Lawsuit for Releasing Disciplinary Hearing to the Public
In Bradshaw v. City of Los Angeles (1990) 221 Cal. App. 3d 908 270 Cal. Rptr. 711, an LAPD officer sued the City after the police chief and the City furnished news media with a portion of the transcript of the officer's disciplinary hearing for improper conduct and information about the investigation.
The officer alleged negligence per se and violation of his constitutional right to privacy as a result of the defendant's violating the privileges of confidentiality and privacy by releasing the results of the disciplinary hearing to the public.
The trial court sustained the City's demurrer without leave to amend.
In affirming the judgment of dismissal and concluding that the officer could not state a cause of action, the court stated:
"The Legislature did not by the use of the word 'confidential' in Penal Code section 832.7, subdivision (a) intend to impose upon an agency a standard of care, the violation of which could be the basis for a cause of action for negligence per se.
Although it is not necessary that a statute prescribe a penalty for its violation to find a standard of care embodied in the statute (see Evid. Code, 669), the Legislature could have prescribed a penalty for the violation of the purportedly independent requirement of confidentiality. It has prescribed penalties for violation of a standard of care in other contexts.
See, e.g., Lab. Code, 6322 (violation of trade secret confidentiality); Pen. Code, 11105, subd. (b)(9) (public utility's disclosure of confidential information); Welf. & Inst. Code, 5330 (release of confidential information in violation of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act).
The failure to establish a penalty for violating the standard of care alleged as to confidentiality here further supports our conclusion that the Legislature did not intend to create a requirement of confidentiality, other than in civil or criminal judicial proceedings as described in Penal Code section 832.7, subdivision (a)." (Id. at pp. 918-919.)
Bradshaw's conclusion that police personnel records are confidential only in the context of civil and criminal judicial proceedings has been criticized, but its holding that violation of the disclosure statutes does not give rise to a private cause of action has been supported and followed. (See City of Hemet v. Superior Court, supra, 37 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1430; City of Richmond v. Superior Court, supra, 32 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1439.)
We will also follow Bradshaw and find that violation of the disclosure statutes does not give rise to a private right of action. Given the comprehensiveness of the statutory scheme, the Legislature could have easily provided a remedy if one was intended.
The fact that a remedy or penalty for violation of its mandates was not included in the statute is a strong indication that such a right was not intended.
See Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies (1988) 46 Cal. 3d 287, 300 250 Cal. Rptr. 116, 758 P.2d 58 holding that a statute does not create a private right of action where the statutes do not indicate the intent to create such a right; Arriaga v. Loma Linda University (1992) 10 Cal. App. 4th 1556, 1563-1564 13 Cal. Rptr. 2d 619 applying Moradi-Shalal and holding that provisions of Government Code do not create a private right of action where the statutes showed no such intent.