Jane D.M. Doe v. County of Los Angeles, et al

Filing 42

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES, 37 by Judge Dean D. Pregerson: The court denies the Countys Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint without prejudice. As set forth on the record, nothing in this order prevents the County from revisiting the standing issue. IT IS SO ORDERED. (shb)

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O 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 11 JANE D.M. DOE, a minor, by and through her Guardian ad Litem, Ivette Rodriguez, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 v. 15 16 17 18 COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, 19 Defendants. 20 21 22 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 20-cv-3218 DDP (JPRx) ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES [Dkt. 37] Presently before the court is County of Los Angeles’ Motion to Dismiss Second 23 Amended Complaint for Damages. (Dkt. 37, Mot.) Having considered the submissions 24 of the parties and heard oral argument, the court grants the motion and adopts the 25 following Order. 26 I. BACKGROUND 27 28 Plaintiff JANE D.M. DOE (“Plaintiff”) “was born on April 11, 2008 and is a minor residing in the County of Los Angeles, California.” (Dkt. 36, Second Amend. Compl. 1 2 3 4 5 6 (“SAC”) ¶ 5.) “Plaintiff is the natural born daughter of [Alfredo Montalvo (“Decedent”)] . . . [as] confirmed by DNA testing.” (Id.) Defendant County of Los Angeles (“County”) “is, and was, a duly organized public entity existing under the laws of the State of California.” (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendants DOES 1-10 “were duly appointed County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies and [ ] employees or agents of County . . . .” (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff alleges that “[o]n or about April 26, 2009, at or near the intersection of 7 Santa Fe and Norton Avenues in the city of Lynwood, California, Defendants DOES 1-10 8 shot [Decedent] sixty-one (61) times and [Decedent] was unarmed at the time he was shot 9 and killed by DOES 1-10.” (Id. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff also alleges that “[o]n November 6, 2009, 10 three of Decedent’s family members filed a complaint against the County in [ ] Superior 11 Court for the County of Los Angeles, Case No. TC023708, [(“Montalvo Action”)] for the 12 alleged violation of civil rights, negligence, negligent hiring, training and supervision, 13 battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.” (Id. ¶ 14.) The 14 Montalvo Action did not include Plaintiff. (Id.) In the Montalvo Action, “[o]n November 15 20, 2012, a twelve-person jury returned a verdict awarding . . . $8.5 million in damages 16 after finding that the County was negligent in the shooting of Decedent . . . .” (Id. ¶ 15.) 17 Plaintiff asserts that her claims “remain without adjudication and, in the furtherance of 18 the interests of justice the instant Complaint seeks a judicial remedy for [Plaintiff’s] 19 claims . . . .” arising from the County’s wrongful shooting of Decedent. (Id.) 20 On April 7, 2020, Plaintiff commenced this action against the County asserting 21 federal and state law claims on behalf of herself and on behalf of Decedent. (Dkt. 1, 22 Compl.) On October 20, 2020, the court granted the County’s Motion to Dismiss and 23 granted Plaintiff leave to amend to sufficiently allege the wrongful death claims and to 24 sufficiently allege standing. (Dkt. 28.) On December 30, 2020, the court granted the 25 County’s Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint and granted Plaintiff leave to 26 sufficiently allege standing. (Dkt. 35.) The County presently moves to dismiss 27 contending that Plaintiff failed to provide specific factual allegations. (See Mot.) 28 2 1 2 3 4 5 II. LEGAL STANDARD A complaint will survive a motion to dismiss when it contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must “accept as true all allegations of 6 material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” 7 Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). Although a complaint need not include 8 “detailed factual allegations,” it must offer “more than an unadorned, the-defendant- 9 unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Conclusory allegations or 10 allegations that are no more than a statement of a legal conclusion “are not entitled to the 11 assumption of truth.” Id. at 679. In other words, a pleading that merely offers “labels 12 and conclusions,” a “formulaic recitation of the elements,” or “naked assertions” will not 13 be sufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id. at 678 (citations and 14 internal quotation marks omitted). 15 III. DISCUSSION 16 17 A. Article III Standing The County argues that Plaintiff has insufficiently pled standing under the 18 standards set forth by the Supreme Court in Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248 (1983) and 19 more recently, the Ninth Circuit in Wheeler v. City of Santa Clara, 894 F.3d 1046 (9th Cir. 20 2018). (Mot. at 4-5.) According to the County, Plaintiff’s new allegations are conclusory 21 and do not sufficiently provide whether Decedent’s involvement in child-rearing 22 activities was “daily, weekly, monthly, or otherwise . . . .” (Id. at 7.) 23 “A decedent’s parents and children generally have the right to assert substantive 24 due process claims under the Fourteenth Amendment.” Wheeler, 894 F.3d at 1057. 25 “[C]hildren’s Fourteenth Amendment rights to companionship with their parents have 26 been interpreted as reciprocal to their parents’ rights.” Id. at 1058. The Supreme Court 27 has made clear that “the mere existence of a biological link does not merit [ ] 28 3 1 2 3 4 5 constitutional protection.” Lehr, 463 U.S. at 261. Instead, “[j]udicially enforceable Fourteenth Amendment interests require enduring relationships reflecting an assumption of parental responsibility and ‘stem[ ] from the emotional attachments that derive from the intimacy of daily association, and from the role it plays in promoting a way of life through the instruction of children.’” Wheeler, 894 F.3d at 1058 (quoting Lehr, 6 463 U.S. at 256-61)). Therefore, “even biological parents must maintain consistent 7 involvement in a child’s life and participation in child-rearing activities for their 8 relationship to be entitled to the Fourteenth Amendment protections . . . .” Id. In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that “Decedent helped raise 9 10 Plaintiff for the first year of Plaintiff’s life,” that Decedent changed Plaintiff’s diapers, fed 11 Plaintiff, prepared food for Plaintiff, and was present when Plaintiff began to crawl and 12 walk. (SAC ¶¶ 22-24.) Plaintiff further alleges that when “Decedent was not taking care 13 of Plaintiff, Decedent would frequently ‘message’ Plaintiff’s mother . . . to make sure that 14 Plaintiff was well . . . .” (Id. ¶ 27.) Decedent and Plaintiff’s mother would talk about 15 Plaintiff’s future and “planned that they would save money for college for Plaintiff.” (Id. 16 ¶ 28.) Plaintiff also alleges that “Decedent [ ] provided money to Plaintiff’s mother for 17 Plaintiff’s clothes and other necessities because Decedent loved Plaintiff very much.” (Id. 18 ¶ 29.) The allegations do not provide the frequency of any one of these child-rearing 19 activities. However, in this case, the absence of such allegations is not fatal at the 20 pleading stage. Plaintiff was an infant, only a year and two weeks old, at the time of 21 Decedent’s death. (Id. ¶ 39.) The allegations describing specific child-rearing activities 22 during Plaintiff’s first year, such as changing, feeding, and preparing meals, and 23 providing money for Plaintiff’s necessities, plausibly set forth Decedent’s ongoing 24 involvement in Plaintiff’s life and participation in child-rearing activities. 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 4 1 2 3 4 IV. CONCLUSION The court denies the County’s Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint without prejudice. As set forth on the record, nothing in this order prevents the County from revisiting the standing issue. 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 Dated: April 26, 2021 8 9 10 ___________________________________ 11 DEAN D. PREGERSON 12 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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