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Cabral v. County of Glenn

March 18, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


Plaintiff Reynaldo Cabral ("Plaintiff") seeks monetary and injunctive relief against, inter alia, the City of Willows and the City of Willows Police Department (together "City") and Officer Jason Dahl ("Officer Dahl") (collectively "Defendants"), for injuries sustained while detained in the Glenn County Jail. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.*fn1


On January 3, 2007, Chico Police discovered Plaintiff drenched in kerosene and clothed in nothing but Saran Wrap. Plaintiff claimed that he was attempting to set himself on fire to either cleanse or kill himself. Chico Police took Plaintiff to Enloe Medical Center where he was examined. Plaintiff appeared to be in good physical health, and a drug test administered came back negative.

Nevertheless, due to Plaintiff's bizarre behavior, Chico Police admitted Plaintiff to the psychiatric facility at Butte County Department of Behavioral Health ("BCBH"). BCBH diagnosed Plaintiff as having psychotic and depressive disorders and kept him overnight.

On January 4, 2007, BCBH changed its diagnosis of Plaintiff's condition to major depressive disorder and discharged him from the psychiatric facility with two prescriptions. Plaintiff's family allegedly asked that Plaintiff be re-admitted, but BCBH denied their request.

On January 5, 2007, Plaintiff claims that he began hearing voices from God, instructing him to kill his girlfriend. Subsequently, on January 6, 2007, Plaintiff attacked her.

The Glenn County Sheriff's Department ("GCSD") arrested Plaintiff and placed him in a holding cell at Glenn County Jail. According to Plaintiff's friends and family, they informed Glenn County Jail that Plaintiff was mentally ill.

A nurse examined Plaintiff, concluding that he was suicidal and that he demonstrated abnormal behavior and signs of depression. GCSD purportedly contacted Glenn County Department of Mental Health ("GCDMH"), but the latter entity refused to provide mental health services. Thus, Plaintiff did not receive any further medical services and was placed in a holding cell.

On the morning of January 8, 2007, naked and unarmed, Plaintiff allegedly began scooping water from the toilet in his cell and rubbing it on his body. Some of that water possibly contained Plaintiff's own waste. Glenn County Jail staff summoned Officer Dahl of the Willows Police Department, Officers Burns and Thompson of the California Highway Patrol, and officers Discharry, Blakely and Clemens of the GCSD to attempt a cell extraction.

Upon arrival, Officer Dahl ordered Plaintiff out of his cell, but Plaintiff refused to leave. After some time had passed, and Officer Dahl had conferred with the other officers, those officers stormed Plaintiff's cell. Officer Dahl allegedly tasered Plaintiff at least eight times over the course of several minutes. Plaintiff hid behind his toilet, so officers then attempted to compel Plaintiff's compliance by resorting first to a stun-type shield and then, more than ten minutes later, by tasering Plaintiff three more times. When the taser began to malfunction, Officer Dahl emptied his canister of pepper spray onto Plaintiff. Eventually, upon being promised he would be able to speak with his mother, Plaintiff peacefully left his cell.

Officers then cleaned Plaintiff, and Emergency Medical Technicians from the Willows Fire Department conducted a physical examination of him. At or around 3:50 a.m. on January 8, 2007, Plaintiff was placed naked in a safety cell, which was unfurnished and had a rubber coating on the walls.

At or around 4:45 a.m., Plaintiff, while still under the effect of the pepper spray, allegedly again heard voices from God. Plaintiff claims that he then collided with the wall of the cell, breaking his neck and paralyzing himself from the neck down.

Plaintiff allegedly received no medical attention until 1:09 p.m. More time passed, and, at or around 1:59 p.m., Glenn County Jail transferred Plaintiff to Glenn Medical Center, where he was confirmed to be quadriplegic. At or around 4:42 p.m., Plaintiff was transferred to Enloe Medical Center where he underwent surgery. Plaintiff remains quadriplegic today.


On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Rule 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the...claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957).

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, --- U.S. ----, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 1965 (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d ed. 2004) ("The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action")).

A court granting a motion to dismiss a complaint must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. A court should "freely give[]" leave to amend when there is no "undue delay, bad faith[,] dilatory motive on the part of the movant, . . . undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of . . . the amendment, [or] futility of the amendment...." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Generally, leave to amend is denied only when it is clear the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992).


I. First Cause of Action: Claims Brought Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Violations of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Plaintiff's First Cause of Action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff specifically claims Officer Dahl and the City violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights by denying him health care and by being deliberately indifferent to his serious health care needs.

"[T]he more protective fourteenth amendment standard applies to conditions of confinement when detainees...have not been convicted" of a crime. Gary H. v. Hegstrom, 831 F.2d 1430, 1432 (9th Cir. 1987). The Due Process Clause requires, at least, that "persons in custody have the established right to not have officials remain deliberately indifferent to their serious medical needs." Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002), quoting Carnell v. Grimm, 74 F.3d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1996). This extends to psychiatric needs as well.

Id., citing Cabrales v. County of Los Angeles, 864 F.2d 1454, 1461 (9th Cir. 1988). Defendants are "deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs when they deny, delay, or intentionally interfere with medical treatment." Lolli v. County of Orange, 351 F.3d 410, 419 (9th Cir. 2003), quoting Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 744 (9th Cir. 2002) (finding liability under § 1983 where jail officers were aware that detainee was a Type I diabetic and failed to provide medically necessary food or insulin).

Plaintiff alleges no facts indicating Officer Dahl was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's need for medical attention. While it is alleged that Officer Dahl knew Plaintiff had psychiatric issues, Plaintiff has not alleged that the officer knew Plaintiff was suicidal and that he was not receiving medical care, or that Officer Dahl attempted to interfere with Plaintiff's receipt of such medical attention. To the contrary, after completing the cell extraction, Plaintiff was treated by paramedics, was allegedly acting in compliance with the officers' demands, and ...

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