News & Press

Zach Schwartz Prevails in Civil Rights, Excessive Force Action Against the County of Orange

Zachary Schwartz from the Irvine office prevailed on a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The Plaintiff brought an assortment of state and federal civil rights claims against the Sheriff’s Department arising from her arrest and the decision to tow her van, which allegedly contained valuable property for Plaintiff’s business. Plaintiff claims that she never recovered the property from her van and that she lost property upon being booked into jail. Plaintiff claimed that her arrest was without probable cause and without a valid warrant, deputies used excessive force, the arrest was motivated by her middle-eastern descent, and that the towing of her van was an unreasonable seizure.

Zachary Schwartz brought the motion for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that Plaintiff had waived her state law claims, deputies arrested Plaintiff pursuant to a valid bench warrant issued the morning of her arrest, and that the seizure of the van was justified under the community caretaking doctrine.

Following a lengthy oral argument, the Court agreed that the arrest and decision to tow the van was lawful, and that under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, the Sheriff’s Department is not vicariously liable for violations of its agents and as a matter of law no policy, custom, or practice of the Sheriff’s Department could have been the moving force behind any actions of the towing company in disposing of property in the van. Summary judgment was granted dismissing the action against the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.