In a recent span of two weeks, WSS was successful in defending four different public agency clients against civil rights/tort liability claims before the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and California Court of Appeal. In two different state cases, the plaintiffs alleged various state and federal civil rights violations against the county and its social workers over the manner in which it handled minors. One case went to trial, where a jury found no liability on the part of the county or the social workers. In the other case, the county and social workers were granted summary judgment at the trial court. Both cases were upheld on appeal.
The other three federal court cases involved allegations of state and federal civil rights violations by peace officers. In two cases WSS was able to dispose of the entire case through pre-trial motions in district court. The grants of the pre-trial motions were upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal based on qualified immunity. In the third case, WSS was also able to get many of the plaintiffs’ claims dismissed before trial, including a claim of malicious prosecution. The plaintiffs’ excessive force claim was subsequently tried before a jury, which found in favor of the police officers. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of the malicious prosecution claim. The Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal, holding that Plaintiff’s conviction on one of the two charges against him precluded a claim of malicious prosecution.