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Judge Dismisses the Latest Suit Filed by Scott Estate


A federal judge on Friday dismissed the latest version of a civil rights lawsuit filed against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department by the estate of Donald Scott, the Ventura County millionaire who was shot to death in a drug raid at his ranch near Malibu last fall.

U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian dismissed the second amended complaint in the Scott estate's suit without prejudice, a court clerk said. That allows the plaintiffs to file a third amended complaint and keep the suit alive.

The judge signed the order after attorneys for the DEA and the county argued that the estate's suit had failed to state facts supporting its claims.

The suit alleged that the drug agents conspired to violate Scott's civil rights and take his $5-million ranch in the raid.

Stephen Yagman, an attorney for the Scott estate, said Friday he had not seen Tevrizian's order, but said he plans to file an amended complaint.

"Very frequently in lawsuits, defendants claim that plaintiffs haven't said all the right magic words to state the claim," Yagman said. "Presumably, there's an order saying, 'You haven't said the right magic words,' and we'll submit a new complaint with all the right magic words in it."

Assistant U.S. Atty. James R. Sullivan, representing the DEA and other federal defendants, declined to comment on the ruling. Attorneys for Los Angeles County could not be reached for comment.

Scott, the 61-year-old heir to a European chemicals fortune, was killed in an early morning raid Oct. 2 when agents burst into his home with a search warrant alleging there was marijuana growing on his 200-acre Trail's End Ranch.

Investigators said Scott emerged sleepy and drunk from his bedroom and pointed a pistol at Sheriff's Deputy Gary R. Spencer, who shot him twice.

No drugs were found in the raid. Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury concluded that Spencer shot Scott in self-defense, but also found that the main reason for the raid was to seize the ranch for the government.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block denied that charge.

The Scott estate alleged in its suit that the federal and Los Angeles County officers who planned and executed the raid violated Scott's constitutional rights against unlawful searches and unreasonable force, and conspired to seize his ranch through drug-forfeiture laws.

Sullivan and attorneys for Los Angeles County argued in court filings earlier this summer that the estate's attorneys failed to state facts in the suit that support the claims of constitutional violations or the conspiracy allegation.

On June 7, Tevrizian dismissed the first amended version of the original suit without prejudice, leaving the window open for the second version.

The estate's attorneys filed a second amended complaint on June 11, and defense attorneys filed motions asking to have that dismissed, too.

Dennis M. Gonzales, the county's attorney, argued that the second version, nearly identical to the first, also failed to state facts supporting its claims.

Yagman argued that the conspiracy charge is valid because the drug agents raided Scott's ranch "knowing that they had a bogus warrant and conducted a search in spite of that."

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