Basilio v. City of Fairfield et al

Filing 38

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 2/23/17. The Court grants Defendants' MOTION to DISMISS Plaintiff's first two claims and DENIES the MOTION on Plaintiff's third and fourth claims. The Court DENIES Plaintiff leave to amend his first and second claims. Since Tibbet was named as a defendant only in the first claim for relief, he is DISMISSED from this action and the case will proceed only against the City on the following claims for relief: Third claim for denia l of medical care under Cal. Gov. Code § 845.6; Fourth claim for violation of the Bane Act; Fifth claim for attery; and Sixth claim for false imprisonment. The City shall file its Answer to the SAC within twenty days of the date of this order. (Mena-Sanchez, L)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JESUS BETANZO BASILIO, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 v. CITY OF FAIRFIELD, CITY OF FAIRFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT, WALT TIBBET, DOES 1-100, 16 No. 2:16-cv-00392-JAM-EFB ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS Defendants. 17 Plaintiff Jesus Betanzo Basilio (“Plaintiff”) sued the City 18 19 of Fairfield (“the City”), the Fairfield Police Department 20 (“FPD”), and the FPD Police Chief Walt Tibbet (“Tibbet”) 21 (collectively “Defendants”) for civil rights and state law 22 violations arising out of the arrest and detention of Plaintiff 23 by FPD officers. 24 Defendants move to dismiss the first four claims in Plaintiff’s 25 SAC. ECF No. 30. Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), ECF No. 28. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF No. 32. 1 26 27 28 1 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for February 7, 2017. 1 1 I. 2 3 FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND The Court takes the facts alleged by Plaintiff as true for purposes of this motion. 4 FPD officers arrested Plaintiff, a Mexican-American male 5 and a minor at the time, at his home in February 2014. 6 ¶ 15. 7 “get on the floor.” Id. ¶ 16. 8 officers’ requests. Id. 9 Plaintiff’s neck, shoulder, and face. The officers approached Plaintiff and yelled at him to Plaintiff complied with the The officers slammed their knees into 10 kicked Plaintiff in the temple. 11 arrest as the officers kicked him. 12 SAC Id. Id. Some of the officers Plaintiff did not resist Id. One officer searched Plaintiff and forcefully pulled on 13 Plaintiff’s testicles. 14 in the back of his patrol car. 15 Plaintiff told officers he did not feel well and his head hurt. 16 Id. ¶ 23. 17 Id. ¶ 19. The officer placed Plaintiff Id. While in the patrol car, The officers took Plaintiff to the police station and into 18 an interrogation room. 19 officers his head and shoulder hurt, he needed aspirin, and 20 needed to go the hospital. 21 Plaintiff to the hospital and left him in the room for two 22 hours. 23 Id. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff told police Id. ¶ 26. The officers did not take Plaintiff fainted in the interrogation room. Id. After a “long wait,” two officers entered the room to ask 24 Plaintiff about a suspect in a shooting. 25 told the officers he “had no gang relations.” 26 spent four hours in the interrogation room, after which officers 27 took him to a hospital. 28 /// Id. ¶¶ 29, 30. 2 Id. ¶ 27. Id. Plaintiff Plaintiff 1 Plaintiff’s SAC contains six claims for relief: 2 (1) excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (2) denial of 3 medical care under § 1983, (3) denial of medical care under 4 California Government Code § 845.6, (4) violation of the Bane 5 Act, (5) battery, and (6) false imprisonment. 6 Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff’s first through fourth 7 claims. Mot. at 4-12. 8 9 10 Id. at 1. II. A. OPINION Dismissal of Fairfield Police Department Courts in this district have consistently held that 11 subdivisions of a defendant city, such as a police department, 12 are unnecessary and redundant defendants. 13 Manteca, 2008 WL 2825099, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Jul. 21, 2008); 14 Herrera v. City of Sacramento, 2013 WL 3992497, at *2 (E.D. Cal. 15 Aug. 2, 2013). 16 prejudice given that the City has been named as a defendant in 17 this case. 18 served any individual officers; Tibbet and the City are the only 19 defendants. Brouwer v. City of The Court therefore dismisses the FPD with The Court notes that Plaintiff has not named or 20 B. Request for Judicial Notice 21 Defendants’ Request for Judicial Notice, ECF No. 30-1, is 22 denied with the exception that the Court recognizes the existence 23 of a jury verdict and the two referenced orders filed in the Hall 24 v. City of Fairfield case. 25 C. First Claim for Relief: Excessive Force 26 Plaintiff brings his first cause of action for excessive 27 force under the Fourth Amendment. 28 the Court should dismiss the excessive force claim as brought 3 SAC at 8. Defendants argue 1 2 against Tibbet and the City. 1. § 1983 Excessive Force Claim Against Tibbet 3 “[A] supervisory official can be found liable in his 4 individual capacity if there is a sufficient nexus between his 5 own conduct and the constitutional violations committed by 6 subordinates.” 7 1219 (E.D. Cal. 2015). 8 is liable for the acts of his subordinates if the supervisor 9 participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the Johnson v. City of Vallejo, 99 F. Supp. 3d 1212, “In a section 1983 claim, a supervisor 10 violations of subordinates and failed to act to prevent them.” 11 Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). 12 Defendants argue “Plaintiff’s SAC adds no facts to cure the 13 defects in his prior complaint, and his factually unsupported, 14 vague conclusions are insufficient to withstand dismissal of his 15 supervisory liability claim against Chief Tibbet.” 16 Mot. at 5. Plaintiff responds that “Defendants fail to 17 acknowledge . . . 18 which add[] numerous facts to support Plaintiff’s claims for 19 failure to train.” 20 that Tibbet failed to (1) discipline officers following previous 21 violations of constitutional rights of suspects, and 22 (2) “adopt[] policies regarding obtaining medical care for 23 detainees who complain of serious injuries.” 24 paragraphs 41 through 48 of the SAC . . . Opp’n at 5. Paragraph 43 of the SAC states SAC ¶ 43. Plaintiff again fails to support his allegations against 25 Tibbet with any facts. The dearth of underlying facts to 26 support Plaintiff’s conclusory allegations that Tibbet failed to 27 discipline officers or implement certain policies suggests that 28 these allegations are mere speculation. 4 Given the absence of 1 such facts, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss 2 Plaintiff’s first claim as brought against Tibbet. 3 finds that Plaintiff has been given enough opportunities to 4 properly plead this claim and that any further attempt would be 5 futile. 6 dismissed with prejudice. The Court The excessive force claim against Tibbet is therefore 7 2. § 1983 Excessive Force Claim Against the City 8 Defendants argue the Court should dismiss Plaintiff’s first 9 claim as brought against the City because Plaintiff does not 10 allege a policy, ratification, or inadequate training sufficient 11 to impose Monell liability on the City. Mot. at 6-11. 12 a. Policy, Practice or Custom 13 Plaintiff alleges the City “has had several incidents that 14 show a pattern, policy and custom in violation of federal and 15 state law.” SAC ¶ 12. Plaintiff cites to Hall et al v. City of 16 Fairfield et al, 2:10-cv-00508-DB, arguing Hall represents a 17 “sample” of cases “showing that [FPD] has a pattern of excessive 18 force that has spanned over several years.” Id. ¶¶ 12, 14. 19 The City contends that Plaintiff’s reliance on Hall is 20 misplaced and that the SAC fails to show how this one single 21 case demonstrates that the City had a pattern, policy, or custom 22 that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional 23 rights. Mot. at 7. The Court agrees. There are also no facts 24 in the SAC that explain how Hall even relates to the instant 25 case and Plaintiff’s citation to Hall shows only that a prior 26 lawsuit was filed and a jury verdict resulted on some issue. 27 Plaintiff’s SAC does not satisfy Monell’s factual barrier 28 5 1 nor does it contain sufficient facts which prove that the 2 Defendants caused the deprivation of Plaintiff’s federal rights. 3 Rather, Plaintiff’s factually devoid conclusions against the 4 City cannot withstand this motion to dismiss. 5 Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011) (“[A]llegations in a 6 complaint . . . may not simply recite the elements of a cause of 7 action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying 8 facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to 9 defend itself effectively.”). 10 See Starr v. Plaintiff has not provided the underlying facts necessary 11 to support his contention that the City had an unconstitutional 12 policy or custom. 13 against the City cannot proceed on an unconstitutional policy 14 theory. 15 16 b. Plaintiff’s § 1983 excessive force claim Ratification Defendants also argue Plaintiff has not properly alleged a 17 ratification claim against the City in the first claim for 18 relief. Mot. at 9. 19 “To prove Monell liability based on ratification, the 20 plaintiff must show that the final policymaker in question had 21 knowledge of the constitutional violation and actually approved 22 of it. 23 without more, is insufficient to support a section 1983 claim.” 24 Kyles v. Baker, 72 F. Supp. 3d 1021, 1044 (N.D. Cal. 2014) 25 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). 26 policymaker's response to the subordinate's unconstitutional 27 conduct must amount to more than acquiescence; he or she must 28 have affirmatively approved both the subordinate's decision and A mere failure to overrule a subordinate's actions, 6 “The final 1 the basis for it.” 2 Id. Defendants argue “Plaintiff’s SAC states no facts showing 3 the City knew of unconstitutional conduct by any of the 4 officers, before the alleged acts were completed, and approved 5 it.” 6 ratification claim against the City “based on its failure to 7 discipline Fairfield Police Officers for their conduct during 8 the incident or retrain them or their supervisors.” 9 Mot. at 10. Plaintiff responds that he has stated a Opp’n at 9. “[F]or there to be ratification, there must be ‘something 10 more’ than a single failure to discipline or the fact that a 11 policymaker concluded that the defendant officer's actions were 12 in keeping with the applicable policies and procedures.” 13 v. City of Imperial, 2010 WL 3911457, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 14 2010); see also Alegrett v. City & Cty of S.F., 2014 WL 1911405, 15 at *9 (N.D. Cal. May 13, 2014) (“[F]ailure of a police 16 department to discipline in a specific instance is not an 17 adequate basis for municipal liability.”). 18 Garcia Plaintiff’s ratification claim rests solely on Plaintiff’s 19 contention that Tibbet failed to discipline the involved 20 officers for use of excessive force against Plaintiff. 21 multiple district courts have stated, however, a single failure 22 to discipline does not give rise to municipal liability. 23 Plaintiff’s § 1983 excessive force claim cannot proceed on a 24 ratification theory. 25 26 c. As Inadequate Training Defendants next argue that Plaintiff’s first claim for 27 relief against the City fails to the extent it is based on an 28 inadequate training theory. Mot. at 7. 7 1 To state a Monell claim based on inadequate training, a 2 plaintiff must allege facts “establishing what the training 3 practices were, how these practices were deficient, [and] how 4 the practices caused [the plaintiff’s] harm.” 5 Clinics, 2013 WL 12129611, at *5 (C.D. Cal. May 17, 2013); see 6 also Young v. City of Visalia, 687 F. Supp. 2d 1141, 1150 (E.D. 7 Cal. 2009) (“[W]ithout identifying the training and hiring 8 practices, how those practices were deficient, and without an 9 identification of the obviousness of the risk involved, the Eng v. Pac. 10 Court cannot determine if a plausible claim is made for 11 deliberately indifferent conduct.”). 12 incident is insufficient to establish a program-wide inadequacy 13 in training.” 14 Additionally, a “single Eng, 2013 WL 12129611, at *5. Plaintiff does not identify any specific training policies 15 or how such policies caused his harm. 16 against the city cannot proceed on a failure to train theory. 17 Having found that the first claim for relief against the 18 City cannot proceed on any of Plaintiff’s theories, the Court 19 grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s § 1983 20 excessive force claim against the City. The Court finds that 21 further amendment would be futile and dismissal is granted with 22 prejudice. 23 D. Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim Second Claim for Relief: Failure to Provide Medical Services 24 25 Plaintiff brings his second claim against the City only. 26 SAC at 11. Because Plaintiff brings his second claim against 27 the City under § 1983, he must properly allege the existence of 28 a City policy or practice that resulted in the violation of his 8 1 constitutional rights. 2 7180616, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 16, 2015). 3 Austin v. Cty of Alameda, 2015 WL Plaintiff alleges “[FPD] Officers, including the Doe 4 Defendants, failed to provide Plaintiff medical care in the wake 5 of the beating despite Plaintiff’s extensive injuries.” 6 ¶ 52. 7 to provide medical care because: 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Id. Plaintiff states he can hold the City liable for failure Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant CITY, are based [on] the fact that the officers had a deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The Officers were aware that the Plaintiff fainted, had numbness and pain and disregarded the excessive risk their actions had on the Plaintiff’s health and safety. The Plaintiff has shown that there is a pattern of this indifference in Hall, Supra. The Defendants were aware of the inadequate medical care provided to inmates and detainees in the custody. On information and belief, instead of taking proper steps to provide for proper medical care for Plaintiff, Defendants ignored the problem and condoned, encouraged, fostered and/or ratified the denial of proper medical care. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that and Defendants have ratified the Defendants’ unconstitutional conduct towards Plaintiff. 17 18 19 SAC ¶ 58. While Plaintiff alleges facts that could potentially 20 support a deliberate indifference claim against one of the 21 individual officers, Plaintiff fails to allege a policy or 22 practice of deliberate indifference. 23 provides to support the allegation of a policy or practice is 24 his own experience with the FPD. 25 previous order, this single instance cannot support the 26 allegation that the City had a policy or practice of acting 27 deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of those in 28 custody. The only facts Plaintiff As stated by the Court in its 7/14/16 Order at 9, ECF No. 18 (citing Gaines v. Cty. 9 1 of L.A., 2014 WL 2042243, at *5 (C.D. Cal May 16, 2014)). 2 Court therefore, once again, dismisses Plaintiff’s second claim. 3 Dismissal is granted without leave to amend given that further 4 amendment would be futile. The 5 E. 6 Plaintiff alleges the City violated California Government 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Third Claim for Relief: § 845.6 Code § 845.6. SAC ¶ 67. Section 845.6 states: Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for injury proximately caused by the failure of the employee to furnish or obtain medical care for a prisoner in his custody; but . . . a public employee, and the public entity where the employee is acting within the scope of his employment, is liable if the employee knows or has reason to know that the prisoner is in need of immediate medical care and he fails to take reasonable action to summon such medical care. Cal. Gov't Code § 845.6. “[T]o state a claim under § 845.6, a prisoner must 15 establish three elements: (1) the public employee knew or had 16 reason to know of the need (2) for immediate medical care, and 17 (3) failed to reasonably summon such care.” 18 F.3d 1091, 1099 (9th Cir. 2006). 19 SAC states no facts showing these elements have been met. 20 Jett v. Penner, 439 Defendants contend that the In response, Plaintiff argues he has established the first 21 two elements in his SAC because he “not only informed the 22 officers that he had a headache, asked for medical treatment and 23 medication; he was also shaking visibly, fainted, and reported 24 feeling numbness [and] dizziness.” 25 alleges that despite such indications of medical need, the 26 officers waited several hours before taking him to the hospital. 27 SAC ¶ 30. 28 the first two elements. Opp’n at 13. Plaintiff These allegations are clearly sufficient to satisfy 10 1 As to the third element, Plaintiff has shown that because 2 he was visibly shaking and had suffered blows to the head, at 3 least one of the police officers had reason to know of his need 4 for medical care. 5 reasonable summon care because they did not take Plaintiff to 6 the hospital until at least five hours after detaining him. 7 It is also clear that the officers failed to Plaintiff’s SAC contains sufficient allegations to maintain 8 this claim for relief and the Court denies the City’s motion to 9 dismiss. 10 F. 11 Plaintiff brings his fourth claim for violation of the Bane 12 13 Fourth Claim for Relief: Bane Act Act against the City only. SAC at 15. The Bane Act creates a right of action where “a 14 person . . . whether or not acting under the color of law, 15 interferes by threat, intimidation, or coercion, or attempts to 16 interfere by threat, intimidation, or coercion” with a right 17 secured by federal or state law. 18 Because a public entity may be held liable under California law 19 for injuries caused by its employees, the City can be held 20 liable under the Bane Act if the acts of the police officers 21 themselves give rise to a Bane Act claim. See Morse v. Cty. of 22 Merced, 2016 WL 3254034, at *6 (E.D. Cal. Jun. 13, 2016). 23 Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1(a). In a previous order in this case, this Court held that in 24 wrongful detention cases, a plaintiff must show threats, 25 coercion, or intimidation independent from the coercion inherent 26 in the wrongful detention itself to successfully plead a Bane 27 Act claim. 28 however, that “a plaintiff bringing a Bane Act excessive force 7/14/16 Order at 10. 11 This Court later held, 1 claim need not allege a showing or coercion independent from the 2 coercion inherent in the use of force.” 3 5930592, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 12, 2016) (emphasis added). A.C. v. Griego, 2016 WL 4 While Defendants appear to believe that Plaintiff’s Bane 5 Act claim is based only on Plaintiff’s wrongful detention and 6 false imprisonment allegations, Plaintiff makes clear in his SAC 7 that he brings his Bane Act claim based on his excessive force 8 allegations rather than on his false imprisonment allegations. 9 Thus, Plaintiff need not allege any independent threats of 10 coercion. 11 Plaintiff to state a Bane Act claim against the City. 12 Court denies the City’s motion to dismiss. The allegations of excessive force are sufficient for Thus, the 13 14 III. ORDER 15 The Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s 16 first two claims and denies the motion on Plaintiff’s third and 17 fourth claims. 18 first and second claims. 19 only in the first claim for relief, he is dismissed from this 20 action and the case will proceed only against the City on the 21 following claims for relief: The Court denies Plaintiff leave to amend his Since Tibbet was named as a defendant 22 1. 23 Code § 845.6; 24 2. Fourth claim for violation of the Bane Act; 25 3. Fifth claim for battery; and 26 4. Sixth claim for false imprisonment. 27 /// 28 Third claim for denial of medical care under Cal. Gov. /// 12 1 2 3 4 The City shall file its Answer to the SAC within twenty days of the date of this order. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 23, 2017 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 13

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