Lee v. City of San Leandro et al

Filing 16

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS; AFFORDING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT. To the extent the motions seek dismissal of plaintiff's claims that defendants violated 42 U.S.C. secs. 1 985 and 1986, deprived plaintiff of substantive due process, and deprived plaintiff of her First Amendment rights, the motions are granted. In all other respects, the motions are denied. If plaintiff wishes to file a Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff shall file any such Second Amended Complaint no later than June 22, 2010. Signed by Judge Maxine M. Chesney on June 1, 2010. (mmclc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/1/2010)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA KATHY LEE, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF SAN LEANDRO, et al., Defendants. / No. C-10-0104 MMC ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS; AFFORDING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT United States District Court Before the Court are two motions to dismiss plaintiff Kathy Lee's First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement: (1) a motion by defendants City of San Leandro, Chief of Police Ian R. Willis, Detective Neil Goodman, Detective Derrel Ramsey, Officer Louie Brandt, Officer Louie Guillen, and Sergeant Rick DeCosta, filed April 20, 2010; and (2) a motion by defendant Officer Deborah Trujillo, filed April 26, 2010. No opposition to either motion has been filed. Having read and considered the papers filed in support of the motions, the Court rules as follows:1 1. To the extent the First and Second Causes of Action are based on a claim that defendants violated 42 U.S.C. 1985, which prohibits conspiracies to violate civil rights, and 1986, which prohibits the refusal to stop a known conspiracy to violate civil rights, the First and Second Causes of Action are subject to dismissal, for the reason that plaintiff fails By order filed May 18, 2010, the Court took the motions under submission. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 to allege sufficient facts to support a finding that a conspiracy existed. Specifically, plaintiff's conclusory allegation that each defendant "act[ed] in concert with the codefendants, with the shared objective to injure the plaintiff" (see FAC 26) is insufficient as a matter of law. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 551 n.2, 555-56 (2007) (holding, to state a claim of conspiracy, plaintiff must allege "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal agreement"; finding insufficient, in context of claim for alleged conspiracy to violate antitrust laws, allegation that "defendants and their co-conspirators engaged in a . . . conspiracy to prevent competitive entry in [the relevant] markets by, among other things, agreeing not to compete with one another and to stifle attempts by others to compete with them and otherwise allocating customers and markets to one another"). 2. To the extent the First and Second Causes of Action are based on a claim that defendants, by engaging in an unreasonable search and seizure and by using excessive force during the course of an arrest, deprived plaintiff of her Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process, the First and Second Causes of Action are subject to dismissal. See Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989) (holding "all claims that law enforcement officers have used excessive force deadly or not in the course of an arrest, investigatory stop, or other `seizure' of a free citizen should be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and its `reasonable' standard, rather than under a `substantive due process' approach") (emphasis in original). 3. To the extent the Second Cause of Action is based on a claim that the City of San Leandro "ratified and condoned" the individual defendants' alleged violation of plaintiff's First Amendment rights (see FAC 29), the Second Cause of Action is subject to dismissal. Specifically, plaintiff fails to allege any facts to support a finding that any individual defendant deprived plaintiff of her First Amendment rights, let alone that such deprivation occurred as a result of a municipal policy. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (holding municipality may not be held liable under 1983 "unless action pursuant to an official municipal policy of some nature caused a 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 constitutional tort"). 4. To the extent the Third Cause of Action, by which plaintiff alleges a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, the Fourth Cause of Action, by which plaintiff alleges a claim of false arrest and imprisonment, and the Fifth Cause of Action, by which plaintiff alleges a claim of assault and battery, are asserted against the individual defendants named herein, defendants have failed to show such claims are subject to dismissal. Contrary to defendants argument, a plaintiff need not allege facts to support a finding that the individual defendants will be unable to rely on a defense based on the statutory immunities set forth in 820.2 and 820.4. See United States v. McGee, 993 F.2d 184, 187 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding plaintiff "not required to plead on the subject of an anticipated defense"; citing Rule 8(c)); DeJung v. Superior Court,169 Cal. App. 4th 533, 538 (2008) (characterizing defense provided by 820.2 as "affirmative defense of discretionary immunity"). In any event, plaintiff alleges that each individual defendant used excessive force during the course of her arrest (see FAC 23), and such allegation, if proven true, would preclude the individual defendants from establishing their entitlement to immunity. See Robinson v. Solano County, 278 F.3d 1007, 1016 (2002) ("California denies immunity to police officers who use excessive force in arresting a suspect."). 5. To the extent the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Causes of Action are asserted against the City of San Leandro, defendants have failed to show the claims are subject to dismissal. Specifically, defendants' argument that "no statute in California authorizes [such] cause[s] of action against a public entity" (see Defs.' Mem of P. & A., filed April 20, 2010, at 9:20-22), is incorrect. As the Ninth Circuit has recognized, pursuant to 815.2 of the California Government Code, a municipality can be held liable under the "doctrine of respondeat superior" for the wrongful conduct of its employees. See Robinson, 278 F.3d at 1016. 6. Finally, to the extent defendants seek issuance of an order directing plaintiff to file a more definite statement, the motions will be denied, as defendants have failed to show they cannot reasonably form a response to the remaining claims. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e) 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 (providing more definite statement is properly required where complaint is "so vague or ambiguous that the [defendant] cannot reasonably form a response"). CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, defendants' motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement, are hereby GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, as follows: 1. To the extent the motions seek dismissal of plaintiff's claims that defendants violated 42 U.S.C. 1985 and 1986, and deprived plaintiff of substantive due process, which claims are included within the First and Second Causes of Action, the motions are GRANTED, and such claims are hereby DISMISSED. 2. To the extent the motions seek dismissal of plaintiff's claim that defendants deprived plaintiff of her First Amendment rights, which claim is included within the Second Cause of Action, the motions are GRANTED, and such claim is hereby DISMISSED 3. In all other respects, the motions are DENIED. 4. If plaintiff wishes to file a Second Amended Complaint to cure the deficiencies set forth above with respect to her 1985, 1986, and First Amendment claims, plaintiff shall file any such Second Amended Complaint no later than June 22, 2010. Plaintiff may not, however, amend to add any new claims or defendants without leave of court. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 1, 2010 MAXINE M. CHESNEY United States District Judge 4

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