AE v. County of Tulare

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 01-27-2012
  • Case #: 10-16116
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Rawlinson for the Court; Circuit Judge S. Thomas and District Judge C. Carney
  • Full Text Opinion

A plaintiff alleging viable state negligence claims and a § 1983 claim must be given the opportunity for leave to amend to meet pleading requirements when the first amended complaint "did not put forth additional facts" regarding "alleged policy, custom, or practice" of a government entity.

AE, a minor, was sexually abused by his minor foster brother while living in a foster home in Tulare County ("County"), California. AE filed state negligence claims and a Section 1983 claim against the County alleging that its social workers "failed to intervene prior to his sexual assault, despite their knowledge of the escalating threats and violence against [AE]." AE appealed the district court's dismissal of all claims. First, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion when it denied leave to amend the 1983 claim against the county. The Ninth Circuit reasoned that AE's First Amended Complaint did not allege "additional facts" regarding the particular nature of the alleged "official policy, custom, or practice of knowingly permitting the occurrence of the types of wrongs" that AE alleged, and the district court abused its discretion when it denied AE the chance to plead "additional facts" regarding the constitutional violations that "were carried out pursuant to County policy or custom." Secondly, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred when it "conflated" AE's negligence claims under California law. The Ninth Circuit reasoned that AE must be permitted to allege that the County is "derivatively liable" under state law because the County's "derivative liability is tied directly to the negligence of, or successful assertion of immunity by, its employees." REVERSED and REMANDED.

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