Vang et al v. Lopey, et al.,

Filing 67

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 4/27/17 ORDERING that the County's 59 Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. The first, third, and fourth claims are dismissed with prejudice. The second claim is dismissed with leave to amend. Plaintiffs shall file their Third Amended Complaint within 20 days of this Order. The County shall file its responsive pleading 20 days thereafter. (Kastilahn, A)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JESSE VANG, et al, 12 2:16-cv-2172-JAM-CMK Plaintiffs, 13 14 No. v. SHERIFF JON LOPEY, et al, 15 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT SISKIYOU COUNTY’S MOTION TO DISMISS Defendants. 16 Defendant Siskiyou County (“the County”) moves to dismiss 17 ECF No. 59. 1 18 Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). 19 Plaintiffs oppose the motion. 20 forth below, the Court GRANTS the County’s motion to dismiss. 2 21 /// 22 /// ECF No. 61. For the reasons set 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 The County submitted a Request for Judicial Notice along with its Motion to Dismiss, asking the Court to take judicial notice of thirteen documents on this case’s docket. ECF No. 59-2. The Court does not need to take judicial notice of documents on its own docket. 2 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for April 4, 2017. 1 1 I. FACTS 2 The Court takes the facts alleged by Plaintiffs—several 3 Hmong individuals who own property in the County—as true for 4 purposes of this motion. 5 After an increase in the County’s Hmong population, the 6 County “launched an attack” against Plaintiffs. 7 Board of Supervisors passed two ordinances placing restrictions 8 on growing medical marijuana. 9 discriminatorily enforced these ordinances against Asian 10 individuals. SAC ¶ 6. SAC ¶ 5. The The County SAC ¶ 11. 11 In early 2016, Plaintiffs “began registering to vote in 12 Siskiyou County, using the County-assigned parcel numbers of 13 their legally owned property as their residential address.” 14 ¶ 18. 15 for possible voter fraud. SAC The County Clerk flagged these voter registration forms SAC ¶ 19. 16 On two days in June 2016, County officers visited 17 Plaintiffs’ properties, and at least one officer carried an 18 assault rifle with him. 19 five plaintiffs out of voting in the June or November 2016 20 elections. 21 SAC ¶ 32. These visits scared at least SAC ¶¶ 54, 70, 82, 88, 108. The restrictions on marijuana cultivation passed as Measures 22 T and U in the June election. 23 nuisance violations have been issued overwhelmingly to Asian 24 property owners as opposed to white property owners.” 25 SAC ¶ 36. Since then, “notices of Id. In September 2016, the County “executed a series of search 26 warrants” on at least some Plaintiffs’ properties. 27 The searching officers “handcuffed and held at gunpoint” 28 individuals who were present during the searches and “ransacked” 2 SAC ¶ 42. 1 2 the properties of those who were not present. SAC ¶ 43. Plaintiffs bring four claims against the County in their 3 SAC: (1) unreasonable search and seizure, (2) violation of the 4 Fourteenth Amendment, (3) municipal liability on a failure-to- 5 train theory, and (4) employer liability. SAC at 29-35. 6 The Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ fourth claim for “employer 7 liability” against the County with prejudice in its January 13, 8 2017 Order (“1/13/17 Order”). 9 the Court strikes the fourth claim from the SAC. 1/13/17 Order at 7. Accordingly, 10 11 12 II. A. OPINION First Cause of Action: § 1983 Unlawful Search and Seizure Claim 13 14 A local government cannot be held liable pursuant to § 1983 15 under a theory of “respondeat superior.” 16 F.3d 1231, 1234-35 (9th Cir. 1999). 17 liable only when action pursuant to official municipal policy 18 causes a constitutional violation. 19 policy” requirement “distinguishe[s] acts of the municipality 20 from acts of employees of the municipality,” and thereby limits 21 liability to actions for which the municipality is actually 22 responsible. 23 Christie v. Iopa, 176 Instead, municipalities are Id. at 1235. The “official Id. (emphasis in original). Plaintiffs do not identify a specific unconstitutional 24 municipal policy or custom which caused this alleged 25 constitutional violation in their first § 1983 claim. Plaintiffs 26 “kitchen-sink” approach to alleging a custom or policy on which 27 to base this claim is insufficient. 28 not constitute specifically identified County policies as 3 Conclusory allegations do 1 2 required. The Court has already dismissed this claim as brought against 3 the County once with leave to amend. 4 Court finds that any further attempt by Plaintiffs to properly 5 plead plead this claim would be futile. 6 dismisses Plaintiffs’ first § 1983 claim against the County with 7 prejudice. B. Second Cause of Action: § 1983 Fourteenth Amendment Claim 8 1/13/17 Order at 7. The The Court therefore 9 Plaintiffs attempt to bring a Fourteenth Amendment claim 10 against the County. SAC at 31. Plaintiffs allege the County 11 had a “practice or custom of targeting Asian residents” 12 beginning in 2015. SAC ¶ 132. Plaintiffs allege this targeting 13 has denied Plaintiffs the “right to the quiet enjoyment and use 14 of property.” SAC ¶ 133. 15 Plaintiffs do not clarify in their SAC under which 16 Fourteenth Amendment clause they purport to bring their second 17 cause of action. The SAC alleges that the County was 18 “deliberately indifferent” to the health and safety of 19 Plaintiffs, which suggests a due process claim. SAC ¶ 130. 20 Plaintiffs’ opposition brief, however, argues the County “began 21 enforcing the local ordinance disproportionately against Asian 22 American property owners,” which suggests an equal protection 23 claim. Opp’n at 12. 24 The allegations in the SAC regarding Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth 25 Amendment claim do not sufficiently put the County on notice of 26 what type of claim it must defend against. See Nicolescu v. 27 Faith & Freedom Coal., 21 F.3d 1114 (9th Cir. 1994) (“Rule 8 28 4 1 requires sufficient allegations to put defendants fairly on 2 notice of the claims against them.”) 3 dismisses the second claim brought against the County. 4 Plaintiffs could potentially assert an equal protection claim 5 based on the alleged facts, the Court grants Plaintiffs one last 6 opportunity to amend its Fourteenth Amendment claim against the 7 County. C. The Court therefore Because Third Cause of Action: § 1983 Municipal Liability 8 Plaintiffs make the same allegations of municipal liability 9 in their SAC as they did in their original complaint. In both, 10 Plaintiffs allege the County’s training policies “were not 11 adequate to train its sheriff’s deputies and police officers to 12 handle voter fraud investigations and building safety code 13 enforcement.” Compl. ¶ 115, SAC ¶ 135. 14 In the Court’s 1/13/17 Order, it outlined the elements of a 15 failure-to-train claim. 1/13/17 Order at 8. Yet Plaintiffs 16 still failed to “identify any specific training that was 17 deficient, or how the policy amounted to deliberate 18 indifference” in their SAC. See id. at 7-8 (citing Molina v. 19 City of Visalia, 2014 WL 1117005, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 14, 20 2014)). Because the Court has already given Plaintiffs the 21 opportunity to amend this claim, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs’ 22 third cause of action with prejudice. 23 24 III. ORDER 25 For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS the 26 County’s motion to dismiss. The first, third, and fourth claims 27 are dismissed with prejudice. The second claim is dismissed with 28 5 1 leave to amend. 2 Complaint within twenty days of this Order. 3 file its responsive pleading twenty days thereafter. 4 5 Plaintiffs shall file their Third Amended IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: April 27, 2017 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6 The County shall

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