Williams v. Yuba City et al

Filing 31

ORDER signed by Senior District Judge John A. Mendez on 06/05/2024 GRANTING 26 Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint and DISMISSES each cause of action with prejudice. (Lopez, K)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 KYLE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 No. 2:22-cv-01750-JAM-CKD ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF’S SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT YUBA CITY, et al., Defendants. 11 12 This matter is before the Court on Defendants Yuba City, 13 14 15 16 17 18 Katheryn Danisan, D. Hauck, Enrique Jurado, Nico Mitchell, and Spencer Koski’s (collectively, “Defendants”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff Kyle Williams’ (“Plaintiff”) second amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 26. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ 19 20 motion.1 I. 21 The parties are intimately familiar with the allegations and 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ALLEGATIONS AND BACKGROUND procedural background of this case, which were included in the Court’s previous Order on Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s first amended complaint (“FAC Order”). Order, ECF No. 22. 1This See FAC The first and second amended complaints are motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). 1 1 substantially similar. Compare Second Am. Compl. (“SAC”), ECF 2 No. 23, with First Am. Compl. (“FAC”), ECF No. 14. 3 following material allegation was added to the SAC: “[a]t the 4 preliminary hearing, Plaintiff’s lawyer failed to call either 5 Jurado or Hauck as witnesses when the DA failed to call them 6 because he did not want to alert the DA to the planned trial 7 defense.” However, the SAC ¶ 8(d)(vii). 8 Like the FAC, Plaintiff’s SAC asserts the following causes 9 of action under federal law: (1) excessive force; (2) malicious 10 prosecution; (3) right to a fair trial;2 (4) false arrest; 11 (5) Equal Protection Clause violation; and (6) unconstitutional 12 deprivation of familial relations. 13 claim Plaintiff did not reallege in the SAC is the Monell claim 14 against Yuba City regarding Plaintiff’s vehicle. 15 with FAC ¶¶ 78-82. 16 Plaintiff opposed, Opp’n, ECF No. 27, and Defendants replied. 17 Reply, ECF No. 28. 18 II. 19 See generally SAC. The only Compare SAC, Defendants now move to dismiss each claim. REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE Defendants request four matters be judicially noticed under 20 Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Defs.’ Req. for 21 Judicial Notice (“RJN”), ECF No. 26-2. 22 took judicial notice of the first three matters in the FAC The Court previously 23 24 25 26 27 28 2Plaintiff’s third cause of action is entitled “42 U.S.C. § 1983— Sixth Amendment Right to Fair Trial; Sixth Amendment Right to Subpoena and Produce Evidence; Fourteenth Amendment Right to Due Process; Fourth Amendment Unreasonable Seizure for Trial without Due Process.” SAC at 17:7-10. The Court will refer to this cause of action as one for interference with Plaintiff’s right to a fair trial, even though Plaintiff asserts multiple claims within. See id. 2 1 Order, which included (1) the Custody Order; (2) the Preliminary 2 Hearing Minute Order; and (3) that August 31, 2020, was a 3 Monday. 4 from Plaintiff’s preliminary hearing on September 11, 2020. 5 RJN, ECF No. 26-2. 6 request. 7 FAC Order at 2. The fourth matter is the transcript Plaintiff does not object to Defendants’ See generally Opp’n. As matters of public record whose authenticity is not 8 disputed, the Court takes judicial notice as requested. 9 250 F.3d at 689-90; Fed. R. Evid. 201(b). Lee, The Court only takes 10 judicial notice of the contents, or lack of contents, within the 11 documents noticed and not the truth of those contents. 12 F.3d at 690; see also In re Calder, 907 F.2d 953, 955 n.2 (10th 13 Cir. 1990) (taking judicial notice of the contents of bankruptcy 14 documents but not the truth of the content). 15 Court takes judicial notice of the presence or absence of 16 matters in the preliminary hearing transcript but not any 17 factual matters stated therein. 18 III. Lee, 250 For example, the OPINION 19 A. Legal Standard 20 Dismissal is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal 21 Rules of Civil Procedure when a plaintiff’s allegations fail “to 22 state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” 23 P. 12(b)(6). 24 a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as 25 true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its 26 face.” 27 quotation marks and citation omitted). 28 allegations” are unnecessary, the complaint must allege more Fed. R. Civ. “To survive a motion to dismiss [under 12(b)(6)], Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal 3 While “detailed factual 1 than “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of 2 action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” 3 considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, 4 the court generally accepts as true the allegations in the 5 complaint, construes the pleading in the light most favorable to 6 the party opposing the motion, and resolves all doubts in the 7 pleader’s favor. 8 588 (9th Cir. 2008). 9 motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory ‘factual content,’ and Id. In Lazy Y Ranch LTD. v. Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, “In sum, for a complaint to survive a 10 reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly 11 suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.” 12 v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). 13 14 B. Analysis 1. 15 16 Moss Plaintiff’s Claim for Excessive Force Under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 The Court previously dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff’s 17 first cause of action for excessive force. 18 Plaintiff asserts it was included in the SAC solely to preserve 19 his right to appeal. 20 unnecessary. 21 been modified. 22 extent Plaintiff is attempting to reassert this claim, it is 23 once again dismissed with prejudice. 24 25 26 2. FAC Order at 9. Opp’n at 2; SAC at 14:7-11. This was The Court also notes, however, that this claim has Compare SAC ¶¶ 25-30, with FAC ¶¶ 25-29. To the Plaintiff is Collaterally Estopped from Relitigating the Issue of Probable Cause Plaintiff’s second, third, and fourth causes of action are 27 for false arrest or malicious prosecution. 28 Order at 10-11; SAC at 17:7-10 (listing claims asserted within 4 SAC ¶¶ 31-67; FAC 1 the third cause of action); Opp’n at 8. 2 properly allege the absence of probable cause. 3 Cnty. of S.F., 266 F.3d 959, 964 (9th Cir. 2001) (false arrest); 4 Freeman v. City of Santa Ana, 68 F.3d 1180, 1189 (9th Cir. 1995) 5 (malicious prosecution). 6 and fourth causes of action fail because Plaintiff is 7 collaterally estopped from arguing the lack of probable cause in 8 this suit. 9 Defendants are correct. 10 Thus, Plaintiff must Dubner v. City & Defendants argue the second, third, Memo. of P. & A. (“Mot.”), ECF No. 26-1 at 6. “[A] decision by a judge or magistrate to hold a defendant 11 to answer after a preliminary hearing constitutes prima facie— 12 but not conclusive—evidence of probable cause.” 13 of Adelanto, 368 F.3d 1062, 1067 (9th Cir. 2004). 14 rule, each of [the] requirements [for collateral estoppel] will 15 be met when courts are asked to give preclusive effect to 16 preliminary hearing probable cause findings in subsequent civil 17 actions for false arrest and malicious prosecution.” 18 City of Los Angeles, 713 F.3d 1183, 1185 (9th Cir. 2013). 19 finding of probable cause to stand trial is also a finding of 20 probable cause to arrest. 21 Cal. App. 4th 1138, 1145 (1999) (citing Haupt v. Dillard, 17 22 F.3d 285, 289 (1994)). 23 cause may be rebutted when a tactical reason prevents a criminal 24 defendant from having a “full and fair opportunity” to litigate 25 the issue at the preliminary hearing. 26 4th at 1147; Haupt, 17 F.3d at 289; see also FAC Order at 12-13. 27 28 Awabdy v. City “As a general Wige v. A McCutchen v. City of Montclair, 73 The prima facie finding of probable McCutchen, 73 Cal. App. The Sutter County Superior Court found probable cause for Plaintiff to stand trial during the preliminary hearing in 5 1 Plaintiff’s prior criminal prosecution. 2 Order, Exh. B to RJN, ECF No. 26-3 at 11-12. 3 and since no exception to rebut the finding of probable cause 4 was alleged in the FAC, the Court previously dismissed 5 Plaintiff’s false arrest and malicious prosecution claims. 6 Order at 9-14. 7 Prelim. Hr’g Min. For this reason, FAC Plaintiff contends the following allegation in the SAC 8 sufficiently pleads a “tactical reason” exception to collateral 9 estoppel: “[a]t the preliminary hearing, Plaintiff’s lawyer 10 failed to call either Jurado or Hauck as witnesses when the DA 11 failed to call them because he did not want to alert the DA to 12 the planned trial defense.” 13 The Court disagrees. 14 demonstrate Plaintiff lacked a “full and fair opportunity” to 15 litigate the issue of probable cause. 16 ultimately benefited from his failure is insufficient. 17 Plaintiff need not have litigated every issue affecting probable 18 cause for this Court to find he had a full and fair opportunity 19 to do so. 20 obligated to call every witness, and Plaintiff does not contend 21 he was prevented from calling witnesses and offering evidence 22 himself. 23 of the opportunity to litigate an issue will not preclude 24 collateral estoppel,” Hoffman v. Gibson, No. 3:17-CV-00618-H- 25 BLM, 2017 WL 3457525, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 11, 2017), Plaintiff 26 has not alleged an exception. 27 issue of probable cause at the preliminary hearing when his 28 criminal defense counsel cross-examined all six of the SAC ¶ 8(d)(vii); Opp’n at 9-12. A failure to call two witnesses does not That Plaintiff may have As stated in the FAC Order, a state prosecutor is not FAC Order at 13. Since “a failure to take advantage Indeed, Plaintiff contested the 6 1 government’s witnesses. 2 No. 26-3 at 15. 3 Prelim. Hr’g Tr., Exh. C to RJN, ECF Plaintiff offers several other reasons to support his 4 argument that he is not estopped from arguing the lack of 5 probable cause in this suit. 6 arguments were previously rejected by the Court and are not 7 readdressed here. 8 arguments are unpersuasive and unsupported by legal authority. 9 Opp’n at 9-13. See FAC Order at 13-14. Some of these The remaining First, Plaintiff argues he cannot be collaterally estopped 10 because the term “probable cause” was not used during the 11 preliminary hearing. 12 with legal authority that this specific phrase must be used to 13 create preclusive effect. 14 criminal defense attorney “had been denied access to significant 15 relevant police reports” at the preliminary hearing. 16 ¶ 8(d)(vi). 17 transcript does not support this allegation. 18 Prelim. Hr’g Tr., Exh. C to RJN, ECF No. 26-3 at 17:15-26). 19 Nevertheless, this is not a recognized exception to collateral 20 estoppel. 21 the applicability of McCutchen given the conflicting holding in 22 Schmidlin v. City of Palo Alto, 157 Cal.App.4th 728 (2007), 23 which found preliminary hearing findings do not create 24 collateral estoppel effect for subsequent civil suits. 25 Overwhelming authority in the Ninth Circuit, however, has 26 followed McCutchen rather than Schmidlin. 27 City of Yuba City (“Patterson II”), 748 F. App'x 120, 121 (9th 28 Cir. 2018); Wige, 713 F.3d 1183. Opp’n at 9. Id. Plaintiff does not support Second, Plaintiff alleges his SAC Plaintiff’s citation to the preliminary hearing See FAC Order at 12-13. Id. (citing Lastly, Plaintiff disputes E.g., Patterson v. The California Supreme Court 7 1 also cited McCutchen in denying the Ninth Circuit’s 2 certification request to resolve this divergence between the 3 appellate courts. 4 the Ninth Circuit “rel[ied] on McCutchen as a guide for how the 5 California Supreme Court would decide this case, rather than 6 Schmidlin . . . .” 7 Patterson II, 748 F. App’x at 121 n.1. Id. Thus, This Court must too. In sum, because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged an 8 exception, the Court finds Plaintiff is collaterally estopped 9 from relitigating the issue of probable cause in this suit. 10 Plaintiff’s second, third, and fourth causes of action thus fail 11 to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and are once 12 again dismissed. 13 3. Whether Defendant Koski is Insulated by the 14 Presumption of Prosecutorial Independence is Moot 15 Defendant Koski moves to dismiss the second cause of action 16 for malicious prosecution on the ground that he is protected by 17 the presumption of prosecutorial independence. 18 argument is moot given the preceding findings by the Court. 19 4. Mot. at 10. This Plaintiff’s Fifth Cause of Action Under the 20 Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause 21 Fails to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be 22 Granted 23 Plaintiff’s fifth cause of action alleges race-gender 24 discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection 25 Clause. 26 several reasons, FAC Order at 16-17, and Plaintiff has not cured 27 those defects in the SAC. 28 statistical disparities alleged in the SAC are sufficient to SAC ¶¶ 68-82. This claim was previously dismissed for Instead, Plaintiff argues the 8 1 maintain this claim. 2 notes statistical disparities are relevant, Vill. of Arlington 3 Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 265 (1977), 4 “racially discriminatory intent or purpose is required . . . .” 5 Id. at 265 (emphasis added). 6 disparities in the SAC, taken as true, do not equate to “an 7 intent or purpose to discriminate against the plaintiff based 8 upon membership in a protected class.” 9 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). 10 Opp’n at 15-17. While Plaintiff correctly The allegations and statistical Barren v. Harrington, 152 Therefore, this claim fails for the same reasons identified 11 in the FAC Order and is once again dismissed. 12 has failed to allege an underlying constitutional violation 13 against an individual defendant, Defendant Yuba City cannot be 14 held liable for this claim as a matter of law. 15 Angeles v. Heller, 475 U.S. 796, 799 (1986). 16 5. Since Plaintiff City of Los Plaintiff’s Sixth Cause of Action Under the 17 Fourteenth Amendment’s Right to Familial Relations 18 is Duplicative 19 Plaintiff’s sixth cause of action alleges Defendants 20 unconstitutionally interfered with his Fourteenth Amendment 21 right to familial relations. 22 this claim should be dismissed because it is duplicative of 23 Plaintiff’s Equal Protection claim. 24 agrees. 25 unequal enforcement of Plaintiff’s rights to his children in 26 comparison with Ms. Adam’s rights. 27 defendants acted with knowledge that by not enforcing the law 28 equally against Adams . . . .”); Opp’n at 18. SAC ¶¶ 83-91. Defendants argue Mot. at 11-12. The Court Despite the title, this claim is based on the allegedly 9 See SAC ¶¶ 87-89 (“These Because this 1 cause of action is duplicative of Plaintiff’s Equal Protection 2 claim, it is dismissed. 3 whether Plaintiff failed to allege conduct that “shocks the 4 conscience.” 5 6. Accordingly, the Court need not address Mot. at 12. Plaintiff’s Claims are Dismissed With Prejudice 6 Because Leave to Amend Would be Futile 7 Granting or denying leave to amend is within the discretion 8 of District Courts. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). 9 While leave to amend should be freely given, id., “[l]eave need 10 not be granted where the amendment of the complaint . . . 11 constitutes an exercise in futility . . . .” 12 Inc. v. Mobil Oil Co., 866 F.2d 1149, 1160 (9th Cir. 1989) 13 (citing Foman, 371 U.S. 178). 14 to deny leave to amend is particularly broad where plaintiff has 15 previously amended the complaint.” 16 Ascon Properties, “The district court's discretion Ascon, 866 F.2d at 1160. Despite having the opportunity to correct the defects 17 identified in the FAC, the claims in the SAC fail for 18 substantially similar reasons. 19 further amendment would be an exercise in futility. 20 21 IV. Therefore, the Court finds ORDER For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS 22 Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s SAC and DISMISSES each 23 cause of action WITH PREJUDICE. 24 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: Dated: June 5, 2024 26 27 28 10

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