The opinion of the court was delivered by: CLAUDIA WILKEN, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING
IT IN PART
Defendants move to dismiss several of Plaintiffs' causes of
action. Plaintiffs William and Beverly Lambert oppose this motion
but agree to dismiss some claims. The matter was heard on
November 4, 2005. Having considered all of the papers filed by
the parties and oral argument on the motion, Defendants' motion
is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
According to Plaintiffs' complaint, on or about March 22, 2004,
at approximately 8:04 p.m., Santa Rose police officers,
Defendants Matthew Sanchez and Alissa Johnson, responded to a 911
call made by Mrs. Lambert. Plaintiffs allowed Sanchez and Johnson
peaceably to enter their home in Santa Rosa. Sanchez and Johnson questioned Plaintiffs and their adult son Jon. Plaintiffs have
been married for forty-one years and, before this incident, there
had been no incidents of domestic violence.
Following a brief discussion, Sanchez and Johnson separated
Plaintiffs. Initially, Johnson accompanied Mr. Lambert into the
family room and Sanchez remained with Mrs. Lambert in the
adjacent area of the house. Jon was left alone at the time and
was able to see and hear Mr. Lambert's discussion. After
approximately ten or twenty minutes, Sanchez and Johnson switched
Sanchez questioned Mr. Lambert for approximately ten minutes,
asking him for his date of birth and whether he had been drinking
alcohol that evening. Mr. Lambert informed Sanchez of his age and
birth date. He explained that his wife had a couple of drinks
prior to dinner and that he and Jon had not, but that he had
consumed one glass of wine with dinner. Sanchez asked to see Mr.
Lambert's driver's license. Mr. Lambert replied that it was in
his wallet in the dining room. When Mr. Lambert attempted to
enter the dining room to retrieve his wallet, Sanchez stood in
his path and raised his hand towards Mr. Lambert stating that he
did not need to see the driver's license. Mr. Lambert explained
that it was not a problem to get the license for him. Sanchez
then stepped toward Mr. Lambert and ordered him to turn around
and put his hands behind his back. Mr. Lambert replied that if
Sanchez was going to handcuff him, he would like to use the
bathroom first. Plaintiffs' bathroom was approximately five feet
from where Sanchez and Mr. Lambert were standing.
Without warning, Sanchez grabbed Mr. Lambert by the left shoulder and spun him around while twisting his left arm behind
his back. Mr. Lambert then renewed his request to use the
bathroom and suggested that Sanchez could leave the door open but
that he needed to relieve himself. Sanchez did not respond
verbally. He kicked Mr. Lambert's right leg out from under him,
causing Mr. Lambert to fall to the ground and crushing and
breaking his right leg. Sanchez then twisted Mr. Lambert's right
leg behind him causing him further pain. Mr. Lambert screamed and
pleaded for Sanchez to release his leg. Sanchez released his leg
but stood over Mr. Lambert holding what felt to Mr. Lambert like
a gun against his rib cage. Mr. Lambert believed he was going to
be shot and killed. Sanchez was holding a taser pistol and used
the taser on Mr. Lambert's right leg. Mr. Lambert screamed in
pain again. Sanchez then handcuffed Mr. Lambert's hands behind
his back and ordered him to stand. Mr. Lambert was not able to
stand on his own and fell to the floor a second time.
During these events, Mrs. Lambert, Jon and Johnson were in the
dining room. Johnson came into the family room after Sanchez
pulled Mr. Lambert off the floor. Johnson entered the family room
and assisted Sanchez in lifting Mr. Lambert's upper body off the
floor and dragging his lower body, including his broken leg.
Sanchez and Johnson then propped Mr. Lambert against a couch with
his broken leg under him. They ignored Mr. Lambert's request to
help him remove his broken leg out from under him.
Mr. Lambert again asked if he could use the bathroom; he
advised Sanchez and Johnson that he could not get there on his
own strength and that he needed help relieving himself. Sanchez
and Johnson discussed Mr. Lambert's request during which time Johnson
advised Sanchez to remove the handcuffs and allow him to use the
bathroom. Sanchez and Johnson helped Mr. Lambert to the bathroom,
which was approximately eight feet away from the couch. Both
Sanchez and Johnson witnessed Mr. Lambert relieve himself.
Mr. Lambert does not recall what transpired between the time he
was allowed to use the bathroom and the time the paramedics
arrived. Nor does he know who called the paramedics. Mr. Lambert
was taken by ambulance to Kaiser Permanente Hospital. He was
treated in the emergency room for a fractured tibia and his leg
was placed in a full brace. Johnson stayed in the room initially
but was replaced by Sanchez. Sanchez insisted that emergency room
staff release Mr. Lambert to him so that he could take him to
jail. At no time during these incidents did Defendants read Mr.
Lambert his rights, tell him why he was arrested or inform him
why Sanchez used force against him.
While in the emergency room, Mr. Lambert asked Sanchez for
water. Sanchez responded that he was not a nurse. Mr. Lambert
called a nurse and requested water. Mr. Lambert also asked
Sanchez to call Mrs. Lambert. But Sanchez refused and stated that
Mr. Lambert was under arrest and did not have a right to speak on
Mr. Lambert was released from the emergency room. His attending
physician, in Sanchez' presence, requested that Mr. Lambert not
place any weight on his right leg. Sanchez ordered Mr. Lambert
off the examination table and did not allow him to wear a jacket
or robe of any kind. Sanchez forced Mr. Lambert to leave the hospital on crutches with his gown open in the back exposing
Mr. Lambert's underwear. Mr. Lambert walked approximately
seventy-five feet down the sidewalk to the patrol car. Sanchez
did not offer to assist Mr. Lambert or to get a wheelchair.
Mr. Lambert arrived at the Sonoma County Jail at approximately
11:30 p.m. Sanchez went into the jail and returned twenty minutes
later with a wheelchair. Sanchez helped Mr. Lambert into the
wheelchair. While in the jail waiting room, another officer told
Mr. Lambert that he could watch television and use the telephone
to make a call. Sanchez was no longer with Mr. Lambert.
After these events, Sanchez and Johnson falsified their arrest
reports. Mr. Lambert alleges that Defendants City of Santa Rosa,
Santa Rosa Police Department and various officials know of
Sanchez's use of excessive force, and of Sanchez and Johnson's
falsification of their reports. On or about June 11, 2004, Mr.
Lambert submitted a statement to Defendant Santa Rosa concerning
the events of March 22, 2004. On or about June 21, 2004,
Lieutenant Zboralske and Sergeant Swartz from Defendant Police
Department met Plaintiffs at their home in the presence of
Plaintiffs' attorney. The officers discussed Defendant Police
Department's cooperation and public support. As of March 31,
2005, Plaintiffs did not know if any investigation had been
As a result of the injuries Mr. Lambert sustained on March 22,
2004, he has undergone surgery on his right leg and may need
further surgeries in the future. Plaintiffs have had to move from
their two-story home in Santa Rosa to a smaller single-story home
in Cloverdale, California. They moved because of Mr. Lambert's difficulty walking, his period of recuperation following surgery,
his loss of income and because they fear additional harm from
Defendant Police Department.
During the events of March 22, 2004, Mrs. Lambert was at all
times in the adjacent room and heard and/or observed incidents
which occurred in the hallway next to the bathroom. Mrs. Lambert
could hear Mr. Lambert's screams. Following Mr. Lambert's fall to
the ground, Mrs. Lambert and her son entered the hallway and
witnessed Mr. Lambert in pain. She also observed as Sanchez and
Johnson hauled Mr. Lambert over to the couch. This caused Mrs.
Lambert severe emotional trauma for which she has received
treatment and incurred monetary damages, including three months
of lost wages.
Plaintiffs' complaint alleged twelve causes of action; however,
in their opposition, Plaintiffs voluntarily agreed to dismiss the
third, fourth, fifth, sixth, tenth and eleventh causes of action
against all Defendants and to dismiss all claims against
Defendant Police Chief Edwin Flint. In addition, Plaintiffs do
not intend to pursue the seventh cause of action and, therefore,
it is dismissed. Furthermore, Plaintiffs have clarified that Mrs.
Lambert's sole claim is based on loss of consortium (twelfth
cause of action) as a result of the assault on Mr. Lambert. At
hearing the parties also agreed that Santa Rosa Police Department
was included erroneously as a defendant in that it is not a
separate legal entity. Thus, all claims against the Santa Rosa
Police Department are dismissed.
The remaining causes of action brought by Mr. Lambert, as originally numbered in the complaint, are: (first) violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Santa Rosa, and Sanchez and
Johnson, individually and in their official capacities; (second)
assault and battery against Defendants Santa Rosa, and Sanchez
and Johnson, individually and in their official capacities;
(eighth) intentional infliction of emotional distress against
Defendants Santa Rosa, and Sanchez and Johnson, individually and
in their official capacities; (ninth) failure to intervene
against Defendant Johnson. Mrs. Lambert brings the twelfth cause
of action for loss of consortium against Defendants Santa Rosa,
and Sanchez and Johnson, individually and in their official
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)). All
material allegations in the complaint will be taken as true and
construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL
Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986).
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).
I. First Cause of Action for Excessive ...