Leon v. County of RiversideAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff-appellant Dora Leon’s husband, José Leon, was shot and killed by a neighbor in a driveway of a mobile home park in Cherry Valley, where Dora and José lived. Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies unsuccessfully attempted to revive José but, before doing so, one of the deputies dragged José’s body several feet and, in the process of being dragged, José’s pants fell to his thighs, exposing his genitals. José’s body lay, with his genitals exposed, for around eight hours while sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officers evacuated the mobile home park, located the shooter who had shot himself dead, and continued investigating the shooting. José’s body was not removed until shortly after the coroner arrived on the scene and completed processing the body. Dora sued the County of Riverside, alleging a single cause of action for negligence, sounding in negligent infliction of emotional distress, based on the failure of Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies to promptly cover José’s exposed body, or remove the body from the scene, while deputies evacuated the park, searched for the shooter, and investigated the shooting. The trial court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment on Dora’s first amended complaint (FAC). Dora argued on appeal that the deputies who responded to the shooting, and the county as the deputies’ employer, owed Dora a duty of care not to allow José’s body to lie exposed while deputies and other law enforcement officers secured the area and investigated the shooting. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that negligence, if any, occurred during the court of the deputies’ official investigation of the shooting. For this reason, they were immune from liability to Dora, and the counts, as the deputies’ public entity employer, was immune from vicarious liability for the deputies’ alleged negligence.