University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Miranda v. Bonner PN-CA-0033
Docket / Court CV 08-03178 SJO ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On May 14, 2008, two private citizens in the state of California who had their vehicles impounded under the California Vehicle Code filed this class-action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the Secretary of the State of California's ... read more >
On May 14, 2008, two private citizens in the state of California who had their vehicles impounded under the California Vehicle Code filed this class-action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the Secretary of the State of California's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency ("BTH"), the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol ("CHP"), and the City of Los Angeles. The plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and California law. The plaintiffs sought declaratory equitable and injunctive relief for unlawful seizures and impoundments of their vehicles.

Under California's Vehicle Code, a peace officer could "cause the removal and seizure of" a vehicle for various reasons, and the vehicle may be impounded for 30 days. Following the seizure of a vehicle, the vehicle's owner was entitled to a "storage hearing," during which any mitigating circumstances will be considered. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated various aspects of the Vehicle Code, thereby violating the plaintiffs' rights under the Constitution, the California Constitution, and California law.

The plaintiffs had four main allegations: First, the plaintiffs alleged unlawful search and seizure for the wrongful seizure and impoundment of their vehicles for driving without a license. The plaintiffs alleged that this violated their Fourth Amendment rights, and also violated the California Constitution.

Second, the plaintiffs alleged that the conditions leading up to the seizure and impoundment of the plaintiffs' vehicles did not meet the requirements of the community caretaking doctrine (in other words, it did not present a threat to public safety), and therefore violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and California law.

Third, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated procedural due process with misleading hearing notices and inadequacy of hearing officers, standard and procedures surrounding the "storage hearings" following the seizure and impoundment of vehicles. The plaintiffs alleged that this violated their Fifth and Fourteenth amendment rights and the their rights under the California Constitution.

Lastly, the plaintiffs alleged that defendants' policy imposing a fee on vehicles seized and impounded that exceeded the administrative costs was in violation of California's Vehicle Code, and therefore unlawful under California law. The plaintiffs further alleged that the defendants had the power to prevent the plaintiffs from recouping their property via threats, intimidation, and coercion, thereby violating their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and their rights under the California Constitution and California law.

The plaintiffs sought to certify two plaintiff classes and a defendant class. On January 1, 2012, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion to certify either class, but allowed them to proceed on their individual claims against the named defendants. 2012 WL 10972131 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 31, 2012).

Both parties moved for summary judgment. On March 4, 2013, Judge S. James Otero granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment for the federal claims and dismissed without prejudice the state law claims. Judge Otero also denied the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. 2013 WL 794059 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2013).

Rachel June-Graber - 10/26/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Los Angeles
Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol
Secretary of the State of California's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are private citizens in the state of California who had their vehicles impounded under the California Vehicle Code §14602.6.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:08-cv-3178 (C.D. Cal.) 04/18/2014
PN-CA-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/14/2008
PN-CA-0033-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice of Motion for Leave to File Third Amended Class Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief; Memorandum of Points and Authorities; Proposed Third Amended Complaint 10/17/2011
PN-CA-0033-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment in Favor of Defendants City of Los Angeles, Dale E. Bonner, J.A. Farrow, and Sunne Wright McPeak 03/04/2013 (2013 WL 794059) (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0033-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Otero, S. James (C.D. Cal.)
PN-CA-0033-0003 | PN-CA-0033-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson-Barker, Cynthia M. (California)
PN-CA-0033-0002 | PN-CA-0033-9000
Cook, Donald W. (California)
PN-CA-0033-0001 | PN-CA-0033-0002 | PN-CA-0033-9000
Estuar, Paul J. (California)
PN-CA-0033-0002 | PN-CA-0033-9000
Litt, Barrett S. (California)
PN-CA-0033-0001 | PN-CA-0033-0002 | PN-CA-0033-9000
Mann, Robert Frederick (California)
PN-CA-0033-0001 | PN-CA-0033-0002 | PN-CA-0033-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barrientos, Sandra Isabel (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Dean, Donna M. (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Fujita, Grace Midori (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Leung, Todd T. (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Manfre, Lucy Ann (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Tucker, Glen E. (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Zinger, Theodore B. (California)
PN-CA-0033-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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