Hyun Ju Park v. City and County of Honolulu, No. 18-16692 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against police officers and the City and County of Honolulu, alleging that defendants violated plaintiff's substantive due process right to bodily integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff suffered serious, life-threatening injuries after an intoxicated off-duty officer (Officer Kimura) accidentally discharged his gun at the bar plaintiff was working at and shot her.
The panel held that Officers Naki and Omoso, the two officers that were with Kimura, did not act or purport to act in the performance of their official duties, and thus they were not acting under color of state law. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's claim against Naki and Omoso. The panel agreed with the district court that plaintiff's Monell claim must be dismissed because she has not plausibly alleged that the County's inaction reflected deliberate indifference to her Fourteenth Amendment right to bodily integrity. In this case, plaintiff has not plausibly alleged that the Chief of Police was aware of prior, similar incidents in which off-duty officers mishandled their firearms while drinking.
Court Description: Civil Rights The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against police officers and the City and County of Honolulu alleging that defendants violated plaintiff’s substantive due process right to bodily integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff was shot while working as a bartender after an off-duty police officer attempted, while intoxicated, to load his already-loaded firearm, which accidentally discharged. Plaintiff alleged that the officer’s reckless handling of his firearm exhibited deliberate indifference to her personal safety, and that two other off-duty police officers were liable for failing to intervene to stop the dangerous conduct. Plaintiff also alleged that Police Department policies or customs caused her injuries. Plaintiff settled her claims against the officer who shot her, and the district court granted the remaining defendants’ motion to dismiss. The panel first held that because the two off-duty officers at the scene did not act or purport to act in the performance of their official duties, they were not acting under color of state law. The panel therefore affirmed district court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s claims against the officers. The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s § 1983 claim against the County, brought PARK V. CITY & CTY. OF HONOLULU 3 pursuant to Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). The panel rejected plaintiff’s assertions that the County was liable because the Chief of Police failed to amend a Honolulu Police Department policy to prohibit officers from carrying firearms whenever they consumed alcohol in any amount. The panel also rejected plaintiff’s assertion that the Chief of Police failed to implement mandatory whistleblowing policies, which would have rooted out a culture of silence. The panel concluded that plaintiff had not plausibly alleged that the Chief of Police had actual or constructive notice that his inaction would likely result in the deprivation of plaintiff’s federally protected rights. Concurring in part and dissenting in part, Judge M. Smith joined the majority opinion as applied to the two off- duty officers and agreed that the § 1983 claims against them should be dismissed for failure to plausibly allege that they were acting under color of law. However, Judge M. Smith respectfully disagreed with the majority’s analysis of plaintiff’s Monell claim against the County.