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Reed v. City of San Diego

April 24, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jeffrey T. Miller United States District Judge


Defendant County of San Diego ("County") moves to dismiss the Complaint or, alternatively, for a more definite statement on Plaintiff Sharon Marie Reed's civil rights complaint brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss is granted with 15 days leave to amend from the date of entry of this order.


On December 15, 2006 Plaintiff commenced this civil rights action alleging that she was wrongfully arrested on a warrant issued in the name of Colleen Ann Conerty, not Sharon Marie Reed. (Compl. ¶11). Plaintiff was placed under arrest on December 18, 2005 when a records check of a California D.O.J. database revealed that Plaintiff's name was identified as an alias used by Colleen Ann Conerty. When arrested she repeatedly told the San Diego Harbor Police Department and the arresting officer that she was Sharon Marie Reed but the "Harbor Police did not listen to her."

(Compl. ¶12). She showed the Harbor Police her passport and other identification verifying her identity as Reed. Plaintiff was transported to Los Colinas jail where the Sheriff's Department refused to check her fingerprints, date of birth, or social security number. (Compl. ¶7).

Plaintiff alleges that Harbor Police Officer Carlos Olguin "was negligent, that she was arrested without cause, that the officer was improperly trained or supervised, her civil rights were violated, she was falsely imprisoned and battered." (Compl. ¶16). Plaintiff also alleges that Officer Olguin was following the customs and practices of the San Diego Sheriff's Department "to arrest individuals by using improper means, including the use of excessive force, even when no reasonable basis exists for believing that use of force would be required." (Compl. ¶19). Based upon these generally described events, Plaintiff alleges a single federal claim for violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983 and three state law claims for assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and negligence.

On March 23, 2007 the court grant the State of California's motion to dismiss the Complaint on Eleventh Amendment grounds. County now moves to dismiss the Complaint on grounds that (1) Plaintiff's mere detention pursuant the arrest warrant fails to state a claim; (2) the complaint fails to provide any allegations with respect to excessive force; and (3) the court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims because she fails to state a federal claim.


Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper only in "extraordinary" cases. United States v. Redwood City, 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981). Courts should grant 12(b)(6) relief only where a plaintiff's complaint lacks a "cognizable legal theory" or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Courts should not dismiss a complaint "unless it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle [the party] to relief." Moore v. City of Costa Mesa, 886 F.2d 260, 262 (9th Cir. 1989) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)), cert. denied, 496 U.S. 906 (1990). The defect must appear on the face of the complaint itself. Thus, courts may not consider extraneous material in testing its legal adequacy. See Levine v. Diamanthuset, Inc., 950 F.2d 1478, 1482 (9th Cir. 1991). The courts may, however, consider material properly submitted as part of the complaint. See Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1989).

Finally, courts must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Concha v. London, 62 F.3d 1493, 1500 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. dismissed, 116 S.Ct. 1710 (1996). Accordingly, courts must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as reasonable inferences to be drawn from them. See Holden v. Hagopian, 978 F.2d 1115, 1118 (9th Cir. 1992). However, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See In Re Syntex Corp. Sec. Litig., 95 F.3d 922, 926 (9th Cir. 1996).

The Motion

Under 42 U.S.C. §1983 civil liability may be imposed on any person who, under color of state law, subjects another to the deprivation of rights "secured by the constitution and laws." 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiff makes two claims under §1983: first, Defendants violated her Fourth Amendment rights when she was arrested and detained, and second, Defendants violated her Fourth ...

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