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Gordon v. County of Orange

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 30, 2018

Mary Gordon, successor-in-interest for decedent, Matthew Shawn Gordon, individually, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
County of Orange; Orange County Sheriff's Department; Sandra Hutchens, Orange County Sheriff - Coroner; Orange County Central Men's Jail; Orange County Health Care Agency; Does, 5 through 10, inclusive; Robert Denney; Brian Tunque; Brianne Garcia; Debra Finley, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted December 8, 2017 Pasadena, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Cormac J. Carney, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 8:14-cv-01050-CJC-DFM

          David A. Schlesinger (argued), Jacobs & Schlesinger LLP, San Diego, California; Cameron Sehat, The Sehat Law Firm PLC, Irvine, California; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Pancy Lin (argued) and S. Frank Harrell, Lynberg & Watkins, Orange, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

          Before: Kim McLane Wardlaw and Ronald M. Gould, Circuit Judges, and Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         42 U.S.C. § 1983

         The panel vacated the district court's summary judgment in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging claims of inadequate medical care under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, arising from the death of Matthew Gordon when he was a pretrial detainee in the Orange County Men's Central Jail; and remanded for further proceedings.

         The panel held that given developments in Section 1983 jurisprudence, including the Supreme Court's decision in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015), and this court's en banc opinion in Castro v. County of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060 (9th Cir. 2016), the proper standard of review of such claims was one of objective indifference, not subjective indifference. The panel held that because the district court applied a subjective standard to the plaintiff's claims of inadequate medical care against individual defendants, the grant of summary judgment was in error.

          The panel declined to address the individual defendants' claim of qualified immunity in the first instance.

         The panel held that the district court improperly granted summary judgment for the County of Orange and associated entities on the ground that the plaintiff could not establish a custom or practice sufficient under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). The panel left this question for the district court to address in the first instance using the proper standard

          OPINION

          GONZALEZ ROGERS, District Judge:

         This case arises from the death of Matthew Gordon ("Gordon") within 30 hours of being detained in the Orange County Men's Central Jail (the "County Jail"). Plaintiff Mary Gordon, successor-in-interest for decedent, sued defendants Robert Denny, Brian Tunque, Brianne Garcia, and Debra Finley ("the Individual Defendants"); and the County of Orange and associated entities ("the Entity Defendants") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating Gordon's right to adequate medical care under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Given developments in Section 1983 jurisprudence, including the Supreme Court's decision in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015), and our en banc decision in Castro v. County of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060 (9th Cir. 2016), we conclude that the proper standard of review for such claims is one of objective indifference, not subjective indifference. Accordingly, summary judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Individual Defendants sought summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff lacked evidence of their alleged deliberate indifference to the decedent's health or safety. The Entity Defendants also sought summary judgment based upon the plaintiff's failure to show a custom or practice sufficient under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). In this regard, the plaintiff had proceeded on two theories which she alleged led to Gordon's death. First, the plaintiff alleged the systematic use of the wrong intake form which resulted in the misclassification and misplacement of detainees. In particular, she claimed the Entity Defendants used a form designed to address alcohol withdrawal rather than one designed for opiate ...


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