CLARK CONVINCES NINTH CIRCUIT IN OVER-DETENTION/ RICO CASE

In June 2004 plaintiff Avalos was arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies on an Orange County warrant for domestic abuse but Los Angeles County failed to notify Orange County of Plaintiff’s arrest. Over two months later the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) realized that Plaintiff had been over-detained and should be released. At the time of his release, LASD risk management personnel negotiated a $500 settlement with Plaintiff, Plaintiff later received the settlement check and signed a full release and settlement agreement. Thereafter, Plaintiff sued claiming violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as a result of his over-detention and his allegedly involuntary waiver. He also claimed that defendants conspired and engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of RICO by fraudulently, oppressively, extortionately, or with threats duped Plaintiff and others similarly situated into compromising their monetary claims for sums far less than those claims were worth. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants and was upheld by the Ninth Circuit since Plaintiff failed to present evidence from which a reasonable jury could find defendants had a policy, practice or custom of over-detaining inmates. LBAC argued that Plaintiff also failed to show an independent violation of the Constitution as a result of the alleged improper efforts to block his access to the courts. The Court further held that even if such a right exists, the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity since the right was not clearly established. Finally, summary judgment in favor of defendants on Plaintiff’s RICO claim also proper since a predicate act that might support a finding of a pattern of racketeering activity was absent and since plaintiff offered no evidence of a specific injury to a business. See Avalos v. Baca, 596 F.3d 583 (9th Cir. 2009).