Mendez Jimenez v. United States of America et al

Filing 24

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 2/8/2018 ORDERING 16 the Court GRANTS with Prejudice the United States' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's FTCA claim predicated on the failure to provide medical care and actions by the County and County Officers. (Reader, L)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 LUIS ALBERTO MENDEZ JIMENEZ, 12 15 2:17-cv-01914-JAM-KJN Plaintiff, 13 14 No. v. ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’S MOTION TO DISMISS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO; and DOES 1-20, inclusive, 16 Defendants. 17 Luis Alberto Mendez Jimenez (“Plaintiff”) sued the United 18 19 States of America and the County of Sacramento for their 20 respective roles in Plaintiff’s detention, attempted suicide, and 21 resulting injuries. 22 “United States”) moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against it 23 on jurisdictional grounds. 24 Motion to Dismiss is granted. 1 25 /// Defendant United States of America (the For the reasons set forth below, the 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 January 30, 2018. 1 1 I. 2 3 FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND The following facts are taken as true for the purposes of this motion: 4 On August 15, 2016, Immigration Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) 5 officers apprehended Plaintiff in San Jose, California, on 6 suspicion of being present in the United States without 7 authorization. 8 ¶ 10. The officers detained him in San Jose, California. 9 ¶ 11. Plaintiff signed a voluntary departure form on August 15, First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), ECF No. 11-1, Id. at 10 2016, before Deportation Officer J. Freer. 11 given a Notice to Appear form by Deportation Officer Galvez for 12 an unscheduled hearing before an Immigration Judge. 13 his arrest, Plaintiff informed the ICE officers of his 14 psychological condition and previous incidents of self-harm. 15 He asked permission to go to his home to retrieve his psychiatric 16 medications, but the officers denied the request. 17 Id. Plaintiff was Id. Upon Id. Id. Sometime after his arrest on August 15, 2016, Plaintiff was 18 transferred and placed into immigration detention at Rio 19 Consumnes Correctional Center (“RCCC”) in Elk Grove. 20 ¶ 12. 21 history, treatment, and past incidents of self-harm. 22 ¶ 13. 23 taking it. 24 Plaintiff attempted to commit suicide by jumping from an elevated 25 location and striking his head and upper body on the surface 26 below. 27 injuries including tetraplegia, neurogenic bowel and bladder, 28 spinal cord injuries, factures at and near the C-6 vertebra, Id. at During his intake he informed staff of his psychological Id. at He informed them of his medication and need to continue Id. On October 23, 2016, while housed at RCCC, Id. at ¶ 15. As a result, Plaintiff suffers from 2 1 scalp lacerations, functional deficits, respiratory failure, 2 traumatic brain injury, and other injuries. 3 Id. Plaintiff sued the United States of America, the County of 4 Sacramento, and individual officers (Does) in this Court under 5 the Federal Tort Claims Act (the United States), Fifth Amendment 6 (individual U.S. Officers), California Tort Claims Act (County of 7 Sacramento), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (individual County Officers). 8 The parties filed a Stipulation for Leave to File a First Amended 9 Complaint and the FAC was deemed filed upon the Court’s signing 10 of the Order. ECF Nos. 11 & 12. 11 12 II. OPINION 13 A. Request for Judicial Notice 14 Plaintiff seeks judicial notice of excerpts from the 15 Performance-Based National Detention Standards issued by U.S. 16 Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ECF No. 18-7. 17 States has not opposed this request. The document appears to be 18 a government document, available on a government website, and a 19 source whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. 20 R. Evid. 201; Baires v. United States, No. C 09-05171 CRB, 2011 21 WL 6140998 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2011) (stating that the 2007 22 National Detention Standards appear to meet the Rule 201 23 standard). The United See Fed. The Court takes judicial notice of these standards. 24 B. Legal Standard 25 The United States seeks to dismiss Plaintiff’s Federal Tort 26 Claims Act (“FTCA”) claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 27 12(b)(1), arguing that the Court lacks jurisdiction to decide 28 these claims. 3 1 “A Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack may be facial or 2 factual.” 3 (9th Cir. 2004). 4 the complaint based on the allegations contained in the 5 complaint. 6 challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by 7 themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.” 8 9 Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 Id. A facial attack challenges the sufficiency of “By contrast, in a factual attack, the Id. The United States attacks jurisdiction on both facial and factual grounds. 10 C. Federal Tort Claims Act Claims 11 “It is elementary that ‘[t]he United States, as sovereign, 12 is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued . . ., and the 13 terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court’s 14 jurisdiction to entertain the suit.’” 15 445 U.S. 535, 538 (1980) (quoting United States v. Sherwood, 312 16 U.S. 584, 586 (1941)). 17 sovereign immunity with regard to tort liability under the 18 Federal Tort Claims Act ‘under circumstances where the United 19 States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in 20 accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission 21 occurred.’” 22 Cir. 2015) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1)). 23 some exceptions, two of which pertain to this case. 24 United States v. Mitchell, “The United States has waived its Chadd v. United States, 794 F.3d 1104, 1108 (9th But this waiver has The first exception bars suits under FTCA for actions taken 25 by a “contractor” working with the United States. 28 U.S.C. 26 § 2671. 27 contractor is the existence of federal authority to control and 28 supervise the ‘detailed physical performance’ and ‘day to day “The critical test for distinguishing an agent from a 4 1 operations’ of the contractor, and not whether the agency must 2 comply with federal standards and regulations.” 3 United States, 5 F.3d 1302, 1304 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Ducey 4 v. United States, 713 F.2d 504, 516 (9th Cir. 1983)). 5 Carrillo v. Second, “the discretionary function exception retains the 6 United States’s sovereign immunity for ‘[a]ny claim ... based 7 upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or 8 perform a discretionary function or duty on the part of a federal 9 agency or an employee of the Government, whether or not the 10 discretion involved be abused.” 11 § 2680(a)). 12 administrative decisions grounded in social, economic, and 13 political policy” from judicial second guessing. 14 Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. This exception protects “legislative and Id. Courts apply a two-step inquiry to evaluate whether a claim 15 falls into this exception. 16 the government’s actions were discretionary in nature; that is, 17 if a statute or policy directs mandatory and specific action, 18 then there is no element of discretion involved and the inquiry 19 ends. 20 judgment, then the Court asks whether the government actions and 21 decisions were susceptible policy analysis. 22 protects only government actions and decisions based on social, 23 economic, and political policy.” 24 F.3d 591, 593 (9th Cir. 1998). 25 nature, are not susceptible to policy analysis, then the 26 exception does not apply. 27 28 Id. at 1109. First, the Court must examine whether If the actions did involve an element of Id. “The exception Miller v. United States, 163 If the actions taken, by their Chadd, 794 F.3d at 1109. The United States asserts that each of these exceptions apply to Plaintiff’s FTCA claims. 5 1 D. 2 Analysis 1. 3 Control Over County and County Officers Preliminarily, Plaintiff concedes that the United States did 4 not closely supervise the detention of Plaintiff and others at 5 RCCC and does not oppose the United States’ motion to dismiss the 6 allegations regarding Plaintiff’s detention at RCCC as to the 7 United States. 8 that the “contractor” exception precludes his FTCA claim insofar 9 as it is premised on the County’s and County Officers’ actions. Opp. at 1. Essentially, Plaintiff acknowledges 10 See Logue v. United States, 412 U.S. 521 (1973) (an employee for 11 a county jail—contracted for services by the United States but 12 whose personnel is not under United States’ control—was found not 13 to be an employee of a federal agency for the purposes of the 14 FTCA). 15 with prejudice, the FTCA claim inasmuch as it is based on the 16 County’s and County Officers’ alleged actions. 17 In light of Plaintiff’s concessions, the Court dismisses, 2. 18 Failure to Provide Medical Care Removing those allegations from the picture, Plaintiff’s 19 FTCA claim is premised on the ICE officers’ failure to give 20 Plaintiff necessary medical care upon detaining him. 21 ¶ 20. 22 to get his medication. Opp. at 5. 23 FAC at This failure includes their denying his request to go home The United States argues that it cannot be held liable for 24 these decisions because the FTCA’s discretionary function 25 exception applies. 26 Plaintiff points the Court to ICE’s “Performance-Based 27 National Detention Standards 2011 (Revised 2016)” (“PBNDS”) for 28 the specific provisions regarding medical practices during 6 1 transfers of detainees to different facilities. 2 The ICE officers, he argues, violated these provisions when they 3 failed to ascertain what medicine Plaintiff needed and prevented 4 him from retrieving it. 5 Opp. at 5–7. Id. at 7. These standards are inapplicable. The standards Plaintiff 6 cites apply to “the following types of facilities housing ICE/ERO 7 detainees: Service Processing Centers (SPCs); Contract Detention 8 Facilities (CDFs); and State or local government facilities used 9 by ERO through Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGAs) to 10 hold detainees for more than 72 hours.” 11 sections Plaintiff cites set forth procedures for medical 12 providers at the enumerated detention facilities to follow with 13 respect to detainees in their care. 14 (“Continuity of Care”), 278 (“Transfer of Medical Information”), 15 457 (“Expected Outcomes”), and 459 (“Responsibilities of the 16 Health Care Provider at the Sending Facility”). 17 indication—explicit or implicit—that these standards apply to 18 arresting officers transporting a new detainee to a detention 19 center following arrest and initial processing at a sub-office. 20 See Galvez Decl., ECF No. 16-2, ¶¶ 5–7, 12. 21 to identify a statute, regulation, or policy that dictates a 22 mandatory and specific action not taken here. 23 therefore, involves the exercise of discretion. 24 PBNDS at 257. The sub- See PBNDS at 276 There is no Plaintiff has failed The decision, The second line of inquiry also favors the United States. 25 The decision whether or not to permit an arrestee to return home 26 to retrieve medication is a decision susceptible to social, 27 economic, and political policy analysis. See Miller, 163 F.3d at 28 593. In deciding whether to return to an arrestee’s home, an 7 1 arresting officer might weigh the risks to their own, fellow 2 officers’, detainee’s, and bystanders’ safety, as well as the 3 propriety of deferring to the detention facilities’ medical staff 4 and intake procedures. 5 and falls into the discretionary function exception. 6 7 3. Therefore, this decision is discretionary False Imprisonment Lastly, Plaintiff argues that the United States is liable 8 under the FTCA for false imprisonment because Plaintiff signed a 9 voluntary departure form upon arrest but was thereafter detained. 10 11 Opp. at 9. The FAC does not allege a false imprisonment claim against 12 the United States. See FAC; Rep. at 1. Plaintiff’s false 13 imprisonment theory of liability is fleshed out in his proposed 14 Second Amended Complaint, but not the operative complaint. 15 Compare ECF No. 18-5 with ECF No. 11-1. 16 move forward on a theory Plaintiff failed to allege. The FTCA claim cannot 17 E. Leave to Amend 18 “Dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not 19 appropriate unless it is clear . . . that the complaint could not 20 be saved by amendment.” 21 316 F.3d 1048, 1051-52 (9th Cir. 2003). 22 grant leave to amend where amendment would be futile. 23 Deveraturda v. Globe Aviation Security Services, 454 F.3d 1043, 24 1049 (9th Cir. 2006). 25 Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., But the Court need not Plaintiff has failed to identify any statute or policy that 26 would mandate action in the circumstances alleged in the First 27 Amended Complaint. 28 denied. Amendment would be futile and is therefore 8 1 As to Plaintiff’s new claim for false imprisonment, the 2 arguments concerning the claim are best addressed in the pending 3 Motion to Amend. 4 whether to allow Plaintiff to go forward on this claim 5 Motion to Amend has been fully briefed and argued. ECF No. 20. The Court reserves its decision on until the 6 7 III. ORDER 8 For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS WITH 9 PREJUDICE the United States’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s FTCA 10 claim predicated on the failure to provide medical care and 11 actions by the County and County Officers. 12 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 8, 2018 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9

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