim and Complaint  5.16
        • d.  Required Allegation in Complaint on Claims Presentation Requirements  5.17
        • e.  Burden of Proof  5.18
      • 5.  Validity of Requirements  5.19
    • B.  Claims Subject to Presentation Procedures
      • 1.  Statutory Distinctions Among Claims  5.20
      • 2.  Claims Against State  5.21
      • 3.  Claims Against Local Public Entities  5.22
      • 4.  Claims Against Judicial Branch Entity  5.23
      • 5.  Claims Against Municipalities for Certain Tax Refunds  5.24
      • 6.  Claims Procedures Established by Local Public Entity
        • a.  Authorization  5.25
        • b.  Limitations on Time to File Claim  5.26
        • c.  Local Claim Filing Requirements Not Retroactive  5.27
      • 7.  Claims Procedures Established by Contract  5.28
        • a.  Scope of Claims  5.29
        • b.  Time Limits on Claims  5.30
      • 8.  Claims of Minors and Incompetent Persons  5.31
      • 9.  Claims in Class Actions  5.32
      • 10.  Affirmative Defenses and Cross-Complaints
        • a.  Judicial Development of General Rule  5.33
        • b.  Factors to Be Considered in Application of General Rule  5.34
      • 11.  Enforcement of Settlements  5.35
    • C.  Claims Exempt From General Presentation Procedures
      • 1.  Claims Against State
        • a.  Specified Claims Against State Public Entities  5.36
        • b.  Implied Contracts  5.37
      • 2.  Specified Claims Against Local Public Entities (Govt C §905)  5.38
        • a.  Claims Against Other Public Entities  5.39
        • b.  Claims Based on Written Agreement With Its Own Claims Procedure  5.40
        • c.  Claims Subject to Govt C §946.4  5.41
        • d.  Exemptions Under Govt C §905 Strictly Construed  5.42
      • 3.  Local Agencies Not Filing With Roster of Public Agencies  5.43
        • a.  Required Statement  5.44
        • b.  Deadline for Filing Statement  5.45
        • c.  Purpose of Roster Procedure  5.46
        • d.  Statement on File Must Be Accurate and Complete  5.47
        • e.  Effect of Agency’s Noncompliance  5.48
      • 4.  Inverse Condemnation and Eminent Domain  5.49
      • 5.  Relief Other Than Money or Damages  5.50
        • a.  Action for Recovery of Property or Money  5.51
        • b.  Petition for Issuance of Writ of Mandamus  5.52
        • c.  When Primary Purpose of Action Is for Money Damages  5.53
      • 6.  Actions Seeking Redress for Employment Discrimination and Retaliation  5.54
      • 7.  Claims Under Federal Law  5.55
      • 8.  Claims Against University of California  5.56
      • 9.  Claims Against California State University  5.56A
  • III.  CLAIMS AGAINST PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
    • A.  Procedures and Statute of Limitations  5.57
    • B.  Claims Presentation Requirements
      • 1.  General Principles; Presenting Claim to Employing Public Entity  5.58
      • 2.  Scope of Employment  5.59
      • 3.  Scope of Claims Presentation Requirements
        • a.  Generally Same as Required by Entity Claims Statute  5.60
        • b.  Identification of Public Employee “If Known”  5.61
        • c.  Substitution of Name of Public Employee for Fictitious Defendant  5.62
        • d.  Exception for Ignorance of Public Employment
          • (1)  Nature and Purpose of Exception  5.63
          • (2)  Claim of Ignorance Under Govt C §950.4 Compared With Late Claim Under Govt C §911.4  5.64
      • 4.  Premature Complaint  5.65
  • IV.  AVOIDING EFFECT OF NONCOMPLIANCE
    • A.  Tactical Devices Available  5.66
    • B.  Doctrine of Substantial Compliance
      • 1.  Elements of Doctrine  5.67
      • 2.  Origin of Doctrine  5.68
      • 3.  Examples  5.69
      • 4.  Limitations of Doctrine
        • a.  Doctrine Cannot Cure Total Omission of Essential Requirement for Valid Claim  5.70
        • b.  Doctrine Will Not Cure Failure to Meaningfully Comply With Claims Requirements  5.71
        • c.  Public Entity’s Actual Knowledge of Claim Is Insufficient  5.72
        • d.  Defective Complaint May Not Be Used in Lieu of Timely Claim  5.73
        • e.  Doctrine Does Not Apply if Claim Is Not Presented to Designated Recipient Under Govt C §915  5.74
        • f.  Doctrine Will Not Cure Complaint’s Failure to Reflect Claim Accurately  5.75
        • g.  Effect of Public Entity’s Timely Notice of Claim’s Insufficiency  5.76
      • 5.  How Issue Raised; Tactical Consideration  5.77
    • C.  Waiver and Estoppel as Excuses for Noncompliance  5.78
      • 1.  Principles of Waiver  5.79
      • 2.  Statutory Waiver  5.80
      • 3.  Estoppel
        • a.  Elements of Estoppel  5.81
        • b.  False or Misleading Representations  5.82
          • (1)  Estoppel Claims Rejected  5.83
          • (2)  Aggravated Circumstances  5.84
        • c.  Intimidating Conduct  5.85
        • d.  Burden of Pleading and Proof on Plaintiff  5.86
    • D.  Filing Late Claim When Relief Available  5.87

6

Preparation, Presentation, and Consideration of Claim

Girard Fisher

Robert C. Ceccon

Daniel P. Barer

  • I.  PREPARATION: CONTENTS AND FORM
    • A.  Information to Be Included  6.1
      • 1.  Names and Addresses of Claimant and Person to Be Sent Notices  6.2
      • 2.  Description of Claim; Factual Content; Preserving Theories of Recovery  6.3
      • 3.  Inclusion of All Claimants  6.4
      • 4.  Public Employee Causing Injury or Damage  6.5
      • 5.  When Either Dollar Amount or Court’s Jurisdiction Must Be Specified  6.6
    • B.  Signature  6.7
    • C.  Form: Claim for Personal Injuries  6.8
    • D.  Special Claims Forms Provided by Public Entities  6.9
    • E.  Form: Government Claim Filing Instructions and Form (DGS ORIM 06): Claim Against State  6.10
  • II.  PRESENTATION OF CLAIM
    • A.  Time Limits for Presentation  6.11
      • 1.  Claims for Death or Injury to Person, Personal Property, or Crops: 6-Month Rule  6.12
      • 2.  Other Causes of Action: 1-Year Rule  6.13
      • 3.  Date Claim Presented  6.14
    • B.  Computing Time Limit
      • 1.  Mandatory Nature of Time Limits  6.15
      • 2.  Accrual of Claim
        • a.  Date of Accrual  6.16
          • (1)  Legal Theory Underlying Claim  6.17
          • (2)  Injuries of Continuing Nature  6.18
          • (3)  Injuries That Worsen Over Time  6.19
          • (4)  Defamation  6.20
          • (5)  Distinguishing Between Accrual, Tolling, and Revival Provisions in Statutes  6.21
        • b.  Delayed Discovery Rule  6.22
          • (1)  Application in Specific Cases  6.23
          • (2)  Determining Accrual Date  6.24
          • (3)  When Raised in Claim  6.25
          • (4)  When Raised in Complaint  6.26
          • (5)  Delayed Discovery Rule for Minors  6.27
          • (6)  Delayed Discovery in Medical Malpractice Actions  6.28
          • (7)  Delayed Discovery in Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases  6.29
          • (8)  Dilemma Posed by Delayed Discovery Claims  6.30
            • (a)  Entity’s Perspective  6.31
            • (b)  Claimant’s Perspective  6.32
        • c.  Equitable Indemnity  6.33
        • d.  Contractual Indemnification  6.34
      • 3.  Tolling Time Limit for Claim
        • a.  General Rule  6.35
        • b.  When Claimant Charged With Crime  6.36
        • c.  When Administrative Remedy Involved  6.37
        • d.  When Claimant in Military Service  6.38
        • e.  Effect of Ins C §11583  6.39
    • C.  Method of Presentation
      • 1.  To Local Entity or State  6.40
      • 2.  Effect of Presentation to Wrong Person  6.41
      • 3.  Effect of Presentation to Wrong Public Entity  6.42
    • D.  Filing Fee and Surcharge  6.43
  • III.  CONSIDERATION OF CLAIM
    • A.  Notice of Insufficiency and Amendments
      • 1.  Entity’s Duty to Provide Notice of Defects or Omissions  6.44
      • 2.  Claims That Trigger Notice of Insufficiency  6.45
      • 3.  Amending Claim to Cure Defects or Omissions  6.46
    • B.  Time to Act
      • 1.  45-Day Rule  6.47
      • 2.  When 45-Day Rule May Be Extended  6.48
    • C.  Action on Claim: Local Public Entity; State  6.49
    • D.  Reconsideration of Rejected Claims  6.50
    • E.  Notice of Action on Claim
      • 1.  Written Notice Required; Manner of Service  6.51
      • 2.  Effect When Notice Not Given  6.52
      • 3.  Form: Content and Form of Notice  6.53
    • F.  Notice and Return of Late Claim
      • 1.  Must Be Given Within 45 Days After Claim Presented; Purpose  6.54
      • 2.  If Notice of Insufficiency Is Sent  6.55
      • 3.  Effect When Notice Not Timely Given  6.56
      • 4.  Form: Content and Form of Notice  6.57
    • G.  Special Claims Agents, Boards, and Commissions  6.58

7

Late Claim Proceedings; Tolling Limitation Period

Girard Fisher

Gerald A. Clausen

Daniel P. Barer

  • I.  LATE CLAIM PROCEEDINGS  7.1
    • A.  Summary of Late Claim Procedure  7.2
    • B.  Failure to Invoke Late Claim Procedure  7.3
    • C.  Statutory Grounds That May Excuse Failure to Present Timely Claim  7.4
    • D.  Equitable Estoppel May Excuse Failure to Present Timely Claim  7.5
      • 1.  Estoppel May Excuse Claimant From Presenting Claim Altogether  7.6
      • 2.  When to Raise Estoppel Argument  7.7
    • E.  Substantial Compliance or Timely Filing; Collateral Estoppel
      • 1.  Combining Late Claim Application With Contention of Substantial Compliance or Timely Presentation  7.8
      • 2.  Substantial Compliance Cannot Be Asserted in Late Claim Proceeding  7.9
      • 3.  Split of Authority on Whether Timeliness of Claim May Be Considered in Late Claim Proceeding  7.10
      • 4.  Collateral Estoppel  7.11
  • II.  STATUTORY GROUNDS FOR GRANTING RELIEF
    • A.  Mistake, Inadvertence, Surprise, or Excusable Neglect
      • 1.  Present Application for Leave to Present Late Claim  7.12
      • 2.  Purpose of Rule  7.13
      • 3.  Excusable Neglect  7.14
        • a.  Filing Requirements Are Liberally Construed  7.15
        • b.  Excusable Neglect Required for Late Claim Relief Under the Act Is Generally Same as Required for Relief Under CCP §473  7.16
        • c.  Attorney’s Neglect Is Imputed to Claimant  7.17
        • d.  Failure to Consult Attorney May Not Be Absolute Bar to Finding of Excusable Neglect  7.18
        • e.  Failure to Present Timely Claim Must Be Objectively Reasonable  7.19
        • f.  Failure to Identify Defendant as Public Entity  7.20
        • g.  Presentation of Claim to Wrong Public Entity  7.21
        • h.  Lack of Knowledge That Public Entity’s Negligence or Wrongdoing Caused Injury or Damage  7.22
        • i.  Lack of Access to Records  7.23
        • j.  Ignorance of Applicable Claims Procedures  7.24
        • k.  Misleading Statements by Public Entity or Third Party  7.25
        • l.  Threats by Public Entity or Third Party  7.26
        • m.  Clerical or Calendaring Error  7.27
        • n.  Examples: Excusable Neglect Found  7.28
        • o.  Examples: Excusable Neglect Not Found  7.29
        • p.  Examples: Inattention or Lack of Diligence Found  7.30
      • 4.  Stationery and Identity Card Requirement (Govt C §7530)  7.31
      • 5.  Lack of Prejudice to Public Entity  7.32
        • a.  Burden of Proof  7.33
        • b.  No Need to Show Prejudice Unless Claimant Shows That Default Was Excusable  7.34
        • c.  Importance of Showing Prejudice  7.35
        • d.  Showing of Prejudice Must Be Supported by Facts  7.36
        • e.  Rebutting Showing of Prejudice  7.37
    • B.  Minority, Incapacity, or Death  7.38
      • 1.  Minority  7.39
      • 2.  Physical or Mental Incapacity  7.40
        • a.  Evidence in Support of Incapacity  7.41
        • b.  Claimant’s Ability to Present Other Claims  7.42
        • c.  Claimant Recovers From Incapacity  7.43
      • 3.  Death  7.44
      • 4.  Lack of Prejudice Need Not Be Shown  7.45
  • III.  PROCEDURE
    • A.  Applying to Public Entity for Leave to Present Late Claim
      • 1.  Who May Apply  7.46
      • 2.  Time Limit
        • a.  General Rule  7.47
        • b.  Tolling of Limitation Period  7.48
          • (1)  Tolling for Mental Incapacity  7.49
          • (2)  Minor’s Status as Ward or Dependent of Court May Toll Application Period  7.50
        • c.  Reasonable Diligence  7.51
        • d.  Unreasonable Delay in Filing Application  7.52
      • 3.  Method of Presentation of Late Claim Application  7.53
      • 4.  Form: Application for Leave to Present Late Claim  7.54
      • 5.  Action by Public Entity  7.55
        • a.  Written Notice of Action  7.56
        • b.  Time Limit  7.57
        • c.  When Accrual of Claim Is Uncertain  7.58
      • 6.  Form: Notice of Action on Application for Late Claim Relief  7.59
    • B.  Petitioning Court for Relief From Govt C §945.4
      • 1.  Grounds for Petition; Independent Review by Court  7.60
      • 2.  Nature of Proceeding  7.61
      • 3.  Time Limit  7.62
      • 4.  Order Requested in Petition  7.63
      • 5.  Contents of Petition  7.64
      • 6.  Burden of Proof  7.65
        • a.  Evidence in Support of Relief  7.66
        • b.  Public Entity’s Burden of Proof  7.67
      • 7.  Service of Petition; Written Notice of Hearing  7.68
      • 8.  Filing Petition With Court  7.69
      • 9.  Response to Petition; Reply  7.70
      • 10.  Discovery  7.71
      • 11.  Hearing  7.72
      • 12.  Generally No Right to Jury Trial  7.73
      • 13.  Testimonial Evidence  7.74
      • 14.  Declarations  7.75
      • 15.  Form: Petition for Order Relieving Petitioner From Provisions of Govt C §945.4  7.76
      • 16.  Effect of Order Granting Relief  7.77
      • 17.  Challenging the Ruling in the Trial Court  7.78
    • C.  Appellate Review of Order on Petition
      • 1.  Order Denying Relief; Appellate Review  7.79
        • a.  Time Limits for Appellate Review  7.80
        • b.  Standard of Review on Appeal  7.81
      • 2.  Order Granting Relief
        • a.  Availability of Review  7.82
        • b.  Availability of Writ Review  7.83
        • c.  Standard of Review  7.84
    • D.  Commencement of Action After Grant of Relief; Time Limitation  7.85
      • 1.  Calculating 30-Day Period  7.86
      • 2.  Tolling 30-Day Period  7.87
      • 3.  30-Day Period and Statute of Limitations  7.88

8

Bringing the Action

Girard Fisher

Gerald A. Clausen

Daniel P. Barer

  • I.  TACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN BRINGING ACTION AGAINST PUBLIC ENTITIES AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
    • A.  Limitations of Litigation Under Government Claims Act  8.1
    • B.  Choosing a Cause of Action
      • 1.  Causes of Action Outside Government Claims Act  8.2
      • 2.  Action for Breach of Contract  8.3
      • 3.  Federal Actions Against Both Public Entity and Public Employee  8.4
    • C.  Deciding Whether to Include Both Public Employee and Public Entity  8.5
      • 1.  Different Claims Requirements for Employees  8.6
      • 2.  Action Against Public Employee as Private Individual  8.7
      • 3.  Public Employee Necessary for Obtaining Punitive Damages  8.8
      • 4.  Cause of Action May Affect Public Entity’s Duty to Indemnify  8.9
      • 5.  Public Entity’s Duty to Defend  8.10
    • D.  Settlement Affected by Joint Liability  8.11
  • II.  STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING SUIT
    • A.  Generally  8.12
    • B.  Effect of Public Entity’s Failure to File With Roster of Public Agencies  8.13
    • C.  Effect of Statutes of Limitations Not Contained in the Government Claims Act  8.14
    • D.  Six Months From Date of Written Notice of Rejection of Claim
      • 1.  When 6-Month Period Begins  8.15
      • 2.  Claimant Bears Risk of Nondelivery in Case of Mailing  8.16
      • 3.  Computation of the Period
        • a.  Six-Month Period  8.17
        • b.  No Extension for Mailing  8.18
      • 4.  Defective or Ambiguous Rejection Notice  8.19
      • 5.  Amended Claim After Notice of Rejection  8.20
      • 6.  Reopening and Reconsidering Previously Rejected Claim  8.21
    • E.  Two Years From Accrual of Cause of Action When Written Notice of Rejection of Claim Not Given  8.22
    • F.  Thirty Days From Order Granting Petition Under Govt C §946.6  8.23
    • G.  Prematurely Filed Action  8.24
    • H.  Tolling Statutes of Limitations  8.25
      • 1.  Tolling During Agreed Extension of Public Entity’s Time to Act on Claim  8.26
      • 2.  Tolling During State Prisoner’s Loss of Right to Sue  8.27
      • 3.  Tolling During Criminal Defendant’s Loss of Right to Sue Peace Officer  8.28
      • 4.  Tolling During Claimant’s Military Service  8.29
    • I.  Applicability of General Tolling Statutes  8.30
      • 1.  Failure to Give Notice When Making Advance or Partial Payment  8.31
      • 2.  Workers’ Compensation Intervenor  8.32
      • 3.  MICRA 90-Day Tolling Period  8.33
      • 4.  Decertification of Class Action  8.34
      • 5.  Equitable Tolling  8.35
      • 6.  Equitable Estoppel  8.36
      • 7.  Tolling Pending Appeal  8.37
    • J.  Statutes of Limitations Applicable to Actions Not Subject to Claims Presentation Requirements  8.38
  • III.  PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS
    • A.  Venue  8.39
      • 1.  Actions Against State for Death or Injury to Person or Personal Property  8.40
      • 2.  Actions Against Local Public Entities  8.41
    • B.  Service of Process
      • 1.  Actions Against Local Public Entities Under Government Claims Act  8.42
      • 2.  Actions Against State Under Government Claims Act  8.43
    • C.  Undertaking for Costs in Malpractice Actions Involving Medical Personnel  8.44
  • IV.  PLEADINGS  8.45
    • A.  Name Appropriate Defendant  8.46
    • B.  Allege Compliance With or Excuse From Claim Presentation Requirements  8.47
    • C.  Allege Facts Corresponding to Circumstance Described in Claim  8.48
    • D.  Plead With Particularity  8.49
      • 1.  Identify Statutory Ground  8.50
      • 2.  Each Statutory Ground in Separate Cause of Action  8.51
      • 3.  Alleging Negligence  8.52
    • E.  Plead to Avoid Immunities  8.53
    • F.  Allege Facts Showing Duty Owed to Plaintiff  8.54
      • 1.  Affirmative Duty Imposed by Statute  8.55
      • 2.  Duty Created by Special Relationship  8.56
      • 3.  No Duty to Prevent Criminal Attacks by Third Parties  8.57
    • G.  Public Entity’s Answer: Including Affirmative Defenses  8.58
      • 1.  Verification of Answer  8.59
      • 2.  Public Entity Exempt From Filing Fees  8.60
  • V.  DISCOVERY ISSUES  8.61
    • A.  California Public Records Act (CPRA)  8.62
      • 1.  CPRA and Civil Discovery Act  8.63
      • 2.  Exemptions Under CPRA  8.64
    • B.  Privilege for Official Information  8.65
    • C.  Legislative Information
      • 1.  Open Meetings  8.66
      • 2.  Legislators’ Motivations Are Not Subject to Discovery  8.67
  • VI.  POSTTRIAL PROCEEDINGS
    • A.  Motion for Reduction of Judgment for Collateral Source Payments (Govt C §985)  8.68
    • B.  Motion for Postverdict Settlement Conference (Govt C §962)  8.69
    • C.  Reduction of Verdict to Actual Medical Costs Paid or Incurred  8.70
    • D.  Satisfaction of Judgment
      • 1.  Duty to Pay Judgments
        • a.  Statutory Requirement  8.71
          • (1)  Duty of Local Public Entities  8.72
          • (2)  Duty of State  8.73
        • b.  Prejudgment Interest  8.74
        • c.  Postjudgment Interest  8.75
        • d.  Installment Payments  8.76
          • (1)  Unreasonable Hardship  8.77
          • (2)  Judgment Against Public Entity Exceeds Threshold Amount  8.78
          • (3)  Health Care Providers  8.79
        • e.  Attorney Fees  8.80
      • 2.  Funding Tort Liabilities
        • a.  Ad Valorem Taxes or Assessments  8.81
        • b.  Insurance  8.82
        • c.  Joint Powers Agreements  8.83
    • E.  Appeals  8.84
  • VII.  REMEDIES FOR UNWARRANTED ACTIONS AGAINST PUBLIC ENTITIES AND EMPLOYEES
    • A.  Malicious Prosecution Action May Be Brought by Public Employee But Not by Public Entity  8.85
    • B.  Sanctions Under CCP §128.7  8.86
    • C.  Recovery of Defense Costs and Attorney Fees for Defending Against Frivolous Actions (CCP §§1038 and 1021.7)  8.87
      • 1.  Lack of Good Faith and Reasonable Cause  8.88
      • 2.  Procedure for Recovery of Costs Under CCP §1038  8.89

9

General Principles of Public Entity and Public Employee Liability

Randall B. Christison

Kristin G. Hogue

  • I.  SCOPE OF CHAPTER  9.1
  • II.  LIABILITY UNDER GOVERNMENT CLAIMS ACT
    • A.  Employees and Entities Generally Subject to Same Liabilities and Immunities  9.2
    • B.  Public Employee Liability
      • 1.  General Rule  9.3
      • 2.  Qualifications to General Rule  9.4
      • 3.  Exceptions to General Rule
        • a.  Public Employee Not Vicariously Liable for Torts of Another Person  9.5
        • b.  Local Public Officials Not Vicariously Liable for Injury Caused by Public Entity or Advisory Body  9.6
    • C.  Public Entity Liability
      • 1.  Statutory Liability  9.6A
      • 2.  Liability for Acts or Omissions of Public Employees in Scope of Their Employment  9.7
        • a.  Requirement of Duty; Negligence  9.8
        • b.  Intentional Torts  9.9
        • c.  Statutory and Common Law Liability  9.10
        • d.  Scope of Employment Requirement; Effect of Intentional or Criminal Acts  9.11
          • (1)  Foreseeability Test  9.12
          • (2)  Examples of Acts Held Within Scope of Employment  9.13
          • (3)  Examples of Acts Held Not Within Scope of Employment  9.14
          • (4)  Criminal Acts [Deleted]  9.15
          • (5)  Intentional Torts by Elected Officials  9.16
      • 3.  Liability for Punitive Damages Awarded Against Employees  9.17
      • 4.  Relationship Between Public Employee’s and Public Entity’s Immunities
        • a.  Employee Immunity Generally Imputed to Entity  9.18
        • b.  Entity Sometimes Immune When Employee Liable  9.19
        • c.  Entity Sometimes Liable Although Employee Immune or Otherwise Not Liable  9.20
      • 5.  Liability for Acts of Independent Contractors  9.21
        • a.  Nondelegable Duty  9.22
        • b.  Peculiar Risk Doctrine  9.23
        • c.  Negligent Exercise of Retained Control or Negligent Provision of Unsafe Equipment  9.23A
        • d.  Limitations on Entity Liability  9.24
      • 6.  Mandatory Duty Liability
        • a.  Statute, Charter, Ordinance, or Regulation  9.25
        • b.  Duty Must Be Imposed by Enactment  9.26
        • c.  Enactment Must Be Specifically Pleaded  9.27
        • d.  Ascertaining Whether Enactment Imposes Mandatory Duty  9.28
        • e.  Determining Intent From Statutory Language  9.28A
          • (1)  When Duty Explicitly Stated; Effect of Word “Shall”
            • (a)  Use of “Shall” Often Leads to Finding of Mandatory Duty  9.29
            • (b)  Use of “Shall” Not Dispositive  9.30
            • (c)  Finding of No Mandatory Duty Despite Use of “Shall”  9.31
          • (2)  Statutory Mandatory Duties Do Not Create Implied Mandatory Duties  9.32
          • (3)  Language of Enactment Must Be More Than Advisory Statements or Nonobligatory General Recitations  9.33
          • (4)  Duty Not Mandatory When Enactment Confers Discretionary or Permissive Authority  9.34
          • (5)  Duty Must Be Imposed on Defendant  9.35
        • f.  Enactment Must Intend to Protect Against Kind of Risk of Injury Suffered
          • (1)  Liability Found  9.36
          • (2)  Liability Not Found  9.37
        • g.  Breach of Mandatory Duty Must Be Proximate Cause of Injury Suffered  9.38
        • h.  Relationship to Statutory Immunities
          • (1)  Public Employee Immunity Does Not Insulate Public Entity From Liability Under Govt C §815.6  9.39
          • (2)  Statutory Immunities Applicable to Public Entities May Bar Liability Under Govt C §815.6
            • (a)  Immunities That Do Not Defeat Mandatory Duty  9.40
            • (b)  Immunities That Defeat Mandatory Duty  9.41
        • i.  Burden of Proof  9.42
        • j.  Writ of Mandamus as Remedy  9.43
        • k.  Nonmandatory Performance Standards  9.44
    • D.  Damages Recoverable  9.45
      • 1.  Examples  9.46
      • 2.  Collateral Source Rule  9.47
  • III.  EFFECT OF UNDERLYING GENERAL TORT LAW ON GOVERNMENT CLAIMS ACT  9.48
    • A.  Elements of Liability Based on Negligence Theory  9.49
      • 1.  Duty Requirement  9.50
      • 2.  Factors Establishing Duty  9.51
      • 3.  Duty Based on Misfeasance  9.52
      • 4.  Duty Arising From Special Relationship  9.53
        • a.  Cases Finding Special Relationship  9.54
        • b.  Cases Finding No Special Relationship  9.55
      • 5.  Duty Generally to Be Considered Before Immunity  9.56
      • 6.  Examples of Duty
        • a.  Cases in Which Duty Found to Exist  9.57
        • b.  Cases in Which Duty Found Not to Exist  9.58
    • B.  Strict Products Liability Not Available Under Government Claims Act  9.59
  • IV.  LIABILITY BASED ON OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT CLAIMS ACT
    • A.  Based on Constitutional Rights  9.60
      • 1.  Inverse Condemnation
        • a.  Constitutional Basis  9.60A
        • b.  Distinguished From Eminent Domain  9.61
        • c.  Distinguished From Torts  9.62
        • d.  Must Be Taking or Damaging for “Public Use” and Entity Must Have “Substantially Participated” in Project  9.63
        • e.  Defenses  9.64
        • f.  Damages  9.65
        • g.  Procedural Considerations; Statutes of Limitation  9.66
        • h.  When Inverse Condemnation Action May Be Available
          • (1)  Types of Damage or Takings  9.67
            • (a)  Damage to Property From Diverted or Escaping Waters  9.68
            • (b)  Landslide or Subsidence Damage  9.69
            • (c)  Interference With Owner’s Right of Access to Property  9.70
            • (d)  Diminution of Value From Airport Noise  9.71
            • (e)  Government Land Use Ordinance or Regulatory Decisions  9.72
            • (f)  Other Forms of Inverse Condemnation  9.73
          • (2)  Precondemnation Delay  9.74
      • 2.  Other Actions Based on California Constitution
        • a.  When Action for Money Damages Available  9.75
          • (1)  Affirmative Intent to Authorize or Withhold Damages Action  9.75A
          • (2)  Constitutional Tort Analysis  9.75B
          • (3)  Existence of Special Factors Counseling Hesitation  9.75C
        • b.  Cases Involving Right to Sue Under California Constitution  9.75D
        • c.  Preexisting Statutory Immunity Bars Constitutional Tort Causes of Action  9.75E
    • B.  Under Statute
      • 1.  Federal Civil Rights Act  9.76
      • 2.  Americans with Disabilities Act  9.76A
      • 3.  Antitrust Liability  9.77
      • 4.  Motor Vehicle Liability  9.78
      • 5.  Nuisance
        • a.  In General  9.79
        • b.  Statutory Immunities  9.80
      • 6.  Liability Under Other Statutes  9.81
    • C.  Nontortious Liability
      • 1.  Contractual Liability  9.82
        • a.  Misrepresentation  9.83
        • b.  Other Examples  9.84
      • 2.  Nonmonetary Relief
        • a.  Availability of Injunctive and Declaratory Relief  9.85
        • b.  Legislative Intent [Deleted]  9.86
        • c.  Writ of Mandamus as Remedy  9.87
        • d.  Inapplicability of Claims Filing Requirements  9.87A
      • 3.  Workers’ Compensation
        • a.  General Principles  9.88
        • b.  Waiver of Exclusivity of Workers’ Compensation Remedy [Deleted]  9.89
        • c.  Assistance of Public Entities by Private Citizens  9.90
        • d.  Other Issues  9.91

10

General Immunities of Public Entities and Employees

Kristin G. Hogue

  • I.  INTRODUCTION
    • A.  Scope of Chapter  10.1
    • B.  Relationship Between Entity and Employee Immunities  10.2
    • C.  Raising Immunity Defense
      • 1.  Procedure  10.3
      • 2.  Failure to Raise Immunity as Jurisdictional Issue  10.4
      • 3.  Availability of Immunity Affected by Plaintiff’s Choice of Remedy  10.5
  • II.  GENERAL IMMUNITIES
    • A.  Discretionary Acts and Omissions Under Govt C §820.2
      • 1.  Statutory Authority  10.6
      • 2.  Basis in Common Law  10.7
      • 3.  Interpreted Largely by Case Law  10.8
      • 4.  California Supreme Court Cases Interpreting Govt C §820.2  10.9
        • a.  Barner v Leeds  10.10
        • b.  Caldwell v Montoya  10.10A
        • c.  Johnson v State  10.11
        • d.  Other Related California Supreme Court Decisions  10.12
      • 5.  Factors to Consider in Applying Discretionary Immunity  10.13
        • a.  Statutes Entrusting Authority and Discretion  10.14
        • b.  Distinction Between “Planning” and “Operational” Functions: Immunity Reserved for Basic Policy Decisions  10.15
        • c.  Semantic or Literal Approach to Discretion  10.16
        • d.  Conduct Merely “Incidental and Collateral” to Discretionary Decision  10.17
        • e.  Exercise of Discretion in Which Risks and Advantages Weighed and Balance Struck  10.18
        • f.  Effective and Vigorous Performance as Highly Important to Public Welfare  10.19
        • g.  Other Factors  10.20
      • 6.  Employees Vested With Discretion Versus Exercising Ministerial Functions  10.21
        • a.  Employees Held to Be Vested With Discretion  10.22
        • b.  Employees Held to Be Exercising Ministerial Functions  10.23
      • 7.  When Discretionary Immunity Held to Apply  10.24
        • a.  Pre-Johnson Cases  10.25
        • b.  Post-Johnson Cases  10.26
      • 8.  When Discretionary Immunity Held Not to Apply  10.27
        • a.  Ministerial Acts Under Pre-Johnson Cases  10.28
        • b.  Ministerial Acts Under Post-Johnson Cases  10.29
      • 9.  Police and Law Enforcement: A Special Case?
        • a.  Special Versus General Immunity  10.30
        • b.  Effect of Johnson v State  10.31
        • c.  Effect of Govt C §820.25  10.32
      • 10.  Limited Exception to Immunity Under Govt C §820.2  10.32A
    • B.  Other General Immunities
      • 1.  Public Officers’ Immunity for Subordinates’ Acts and Omissions  10.33
        • a.  No Immunity When Supervising Employee Participates in Tort  10.34
        • b.  Effect of Govt C §820.8 on Public Entity Immunity  10.35
      • 2.  Local Officials’ Immunity for Misconduct of Governing Body  10.36
      • 3.  Immunity for Money Stolen From Official Custody  10.37
      • 4.  Misrepresentation
        • a.  Meaning and Scope of “Misrepresentation”  10.38
        • b.  Entity Immunity for Misrepresentation  10.39
        • c.  Employee Immunity for Misrepresentation  10.40
        • d.  Misrepresentation Cases  10.41
        • e.  Contract Action Not Barred  10.42
      • 5.  Malicious Prosecution
        • a.  Scope and Purpose of Immunity  10.43
        • b.  Cases Under Govt C §821.6  10.44
      • 6.  False Arrest and False Imprisonment
        • a.  No Specific Immunity for False Arrest or Imprisonment  10.45
        • b.  Malicious Prosecution Distinguished  10.46
      • 7.  Health and Safety Inspections of Property  10.47
        • a.  Immunity Is Absolute  10.48
        • b.  Scope of Immunity  10.49
      • 8.  Adoption and Enforcement of Law
        • a.  Adoption of Enactments
          • (1)  Scope of Immunity  10.50
          • (2)  Immunity Does Not Apply to Mandatory Discharge of Duty  10.51
        • b.  Failing to Legislate  10.52
        • c.  Nonnegligent Enforcement of Law
          • (1)  Immunity Applies If Employee Exercises Due Care  10.53
          • (2)  Function of Immunity  10.54
          • (3)  Standard of Due Care  10.55
        • d.  Failure to Enforce Law  10.56
          • (1)  Immunity Not Applicable to Negligence or Failure to Protect Against Dangerous Property Condition  10.57
          • (2)  Immunity Usually Applies to Actions of Law Enforcement Officers  10.58
      • 9.  Acts Under Invalid or Inapplicable Enactment
        • a.  Scope and Nature of Immunity  10.59
        • b.  Burden of Proof  10.60
      • 10.  Authorized Entry on Private Property
        • a.  Scope and Nature of Immunity  10.61
        • b.  Availability of Damages for Precondemnation Activity  10.62
      • 11.  Licensing Activities
        • a.  Nature of Licensing Immunity  10.63
        • b.  Court’s Decision on Whether Mandatory Duty Exists Usually Determines Whether Licensing Immunity Applies  10.64
        • c.  Issuance of Driver’s Licenses  10.65
        • d.  Immunity for Activity Preliminary to Issuance of License  10.66
        • e.  Cases Applying Licensing Immunity  10.67
  • III.  MISCELLANEOUS IMMUNITIES
    • A.  Gradual Earth Movement (Govt C §866(a))  10.68
    • B.  Earthquake and Volcanic Warnings (Govt C §955.1(b))  10.69
    • C.  Tunnel Travel by Flammable Liquid Carriers (Govt C §821.5)  10.70
    • D.  Injuries From National Guard Members (Govt C §816)  10.71
    • E.  Injuries From Asbestos Exposure (Govt C §905.5)  10.72
    • F.  Immunities Outside Government Claims Act  10.73
      • 1.  Selected Immunities  10.74
      • 2.  Privileged Communications or Broadcasts (CC §47)
        • a.  Communications in Proper Discharge of Official Duty  10.75
        • b.  Communications During Official Proceeding (CC §47(b))  10.76
      • 3.  Immunity Under Emergency Services Act  10.77
      • 4.  School-Related Immunities  10.78
  • IV.  OTHER DEFENSES  10.79

11

Liabilities and Immunities in Specific Functional Areas

Joel A. Davis

Laura Lee Gold

  • I.  INTRODUCTION
    • A.  Scope  11.1
    • B.  Governmental Activities Not Specifically Treated  11.2
  • II.  POLICE AND CORRECTIONAL ACTIVITIES  11.3
    • A.  Statutory Liabilities
      • 1.  General Provisions  11.4
      • 2.  Specific Provisions  11.5
        • a.  False Arrest and False Imprisonment  11.6
          • (1)  Definitions of “False Arrest” and “False Imprisonment”  11.7
          • (2)  Relationship Between False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution  11.8
          • (3)  Statutory Immunities  11.9
          • (4)  Other Statutory Limitations  11.10
          • (5)  Related Claim Under Federal Civil Rights Act  11.11
        • b.  Interference With Prisoner’s Right to Judicial Review  11.12
          • (1)  Definition of “Prisoner”  11.13
          • (2)  Relationship to Federal Constitutional Civil Rights Violations  11.14
        • c.  Failure to Summon Medical Care for Prisoner  11.15
        • d.  Remedy for Failure to Provide Adequate Medical Care for Prisoner  11.16
          • (1)  Specific Immunities  11.17
          • (2)  Comparison to Liability for Medical Malpractice  11.18
          • (3)  Relationship to Federal Civil Rights Act  11.19
        • e.  Other Specific Law Enforcement Liabilities  11.20
      • 3.  Federal Civil Rights Act  11.21
    • B.  Statutory Immunities  11.22
      • 1.  General Provisions
        • a.  Discretionary Acts and Omissions  11.23
        • b.  Other General Provisions  11.24
      • 2.  Specific Provisions  11.25
        • a.  Not Primarily Aimed at Law Enforcement Torts  11.26
        • b.  Injuries to Prisoners
          • (1)  Immunity of Public Entity  11.27
            • (a)  Who Is a Prisoner  11.28
            • (b)  Who Is Not a Prisoner  11.29
            • (c)  What Is an Injury to a Prisoner  11.30
          • (2)  Exceptions to Immunity  11.31
            • (a)  Liability of Public Employees  11.32
            • (b)  Indemnification of Employees Held Liable for Injuries to Prisoners  11.33
        • c.  Injuries Caused by Prisoners
          • (1)  Immunity of Public Entity  11.34
          • (2)  Exceptions  11.35
        • d.  Failure to Provide Penal and Correctional Facilities  11.36
        • e.  Determinations Relating to Parole and Release of Prisoners  11.37
          • (1)  Relationship to Discretionary Function Immunity  11.38
          • (2)  Broadly Defined Release Immunity  11.39
            • (a)  Examples of Immune Acts  11.40
            • (b)  Negligent Supervision of Parolee  11.41
          • (3)  Relationship to Duty to Warn  11.42
        • f.  Injuries Caused by Escaped or Escaping Persons  11.43
          • (1)  Absolute Immunity  11.44
          • (2)  Relationship to Liability for Negligent Operation of Motor Vehicle  11.45
        • g.  Failure to Provide Police Protection  11.46
          • (1)  Situations Outside Scope of Immunity  11.47
          • (2)  Duty Arising From Special Relationship  11.48
            • (a)  Relationship of Immunity to Duty  11.49
            • (b)  Public Transportation and Schools  11.50
        • h.  Failure to Make Arrest and Failure to Retain Arrested Person in Custody  11.51
        • i.  Money Stolen From Official Custody  11.52
        • j.  Injuries by National Guard  11.53
        • k.  Statutory Immunities Found Outside Government Claims Act  11.54
          • (1)  Emergency Services Act  11.55
          • (2)  Other Emergency Services  11.56
          • (3)  Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect  11.57
          • (4)  Reporting Elder Abuse  11.57A
  • III.  FIRE PROTECTION ACTIVITIES
    • A.  Statutory Liabilities
      • 1.  General Provisions  11.58
      • 2.  Extraterritorial Fire Protection Service  11.59
      • 3.  Willful Misconduct in Transporting Injured Persons to Medical Aid  11.60
      • 4.  Other Statutory Liabilities  11.61
    • B.  Statutory Immunities
      • 1.  General Provisions  11.62
      • 2.  Failure to Provide Adequate Fire Protection
        • a.  Applicable Statutes  11.63
        • b.  Problems of Statutory Interpretation
          • (1)  What Is a Fire Protection Service  11.64
          • (2)  What Is Sufficient Personnel, Equipment, or Facilities  11.65
          • (3)  Effect of Mandatory Requirements  11.66
      • 3.  Dangerous Condition of Fire Protection Equipment or Facilities
        • a.  Applicable Statutes  11.67
        • b.  Injuries When No Fire  11.68
        • c.  Relation to Dangerous Condition and Mandatory Duty Liability  11.69
      • 4.  Injuries Caused in Fighting Fires
        • a.  Applicable Statutes  11.70
        • b.  Scope of Immunity  11.71
          • (1)  Only Acts During Firefighting Activities Are Immune  11.72
          • (2)  Extent of Activities Held Immune  11.73
      • 5.  Other Statutory Immunities  11.74
  • IV.  MEDICAL, HOSPITAL, AND PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIVITIES
    • A.  Statutory Liabilities
      • 1.  General Provisions  11.75
      • 2.  Failure to Conform Medical Facilities to Prescribed Standards
        • a.  Applicable Statutes  11.76
          • (1)  Scope of Application  11.77
          • (2)  Examples of Prescribed Standards  11.78
          • (3)  Nonregulated Facilities  11.79
        • b.  Relationship to Immunities  11.80
      • 3.  Interference With Patient’s Right of Judicial Review  11.81
        • a.  Confinement Must Be Illegal and Interference Must Be Intentional and Unjustifiable  11.82
        • b.  Meaning of “Medical Facility”  11.83
        • c.  Meaning of “Confinement”  11.84
      • 4.  Negligence in Administering Medical Care
        • a.  General Rule of Liability  11.85
        • b.  Specific Liability Provisions  11.86
      • 5.  Other Statutory Liabilities
        • a.  In General  11.87
        • b.  Applicable State Statutes Outside Government Claims Act  11.88
    • B.  Statutory Immunities
      • 1.  General Provisions  11.89
      • 2.  Discretionary Public Health Determinations  11.90
      • 3.  Physical or Mental Examinations
        • a.  General Rule of Immunity  11.91
        • b.  Application to General Health Screening Programs  11.92
        • c.  Examples  11.93
      • 4.  Failure to Admit Patient to Public Medical Facility  11.94
      • 5.  Injuries to Inpatients of Mental Institution: Immunity Provision  11.95
        • a.  Definition of “Mental Institution”  11.96
        • b.  Definition of “Inpatient”  11.97
        • c.  Limitations to Immunity  11.98
        • d.  Exception: Injury to Person Other Than Mental Patient by Dangerous Property Condition  11.99
        • e.  Liability of Public Employees  11.100
        • f.  Indemnification of Employee by Entity  11.101
      • 6.  Injuries Caused by Mental Patients
        • a.  Immunity Provision  11.102
        • b.  Limitations to Immunity  11.103
      • 7.  Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Illness or Addiction  11.104
        • a.  Broad Scope of Immunity  11.105
        • b.  Related Immunities  11.106
        • c.  Exceptions and Limitations  11.107
      • 8.  Confinement of Mental Patients and Addicts  11.108
        • a.  Scope of Immunity  11.109
        • b.  Definition of Terms  11.110
        • c.  Related Immunities Outside Government Claims Act  11.111
        • d.  Exceptions and Limitations to Immunity  11.112
      • 9.  Parole and Release of Mental Patients and Addicts
        • a.  Immunity Provision  11.113
          • (1)  Relation to Confinement Immunity  11.114
          • (2)  Release Must Be Based on Statutory Enactment  11.115
          • (3)  Other Defenses or Grounds for Immunity  11.116
        • b.  Scope of Immunity  11.117
      • 10.  Escaped or Escaping Mental Patients or Addicts  11.118
        • a.  Application of “Confined”  11.119
        • b.  Exceptions to Immunity  11.120
      • 11.  Other Statutory Immunities  11.121
  • V.  ADMINISTRATION OF TAX LAWS
    • A.  Statutory Liabilities  11.122
    • B.  Statutory Immunities  11.123
      • 1.  Arguments for and Against Narrow Interpretation of Immunity  11.124
      • 2.  Relationship of Govt C §860.2 to Govt C §860.4  11.125
  • VI.  PESTICIDE USE
    • A.  General Principle of Liability  11.126
    • B.  Qualifications and Limitations of Liability Rules  11.127
  • VII.  INJURIES CAUSED BY MOTOR VEHICLES
    • A.  Liability of Public Entity Under Veh C §17001
      • 1.  In General  11.128
      • 2.  Judicial Construction
        • a.  “Public Entity”  11.129
        • b.  “Motor Vehicle”  11.130
        • c.  “Employee”  11.131
        • d.  “Scope of Employment”  11.132
        • e.  “Negligent or Wrongful Operation”  11.133
    • B.  Ownership and Bailee Liability of Public Entity
      • 1.  Ownership  11.134
      • 2.  Bailee  11.135
      • 3.  Limits of Liability  11.136
    • C.  Liability for Negligent Entrustment  11.137
    • D.  Liability for Injuries to Guests  11.138
    • E.  Indemnification of Public Employee; Subrogation of Public Entity  11.139
    • F.  Statutory Immunities
      • 1.  Operation of Authorized Emergency Vehicle
        • a.  Applicable Statutes  11.140
        • b.  Meaning of “Authorized Emergency Vehicle”  11.141
        • c.  Injury in Course of or as Result of Pursuit by Peace Officer (Veh C §17004.7)  11.142
        • d.  Application of Veh C §§17004 and 17004.7  11.143
        • e.  Relationship of Immunity Provisions and Liability Provisions  11.144
      • 2.  Operation of Road Equipment  11.145
      • 3.  Immunities Under Government Claims Act  11.146
  • VIII.  ACTIVITIES TO ABATE IMPENDING PERIL
    • A.  Activities Owing to Gradual Earth Movement  11.147
    • B.  Other Related Governmental Activities  11.148

12

Dangerous Condition of Public Property

Kenneth G. Nellis

  • I.  INTRODUCTION
    • A.  Scope of Chapter  12.1
    • B.  Governing Statutory Law  12.2
  • II.  PUBLIC ENTITY LIABILITY
    • A.  Checklist: Analytical Questions  12.3
    • B.  Basic Rules
      • 1.  Dangerous Property Liability Is Statutory Only  12.4
      • 2.  Essential Elements of Liability  12.5
      • 3.  Liabilities Are Cumulative  12.6
      • 4.  Liability Is Not Dependent on Employee Liability  12.7
      • 5.  Plaintiff’s Status Is Immaterial and Does Not Affect Liability  12.8
    • C.  Elements for Plaintiff to Establish
      • 1.  Public Property
        • a.  Definition: Property Must Be Owned or Controlled by Public Entity  12.9
          • (1)  Ownership
            • (a)  In General  12.10
            • (b)  No Ownership Until Streets and Highways Are Accepted  12.11
          • (2)  Control  12.12
        • b.  Ownership or Control Must Exist at Time of Accident  12.13
        • c.  Joint and Several Liability May Result If Ownership or Control Are Divided  12.14
      • 2.  Dangerous Condition
        • a.  Definition  12.15
        • b.  Condition of Property: Definitions  12.16
          • (1)  Public Improvement That Is Damaged or Deteriorated  12.17
          • (2)  Property That Is Dangerous Because of Defective Design, Location, or Latent Hazard  12.18
          • (3)  Property That Is Dangerous Because of Condition of Property and Negligent or Criminal Conduct of Others  12.19
            • (a)  Cases Finding Property Dangerous Because of Condition of Property and Negligent or Criminal Conduct of Others  12.19A
            • (b)  Cases Not Finding Property Dangerous Because of Condition of Property and Negligent or Criminal Conduct of Others  12.19B
        • c.  Substantial Risk of Injury: Trivial Risks Excluded
          • (1)  Substantial Risk Under Govt C §830(a)  12.20
            • (a)  Manner In Which Property Condition Caused the Accident  12.20A
            • (b)  History of Similar Accidents  12.20B
            • (c)  Absence of Prior Accidents  12.20C
            • (d)  Professional Standards and Degree of Risk Created by Condition  12.20D
            • (e)  Safety Codes or Standards  12.20E
          • (2)  Trivial Risk Statutorily Excluded: Govt C §830.2
            • (a)  Generally Determined as Matter of Law  12.21
            • (b)  Determined as Question of Fact If Reasonable Minds Differ  12.22
        • d.  Such Property or Adjacent Property Under Govt C §830(a)  12.23
          • (1)  “Such Property”  12.24
          • (2)  “Adjacent Property”  12.25
          • (3)  Determining Whether Condition on Adjacent Property Imposed Duty on Public Entity  12.25A
          • (4)  Private Property Owners May Also Be Liable for Injuries on Public Property  12.25B
        • e.  Used With Due Care
          • (1)  Meaning and Scope  12.26
          • (2)  Court’s Approach When Determining Case on Pleadings  12.27
          • (3)  Effect of Court or Jury’s Determination of “Due Care”  12.28
          • (4)  Children Using Public Property Not Held to Adult Standard of “Due Care”  12.29
        • f.  Reasonably Foreseeable Manner of Use  12.30
        • g.  Statutory Qualifications Affecting Definition of Dangerous Condition  12.31
        • h.  Usually Question of Fact, Not Law  12.32
          • (1)  Examples: Question of Fact  12.33
          • (2)  Examples: Question of Law  12.34
          • (3)  Examples: Cases That Are Ambiguous or Outside Scope of Government Claims Act  12.35
      • 3.  Causation
        • a.  Proximate Cause  12.36
          • (1)  Dangerous Condition Need Not Be Sole or Exclusive Cause of Injury  12.37
          • (2)  Concurrent Negligence of Plaintiff or Third Party  12.38
          • (3)  When Chain of Causation Broken by Third Party  12.39
        • b.  Foreseeable Risk of Kind of Injury Incurred  12.40
        • c.  Manner of Injury May Be Corroborative of Foreseeability  12.40A
      • 4.  Grounds for Liability Under Govt C §835(a)–(b)  12.41
        • a.  Negligent or Wrongful Creation of Dangerous Condition: Govt C §835(a)
          • (1)  Basis for Liability  12.42
          • (2)  Showing of Notice Not Required  12.43
        • b.  Negligent Failure to Protect After Notice of Dangerous Condition: Govt C §835(b)
          • (1)  Basis for Liability  12.44
          • (2)  Showing of Actual or Constructive Notice Required  12.45
          • (3)  Actual Notice  12.46
          • (4)  Constructive Notice
            • (a)  Burden of Proof on Plaintiff  12.47
              • (i)  Length of Time Defect Has Existed  12.47A
              • (ii)  Similar Accidents and Inspection Reports  12.47B
              • (iii)  Foreseeable Third Party Criminal Conduct  12.47C
            • (b)  Reasonable Inspection Test of Constructive Notice  12.48
              • (i)  Question of Fact  12.49
              • (ii)  Question of Law  12.50
            • (c)  Trivial Defect Rule  12.51
      • 5.  Protective Measures
        • a.  Opportunity to Take Protective Measures  12.52
        • b.  Assessment of Relevant Policy Considerations; When Protective Measures Not Required  12.53
      • 6.  Damages  12.54
      • 7.  Considerations Concerning Duty  12.55
  • III.  DEFENSES AND IMMUNITIES AVAILABLE TO DEFENDANT PUBLIC ENTITY
    • A.  Checklist: Analytical Questions  12.56
    • B.  Public Entity May Assert Any Defenses Available to Private Defendants  12.57
      • 1.  Comparative Negligence  12.58
      • 2.  Assumption of Risk  12.59
      • 3.  Third Party Negligence  12.60
    • C.  Statutory Defenses
      • 1.  Reasonableness of Act or Omission Creating Condition
        • a.  Determining Reasonableness Under Govt C §835.4(a)  12.61
        • b.  Reasonableness Defense Compared With Design Immunity  12.62
      • 2.  Reasonableness of Protective Measures
        • a.  Reasonableness Test Under Govt C §835.4(b)  12.63
        • b.  Evaluate Reasonableness in Light of Degree of Danger Under All Circumstances  12.64
        • c.  Reasonableness Generally Determined as Issue of Fact  12.65
    • D.  Statutory Immunities
      • 1.  Design Immunity: Govt C §830.6
        • a.  Basic Principles  12.66
          • (1)  Purpose of Design Immunity  12.67
          • (2)  Constitutional Limitations on Design Immunity  12.68
        • b.  Elements Required to Prove Design Immunity
          • (1)  Causal Relationship Between Plan or Design and Accident  12.69
          • (2)  Approval by Authorized Public Body or Official Required  12.70
          • (3)  “Any Substantial Evidence” Required to Establish Reasonableness of Approval  12.71
        • c.  Loss of Design Immunity [Deleted]  12.72
        • d.  Burden of Pleading and Proof on Defendant  12.73
        • e.  Issue for Court, Not Jury  12.74
        • f.  Loss of Design Immunity  12.74A
          • (1)  Change in Physical Conditions  12.74B
          • (2)  Notice of Dangerous Condition  12.74C
          • (3)  Reasonable Time to Carry Out Remedial Work Or Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings  12.74D
      • 2.  Regulatory Traffic Signals, Signs, Markings: Govt C §830.4  12.75
      • 3.  Traffic Warning Signals, Signs, Markings, or Devices: Govt C §830.8
        • a.  In General  12.76
        • b.  Definition of “Described in the Vehicle Code”  12.77
        • c.  Concealed “Trap” Exception
          • (1)  In General  12.78
          • (2)  Whether Design Immunity Is Precluded by “Trap” Exception  12.79
      • 4.  Effect of Weather Conditions on Streets: Govt C §831
        • a.  General Rule  12.80
        • b.  When Weather Immunity Not Applicable  12.81
      • 5.  Natural Conditions of Unimproved Property: Govt C §831.2
        • a.  In General  12.82
        • b.  Scope of Immunity: When Does Public Property Cease to Be “Unimproved?”
          • (1)  Improvements Must Change Physical Nature of Property at Location of Injury  12.83
          • (2)  Impact of Warning Signs  12.84
        • c.  Voluntary Assumption of Duty to Protect Public
          • (1)  Govt C §831.21 Immunity Applies in Public Beach Cases Even If Entity Voluntarily Assumed Protective Duty  12.85
          • (2)  Govt C §831.2 Immunity Applied in Nonbeach and Beach Cases Arising Before Effective Date of Govt C §831.21  12.86
        • d.  Govt C §831.2 Generally Not Applied to Nonusers Injured on Adjacent Land; Effect of Land Failure  12.87
      • 6.  Unpaved Access Roads and Recreational Trails: Govt C §831.4  12.88
      • 7.  Unimproved and Unoccupied State Lands: Govt C §831.6  12.89
      • 8.  Recreational Activities
        • a.  Immunity for Hazardous Recreational Activities: Govt C §831.7
          • (1)  Definition of Hazardous Recreational Activities  12.90
          • (2)  School-Sponsored and Supervised Sports Activities  12.90A
          • (3)  Exceptions to Govt C §831.7 Immunity  12.91
        • b.  No Immunity for Recreational Activities Under CC §846  12.92
      • 9.  Reservoirs, Canals, Conduits, Drains: Govt C §831.8
        • a.  Reservoir Immunity Applies If Use of Property Was Unintended or Unpermitted: Govt C §831.8(a)
          • (1)  Scope of Immunity  12.93
          • (2)  Limitations on Reservoir Immunity  12.94
        • b.  Canals, Drains Unintended Purposes: Govt C §831.8(b)
          • (1)  Canal Immunity Applies When Use of Property Was Unintended  12.95
          • (2)  Definition of “Irrigation District”  12.96
          • (3)  Limitations on Canal Immunity  12.97
        • c.  Unlined Flood Control Channels and Groundwater Recharge Spreading Grounds Under Govt C §831.8(c)  12.97A
        • d.  Exception: Trap for Noncriminal User Under Govt C §831.8(d)  12.98
        • e.  Exception: Attractive Nuisance to Children Under 12  12.99
      • 10.  Other Statutory Immunities
        • a.  Miscellaneous Immunities Under Government Claims Act  12.100
        • b.  Statutory Immunities Provided by Other Statutes  12.101
  • IV.  PUBLIC EMPLOYEE LIABILITY, DEFENSES, AND IMMUNITIES
    • A.  Liability
      • 1.  Basic Principles
        • a.  Scope of Employee Liability for Dangerous Conditions  12.102
        • b.  Practical Significance of Employee Liability  12.103
        • c.  Broader Scope of Entity Liability  12.104
        • d.  Additional Proof to Establish Employee Liability  12.105
      • 2.  Elements for Plaintiff to Establish  12.106
        • a.  Dangerous Condition of Public Property  12.107
        • b.  Proximate Cause  12.108
        • c.  Foreseeable Risk of Kind of Injury Incurred  12.109
        • d.  Fourth Element of Employee Liability Under Govt C §840.2(a) or (b)  12.110
          • (1)  Creation of Condition by Employee’s Negligent or Wrongful Act: Govt C §840.2(a)
            • (a)  In General  12.111
            • (b)  Authority and Means to Avoid Danger Required  12.112
          • (2)  Negligent Failure to Protect Against Dangerous Condition: Govt C §840.2(b)
            • (a)  Actual or Constructive Notice  12.113
            • (b)  Authority, Responsibility, and Means to Avoid Danger  12.114
    • B.  Defenses and Immunities
      • 1.  Checklist: Defenses and Immunities to Consider  12.115
      • 2.  Specific Defenses
        • a.  Reasonableness of Act or Omission Creating Condition  12.116
        • b.  Reasonableness of Protective Measures or Inaction  12.117
        • c.  Defenses Available to Private Persons  12.118
      • 3.  Dangerous Condition Immunities
        • a.  Immunities Under Government Claims Act  12.119
        • b.  Other Statutory Immunities  12.120
  • V.  PROCEDURAL ASPECTS OF DANGEROUS CONDITION CASE
    • A.  Preliminary Considerations
      • 1.  Selecting Defendants
        • a.  Proper Public Entity; Multiple Public Entities  12.121
        • b.  Public Employees and Public Entities  12.122
        • c.  Public and Private Defendants  12.123
      • 2.  Satisfying or Avoiding Claims Presentation Requirements  12.124
    • B.  Pleading Cause of Action
      • 1.  Alternative Recovery Theories Available  12.125
        • a.  Inverse Condemnation  12.126
        • b.  Nuisance  12.127
        • c.  Vicarious Liability for Independent Contractor Torts  12.128
        • d.  Failure to Discharge Mandatory Duty  12.129
        • e.  Negligent Operation of Motor Vehicle  12.130
        • f.  Multiple Theories  12.131
      • 2.  Pleading Liability Conditions  12.132
        • a.  Dangerous Condition  12.133
        • b.  Causation and Notice  12.134
      • 3.  Sample Allegation: Sidewalk Defect Created by Public Entity  12.135
      • 4.  Sample Allegation: Sidewalk Defect With Constructive Notice  12.136
      • 5.  Plaintiff: Avoiding Statutory Immunities
        • a.  General Rule; When Facts Should Be Pleaded to Avoid Immunity  12.137
        • b.  Alleging Nonexoneration  12.138
    • C.  Defendant: Pleading Affirmative Defenses and Immunities  12.139
    • D.  Selected Problems of Proof
      • 1.  Avoiding Dismissal Under Trivial Risk Rule  12.140
      • 2.  Establishing Immunity for Approved Plan or Design  12.141
        • a.  Reasonableness of Approval: Substantial Evidence Test  12.142
        • b.  Accident History as Evidence to Support or Terminate Immunity  12.143
        • c.  Avoiding Immunity Because of Independent Tortious Act  12.144
      • 3.  Happening of Accident Not Evidence of Dangerous Condition  12.145
      • 4.  Res Ipsa Loquitur  12.146
      • 5.  Evidence of Occurrence or Absence of Other Accidents
        • a.  Proof of Dangerous or Defective Condition  12.147
        • b.  Proof of Notice  12.148
        • c.  Discovery  12.149
      • 6.  Evidence of Subsequent Precautions  12.150
      • 7.  Expert Testimony on Dangerous Nature of Condition  12.151
      • 8.  Evidence of Written Standards or Guidelines  12.152
    • E.  Jury Instructions
      • 1.  General Considerations  12.153
      • 2.  Specific Issues  12.154
        • a.  Proof That Property Was Used Carefully  12.155
        • b.  When Court Must Avoid Instruction That Common Law Negligence Is Issue Against Public Entity  12.156
        • c.  When Common Law Negligence Is Issue  12.157
      • 3.  Jury Instructions  12.158

13

Federal Civil Rights Act

Timothy T. Coates

Jeffrey T. Miller

  • I.  SCOPE OF CHAPTER  13.1
  • II.  FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS ACT (42 USC §1983)
    • A.  Description and Use  13.2
      • 1.  Violation of Cognizable Interest Required  13.3
      • 2.  Necessity of Action Under Color of State Law  13.4
        • a.  Determining Whether Action Under Color of State Law  13.5
        • b.  State Action Found (Examples)  13.6
        • c.  State Action Not Found (Examples)  13.7
      • 3.  Causation  13.7A
    • B.  Proper Forum
      • 1.  Concurrent Jurisdiction of State and Federal Courts; Removal  13.8
      • 2.  Supplemental Jurisdiction Concerning State and Federal Claims  13.9
  • III.  PROCEDURAL CONSIDERATIONS IN BRINGING FEDERAL ACTION
    • A.  Federal Substantive Law Controls  13.10
      • 1.  State Immunities and Claims-Presentation Requirements Inapplicable  13.11
      • 2.  Statute of Limitations
        • a.  Two Years in California  13.12
        • b.  Accrual of Cause of Action  13.12A
        • c.  Tolling of Statute  13.13
    • B.  Exhaustion of State or Administrative Remedies Generally Not Prerequisite  13.14
    • C.  Reversal of Conviction May Be Required When Civil Rights Claim Necessarily Implicates Validity of Conviction  13.15
    • D.  Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel Principles Given Effect  13.16
    • E.  Pleading Requirements  13.17
  • IV.  PROPER DEFENDANTS
    • A.  Liability Attaches to “Person”  13.18
    • B.  Public Entity Liability
      • 1.  State and Its Officials Sued in Official Capacity Not Proper Defendants  13.19
      • 2.  Municipalities and Their Agents May Be Sued
        • a.  Local Agencies Constitute Persons Subject to Liability Under §1983  13.20
        • b.  Action at Issue Must Be Result of Policy, Custom, or Practice of Public Entity  13.21
        • c.  Action at Issue Must Violate Special Constitutional or Other Federal Right  13.22
        • d.  Liability of Local Agency May Be Based on Governmental “Inaction”  13.23
        • e.  Person Responsible for Unconstitutional Action Must Possess Final Policy-Making Power  13.24
        • f.  Liability of Supervisory Personnel  13.25
  • V.  ACTIONABLE CONDUCT
    • A.  Failure to Prevent Third Party Acts Not Cognizable  13.26
      • 1.  Special Relationship No Basis for Local Entity’s Liability for Third Parties’ Acts  13.27
      • 2.  “Danger Creation” Exception to Rule That Third Party Acts Are Not Cognizable  13.28
    • B.  Constitutional Violations Actionable Under §1983
      • 1.  First Amendment Rights  13.29
      • 2.  Fourth Amendment Rights  13.30
      • 3.  Fifth Amendment Rights  13.31
      • 4.  Eighth Amendment Rights  13.32
      • 5.  Fourteenth Amendment Rights  13.33
        • a.  Violations of Equal Protection  13.33A
        • b.  Violations of Substantive Due Process  13.34
        • c.  Violations of Procedural Due Process  13.35
        • d.  Weight Given to Liberty Interests Over Property Interests  13.36
        • e.  Conduct Cognizable for Due Process Liability  13.37
        • f.  Conduct Not Cognizable for Due Process Liability  13.38
    • C.  Enforcement of Rights Secured By Federal Law  13.38A
  • VI.  APPLICABLE FEDERAL IMMUNITIES
    • A.  Absolute Immunity
      • 1.  State Legislators  13.39
      • 2.  Judges and Prosecutors  13.40
      • 3.  Administrative Officers Performing Judicial Functions  13.41
      • 4.  Witness Testifying at Trial or in Grand Jury Proceeding  13.41A
      • 5.  Government Officers Sued in Their Personal Capacity  13.42
      • 6.  State Law Immunities  13.43
      • 7.  Establishing Immunity  13.44
    • B.  Qualified Immunity  13.45
      • 1.  Standard for Qualified Immunity  13.46
      • 2.  Establishing Qualified Immunity  13.47
        • a.  Did Conduct Violate Constitutional Right?  13.47A
        • b.  Was Right Clearly Established?  13.47B
      • 3.  Overcoming Claim of Qualified Immunity  13.48
      • 4.  Appeal of Denial of Qualified Immunity  13.49
  • VII.  DAMAGES
    • A.  Compensatory Damages  13.49A
    • B.  Punitive Damages  13.49B
    • C.  Federal Common Law Governs Award of Punitive Damages  13.49C
    • D.  Indemnification of Punitive Damage Awards in Civil Rights Actions  13.49D
  • VIII.  ATTORNEY FEES
    • A.  Statutory Authority  13.50
    • B.  Prevailing Party
      • 1.  Plaintiff
        • a.  Determination of Prevailing Party  13.51
        • b.  Determination of Fees  13.52
          • (1)  Effect of Contingency Fee Agreement  13.53
          • (2)  Factors in Determining Reasonableness of Fee  13.54
          • (3)  Enhancement of Lodestar Amount  13.54A
      • 2.  Defendant  13.55
  • IX.  CHECKLIST: ELEMENTS OF ACTION UNDER FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS ACT (42 USC §1983)  13.56

Selected Developments

February 2018 Update

The current update includes changes that reflect recent developments in case law, legislation, court rules, and jury instructions. Summarized below are some of the more important developments included in this update since publication of the 2017 update.

Representation of Claimant or Defendant

Time limits under Government Claims Act. A plaintiff suing an out-of-state public entity in California may still have to comply with the claim presentation requirements of that state before beginning the action. See Oregon State Univ. v Superior Court (Sutherland) (2017) 16 CA5th 1180 in §§2.3, 5.14.

Overview of Claim Procedures

Action for recovery of property or money. For a recent case discussing an action to recover property seized in an invalid forfeiture action, see Ramirez v Tulare County Dist. Attorney’s Office (2017) 9 CA5th 911 in §5.51.

Preparation, Presentation, and Consideration of Claim

Date of accrual. Under Govt C §901, “the date upon which the cause of action would be deemed to have accrued within the meaning of the statute of limitations which would be applicable” is the date on which the cause of action became actionable. See City of Pasadena v Superior Court (Jauregui) (2017) 12 CA5th 1340 in §6.16.

Delayed discovery in childhood sexual abuse cases. For conduct occurring before January 1, 2009, a timely claim is required to maintain an action for negligence arising out of sexual abuse, notwithstanding CCP §340.1, which extends the time during which an individual may bring an action for childhood sexual abuse. See Rubenstein v Doe No. 1 (2017) 3 C5th 903 in §§6.16, 6.29.

Late Claim Proceedings; Tolling Limitation Period

Petitioning court for relief from Govt C §945.4. A claimant must file a petition for relief from the Govt C §945.4 claim requirement, as set forth in Govt C §946.6, if he or she submitted a timely application for leave to present a late claim under Govt C §911.6(b)(2) and was a minor at all relevant times. See J.M. v Huntington Beach Union High Sch. Dist. (2017) 2 C5th 648 in §§7.39, 7.60, 8.35.

Bringing the Action

Discovery issues. For a recent case discussing a party’s right to obtain documents under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) (Govt C §§6250–6276.48), see Los Angeles County Bd. of Supervisors v Superior Court (ACLU of S. Cal.) (2016) 2 C5th 282 in §8.64.

General Principles of Public Entity and Public Employee Liability

Inverse condemnation. In Mercury Cas. Co. v City of Pasadena (2017) 14 CA5th 917, the court held that a tree constitutes a work of public improvement if it is deliberately planted by or at the direction of a government entity as part of a planned project or design serving a public purpose or use, such as to enhance the appearance of a public road. See §9.63.

Government land use ordinance or regulatory decisions. An airport land use compatibility plan that designated properties as being within a safety zone carrying specific limiting recommendations for compatible land uses was not a regulatory taking. See Dryden Oaks, LLC v San Diego County Reg’l Airport Auth. (2017) 16 CA5th 383 in §9.72.

Nuisance. For a recent case discussing causation and maintaining a nuisance action, see Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement v City of San Diego (2017) 8 CA5th 350 in §9.80.

Contractual liability. “Promissory estoppel cannot be asserted against a public entity to bypass rules that require contracts to be in writing or be put out for bids, rules which reflect a public policy to preclude oral contracts or other exposures to liability, including claims of promissory estoppel.” See Ponte v County of Calaveras (2017) 14 CA5th 551 in §9.84.

General Immunities of Public Entities and Employees

Exception to immunity under Govt C §820.2. The immunity of juvenile court social workers, child protection workers, and other public employees under Govt C §820.2 does not extend to acts of perjury, fabrication of evidence, failure to disclose known exculpatory evidence, or obtaining testimony by duress, if committed with malice. See Gabrielle A. v County of Orange (2017) 10 CA5th 1268 (discussing Govt C §820.21) in §§10.22, 10.32A.

Misrepresentation. In Finch Aerospace Corp. v City of San Diego (2017) 8 CA5th 1248, the court found that immunity under Govt C §818.8 does not apply to causes of action for slander of title. See §§10.38, 10.40.

Liabilities and Immunities in Specific Functional Areas

Injuries to prisoners. A person other than a prisoner, such as a visitor to a jail or prison, may recover for injuries resulting from the dangerous condition of public property. The Bane Civil Rights Act (CC §52.1) does not create any exceptions to Govt C §844.6(a)(2). See Towery v State (2017) 14 CA5th 226 in §11.27. This case is also cited in §§9.4, 9.81, 10.5.

Dangerous condition of fire protection equipment or facilities. The California Supreme Court has granted review in Quigley v Garden Valley Fire Protection Dist. (review granted Aug. 9, 2017, S242250; superseded opinion at 10 CA5th 1135) to determine (1) whether defendants forfeited the immunity provided under Govt C §850.4 for governmental entities involved in firefighting by failing to timely raise the defense before trial and (2) whether §850.4 applies to immunize defendants in an action for personal injuries allegedly caused by a dangerous condition of property being used as a firefighting facility when plaintiff’s injuries did not result from a condition of that property that rendered it inoperative, useless, or otherwise less effective in aiding defendant’s firefighting efforts. See §§8.58, 10.4, 11.69, 11.72, 12.139.

Confinement of mental patients and addicts. In Julian v Mission Community Hosp. (2017) 11 CA5th 360, the court found that there was no private cause of action for falsely reporting probable cause under Welf & I C §5150. See §11.110.

Injury in course of pursuit by peace officer. The California Supreme Court has granted review in Ramirez v City of Gardena (review granted Nov. 1, 2017, S244549; superseded opinion at 14 CA5th 811). The issue before the court is whether the immunity provided by Veh C §17004.7 is available to a public agency only if all peace officers certify in writing that they have received, read, and understood the agency’s vehicle pursuit policy. See Ramirez v City of Gardena (2017) 14 CA5th 811 in §11.142.

Dangerous Condition of Public Property

Causation. The doctrine of proximate cause does not require that the very injury that occurred must have been foreseeable: it is only necessary that the general character of the event or harm be foreseeable. See Kesner v Superior Court (Pneumo Abex, LLC) (2016) 1 C5th 1132 in §12.40.

Defenses and immunities. Civil Code §846 does not apply to public entities. See PG&E v Superior Court (Rowe) (2017) 10 CA5th 563 in §12.57.

Design immunity. In Gonzales v City of Atwater (2016) 6 CA5th 929, the court found that proof of how a decision is made is not necessary to establish the exercise of discretionary authority; the design for the installation of the traffic signals was reasonable. See §12.70.

Natural conditions of unimproved property. For a recent case discussing whether land where a diseased tree fell was developed or undeveloped, see County of San Mateo v Superior Court (Rowe) (2017) 13 CA5th 724 in §§12.82, 12.83.

Unpaved access roads and recreational trails. Immunity under Govt C §831.4 extends to injuries arising from the location or design of the trail. Leyva v Crockett & Co., Inc. (2017) 7 CA5th 1105 (plaintiff on easement granted to city struck by stray golf ball). However, the immunity may not apply if the dangerous condition exists independently of the trail. Toeppe v City of San Diego (2017) 13 CA5th 921 (branch from eucalyptus tree that fell on plaintiff was not part of trail). In Garcia v American Golf Corp. (2017) 11 CA5th 532, the court found that a public golf course cannot assert the trail immunity defense if “(1) the golf course is adjacent to a trail abutting a public street; (2) the golf course is a commercially operated, revenue-generating enterprise; (3) the golf course has a dangerous condition that exposes people outside it to a risk of harm from third parties hitting errant golf balls; and (4) the dangerous condition of the golf course caused harm to a user of the trail.” See §12.88.

Recreational activities. Civil Code §846 shields landowners from liability when recreational users cause injury to nonrecreational plaintiffs outside premises, despite allegations that landowners’ negligence contributed to the injuries. See Wang v Nibbelink (2016) 4 CA5th 1 in §12.92.

Vicarious liability for independent contractor torts. In Evan v Hood Corp. (2016) 5 CA5th 1022, the court found that when a hirer delegates work to a contractor, it does not delegate the tort law duty owed to its own employees. See §12.128.

Federal Civil Rights Act

Procedural considerations in bringing federal action. When excessive force by a police officer is a defense to the underlying criminal charge, the plaintiff’s conviction will foreclose a 42 USC §1983 claim under Heck v Humphrey (1994) 512 US 477, 114 S Ct 2364, unless and until the conviction is reversed. See Baranchik v Fizulich (2017) 10 CA5th 1210 in §13.15.

First Amendment rights. The First Amendment prohibits government “sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement” in religion or impairment of the free exercise of religious belief. See Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v Comer (2017) ___ US ___, 137 S Ct 2012, in §13.29. In Brandon v Maricopa County (9th Cir 2017) 849 F3d 837, the judgment for a government attorney who suffered adverse consequences for commenting on the settlement of a case she defended was reversed; evidence established that she was “speaking as a lawyer representing the county as her public statements touched on the very matter on which she represented the county.” See §13.29.

Fourth Amendment rights. In County of Los Angeles v Mendez (2017) ___ US ___, 137 S Ct 1539, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Ninth Circuit’s “provocation rule,” which allowed an officer to be held liable for use of force that would be deemed reasonable under the factors identified in Graham v Connor (1989) 490 US 386, 109 S Ct 1865. See §13.30.

Qualified immunity. Public employees, such as off-duty police officers, are not entitled to qualified immunity when serving private interests, even when they are acting under color of state law. See Bracken v Okura (9th Cir 2017) 869 F3d 771 in §13.45. In Hardwick v County of Orange (9th Cir 2017) 844 F3d 1112, the court found that there was no qualified immunity for a social worker who was alleged to have falsified evidence and committed perjury in a child abuse investigation, because the conduct was so clearly illegal and improper. See §13.47B. In White v Pauly (2017) ___ US ___, 137 S Ct 548, the Supreme Court found that a police officer was entitled to qualified immunity for the use of force when no specific case addressed the “unique set of facts and circumstances” of an officer’s late arrival at the scene and reliance on information from other officers. See §13.47B.

The issue of whether the law was clearly established always remains one of law for the court and may not be submitted to the jury. See Morales v Fry (9th Cir, Oct. 16, 2017, No. 14–35944) 2017 US App Lexis 20190 in §13.47B. To preserve the defense of qualified immunity for later review, a defendant must make a proper motion for judgment at the close of evidence and again by posttrial motion under Fed R Civ P 50, or the defense is waived. See Lam v City of San Jose (9th Cir 2017) 869 F3d 1077 in §13.47B. The plaintiff in a 42 USC §1983 action has the burden of overcoming a claim of qualified immunity by showing that the right in question was clearly established at the time of the conduct in question. See Shafer v County of Santa Barbara (9th Cir 2017) 868 F3d 1110 in §13.48.

About the Author

PROFESSOR ARVO VAN ALSTYNE received his B.A. from Yale University in 1943 and his J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1948. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Utah in 1984. Professor Van Alstyne was a Deputy County Counsel for Los Angeles County from 1950 to 1953 and a consultant to the California Law Revision Commission during the drafting of the California Tort Claims Act of 1963. He served as Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles, and as Professor of Law, Vice President, and Executive Assistant to the President of the University of Utah.

About the 2018 Update Authors

DANIEL P. BARER (chapter 11) received his B.A. in 1987 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his J.D. in 1990 from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Mr. Barer is a partner in the law firm of Pollak, Vida & Fisher in Los Angeles, where he represents public entities and employees as well as private civil defendants in the trial and appellate courts. Mr. Barer has been certified as a specialist in appellate law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

ROBERT C. CECCON (chapters 5–6) received his B.A. from Columbia University in 1981 and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law in 1984. He is a shareholder in the Litigation Department of Richards, Watson & Gershon in Los Angeles, specializing in representing governmental entities in litigation in a variety of areas. Mr. Ceccon also represents private litigants.

GERALD A. CLAUSEN (chapters 7–8) received his B.A. from Occidental College and his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1981. Mr. Clausen, of the Law Office of Gerald Clausen, is a State Bar certified appellate specialist. He handles plaintiff-side appeals and related matters, primarily in the areas of tort, employment, and insurance law. He writes and lectures frequently on public entity tort liability.

TIMOTHY T. COATES (chapter 13) received his B.A. from the University of Southern California and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. He is a partner with Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP in Los Angeles, and he devotes a substantial portion of his practice to representing public entities in a wide variety of matters, including tort liability, land use, inverse condemnation, public utility regulation, and labor and employment proceedings, with a particular emphasis on federal civil rights claims under 42 USC §1983.

JOHN P. DEVINE (chapters 9–10) received his B.A. from the University of California, Davis, and his J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law. Mr. Devine is the Supervising Deputy Attorney General in the Tort and Condemnation Section of the San Francisco Office of the California Attorney General.

DEREK S. VANHOFTEN (chapter 12) received his B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, and his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Mr. Vanhoften is an attorney with the California Department of Transportation in Oakland, specializing in appellate, environmental, and government tort law.

ROBERT J. WALDSMITH (chapters 1–4) received his B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. Mr. Waldsmith is a partner at Abramson Smith Waldsmith, LLP in San Francisco, where he specializes in civil litigation, including cases involving uninsured and underinsured motorists.

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