Steinle v. City and County of San Francisco, No. 17-16283 (9th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
In 2015, the San Francisco Sheriff issued a Memo establishing protocols and parameters for communications between Sheriff's Department employees and ICE. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit after an undocumented alien shot and killed plaintiffs' daughter after he was released from custody by the Sheriff's Department. After the shooting, ICE stated: "If the local authorities had merely notified [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] that they were about to release this individual into the community, ICE could have taken custody of him and had him removed from the country—thus preventing this terrible tragedy."
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' general negligence claim against the City defendants. The panel held that, while it deeply sympathized with plaintiffs, the question of discretionary immunity raised in this case was controlled by California law. The panel agreed with the district court that the issuance of the Memo was a discretionary act that was entitled to immunity under section 820.2 of the California Government Code. Therefore, the panel held that California law barred plaintiffs' negligence claim.
The panel also held that the district court did not err in determining immunity on a motion to dismiss; the district court appropriately considered the Memo under the incorporation by reference doctrine; although 8 U.S.C. 1373(a) and 1644 prohibit restrictions on providing certain types of information to ICE, they plainly and unambiguously did not prohibit the restriction at issue in this case regarding release-date information; and, assuming the Sheriff's actions adversely affected ICE's ability to do its job, this did not without more strip him of the discretionary authority under California law to institute the policy that he did. The panel rejected plaintiffs' claims that the Memo was a legislative act; failure to provide ICE with the alien's release date violated the California Public Records Act; and the Memo violated California Health and Safety Code section 11369. Finally, the panel rejected plaintiffs' claims under local laws and held that plaintiffs waived their request for leave to amend.