Cortesluna v. Leon, No. 19-15105 (9th Cir. 2022)

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Justia Opinion Summary

A 12-year-old girl called 911 to report that her mother's boyfriend, Cortesluna, was threatening her and her family with a chainsaw and that they were hiding from him in a bedroom that he was trying to enter. Cortesluna subsequently brought 42 U.S.C. 1983 excessive force claims concerning his arrest.

In 2020, the Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of officer Leon. Even taking Cortesluna's version of the facts as true, a reasonable jury would find that Leon's acts were objectively reasonable in the circumstances. Leon faced an immediate threat; Cortesluna had a knife in his pocket and had lowered his hands towards the knife when the first shot came from the beanbag shotgun; his hands remained near the knife in his pocket at the time of the second beanbag shot. The court found that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether the force that officer Rivas-Villegas used when he kneeled on Cortesluna's back was excessive. Officer Kensic lacked any realistic opportunity to intercede or to stop the excessive force.

On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the federal claims against Rivas-Villegas and remanded for consideration of the other elements of a Monell claim. With respect to state-law claims relating to Rivas-Villegas’s conduct, and other remaining claims, including against other defendants, the 2020 opinion remains intact.

Court Description: Civil Rights. On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the federal claims against Defendant Daniel Rivas-Villegas and remanded to the district court for consideration of the other elements of Plaintiff’s Monell claim, noting that the Supreme Court’s holding that Rivas-Villegas did not violate clearly established law left undisturbed the majority’s conclusion that Rivas-Villegas used excessive force. With respect to Plaintiff’s state-law claims relating to Rivas-Villegas’s conduct, and Plaintiff’s other remaining claims, including against other Defendants, the panel stated that the prior majority opinion, Cortesluna v. Leon, 979 F.3d 645 (9th Cir. 2020), would remain the same.

This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on October 27, 2020.

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FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT RAMON CORTESLUNA, Plaintiff-Appellant, No. 19-15105 D.C. No. 3:17-cv-05133JSC v. MANUEL LEON; ROBERT KENSIC; DANIEL RIVAS-VILLEGAS; CITY OF UNION CITY, California, Defendants-Appellees. ORDER On Remand from the United States Supreme Court Filed January 12, 2022 Before: Ronald Lee Gilman,* Susan P. Graber, and Daniel P. Collins, Circuit Judges. Order * The Honorable Ronald Lee Gilman, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, sitting by designation. 2 CORTESLUNA V. LEON SUMMARY** Civil Rights On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the federal claims against Defendant Daniel Rivas-Villegas and remanded to the district court for consideration of the other elements of Plaintiff’s Monell claim, noting that the Supreme Court’s holding that Rivas-Villegas did not violate clearly established law left undisturbed the majority’s conclusion that Rivas-Villegas used excessive force. With respect to Plaintiff’s state-law claims relating to Rivas-Villegas’s conduct, and Plaintiff’s other remaining claims, including against other Defendants, the panel stated that the prior majority opinion, Cortesluna v. Leon, 979 F.3d 645 (9th Cir. 2020), would remain the same. COUNSEL Audrey Smith and Robert G. Howie, Howie & Smith LLP, San Mateo, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Lori A. Sebransky and Kevin P. Allen, Allen Glaessner Hazelwood & Werth LLP, San Francisco, California, for Defendants-Appellees. ** This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader. CORTESLUNA V. LEON 3 James R. Touchstone and Denise L. Rocawich, Jones & Mayer, Fullerton, California, for Amici Curiae California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Police Chiefs Association, and California Peace Officers’ Association. Michael P. Stone and Muna Busailah, Stone Busailah LLP, Pasadena, California, for Amicus Curiae Riverside Sheriffs’ Association. ORDER In light of the recent order of the Supreme Court of the United States, Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna, 142 S. Ct. 4 (2021) (per curiam), we affirm the district court’s dismissal of the federal claims against Defendant Daniel Rivas-Villegas. Because the Supreme Court’s holding that Rivas-Villegas did not violate clearly established law left undisturbed the majority’s conclusion that, viewing “all the evidence in Plaintiff’s favor, Rivas-Villegas used excessive force,” see Cortesluna v. Leon, 979 F.3d 645, 654 (9th Cir. 2020), we remand to the district court for consideration of the other elements of Plaintiff’s Monell claim based on Rivas-Villegas’s conduct and whether that claim can properly be resolved on summary judgment. With respect to Plaintiff’s state-law claims relating to Rivas-Villegas’s conduct, and Plaintiff’s other remaining claims, including against other Defendants, our prior majority opinion, Cortesluna v. Leon, 979 F.3d 645 (9th Cir. 2020), remains the same.
Primary Holding
On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit remands section 1983 claims concerning an officer kneeling on a suspect's back.

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