Amatrone et al v. Winkler et al

Filing 20

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS by Judge Jon S. Tigar granting 15 Motion to Dismiss. Amended Pleadings due by 12/15/2017. (wsn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/20/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 ROBERT AMATRONE, et al., 7 Plaintiffs, 8 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS v. 9 ERIC WINKLER, et al., 10 Re: ECF No. 15 Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 17-cv-03003-JST 12 Before the Court is Defendant California Department of Insurance (“CDI”) and Defendant 13 14 Eric Winkler’s (collectively, “Defendants”) motion to dismiss. The Court will grant the motion. 15 I. INTRODUCTION On May 24, 2017, Plaintiffs filed suit against CDI and Eric Winkler, a “Sergeant” with 16 17 CDI. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiffs claim that Winkler and various law enforcement officials 18 conducted an illegal search of their home on March 26, 2014. Id.1 During the search, Plaintiffs 19 allege that Winkler planted evidence “to build a criminal insurance fraud case against Robert 20 Amatrone.” Id. at 3. Plaintiffs also allege that Winkler interrogated Plaintiff Sharlow, threatened 21 her, and confiscated her property. Id. at 3-5. In addition to these facts specific to Defendants CDI 22 and Winkler, the Complaint contains multiple allegations relating to the other officials present 23 during the search. See generally ECF No. 1 (e.g., “Approximately 10 to 15 armed officers with 24 assault rifles and guns entered the home and held plaintiff Marla Sharlow at gun point.”) 25 Plaintiffs allege three causes of action. First, Plaintiffs “claim damages under 42 U.S.C. 26 § 1983 for the injuries set forth against Defendant Winkler.” ECF No. 1 at 5. Second, Plaintiffs 27 1 28 This March 26 search is the subject of a second lawsuit, which is also pending before this Court. Case No. 15-cv-1356. Plaintiffs named Defendant CDI and Winkler in that case as well. 1 assert a false imprisonment claim against Defendant Winkler. Id. Third, Plaintiffs assert a section 2 1983 claim against CDI for maintaining “policies or customs exhibiting deliberate indifference to 3 the constitutional rights of persons in the State of California which caused the violation of 4 Plaintiff’s rights.” Id. at 6. Defendants now move to dismiss all three claims. ECF No. 15. 5 Plaintiffs did not file an opposition to the motion. 6 II. LEGAL STANDARD A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 7 pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While a complaint need not contain detailed 9 factual allegations, facts pleaded by a plaintiff must be “enough to raise a right to relief above the 10 speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “To survive a motion 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to 12 relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation 13 marks omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that 14 allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct 15 alleged.” Id. While the legal standard is not a probability requirement, “where a complaint pleads 16 facts that are merely consistent with a defendant’s liability, it stops short of the line between 17 possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). The 18 Court must “accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the 19 light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 20 2005). 21 III. ANALYSIS 22 A. Section 1983 Claims 23 Defendants’ first ground for relief is that Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the Eleventh 24 Amendment to the United States Constitution. “[I]n the absence of consent a suit in which the 25 State or one of its agencies or departments is named as the defendant is proscribed by the Eleventh 26 Amendment.” Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). The same 27 is true for “a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity[, which] is not a suit against 28 the official but rather is a suit against the official’s office.” Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State 2 1 Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Accordingly, all claims against the California Department of 2 Insurance and against Eric Winkler in his official capacity2 are dismissed without prejudice to 3 Plaintiffs’ right to seek any available relief in state court.3 This finding does not apply to 4 Plaintiffs’ claims for “prospective injunctive relief,”4 Flint v. Dennison, 488 F.3d 816, 825 (9th 5 Cir. 2007), or to Plaintiffs’ claims against Eric Winkler in his personal capacity. Those section 1983 claims that are not barred by the Eleventh Amendment were filed after 6 7 the applicable statute of limitations had expired. The statute of limitations for section 1983 8 actions is governed by the statute of limitations for personal injury actions in the forum state. 9 Maldonado v. Harris, 370 F.3d 945, 954 (9th Cir. 2004). In California, for conduct occurring after 2003, that statute of limitations is two years. Id. at 954-55. In this case, the allegedly wrongful 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 conduct occurred on March 26, 2014, ECF No. 1 at 2, yet Plaintiffs did not file suit until May 23, 12 2017. Plaintiffs’ remaining section 1983 claims are dismissed as untimely.5 Plaintiffs may file an 13 amended complaint to include tolling allegations. 14 B. False Imprisonment Claim 15 After dismissal of Plaintiffs’ section 1983 claims, only Plaintiffs’ state law false 16 imprisonment claim remains. “A district court’s decision whether to exercise [supplemental] 17 jurisdiction after dismissing every claim over which it had original jurisdiction is purely 18 discretionary.” Carlsbad Tech., Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639 (2009). Generally, 19 however, “if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, . . . the state claims should be dismissed 20 as well.” United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966). Here, the Court 21 2 22 Plaintiffs sued Winkler in his personal and professional capacity. ECF No. 1 at 2. 3 23 24 “[A]s we have stated on many occasions, ‘the Eleventh Amendment does not apply in state courts.’” Hilton v. S.C. Pub. Railways Comm'n, 502 U.S. 197, 204-05 (1991) (quoting Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 63-64 (1989)). 4 25 26 In their prayer for relief, Plaintiffs ask the Court to “[e]nter a permanent injunction . . .requiring Defendant California Department of Insurance to adopt appropriate policies related to the hiring and supervision of its offices.” ECF No. 1 at 7. 5 27 28 Plaintiffs do not argue for delayed accrual of their claims based on the discovery rule. Nor does their Complaint allege facts showing: “(1) the time and manner of discovery and (2) the inability to have made earlier discovery despite reasonable diligence.” Fox v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., 110 P.3d 914, 921 (2005) 3 1 declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ false imprisonment claim. CONCLUSION 2 The Court dismisses with prejudice Plaintiffs’ section 1983 claims for damages against 3 4 Defendant CDI and Defendant Winkler in his official capacity. The Court dismisses without 5 prejudice Plaintiffs’ section 1983 claims for prospective injunctive relief and against Defendant 6 Winkler in his personal capacity. If Plaintiffs choose to re-plead those claims, they may also re- 7 plead their state law false imprisonment claim. Any amended complaint is due by December 15, 8 2017. 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 20, 2017 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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