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Elseth v. Speirs

December 3, 2009

ROGER ARDEN ELSETH, PATRICIA ANN ELSETH, AND ALLEN ELSETH BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM ROGER ARDEN ELSETH AND PATRICIA ANN ELSETH, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VERNON SPEIRS, CHIEF PROBATION OFFICER OF THE COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO, INDIVIDUALLY; DAVID GORDON, SUPERINTENDENT SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, INDIVIDUALLY; DEPUTY PROBATION OFFICER RONALD TAM, INDIVIDUALLY; DEPUTY PROBATION OFFICER JEFF ELORDUY, INDIVIDUALLY; DR. RICHARD SAXTON, M.D., INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER*fn1

Defendant David Gordon ("Gordon") moves for an order issued under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1), dismissing Plaintiff Allen Elseth's claim in Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint ("FAC")*fn2 that he was denied educational programs, and in the alternative, seeks to have this claim stricken under Rule 12(f).

Gordon also moves for dismissal of Plaintiffs' second claim under Rule 12(b)(6), and for a more definite statement of Plaintiffs' third claim under Rule 12(e). Since Gordon is not a defendant in the third claim, this portion of his motion is denied as moot. Plaintiffs Allen Elseth ("Allen") and his parents, Roger and Patricia Elseth (the "Elseths") (collectively "Plaintiffs") did not oppose Gordon's motion.

Further, Defendant Dr. Richard Saxton ("Saxton") moves for dismissal with prejudice of Plaintiffs' third claim under Rule 12(b)(6), and also for a more definite statement of this claim under Rule 12(e) if the dismissal motion is granted and Plaintiffs are granted leave to amend. Plaintiffs filed a late opposition to Saxton's motion.

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiffs' claims concern alleged abuse and inadequate services Allen experienced at the B.T. Collins Juvenile Center ("B.T. Collins"), a "juvenile hall" for "persons within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court" in Sacramento, California. (FAC ¶ 6.2.2). Plaintiffs allege on December 5, 2006, Allen, who "suff[ers] from a number of mental disabilities" and was confined at B.T. Collins, was held down and beaten by staff "three times in the face." (FAC ¶¶ 4.2, 5.4d, 6.1.1.1.) Plaintiffs allege that as a result of the misconduct, Allen "suffered injuries to his face and eyes," which required medical treatment and medical monitoring for the following six days. (FAC ¶¶ 6.1.1.1-6.1.1.13.) Plaintiffs also allege a litany of problems exist at B.T. Collins and the Warren E. Thornton Youth Center (collectively "Sacramento County Juvenile Hall" or the "Hall"), including, but not limited to: use of excessive force on youth, verbal and emotional abuse of the youth, denial of basic needs such as adequate food and clean living spaces, lack of education and programing, denial of information concerning medical care, and discriminatory accommodations for disabled youth. (FAC ¶¶ 6.3.1-6.10.1.)

Gordon is the Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools and Saxton is a physician at B.T. Collins. (FAC ¶¶ 4.4, 4.6.) Plaintiffs allege the following claims against Gordon and Saxton respectively in the second and third claims:

On or about December 5, 2006, and continuously before and after that date, [Gordon and Saxton], acting under color of law, with deliberate administrative indifference or willful neglect contributed to the corporal abuse of ALLEN and an environment that led to the failure of services to ALLEN by failing to report the abuse and failure of services to the ELSETHS, Child Protective Services, and other authorities outside the juvenile system.

As a direct and proximate cause of [Saxton's] conduct, Child Protective Services, and other authorities were not notified, and the ELSETHS were denied information necessary to take appropriate action on behalf of ALLEN concerning his physical abuse and denial of remedial services while in the Juvenile Detention[] Facilities. (FAC ¶¶ 8.4-8.5; ¶¶ 9.4-9.5.) Allen's first claim alleges physical abuse to which the B.T. Collins staff subjected him on December 5, 2006, in violation of the "Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment." (FAC ¶¶ 1.1, 8.2, 9.2). Allen alleges the movants contributed to this abuse by failing to report it. (FAC ¶¶ 8.4, 9.4.) Allen also alleges he was not provided adequate rehabilitative services while confined at B.T. Collins, and that the movants contributed to the lack of services by failing to report the matter. (FAC ¶¶ 1.1, 8.2, 8.4, 9.2, 9.4.) Further, the Elseths' allege the movants violated their parental rights by failing to notify them of abuse Allen sustained on December 5, 2006, Allen's subsequent medical treatment, and the alleged lack of services at the Hall. (FAC ¶¶ 1.1, 8.3, 8.5, 9.3, 9.5.).

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1)

"[T]he court may determine jurisdiction on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" "[u]nless the jurisdictional issue is inextricable from the merits of a case." Kingman Reef Atoll Invs., L.L.C. v. United States, 541 F.3d 1189, 1195 (9th Cir. 2008). "Once challenged, the party asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving its existence." Rattlesnake Coal. v. E.P.A., 509 F.3d 1095, 1102 n. 1 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal reference omitted).

B. Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), all material allegations in the complaint must be accepted as "true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). The "tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). The pleading requirements ...


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