Filed Date: Oct. 19, 2012
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On October 19, 2012, five named plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenging the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s (LASD) practice of holding individuals subject to immigration detainer beyond their release date solely on the basis of the detainer. The plaintiffs alleged that these practices violated state law, the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and the California Constitution (Cal. Constitution, Art. 1, §§ 7, 13). The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and other public interest organizations, sought an injunction enjoining the defendant from continuing its immigration detainer hold practice, a declaration that these practices were a violation of state and federal law, and monetary damages.
Specifically, the complaint challenged the legality of two alleged practices in the LASD: (1) denying bail to people who wanted to post bail and had already obtained a court order setting bail on the ground that the federal government had filed an "immigration detainer" asking the LASD to hold them; and (2) denying such persons release from the Los Angeles County Jail for 48 hours or more on the basis of the immigration detainer, even though all charges against them had been dismissed, they had been acquitted of the charge for which they were being held, they were ordered released, or they had served their sentence. The plaintiffs argued that although immigration detainers were voluntary requests, as a matter of practice and policy, LASD held every person who was the subject of an immigration detainer beyond their release dates solely on the basis of the detainer.
The complaint defined the putative class as all persons who were or would be (1) detained in the custody of the LASD, (2) had an immigration hold placed on them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while in LASD custody that was not supported by a lawful probable cause determination, (3) were entitled to release from LASD custody under applicable federal or state law (which created a liberty interest in such release), (4) due to LASD policy and practice were not released (to the extent that they were otherwise entitled to release) but held in LASD custody on the authority of ICE after they were eligible for release from LASD custody.
The case was soon transferred to Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell. After failed attempts at mediation, the parties moved into discovery. In the meantime, one of the plaintiffs who had already been released from LASD custody had gone missing and apparently had been deported. On April 27, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted defendants’ motion to dismiss this plaintiff without prejudice. 2015 WL 12752555.
On July 9, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part LASD’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. Judge O’Connell dismissed plaintiffs’ claims for money damages under provisions of the California state constitution (Art. I, §§ 7, 13), finding that these provisions did not confer private rights of action for damages. Further, Judge O’Connell dismissed plaintiffs’ claim under California’s Tom Bane Civil Rights Act for damages for threats, intimidation, or coercion interfering with U.S. or state constitutional rights, finding that the plaintiffs had not shown that LASD engaged in such wrongful conduct independent of the detentions. However, Judge O’Connell also denied LASD’s challenge to plaintiffs’ other state law claims. She found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently complied with the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act for suing a public entity, and were not barred by public entity immunity because they alleged they were unlawfully confined. She also let stand plaintiffs’ claims against the Sheriff in his official capacity as not duplicative of claims against the County. 114 F.Supp.3d 1030.
On July 28, 2015, Judge O'Connell granted LASD's motion to consolidate this case with a related case, Gonzalez v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Both the plaintiffs and ICE had opposed LASD’s motion, arguing that the cases involved different defendants and substantially different legal issues and factual questions about defendants’ liability. Nevertheless, Judge O’Connell ordered the consolidation for pretrial purposes, finding the two cases to both concern the legality of ICE detainers, specifically whether they must be supported by individualized probable cause determinations. 2015 WL 12743601.
On September 17, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend the scheduling order and the pleadings. She allowed the plaintiffs to amend their California statutory claims for violations of their right to timely release and release on bail. However, she denied the plaintiffs leave to add equal protection claims under California statutes and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, finding that the plaintiffs had not shown diligence in requesting an amendment for these claims. 2015 WL 12752441. The plaintiffs then filed a First Amended Complaint on October 2, 2015.
On November 20, 2015, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint, and granted the defendants’ motion to strike several paragraphs of the complaint pleading equal protection claims. For the latter, Judge O’Connell found that these pleadings were barred by her September 17, 2015 order. However, Judge O’Connell also ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on several points. First, she found that the defendants’ state statutory discretionary immunity did not bar the plaintiffs’ claims, as the plaintiffs did not allege that a public employee engaged in a discretionary act or omission causing injury. She also found that the plaintiffs stated a valid negligence per se claim under state law (though she also dismissed another negligence per se claim as duplicative). Finally, she found that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded an actionable coercive act independently of the detentions themselves, by alleging that LASD falsely recorded and treated ICE detainers as mandatory detentions. 2015 WL 12582637.
On December 7, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint, slightly modifying the claims in the initial complaint. They alleged violations of Fourth Amendment due process and unlawful seizure; and state law on false imprisonment, negligence per se, release on bail, and timely release.
On September 9, 2016, Judge O’Connell granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs’ motions for class certification. She certified most of the plaintiffs’ proposed classes and subclasses. For the Roy plaintiffs, the classes and subclasses certified included all LASD inmates held on the basis of ICE detainers beyond their scheduled time of release from custody, so long as they did not have final orders of removal. Some of these classes would have otherwise been eligible to post bail. For the Gonzalez plaintiffs, the classes certified included all persons in the Central District of California subject to an ICE detainer and held for at least 48 hours, but who were not in removal proceedings and had not been issued final orders of removal or ICE administrative warrants. 2016 WL 5219468.
On June 12, 2017, Judge O'Connell denied the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, filed by two of the Gonzalez plaintiffs. They had asked the court to end ICE’s use of detainers for over 48 hours with no judicial determination of probable cause for this detention, which the plaintiffs alleged violated the Fourth Amendment. Judge O'Connell disagreed, holding that the Fourth Amendment did not require a judge to review ICE officers' probable-cause determinations, because these were civil and not criminal proceedings. Judge O'Connell thus granted summary judgment to the defendants on this issue. 2017 WL 2559616.
As of November 2017, the parties were engaging in discovery, and a jury trial was set for May 22, 2018. The court scheduled several motion hearings: one on September 12, 2017 to address a large group of motions (Judge O'Connell held this hearing but did not issue an order before the case was transferred), and one on September 25, 2017 to consider law professors' request to file an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs. After the September 12 hearing, the defendants filed several notices of supplemental authority; one referred to El Cenizo v. Texas, in which the Fifth Circuit let stand a detainer provision of a Texas state statute requiring law enforcement agencies to “comply with, honor, and fulfill” any ICE detainer request.
This case was transferred to Judge Percy Anderson on October 18, 2017, and then transferred again on November 1 to Judge Andre Birotte, Jr.
On February 7, 2018, Judge Birotte issued an order. First, as to Gonzalez, he denied the Gonzalez defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment, while granting in part and denying in part the Gonzalez plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. He held that the Court had subject-matter jurisdiction because the Gonzalez plaintiffs' claim did not arise from removal proceedings (under the jurisdiction of the Immigration Court). Rather, ICE issued the detainers to the plaintiffs independent of removal proceedings. Judge Birotte also denied summary judgment as to the Gonzalez probable-cause subclass, because a factual dispute existed as to whether ICE databases were complete and reliable enough to be a sufficient source for the probable-cause determination. Additionally, Judge Birotte held that several Gonzalez subclasses' claims—based on policies that ICE claimed to have ended—were not moot because ICE had not met its heavy burden of establishing it would not resume its practice of issuing warrantless detentions to these groups.
Next, as to Roy, Judge Birotte granted in part and denied in part the Roy defendants' and plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment. He denied summary judgment as to several Roy subclasses, because a factual dispute existed as to whether investigative detainers were based on probable cause and as to how LASD classified "no bail" holds. Next, Judge Birotte granted the Roy plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment as to the post-48-hour subclass—individuals whom the LASD held in detention beyond their scheduled release date, solely for civil immigration violations, thus violating the Fourth Amendment. Judge Birotte also held that LASD's policy of booking individuals subject to immigration detainers, when those individuals would otherwise be subject to LASD's policy of not booking arrestees with a bail amount lower than $25,000, violated equal protection. As to the Roy plaintiffs' state law claims, Judge Birotte found that they were barred by state sovereign immunity.
Finally, Judge Birotte noted that newly enacted California statutes prohibited the Roy defendants from engaging in the challenged conduct of detaining an individual on the basis of an immigration hold, and thus, the Roy plaintiffs' injunctive and declaratory relief claims were moot. 2018 WL 914773.
On March 2, both the Roy and Gonzalez plaintiffs moved to modify the class definition. On March 30, defendant opposed this motion and also moved for class decertification; plaintiff replied on April 9. Defendant also, on March 13, moved for reconsideration of the court's order, but Judge Birotte denied this motion on April 18.
On April 18, 2018, Judge Birotte denied the Gonzalez defendants' motion to reconsider the February motion for partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs' subclass.
On July 18, 2018, Judge Birotte granted the Roy plaintiffs' motion to modify the class definition, which was amended such that the Post-48 Hour subclass included "All LASD inmates who were detained beyond the time they are due for release from criminal custody, solely on the basis of immigration detainers, excluding inmates who had a final order of removal or were subject to ongoing removal proceedings as indicated on the face of the detainer."
From late-summer to the beginning of winter 2018, the parties litigated various filing deadlines, further consolidation of the cases, and timing of the trial, and the Roy case was undergoing mediation proceedings. The two cases were to remain consolidated until the conclusion of a trial in either case.
In light of the Court’s April 18, 2018, decision, ICE cancelled all active detainers issued without a warrant by an ICE officer on November 9, 2018.
After being rescheduled several times, the Gonzalez trial took place on May 7 through May 16, 2019.
On June 21, 2019, the Gonzalez plaintiffs filed a motion for a permanent injunction as to the claims decided in the February 7, 2018, summary judgment. In that order, the court held that ICE violated the Fourth Amendment when it issued detainers based on no more than evidence of a person's foreign place of birth. The court also held that ICE violates its warrantless arrest authority when it issues detainers without determining that a person is likely to escape before an administrative ICE warrant can be obtained. The plaintiffs argued that a permanent injunction enjoining the detainer practice was appropriate because class members "continue[d] to be subject ... to arrests pursuant to detainers based solely on evidence of foreign birth and an absence of information in DHS databases and to warrantless arrest without any individualized assessment of flight risk."
On September 27, 2019, Judge Birotte denied the motion for a permanent injunction. Judge Birotte held that "the Court is not persuaded that Plaintiffs have provided support for their bare assertion that the Subclasses are still in threat of continuing violations." Judge Birotte reasoned that given its new detainer policy and the November 18, 2018, decision to cancel all active detainers, ICE has evidenced compliance with the summary judgment and that a permanent injunction is unnecessary. 416 F. Supp. 3d 995.
On February 5, 2020, Judge Birotte issued a final judgment resolving all claims regarding the Gonzalez suit. Judge Birotte found in favor of plaintiff and the Probable Cause subclass on their claims that defendants violated the Fourth Amendment by (1) issuing detainers based on probable-cause determinations from unreliable database searches alone and (2) by issuing detainers based on probable-cause determinations from evidence of foreign place of birth and no match in a federal immigration database. Judgment was also entered in favor of plaintiff and the Probable Cause Subclass on their claim that defendants violated the Fourth Amendment by issuing detainers to state and local law enforcement agencies in states that do not expressly authorize civil immigration arrests in state statutes. Judge Birotte found in favor of the plaintiff and the Statutory subclass on their claim that defendants violated 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(2) by issuing detainers without either issuing an administrative warrant or determining that a person "'is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained for [their] arrest.'"
Judge Birotte permanently enjoined the defendants from issuing detainers to Probable Cause Subclass members based solely on unreliable database searches and from issuing detainers seeking the detention of Probable Cause Subclass members to law enforcement agencies not authorized to make arrests based on detainers only.
On February 14, 2020, the defendants appealed the district court's final judgment to the Ninth Circuit (Docket No. 20-55175).
On February 17, 2020, in the district court, defendants filed an emergency application to stay the final judgment and permanent injunction pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Judge Birotte denied the defendants' application to stay on February 20, 2020.
One day later, in the Ninth Circuit, defendants filed an emergency motion for immediate administrative stay and motion for stay pending appeal, citing irreparable harm to the government caused by the injunction and arguing that a brief stay of the injunction pending appeal would not harm the plaintiffs. A Ninth Circuit panel (Circuit Judges William Canby, Ronald Gould, and Paul Watford) denied the immediate administrative stay on February 24, 2020. A week later, on March 2, 2020, the Ninth Circuit panel issued an order granting in part and denying in part the defendants' emergency motion for stay pending appeal. The panel granted the motion to stay regarding the portion of the injunction enjoining defendants from “issuing detainers seeking the detention of Probable Cause Subclass members to law enforcement agencies in states that lack state law permitting state and local law enforcement agencies to make civil immigration arrests based on civil immigration detainers only.” The panel denied the motion to stay in all other respects.
The parties stipulated to de-consolidate Roy and Gonzalez, and the district court ordered the cases de-consolidated on March 18, 2020. On May 13, 2020, the parties in the Roy suit filed a joint status report, stating that "the parties have negotiated the remaining aspects of the parties’ settlement, which is reflected in a settlement agreement jointly drafted by counsel." But they warned that it would take some time to finalize the settlement.
On September 11, 2020, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's decision in Gonzalez. First, the Ninth Circuit upheld certification of the Probable Cause subclass. Second, the court reversed and vacated the injunction against issuing detainers to local law enforcement in states that lack laws allowing local law enforcement to make immigration arrests. It reasoned that the presence or absence of probable cause rather than state law determines whether issuance of a detainer violates the Fourth Amendment. Third, the court reversed and vacated the injunction against issuing detainers solely based on searches of electronic databases to make a probable cause determination because the district court erroneously concluded that databases not designed to establish probable cause were unreliable. Fourth, the court held that the Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination before a neutral magistrate, reversing the district court's conclusion that this requirement did not apply to immigration detainers. 975 F.3d 788.
On October 30, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement. The court approved the settlement agreement on November 25. Per the agreement, the defendants agreed to pay $14,000,000 to class members. As determined by earlier class certifications decisions, the settlement agreement included three subclasses:
The Settlement Agreement stated that Gerstein and Equal Protection class members were entitled to $1,000 for each unlawful detention day, with a maximum award of $25,000. The No-Bail-Notation Class Members were entitled to a flat $250 if they attested to their financial ability to pay bail if they were allowed to do so.
As of December 23, the case is proceeding in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
Dan Osher (5/27/2013)
Tania Morris Diaz (12/5/2014)
Ava Morgenstern (4/24/2018)
Aaron Gurley (6/1/2020)
Zofia Peach (12/23/2020)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4149262/parties/duncan-roy-v-county-of-los-angeles/
Bade, Bridget Shelton (Arizona)
Amdur, Spencer (New York)
Arulanantham, Ahilan T (California)
Battles, Lindsay B. (California)
Bansal, Jessica Karp (California)
Bade, Bridget Shelton (Arizona)
Birotte, Andre Jr. (California)
Klausner, Gary (California)
Mumm, Frederick F. (California)
O'Connell, Beverly Reid (California)
Smith, Milan Dale Jr. (California)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4149262/duncan-roy-v-county-of-los-angeles/
Last updated Aug. 28, 2023, 3:10 a.m.
State / Territory: California
Filing Date: Oct. 19, 2012
Case Ongoing: Yes
All persons who are or will be (1) detained in LASD custody, (2) have an immigration hold placed on them by ICE not supported by a lawful probable cause determination, (3) are entitled to be released from LASD custody under applicable federal or state law, (4) due to LASD policy and practice are not released (to the extent they were otherwise entitled to release) but held in LASD custody on the authority of the ICE hold after they were eligible for for release from LASD custody.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: Yes
Class Action Outcome: Granted
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Amount Defendant Pays: 14000000
Type of Facility: