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Enright v. City of Torrance

March 18, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stephen J. Hillman United States Magistrate Judge


This Report and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings should be granted, and the action dismissed.



Pro se Plaintiff Gerard Redmond Enright, Jr., asserts civil rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising from events that occurred on October 10, and 12-13, 2005, when officers of the City of Torrance arrested him, searched his home, confiscated hundreds of rescued birds, condemned his house and detained him for psychiatric evaluation. Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 11, 2007, asserting fifty-five claims under state and federal law. Plaintiff sues the City of Torrance and Doe defendants 1 through 99.*fn1 [Complaint ("Cpt.") 18-19.] Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, costs and attorney fees, and he requests that the court refer any criminal activities that come to the court's attention in connection with this suit to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution. [Cpt. 80-82.]

On December 26, 2007, Defendant City of Torrance filed an Answer. On September 8, 2008, Defendant filed an Amended Notice of Motion and Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings ("MJP"). On October 16, 2008, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings ("Opp."), and on October 20, 2008, Defendant filed a Reply.*fn2


The following factual allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint. On October 10, 2005, while Plaintiff was working on the front porch of his home, two Torrance police officers assigned to the Animal Control Division of the Torrance Police Department ("Doe 1" and "Doe 2"), approached him and insisted that Plaintiff permit them to enter and inspect Plaintiff's back yard. [Cpt. 20-21.] Plaintiff permitted them to do so solely because they threatened to arrest him. After inspecting the back yard, the officers commanded Plaintiff to permit them to enter and inspect the interior of his home. [Cpt. 21.]

After Plaintiff refused for the third time, a marked Torrance police vehicle appeared in front of his home, and a uniformed female officer ("Doe 3") exited and approached Plaintiff's front porch. The officer grabbed Plaintiff's right forearm while reaching for her handcuffs with her other hand. She explained that she intended to arrest Plaintiff if he did not agree to permit the officers to enter his home. [Cpt. 21-22.] Plaintiff felt extreme pressure and concern for his rescued birds, six of which he had brought out on the front porch for sun exposure, and which could be threatened by marauding cats, dogs, raccoons, or passers by if he were taken to jail. Several more birds were kept indoors, due to be fed by syringe within the next half-hour. [Cpt. 22-23.]

Believing that he had no alternative, Plaintiff permitted Doe 1, an animal control officer, to enter his home. [Cpt. 26.] Plaintiff had not permitted anyone into his home in over a decade. At the conclusion of the search, Doe 1 stated to Plaintiff that he could see that all of the birds were adequately provisioned with food and water, and informed Plaintiff that he was the person Plaintiff would have to deal with to seek a waiver of the City of Torrance's four-bird limit. [Cpt. 26.] The officer further stated that if Plaintiff was cooperative, he would work with him to determine the number of birds he would be permitted to keep. [Cpt. 27.]

On October 12, 2005, Doe 1 arrived at Plaintiff's home along with seven Torrance Police patrol cars, several animal control vehicles, and more than twenty individuals ("Does 41 through 80"). [Cpt. 30.] Doe 1 informed Plaintiff that he was under arrest for felony animal cruelty, handcuffed him, and shoved him into the back of a patrol vehicle. [Cpt. 30-31.] The officer told Plaintiff that the birds would be transported to Carson Animal Shelter for health testing purposes. Plaintiff was taken to jail and then released when a friend posted twenty thousand dollars bail. [Cpt. 32-33.]

Plaintiff's friend drove him home. As they approached Plaintiff's home, they observed that the street had been barricaded with yellow tape starting two houses from Plaintiff's house and on a portion of a street adjoining Plaintiff's street, and a large mobile tactical control trailer had been parked adjacent to the curb of the house next door to Plaintiff's house. Plaintiff stepped under the yellow tape and approached his house. He was met by Doe 1 about one hundred feet from his driveway. When Plaintiff inquired about his birds, the officer told Plaintiff that he would never be seeing his birds again. [Cpt. 38.] Another officer then escorted Plaintiff out under the yellow tape and told him that he would be re-arrested on different charges if he crossed under the yellow tape again.

Plaintiff observed several non-uniformed officers doing something in his driveway with hypodermic syringes, but when he asked who they were and what they were doing, another uniformed Torrance police officer ("Doe 4") forcefully extended his arm in front of Plaintiff's face and commanded Plaintiff to stop speaking to those individuals. [Cpt. 39-40.]

While Plaintiff was speaking with neighbors and a news reporter from a local newspaper, one of the uniformed police officers approached and asked Plaintiff to walk away with her. Once they had reached a secluded location out of the view of the neighbors and the reporter, armed officers (Doe 3 and Doe 5) handcuffed Plaintiff, forced him in a police vehicle and transported him to a UCLA emergency psychiatric facility in East Torrance. [Cpt. 42-43.] Plaintiff's handcuffs were uncomfortably tight and he felt panicky and feared for his life. At the psychiatric facility, one of the officers told him that they were checking him into the facility for ...

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