Mann et al v. City of Sacramento et al

Filing 23

ORDER signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 9/19/2017 DENYING 12 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Kirksey Smith, K)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 ----oo0oo---- 11 12 13 ROBERT MANN SR., VERN MURPHYMANN, DEBORAH MANN, ZACHARY MANN, and WILLIAM MANN, 14 15 16 17 18 19 Plaintiffs, CIV. NO. 2:17-01201 WBS DB ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS v. CITY OF SACRAMENTO, SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT, SAMUEL D. SOMERS JR., JOHN C. TENNIS, and RANDY R. LOZOYA, Defendants. 20 ----oo0oo---- 21 22 Joseph Mann (“decedent”) was shot and killed by 23 Sacramento Police officers John C. Tennis and Rand R. Lozoya on 24 July 11, 2016. 25 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to recover damages for deprivation of 26 their First Amendment right of association with decedent. 27 Presently before the court is defendants Tennis and Lozoya’s 28 Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of Decedent’s siblings have brought this action 1 1 the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 2 Plaintiffs concede that § 1983 claims for loss of 3 companionship under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause 4 are limited to parents and children. 5 Jose, 967 F.2d 280, 283-84 (9th Cir. 1991). 6 the court on this motion is whether § 1983 actions for loss of 7 association under the First Amendment are subject to the same 8 limitation. 9 are not. 10 See Ward v. City of San The question before For the following reasons, the court concludes they The only case to this court’s knowledge dealing 11 directly with this question is Judge Pregerson’s decision in 12 Graham v. County of Los Angeles, No.10-05059, 2011 WL 3754749, at 13 *2 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2017) (holding that the fiancé of decedent 14 had standing to bring a § 1983 claim under the Free Association 15 Clause of the First Amendment). 16 This conclusion finds support in the language of both 17 Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit caselaw. 18 Directors of Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte, 481 19 U.S. 537, 545 (1987), the Supreme Court said, “[T]he First 20 Amendment protects those relationships, including family 21 relationships, that presuppose ‘deep attachments and commitments 22 to the necessarily few other individuals with whom one shares not 23 only a special community of thoughts, experiences, and beliefs 24 but also distinctively personal aspects of one's life.’” 25 (quoting Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 622 26 (1984). 27 28 In Board of Id. In IDK, Inc. v. Clark County, 836 F.2d 1185, 1194 (9th Cir. 1988), the Ninth Circuit noted that, “[d]ating and other 2 1 social associations to the extent that they are expressive are 2 not excluded from the safeguards of the first amendment.” 3 Nothing in the language of either the Supreme Court or the Ninth 4 Circuit suggests that these first amendment protections are 5 limited to the relationship between parents and children. 6 This result does raise some perplexing questions. 7 for example, would the Supreme Court go to all the trouble in 8 Ward to limit the right of recovery under the Fourteenth 9 Why, Amendment to parents or children if others can simply recover 10 under the First Amendment? 11 has the requisite degree of intimacy with the decedent to assert 12 a First Amendment claim? These questions, however, are not 13 before this court today. It is sometimes said that tough cases 14 make bad law. 15 law makes tough cases. 16 How are the courts to determine who Here it might more appropriately be said that bad For the foregoing reasons, the court cannot conclude at 17 this stage of the proceedings as a matter of law that plaintiffs 18 do not have standing to bring their § 1983 claim for deprivation 19 of their First Amendment right of association with decedent. 20 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that defendants’ motion to 21 dismiss plaintiffs’ Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal 22 Rules of Civil Procedure be, and the same hereby is, DENIED. 23 Dated: September 19, 2017 24 25 26 27 28 3

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