Santos v. Kisco Senior LivingAnnotate this Case
After a series of thefts from residents at a residential community for the elderly called "Cypress Court," police advised Cypress Court's management to install video cameras and place bait money in some of the residents' apartments, in an attempt to catch After doing so, Cypress Court's resident relations director, defendant Tamara Gutierrez, determined that bait money that had been planted in a box in an elderly person's apartment had been removed. That same day, Gutierrez and Cypress Court's executive director, appellant Ricky Lansford, reviewed surveillance video that potentially implicated respondent Maria Delaluz Santos, who worked at Cypress Court as a resident assistant. Lansford and Gutierrez decided to call police. After viewing the video, the police interviewed and searched Santos. Santos denied committing the theft and was not found to be in possession of the bait money. The officer gave Santos a notice to appear on the charge of petty theft and escorted her from the facility. The district attorney subsequently filed a criminal complaint against Santos, but, in December 2012, the charges were dismissed. Santos filed this action in July 2013 against Gutierrez, Lansford, and two entities that either partially owned or managed Cypress Court, appellants Kisco Senior Living, LLC and KRC ESC Corp. (collectively "Kisco"), alleging numerous causes of action, including assault and battery, defamation, malicious prosecution, negligence, false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After the close of evidence, defendants moved for nonsuit and a directed verdict with respect to all of Santos's claims. The trial court granted the motion for nonsuit with respect to all of the claims asserted against Gutierrez, and all of the claims against the remaining defendants with the exception of the false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. The jury returned a verdict against Kisco and Lansford (collectively "appellants") on the false arrest claim and in favor of appellants on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Appellants filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) in which they claimed that they were absolutely immune from Santos's false arrest claim pursuant to an immunity provision. Appellants argued that the undisputed evidence established that Lansford was a mandated reporter under the Act, that Santos's claim was based on Lansford's "action of furthering the investigation [into elder abuse] by signing the citizen's arrest form," and that section 15634 prevents mandated reporters from being held liable for acts that "stem[ ] from [the] duty to report suspected financial abuse of an elder." The trial court denied the motion, stating that the court was "not persuaded . . . that the mandated reporter immunity . . . bar[s] the false arrest claim . . . ." Appellants argued on appeal that the trial court erred in dismissing their immunity claim. The Court of Appeal agreed with appellants and reversed the trial court's dismissal of the JNOV motion, and remanded for further proceedings.