Lopes v. Freemont Freewheelers Bicycle Club et al

Filing 51

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 10/28/11. (Attachments: # 1 Appendix Certificate of Service)(cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/28/2011)

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1 *E-Filed 10/28/11* 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION 9 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Plaintiff, 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 No. C 11-01477 RS CORNELIUS LOPES, ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS v. FREEMONT FREEWHEELERS BICYCLE CLUB, CITY OF NEWARK, NEWARK POLICE DEPARTMENT, NEWARK POLICE UNION, JOSEPH DALE WREN, OFFICER BADGE #56, DEPUTY D.A. LISA FARIA, SHARA MESIC, TIM O’HARA, STEVE GRUSIS, LARRY NOLAN WARREN GEISSERT, BRAD BALDWIN, JIM DAVIS, STACY PETTIGREW, RICHARD BROCKIE, JASON SAGE, SALLY WILSON, Defendants. ___________________________________/ 20 I. INTRODUCTION 21 22 Plaintiff Cornelius Lopes brings this action for relief based on testimony given in March and 23 July of 2007, in connection with an earlier case. That case was one of several, all initiated by 24 Lopes, to arise out of a collision that occurred in June of 2004. Defendants, including the City of 25 Newark, several law enforcement officials, the Freemont Freewheelers Bicycle Club, and a number 26 of its members, move to dismiss on several grounds. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the 27 motion is suitable for disposition without oral argument, and for the reasons stated below, the 28 motion is granted. NO. C 11-1477 RS ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND1 1 This is the latest in a string of cases filed by plaintiff arising out of a collision between Lopes 2 3 and members of the Freemont Freewheelers Bicycle Club on June 12, 2004. As a result of that 4 crash, Lopes was prosecuted for battery by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, with the 5 cooperation of the Club and several of its members. The case resulted in a mistrial and was 6 thereafter dismissed by the prosecutor’s office on October 12, 2005. On March 16, 2006, Lopes filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California, Alameda 7 the instant case. He eventually obtained a judgment after a jury trial. On June 9, 2006, Lopes filed 10 For the Northern District of California County, alleging negligence and other claims. In his complaint, he named most of the defendants in 9 United States District Court 8 another complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging 11 a number of claims, including violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and naming most of the law 12 enforcement defendants also named here. After affording Lopes several opportunities to amend his 13 complaint, the court (Breyer, J.) dismissed one claim and granted defendants’ motion for summary 14 judgment on the remaining claims. On November 7, 2007, Lopes filed yet another complaint, this 15 time in Alameda Superior Court, alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, negligence, 16 malicious prosecution, and again naming most of the defendants present in this action. The case 17 was removed to the United States District Court (Hamilton, J.) which ultimately dismissed it with 18 prejudice based on statute of limitations and res judicata grounds. Lopes’ appeal to the Ninth 19 Circuit was unsuccessful. He filed this action on March 28, 2011, to which defendants have 20 responded with a motion to dismiss. III. LEGAL STANDARD 21 22 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader 23 is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While “detailed factual allegations are not required,” a 24 25 26 27 28 1 The facts of this case and prior cases are set forth in the order to dismiss in Lopes v. Freemont Freewheelers, No. C 07-6213 PJH (N.D. Cal. Aug. 7, 2008), and materials submitted by defendants Faria, Mesic-Beltramo, and Pettigrew for judicial notice. Defendants’ motion requesting notice, which is unopposed by plaintiff, is granted because the documents at issue are undisputed matters of public of record, consisting of a warrant, and other documents filed in Lopes’ previous actions. See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b), and Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-90 (9th Cir. 2001). Although the court takes judicial notice of the fact that these documents were filed in connection with Lopes’ prior cases, it does not necessarily rely on, or take judicial notice of, the facts stated therein. Lee, 250 F.3d at 689-90. NO. C 11-1477 RS ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS 2 face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 3 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Dismissal under FRCP Rule 12(b)(6) may be based either on the “lack of a 4 cognizable legal theory” or on “the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal 5 theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). When evaluating 6 such a motion, the court must accept all material allegations in the complaint as true, even if 7 doubtful, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Twombly, 550 US 8 at 570. “[C]onclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences,” however, “are insufficient to 9 defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.” Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 10 For the Northern District of California complaint must have sufficient factual allegations to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 2 United States District Court 1 1140 (9th Cir. 1996). In dismissing a complaint, leave to amend must be granted unless it is clear 11 that the complaint’s deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Lucas v. Dep’t of Corrections, 66 12 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995). When amendment would be futile, however, dismissal may be with 13 prejudice. Dumas v. Kipp, 90 F.3d 386, 393 (9th Cir. 1996). 14 15 VI. DISCUSSION Although Lopes’ complaint is hard to decipher and states few facts, his claims appear to be: 16 (1) malicious prosecution; and (2) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on his Fourteenth 17 Amendment rights. The complaint indicates that these claims arise from testimony given by the 18 defendants Wilson and Grusis in March and July of 2007, respectively. Defendants move to dismiss 19 on a number of grounds, arguing: (1) the statute of limitations has run on plaintiff’s malicious 20 prosecution and § 1983 claims; (2) plaintiff’s claims are barred by res judicata; (3) the complaint 21 fails to allege sufficient facts to state a claim; (4) plaintiff failed to file an administrative claim for 22 malicious prosecution, as required by the Government Tort Claims Act, California Government 23 Code §§ 910, 911.2, and (5) plaintiff’s claims are barred by absolute prosecutorial immunity. 24 Although most, if not all, of these contentions appear to have merit, even a brief examination of 25 defendants’ first argument suffices to show that Lopes’ claims must be dismissed with prejudice. 26 Defendants first argue that the statute of limitations has run. The limitations period for 27 actions under § 1983 corresponds to that for personal injury claims in the forum state. Taylor v. 28 Regents of Univ. of California, 993 F.2d 710, 711 (9th Cir. 1993). California law requires that a NO. C 11-1477 RS ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS 3 1 plaintiff claiming personal injuries bring suit within two years of the date of injury. Cal. Code Civ. 2 P. § 335.1. It follows that a two year statute of limitations applies to Lopes’ § 1983 claims. See 3 Lopes v. Freemont Freewheelers, No. 08-16993, 2010 WL 236772, at *1 (9th Cir. Jan. 22, 2010). 4 The limitations period for malicious prosecution is also two years. Stravropolous v. Superior Court, 5 141 Cal. App. 4th 190, 197 (2006). 6 The accrual date for a plaintiff’s claims is not necessarily the date of injury, but may be the Cir. 1999). The “discovery” rule thus tolls the limitations period until plaintiff is notified of his or 9 her injury. Id. Here, Lopes argues that his injuries occurred in March and July of 2007, when he 10 For the Northern District of California date when plaintiff had reason to know of the injury. TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 991 (9th 8 United States District Court 7 became aware of allegedly false testimony offered by both defendants Wilson and Grusis. Under 11 Lopes’ own account of events, therefore, the statute of limitations elapsed for both of his claims by 12 July of 2009, at the latest – several years before this suit was filed. While the complaint states that 13 California law provides for a four year statute of limitations for breach of contract claims, that point 14 of law has no bearing on this case. Because there are no facts Lopes can plead that would permit 15 him to proceed on the basis of testimony offered in 2007, his claims against all defendants must be 16 dismissed with prejudice. V. CONCLUSION 17 18 19 20 For the reasons stated, defendants’ motion is granted. Plaintiff’s claims are dismissed with prejudice. IT IS SO ORDERED. 21 22 23 Dated: 10/28/11 RICHARD SEEBORG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 NO. C 11-1477 RS ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS 4

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