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Demurrer Sustained Without Leave in Suspected Child Abuse Case: City of Huntington Park

On October 20, 2017, the Honorable Lori Ann Fournier of the Los Angeles Superior Court (Norwalk Courthouse) sustained Defendant, City of Huntington Park’s demurrer to a second amended complaint without leave to amend, in a case in which a parent of a deceased one year old child sued the City of Huntington Park for failing to suspect and prevent against child abuse. Alvin Lyles, Jr. v. City of Huntington Park, L.A. Sup. Ct. Case No. BC616892.  Tragically, on February 17, 2015, 18 month old infant Majesty Lyles was killed as a result of alleged child abuse in his home.

Decedent’s father, Alvin Lyles, Jr., filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Huntington Park, alleging negligence on the part of the police department, as well as violation of the Child Abuse Neglect and Reporting Act (“CANRA”), codified at Penal Code sections 11164 to 11174.3. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that police were summoned to the residence on numerous prior occasions as a result of domestic disturbance calls involving the infant’s mother and boyfriend, and that the police knew or should have known about the existence of child abuse under the circumstances.

The Court sustained defendant’s demurrer without leave to amend on the basis of Government Code section 845 (public entity is not liable for its failure to provide police protection service, or sufficient police protection service) and 846 (public entity is not liable for failure to make an arrest or failure to retain an arrested person in custody), citing also Hartzler v. City of San Jose (1975) 48 Cal.App.3d 6, 10, Williams v. State of California (1963) 34 Cal.3d 18, 25, Government Code sections 818.2 and 821.

The case was handled by Justin Reade Sarno, and Steven J. Rothans.