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Case Name Slusher v. City of Napa PN-CA-0047
Docket / Court 4:15-cv-02394 ( N.D. Cal. )
Additional Docket(s) 16CV001186  [ 16-1186 ]  Trial Court (CA)
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On January 30, 2014, a three year-old child was killed by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. In the week leading up to the child’s death, her grandmother had contacted both the Napa Police Department and the Napa County Child Welfare Services, informing individual defendants of the ... read more >
On January 30, 2014, a three year-old child was killed by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. In the week leading up to the child’s death, her grandmother had contacted both the Napa Police Department and the Napa County Child Welfare Services, informing individual defendants of the dangerous environment that the child was in living with her mother and mother’s boyfriend.

On May 29, 2015, the child’s father, on his own behalf and also as the decedent’s successor in interest, along with her grandmother and grandfather filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The parties were represented by private counsel. They brought suit against the City of Napa and Napa County, as well as against a number of individual employees of the Napa Police Department and Napa County Child Welfare Services under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law causes of action. Specifically, they alleged that the defendants, by their violation of mandatory duties to investigate and/or report child abuse and/or neglect, in part caused the death of three year-old plaintiff, violating their Fourteenth Amendment substantive and procedural due process rights. The plaintiffs sought damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees. The injunctive relief sought included policies and procedures for compliance with mandatory duties for handling reports and investigations of child abuse and/or neglect, prohibition of the “code of silence” among law enforcement officers, and changes to law enforcement officer training surrounding mandatory duties. The case was originally assigned to Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero but was reassigned to Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong on June 3, 2015.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on July 1, 2015, further developing their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims. In response, the defendants moved to dismiss the case on September 4. On December 12, 2015, the judge issued an order granting in part and denying in part the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The order dismissed the substantive and procedural due process claims, among others, with leave to amend, and allowed the plaintiffs’ state law claims to proceed.

In response to the order, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on January 7, 2016 in attempts to remedy the deficiencies of the earlier complaint. The defendants again moved to dismiss on April 20, 2016 and filed a motion to stay the action. Judge Armstrong denied the motion to stay on June 9, 2016, but granted in part and denied in part the motions to dismiss on December 7, 2016. The latter order dismissed all of plaintiffs’ federal claims, without further leave to amend. In response to the December 7 order, plaintiffs filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 14, 2016, appealing the dismissal of their federal claims. USCA 16-17304.

While the appeal was pending, parties began settlement negotiations in the fall of 2017, which culminated with the finalization of a settlement agreement on December 6, 2018.

The case was settled for $5,000,000, as well as non-monetary relief in the form of policy and training changes. These changes included instituting explicit cross-reporting requirements and clarifying mandatory reporting duties.

The plaintiffs then voluntarily dismissed their pending appeal on December 20, 2018. The case is closed.

Rachel Kreager - 09/16/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Failure to train
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Juveniles
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Napa
Napa County
Plaintiff Description a deceased three year-old girl, her father, her grandmother, her grandfather [EDIT THIS]
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Damages
policy changes
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 05/29/2015
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
12/20/2018
4:15-cv-02394-SBA
PN-CA-0047-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
05/29/2015
Complaint for Damages, Declaratory, and Injunctive Relief, and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 1]
PN-CA-0047-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
12/11/2015
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and Order of Reference for Early Settlement Conference [ECF# 45] (2015 WL 8527411)
PN-CA-0047-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
01/07/2016
Second Amended Complaint for Damages, Declaratory, and Injunctive Relief, and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 52]
PN-CA-0047-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
12/07/2016
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part as Moot Defendants' Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 126]
PN-CA-0047-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
not recorded
12/05/2018
Settlement Agreement and Release
PN-CA-0047-0005.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Armstrong, Saundra Brown (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-0002 | PN-CA-0047-0004 | PN-CA-0047-9000
Beeler, Laurel (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Guertin, Genevieve K. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-0001 | PN-CA-0047-9000
Haddad, Michael J. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-0001 | PN-CA-0047-0003 | PN-CA-0047-9000
Helm, Thomas Kennedy IV (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-0001 | PN-CA-0047-0003 | PN-CA-0047-9000
Katon, Glenn M. (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Sherwin, Julia (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-0001 | PN-CA-0047-0003 | PN-CA-0047-0005 | PN-CA-0047-9000
Sorensen, Maya Rodriguez (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dyer, Gregory F (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Fox, Gregory Mellon (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-0005 | PN-CA-0047-9000
Hamilton, Bonnie A (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Jones, Mark A (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Preston, Kristen K (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Snyder, Meaghan Ann (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000
Tran, Joanne (California) show/hide docs
PN-CA-0047-9000

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