Gilbreath v. City of Carlsbad et al

Filing 8

ORDER Granting 4 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Without Leave to Amend. Signed by Judge Thomas J. Whelan on 4/9/2018. (jao)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 RANDY ELLIOT GILBREATH, Case No.: 17cv1909 W (BLM) Plaintiff, 14 15 v. 16 ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND [DOC. 4] CITY OF CARLSBAD Defendant. 17 18 19 Defendant City of Carlsbad moves to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has not responded to the motion. 20 The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. 21 See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s 22 motion [Doc. 4] WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND. 23 // 24 // 25 // 26 // 27 28 1 17cv1909 W (BLM) 1 I. BACKGROUND 2 The following allegations are taken from the Complaint. 3 On December 19, 2016, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received a 4 telephone call from Plaintiff Randy Gilbreath’s ex-wife, who was in North Carolina. 5 (Compl. [Doc. 1] ¶¶ 18, 19.) She reported that she had a telephone conversation with 6 Gilbreath, who was staying in a hotel in Carlsbad, California while receiving medical 7 treatment, and that he sounded suicidal, and he owned a gun. (Id. ¶ 18.) The Sheriff’s 8 Department contacted the Carlsbad Police Department, which sent police officers to 9 Gilbreath’s hotel room to conduct a “welfare check.” (Id. 19.) 10 Carlsbad police officers arrived at Gilbreath’s room around 11:30 p.m., and 11 knocked on the door. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Gilbreath, who was sleeping in his boxers, woke 12 up, and when he answered the door, was “yanked out from the threshold of his hotel 13 room by” the officers. (Id. ¶ 20.) Gilbreath was “then pulled into the hallway in front of 14 his hotel room wearing nothing but boxer shorts….” (Id. ¶ 21.) One of the officers was 15 carrying a shotgun at the time. (Id. ¶ 22.) While Gilbreath was standing in the hallway 16 humiliated and embarrassed, officers entered and searched the hotel room without his 17 consent or a warrant. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24, 26.) When the officers were finished searching the 18 room, they ordered Gilbreath back into his room. (Id. ¶ 27.) Gilbreath contends at some 19 point he was forcibly pushed backwards into a chair. (Id. ¶ 28.) 20 The next day, Gilbreath went to the Carlsbad Police Station and demanded a copy 21 of the police report. (Compl. ¶ 29.) To this day he has not been given a copy of the 22 report. (Id.) 23 On September 19, 2017, Gilbreath filed this lawsuit against the City of Carlsbad. 24 The Complaint asserts causes of action for (1) Violation of the Fourth Amendment Rights 25 – Unlawful/Unreasonable Seizure of Person under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) Violation of the 26 Fourth Amendment Rights – Unreasonable/Unlawful Entry Into & Search and Seizure of 27 Private Hotel Room under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) False Arrest / False Imprisonment 28 Under California State Law; and (4) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Under 2 17cv1909 W (BLM) 1 California State Law. The City now seeks to dismiss the Complaint on the ground that 2 Gilbreath has failed to state a claim. The City also asserts the dismissal should be 3 without leave to amend. Gilbreath has not filed an opposition, not even to request that he 4 should be given another attempt to amend the Complaint. 5 6 7 II. LEGAL STANDARD The Court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which 8 relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) 9 tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. See Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 10 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either 11 for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. 12 Balisteri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In ruling on the 13 motion, a court must “accept all material allegations of fact as true and construe the 14 complaint in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Vasquez v. L.A. Cnty., 15 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007). 16 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that 17 the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has 18 interpreted this rule to mean that “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to 19 relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 20 (2007). The allegations in the complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted 21 as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 22 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). 23 Well-pled allegations in the complaint are assumed true, but a court is not required 24 to accept legal conclusions couched as facts, unwarranted deductions, or unreasonable 25 inferences. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986); Sprewell v. Golden State 26 Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). 27 28 3 17cv1909 W (BLM) 1 III. DISCUSSION 2 As an initial matter, the Court grants the City’s motion to dismiss based on 3 Gilbreath’s failure to file an opposition as required by Civil Local Rule 7.1. The Ninth 4 Circuit has held that pursuant to a local rule, a district court may properly grant a motion 5 to dismiss for failure to respond. See Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 53 (9th Cir.1995) 6 (per curiam) (affirming dismissal for failure to file timely opposition papers where 7 plaintiff had notice of the motion and ample time to respond). 8 9 Civil Local Rule 7.1.f.3.c. expressly provides that “[i]f an opposing party fails to file papers in the manner required by Local Rule 7.1.e.2, that failure may constitute a 10 consent to the granting of a motion or other request for ruling by the court.” Here, 11 Gilbreth did not file an opposition and has not requested additional time in which to do 12 so. Moreover, there is no evidence before the Court suggesting that the City’s moving 13 papers failed to reach Gilbreath’s counsel or that he was not aware of this pending 14 motion. Relying on Civil Local Rule 7.1.f.3.c., the Court deems his failure to oppose the 15 motion to dismiss as consent to its merits. 16 Furthermore, regardless of Gilbreath’s failure to oppose the motion, the Court finds 17 that Gilbreath has failed to state a claim against the City because based on the 18 Complaint’s allegations, his rights were not violated. In United States v. Cervantes, 219 19 F.3d 882 (9th Cir. 2000), the Ninth Circuit adopted the “emergency aid” exception to the 20 Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. The exception applies where (1) the police 21 have reasonable ground to believe there is an emergency at hand, and an immediate need 22 for their assistance for the protection of life or property; (2) the search is not primarily 23 motivated by an intent to arrest or seize evidence; and (3) there is a reasonable basis to 24 associate the emergency with the place to be searched. Id. 888–890. 25 Here, the Complaint admits that Gilbreath’s ex-wife called the San Diego Sheriff’s 26 Department and reported that Gillbreath was staying at the hotel in Carlsbad, that he may 27 have been suicidal, and owned a gun. (Compl. ¶ 18.) The Court finds these allegations 28 are sufficient to establish that the officers’ warrantless search of Gilbreath’s hotel room 4 17cv1909 W (BLM) 1 satisfied the emergency-aid exception. Additionally, the allegations also establish that 2 the officers’ brief detention of Gilbreath while they searched the room was reasonable 3 and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. See Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93 (2005) 4 (confirming an officer’s authority to detain incident to a search). For these reasons, the 5 Court finds Gilbreath has failed to allege a section 1983 claim against the City. Finally, Gilbreath’s state-law claims are premised on the alleged unlawfulness of 6 7 the search and seizure. Because the search and seizure were lawful, Gilbreath has failed 8 to state, and cannot state, state-law claims against the City. 9 10 11 12 13 14 IV. CONCLUSION & ORDER For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant City of Carlsbad’s motion to dismiss [Doc. 4] WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: April 9, 2018 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 17cv1909 W (BLM)

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