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Pimentel v. County of Sonoma

May 23, 2005

DAVID WILLIAM PIMENTEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF SONOMA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendants City of Petaluma, Mike Pierre and John Antonio (collectively, City Defendants) and County of Sonoma, Dave Tait, John Buergler, Mike Middleton, Shawn Murphy and Mittenthal (collectively, County Defendants) have moved to dismiss Plaintiff David William Pimentel's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative for a more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e). Defendants also move to strike attachments to Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff, appearing pro se, opposes the motions and moves for sanctions against City Defendants.

Having considered all of the papers filed by the parties, the Court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss and for a more definite statement, and grants Defendants' motion to strike the attachments to Plaintiff's complaint. The Court grants Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint and denies his motion for sanctions.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his original complaint on August 5, 2004. He brings suit on federal and State law claims arising from an incident that occurred on August 6, 2002. According to his complaint, while hunting wild game on or near vacant land, Plaintiff was "attacked with weapons," including a taser, by Deputy Sheriff Defendants Tait and Buergler. Complaint ¶¶ 28 and 31. Defendants allegedly wrongfully charged Plaintiff with crimes in order to cover up the assault. Id. ¶ 43. Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of the attack by Tait and Buergler, he was airlifted to a hospital for emergency medical treatment.

Id. ¶ 33.

Plaintiff's complaint lists nine "cause of action," but refers to many different potential claims under each subheading. The causes of action are generally brought against all Defendants. Plaintiff's first cause of action recounts the alleged assault and appears to be based on various California penal code provisions as well as rights guaranteed by the "First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth" Amendments to the United States Constitution. The second cause of action alleges a State law claim for false reporting of a crime, based on various State penal code provisions. The third cause of action alleges that Defendants deprived and conspired to deprive

Plaintiff of various federal constitutional rights, including under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments. The fourth cause of action concerns Defendants' alleged failure to train and supervise employees properly so as to comply with various State penal code provisions. The fifth cause of action charges that Defendants' use of excessive force resulted in deprivation of Plaintiff's right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure and right to equal protection. The sixth cause of action alleges that Defendants intentionally inflicted pain and suffering upon Plaintiff. The seventh cause of action alleges that Defendants' acts violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The eighth cause of action alleges that Defendants' acts violated the California penal code's prohibition on torture. The final cause of action alleges that Defendants have spent public monies on tasers, and that this violates California Penal Code § 244.5(b), which provides criminal penalties for assault with a stun gun or taser.

City Defendants, joined by County Defendants, move for dismissal of Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against them as barred by the statute of limitations and for failure to plead municipal liability, and in the alternative for a more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e). Defendants move for dismissal of Plaintiff's State law claims against them for lack of jurisdiction or for failure to demonstrate the statutory basis for his claims. In addition, County Defendants move for dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint as barred in part by his convictions arising from the August 6, 2002 incident; for dismissal of most of Plaintiff's constitutional claims for failure to state a cognizable claim; for dismissal of Plaintiff's equal protection claim(s) for failure to plead certain requisite facts; and for dismissal of Plaintiff's claims under the California Penal Code. County Defendants also move to strike attachments to the complaint.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim will be denied unless it is "clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Falkowski v. Imation Corp., 309 F.3d 1123, 1132 (9th Cir. 2002), citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002). A complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct. No technical forms of pleading or motions are required." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e). These rules "do not require a claimant to set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim. To the contrary, all the Rules require is 'a short and plain statement of the claim' that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds on which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957).

When granting a motion to dismiss, a court is generally required to grant a plaintiff leave to amend, even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless amendment would be futile. Cook, Perkiss & Liehe, Inc. v. N. Cal. Collection Serv. Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 246-47 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether amendment would be futile, a court examines whether the complaint could be amended to cure the defect requiring dismissal "without contradicting any of the allegations of [the] original complaint." Reddy v. Litton Indus., Inc., 912 F.2d 291, 296 (9th Cir. 1990). Leave to amend should be liberally granted, but an amended complaint cannot allege facts inconsistent with the challenged pleading. Id. at 296-97.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's Federal Claims

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated various rights guaranteed to him under Amendments to the United States Constitution. Such an action is necessarily premised on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a cause of action against municipal actors for violation of constitutional rights. See Complaint ¶ 2 (referring to § 1983); Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 925 (9th Cir. 2001) ("a litigant complaining of a violation of a constitutional right does not have a direct cause of action under the United States Constitution"). County and City Defendants assert that any § 1983 claims are barred by the statute of limitations, that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to support tolling of the statute of limitations, and that Plaintiff fails to plead municipal liability under Monell v. New York Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978).

A. Statute of Limitations

When the incident giving rise to Plaintiff's complaint occurred on August 6, 2002, claims brought under § 1983 in California were subject to a one-year statute of limitations. See McCoy v. City and County of San Francisco, 14 F.3d 28, 29 (9th Cir. 1994) (statute of limitations for civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in California is one year from the date that plaintiff knew or had reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the action); also compare Cal. Code Civ. P. § 340(3) (1982) (providing one year limitations period for personal injury claims) with Cal. Code Civ. P. § 335.1 (2002; effective January 1, 2003) (providing two year limitations period for personal injury claims).

Plaintiff does not dispute that he knew or had reason to know of his injury on August 6, 2002. Accordingly, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's ยง 1983 claims against City and County Defendants began to run on August 6, 2002, and expired, barring tolling, on August 6, ...


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