Oral Argument Set In Ninth Circuit Appeal Of ‘Fajitagate’ Case

December 22, 2007 by  
Filed under Around the Courthouse

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has calendared oral argument in the federal civil rights claims over a 2002 altercation between three off-duty S.F.P.D. officers (one of whom was the son of the assistant chief) and a San Francisco bartender and his friend. The media dubbed the case “fajitagate” because the fracas supposedly started over a bag of steak fajitas outside a Union Street bar. The melee fueled a perfect storm of headlines, hearings, lawsuits, investigations and indictments. But when the dust settled, most of the various civil and criminal charges against the City and SFPD officials and officers had been dismissed by judges or rejected by juries. Some cases, including this one, are on appeal.

In Snyder and Santoro v. City and County of San Francisco, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White held that plaintiffs could not bring a federal civil rights claim over private, off-duty conduct of police officers. Plaintiffs had argued that they should be permitted to bring a lawsuit based on the SFPD’s alleged lax discipline for on-duty misconduct, which they contend caused the off-duty altercation. Plaintiffs’ appeal from Judge White’s decision in the “fajitagate” federal civil rights lawsuit will be argued before the Ninth Circuit at Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall, on the U.C. Berkeley campus in Berkeley on February 13, 2008.

Defendants are represented by Deputy City Attorneys Sean Connolly and David Newdorf. Plaintiffs are represented by San Francisco attorneys John Houston Scott, Eric Safire and Dennis Cunningham.

For all of your litigation questions, contact Newdorf Legal, a San Francisco business litigation law firm.

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